Isaiah Dawid of Clout King on Authenticity and Consumer Perception in Cannabis

Isaiah Dawid, President of Clout King, is one of the most well-known cannabis characters. His iconic meme page cleverly demonstrates his inside knowledge of the industry with a satirical twist.

Clout King has built a large audience in the cannabis community and has become a major influencer on social platforms from which the brand originated.

Isaiah has been cultivating exclusive genetics with complex terpenes, high potency and exceptional visual appeal since 2005. He is successfully expanding Clout King across the country, meeting new friends and having a great time.

We spoke to Isaiah for our Higher Calling series, in which we meet leaders in the cannabis space.

Isaiah, tell us…

Where you grew up and where you live now.

I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California. My family and I relocated to Michigan for a little over a year in 2021 to expand Clout King. We recently made our way to Portland, Oregon, which is an easy drive to the Washington facilities where I often work.

Your current role in the cannabis industry.

Clout King’s role is to speak the truths of the cannabis industry through humor, irony and satire. My experience in the traditional market has led me to bring the most desirable genetics to the legal markets while maintaining the highest standards of quality control in cultivation, curing and packaging. The experience at every touchpoint is more important than ever. When a consumer buys a premium product and you deliver premium product, you have that customer forever. If a consumer buys a top product and ends up with something other than top product, you’ve lost that customer forever. Unless the core of the brand rests on a solid foundation, there is no hope that a quality product with any longevity can be brought to market. My role is really to ensure market growth, genetic exclusivity and quality control by structuring our businesses to make it a success for everyone involved.

I’ve spent most of my time operating and growing Clout King in California, Michigan, Arizona, Washington, Oklahoma, Nevada and Oregon.

A story about the positive effects cannabis has had on your life.

I suffered from anxiety which turned into insomnia after being strip searched for growing cannabis in California. I took medication for insomnia which left me sick and disoriented the next day. After struggling to get off the medication for about six months in my early 20s, I used cannabis several times at night and was able to wean myself off it. Now I combine my cannabis flower consumption with CBD oil every night and no longer suffer from insomnia.

A favorite flower, edible, product, or brand.

Clout King PB Cup and Terdz are my favorites. Second favorite are terpene stone sauce trucks.

The biggest challenge facing cannabis marketers today.

Authenticity is rare, whether it’s genetics, your history, or your overall presentation in the marketplace. Customers want products from established operators who have discerning palates to curate their menu. There’s a lot of flashy packaging with celebrities stuffed with subpar products. With so many similar brands launching at the same time, how does one stand out? The only way, in my opinion, is to offer authenticity and quality to your customer base.

Another big challenge for marketers is consumer perception. Currently, most consumer purchasing decisions are made based on efficacy. Clout King will always be a potency-focused brand, but I see the value of molecular diversity for consumers coming to light over the next few years. The development of these terpene- and flavonoid-rich profiles is as important to our program as potency. We are fortunate to have a team that is equal parts cultivation and creative energy. Our program constantly gives us the opportunity to create new branding and challenge ourselves to market differently. Our unique and playful identity is what draws the consumer to the bag, but it’s what’s in the bag that ultimately deserves the top shelf.

One thing you are looking forward to right now in terms of cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.

What excites me right now, which is directly related to branding, is all the new genetics trends coming out. Now that Runtz and Runtz crosses are going out of fashion and Lemon Cherry and Z Terps have taken the spotlight, we’ve added some new staples to our 2022 genetics catalogue.

Zkittlez hybrids have made a huge comeback and as a result there are some very interesting terpene profiles. I just picked a Lemon Cherry Gelato X Zkittlez pheno and the terps are like nothing I’ve experienced. This shows an overall maturation of the market, suggesting consumers are honing their palates and becoming more driven by terpenes. Zkittlez, for example, had the most desirable terps long before potency was on anyone’s radar.

The expansion of our portfolio gives Clout King the opportunity not only to select fire, but to baptize new cuts [e.g., Zaddy (Zkittles x GDP)]. Naming cuts and creating bag art is the icing on the cake. Consumers save on Mylar bags, similar to trading cards. I predict much more engagement between consumers and cannabis brands due to social media and regulatory restrictions.

A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.

I have been a member of the NCIA for some time and appreciate their role in professionalizing the cannabis industry and working diligently to reform cannabis policy at the federal level.

A project you’ve recently worked on and are proud of.

My main focus right now is taking Clout King to six states, but I’m particularly looking forward to launching in Arizona. Arizona is ripe for a high-end brand that makes an impression there. Alien Labs and Connected have done a great job of bringing their brands to Arizona, but from what I’ve gathered there’s a lot more room for exotics.

Someone else’s project that you recently admired.

The technological side of the industry has always fascinated me as it has evolved. Adaptiiv Grow Technologies has released a liquid-cooled LED integrated with a custom-built chilled-water fan coil unit that uses waste heat energy for reheating. This light features full spectrum tuning capabilities that offer the ability to throttle up and down the white, blue and red spectrum. This innovation gives growers full control to manage their harvest exactly the way they want while saving energy.

Someone you admire in the cannabis field who is doing great things.

I admire an attorney named Henry Wykowski who I have worked with from time to time. Henry is NCIA’s General Counsel and he received much credit defending Harborside against their IRS audit a few years ago. I’ve heard him speak at a few events in the past and appreciate his intelligence and commitment to defending the rights of cannabis operators who are ultimately doing the right thing.

What you would do if you weren’t in the cannabis industry.

I would be either a comedian or a holistic doctor. I have a degree in Biochemistry and have completed all my prior medical education with the expectation of becoming an Osteopathic Doctor. I also like humor and I like to satirize hypocritical behavior – like I did with my Clout King meme page.