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It’s a Whole New World When Michael Backes is Your #Morpheus

It’s a Whole New World When Michael Backes is Your #Morpheus


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Blue Pill vs. Red Pill. Fans of the blockbuster film franchise, The Matrix, know this metaphor for enlightenment well, and the promise of access to new realizations and greater realities presented throughout the films. Morpheus, the main protagonist, guides his mentee Neo down the path to break the Matrix and find the ‘truth,’ which ultimately frees Neo’s mind of the current constructs of reality he struggles with. This existential question of whether to remain ignorant or break the status quo and aim higher runs parallel to the cannabis industry, its pioneers, and in many ways, the future of the entire world as we know it. As cannabis becomes more mainstream, as legislation and access rapidly shifts by the month, and as our understanding of the plant grows and the industry matures, people have a choice to make. They can remain loyal to pharmaceutical products and companies that stand to profit from patients suffering at the hands of long lists of additive and addictive properties and side effects – or consider the perhaps new, and perhaps scary second choice: learn about the power of the cannabis plant, take an informed leap of faith to test and integrate products in smart ways, and finally in this hero’s journey – access the quality of life benefits that come with this (funny enough) “non-pill” choice.

Michael Backes, the co-founder of the first evidence-based dispensary in California, Cornerstone Wellness, is in fact dubbed the “Morpheus” of cannabis, by a world of fans and followers he has increasingly gained after researching and championing the plant for relieving his own previously incurable migraines. Today he is the co-founder and Chief Product Officer of premium infused cannabis blends brand Perfect (, which builds on the aspirations of Michael’s early budtender days, personally serving patients like himself who struggled to find something that worked, and that delivered time and time again.

“Morpheus was my screen name in the early ’00s on Weedtracker, one of the first online forums to cover the SoCal medical cannabis scene,” Backes shares. “I used to review the best cannabis I found at medical dispensaries on Weedtracker. I got a reasonably wide readership in the med scene because I tried hard to articulate in words what made one batch of flower significantly better than the competition. Readers used my recommendations and anything that I reviewed favorably tended to quickly sell out. When I co-founded Cornerstone, word got around that ‘Morpheus from Weedtracker’ had opened a dispensary. That’s the story of me and Morpheus.”

Photo Credit: Perfect Blends

Michael was first advised to try cannabis himself by his physician in 1999 to relieve terrible migraines that pharmaceuticals at the time were not correcting for him, so he acquired a California Medical Marijuana recommendation. Like many, he went to a dispensary and had a rather common first-time experience, where none of the budtenders could pinpoint an exact product to relieve his migraines. Backes left with many of his questions unanswered. This still all-too-common consumer experience at a medical marijuana dispensary sent Michael on his own cannabis journey.

Not long after in 2006, Michael co-founded Cornerstone which was just recognized this year with the 2022 Emerald Cup Award for Best Dispensary in Southern California. This is where he first became fascinated with what his customers reported to him after trying out his recommendations for blending different products to achieve more patient-pleasing effects and using the most terpene-rich flower he could find.

The new activist became deeply interested in the cannabis plant, genetics, breeding processes, and analytics. With a background in science communication, policy, and product development, Backes refocused his curiosity toward cannabis in 2011 and researched thousands of cannabis strains to analyze their unique genetic makeup and chemistry. His cannabis research and discoveries early on made him a pioneer educator and expert in the cannabis industry, an advocate for cannabis reform and legislation, and have led him on a path to change not only his life but those of countless others through access to high-quality counter-side cannabis and the education needed to shop intelligently and effectively.

“In my experience behind the counter, most customers are looking to solve an issue: sleep, pain, and anxiety,” Michael says. “Helping them find relief became a mission.”

In 2014, Michael authored Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana, regarded by many as the most approachable and comprehensive guide to cannabis, its various forms, and applications. To “weed out” cannabis misinformation, Michael, much like Morpheus, guides customers to their own relationship with the plant, and too often life-changing relief with the introduction of this so-called “red pill” – a whole new world made accessible through cannabis education and the opportunity to choose for oneself.

Beyond gaining a deep understanding of the plant, the body’s endocannabinoid system, and an array of consumer experiences, Michael took his personal experiences as a customer struggling to find reliable, quality products, and homed in on dosing, consistency and what safe cannabis products look like. In 2020, Michael alongside his co-founders launched Perfect Blends, building on his knowledge to develop the brand with the mission to help people feel the way they want to feel – by offering premium quality flower products that were simple to understand and could deliver consistent effects to people – regardless of their level of experience and tolerance of the plant.

Photo Credit: Perfect Blends

As Chief Product Officer, Michael formulated 4 proprietary blends: Pick Me Up, Happy Camper, NightCap, and Sexpot, each delivering a specific entourage of cannabis compounds for targeted, consistent, and pleasantly clear effects. Each blend’s design process starts with various strains of whole, terpene-rich cannabis flower buds that are chopped and partly frozen for extraction, then later blended and live resin-infused to deliver what each blend’s namesake would suggest. Perfect’s proprietary manufacturing process is the key to stabilizing and preserving terpenes and therefore the plant’s pharmacological profiles, which are at the core of the blending process and the quality of the consumer experience. The result is an array of aromatic blends that are not only tasty when inhaled as either pre-rolls or loose flower, but also deliver fresh, reliable, trusted products for consumers who aren’t sure about taking that often first (or first in a long time) leap of faith.

This is made evident through the company reporting average repeat customer rates of over 75%. Product reviews, ratings, and press coverage have often expressed sheer delight. Curiosity peaks among players, partners, and customers to find out what’s next for Perfect.

But this kind of loyalty to products Michael Backes stands behind is not new. Like Lori Hirsch, who has been following this #Morpheus for decades; she went so far as to pivot her 30-year career in entertainment to cannabis science and education after following Michael’s earliest guidance at Cornerstone.

Now positioned as Inside Sales & Brand Education Manager for CBD brand Papa & Barkley, Lori Hirsch recalls, “Having been one of Morpheus’s first patients back in the early aughts (2000s), I realize how much of an impact he has had on my decision to pursue a career in the cannabis industