You may have seen him on Instagram spreading positivity and rocking his classic combo: the demand peace hat and that righteous mustache. Rod Roberts aka the 420 AZ Realtor is a cannabis patient and advocate here in Phoenix who’s been in the real estate game for a long time. His journey began by canvassing door to door looking for properties, and through the years he’s sold everything from commercial to residential properties. Now Rod is going out of his way to help in the AZ cannabis community any way he can, including helping cannabis related businesses find the right properties for their needs. I sat down with Rod over a cup of coffee to find out more about what he’s all about. I really enjoyed our conversation and I hope you do too!
Hey Rod, thanks for meeting me; tell me a little about yourself, where are you from originally and how did you end up here in the Valley?
My name is Rod Roberts, I’m 57 years old, born and raised in Los Angeles. I was actually born in Hollywood; the building that was the hospital I was born in is actually now the world Scientology headquarters. Pretty weird, huh? Anyway I consider myself part of what I call the “Hollyweed” generation. In 1976 I was 15 at the time, living in Hollywood and I woke up one morning and saw someone had changed the Hollywood sign to say Hollyweed and me and my friends thought that was the greatest thing ever. It was NORML who had done it and it was the first cannabis activist organization I became aware of. They actually went on to help get cannabis decriminalized in LA. There was a point when the LAPD would carry around scales to measure weed and if you had under an ounce on you would just get a ticket as opposed to going to jail. So that was my first real experience with the beginning of the decriminalization of marijuana.
How did you get into real estate?
So fast forward, I got married and had kids and in 1993 when the riots broke out in LA my youngest daughter was just a baby, so we knew we had to get out of the city. We ended up moving up north to Ventura County; then in 2004 decided to get out of Southern California. Drove out to Phoenix in July 2004 and we really really liked it a lot. It reminded me a lot of what LA was like a couple decades earlier, as far as the growth potential and the opportunities that were here. One morning I was sitting at breakfast with my wife and she says to me, why don’t you become a real estate agent, and it was like a light went off. I had gone to realtor school years before in LA but the timing just wasn’t right so I didn’t finish. I got my realtor license here in Phoenix in 2005 and I’ve been a realtor ever since. I started as a young realtor knocking on doors when Phoenix was a heavy sellers market, rode through the days of when Phoenix was a heavy foreclosure market and I’ve been doing this a lot of years now, shifting my focus to the cannabis community in the last year or so.
So how did you come to be the 420 realtor?
It was an epiphany that came to me one day; the fact that we have medical marijuana available to us here in Arizona is a miracle. I never thought in a million years that in this conservative state, that this would ever happen. From a business perspective I wanted to do something to contribute to the whole cannabis movement not just because I enjoy cannabis recreationally, but now being a medical patient using cannabis for my back I understand just how beneficial cannabis can be to somebody who has pain or other health afflictions. There are just so many great things to come from cannabis, I wanted to play a part to bolster the community here and help cannabis businesses succeed so the whole overall cannabis culture grows and succeeds. There’s so much good that can come from cannabis; not just on the medical side, you know, but our roads, infrastructure, the teachers, I mean come on, we need to pay our teachers, where is that money coming from? Well guess what, we have a solution, it’s frickin cannabis man, come on!
Let’s talk a little more about that, your aim is to help the cannabis community as a whole. How do you go about that?
What’s it going to take for us [cannabis community] to get to where we want to be? Spread the love, spread the word, we’ve gotta help each other. I come from a place of understanding that, givers get, and if I give of myself good things will come to me in return. I want to be able to reach out and help as many people in the cannabis community as I can. As a realtor in an active market I talk to a lot of people on a weekly basis and have made a lot of connections. If I can’t help a business find the location they need I might be able to help connect the dots for some other need; maybe introduce them to someone else in the community that can meet their need.
Just a couple weeks back I got to attend an awesome event with Women Grow, a great organization. I just wanted to help, see what it was all about, so I offered to put out chairs, sweep up, whatever they needed.
Is there anything cannabis businesses, or anyone should look out for when choosing a realtor?
The first red flag is if the conversation quickly goes to commissions, that tells me they are more interested in getting paid than meeting their clients needs. The real estate business is not about buying and selling units of property, it’s about people: without people there is no business. As a real estate agent my number one goal is to protect the interest of my client, not my commission. I pride myself in putting my clients first, because I know in the end if I do right by my clients, I’ll make my money. There are a lot of bad real estate agents out there who don’t have the proper knowledge or perhaps don’t put their clients interests above their own, and it’s important to work with someone who is really in your corner. There is a lot of money to be made in the growing cannabis industry and I think we’ll see more and more people trying to penetrate the cannabis industry for their own benefit. People have to go with their gut feeling, you can’t bullshit a bullshitter and someone who has the best interest of the cannabis industry at heart, you’ll feel that.
So what is your history with cannabis, have you always been a consumer?
I started smoking pot in 1974, when I was 13 years old, right before my Bar Mitzvah. That was an amazing time in my life: as a young teenager I remember my first time buying weed I gave my buddy ten bucks and he gave me 10 pre-rolled joints that had the seeds and stems in there and everything, he ripped me off, haha. I actually went a 20 year period where I didn’t smoke pot. I got heavily addicted to cocaine in the early eighties and was just, I was in terrible shape. I probably was close to dying. I ended up getting sober through a 12 step program. You know, to get sober and to be a part of all of that, you know, you basically have to give up everything. I really did have a big problem so I needed to get off coke and all the other shit that I was doing. And so I stopped smoking pot. As time went on, I ended up getting married, I actually met my wife in the 12-step program, and we had my first daughter. Then, you know, my life changed, you know, it was all about her and it was all about me being a dad to a little baby girl. I didn’t want to be a stoner dad that was more concerned about getting high than hanging out. And so it just never really entered my mind to start smoking pot. So fast forward, my daughter was 16 years old. She comes home one day and says, hey, mom and dad, I just want to let you know I’m smoking pot. My wife and I, we both look at each other like, oh, okay, this is a crossroads for us in our lives. So, you know, rather than dropping the hammer on her saying you can’t smoke pot, (because we knew she’d go smoke it somewhere else), we told her, look, if you’re going to smoke, smoke here in our backyard, you’re safe. Your friends can smoke here, just do it here. This was before even medical access happened, so she was smoking and then one day she asked me, do you want to smoke? And I thought this is another crossroads in my life. I hadn’t smoked pot like 20 something years. And I thought, you know what, I can either choose to participate in this part of my daughter’s life, which by the way, it would be so fucking cool, man. I just get stoned with my daughter and go to concerts and listen to music and stuff. Or I could be the other guy who just doesn’t participate at all, you know? And then I don’t get to be in that part of her life. And so I chose the first, I took that bong hit with her out on my patio. I got so stoned, I got up and I said, honey, I’m going to go in and watch TV. I went in my bedroom, I remember I was watching reruns of I love Lucy in black and white. My wife walks in and she looks at me and she knew I was fucked up. She goes, what are you doing? I said, TV on pot is fascinating. Anyways, it was the resurrection of my consuming career. It was so cool. And now my daughter comes over for dinner on Sundays and after dinner we go sit on the patio and we smoke and we talk. it’s one of the really truly great things in my life that cannabis has brought me. It’s a different relationship with my daughter, that without cannabis I wouldn’t have had. So I’m really grateful.
Wow, that’s a great story. So on that note, let me ask you, what are your 3 favorite dispensaries?
I haven’t been to every dispensary, so whoever I exclude it’s not because I don’t like them, but I do have my favorites. Absolutely. One of my favorites is Level Up. I love it. I love Level Up. I think they’re an excellent dispensary. I like Harvest of Scottsdale. My third is Arizona Natural Concepts up on carefree highway in Cave Creek. Love that dispensary. Each one of those dispensaries. I do frequent them all.
What is your favorite way to consume cannabis?
Well I just recently discovered shatter and I really love loading a bowl with some shatter on top of it in the bong.
Thanks so much for your time, Rod. How can people get connected with you?
You can find me on Instagram (@420azrealtor) or on my cell (602) 920-8448. You can text, call, leave me a voicemail, I do all that. If you’re interested in property give me a call. Start talking to me, start to understand what the ins and outs are. Here’s what I tell my clients all the time, no matter whether they’re commercial, residential, first time home buyers or this is their 10th home. When working with me, my very first intention is to make sure that your eyes are always wide open, that you know everything that’s going on because there is no way that you can make the right decision for you or your business unless you have all of the information available.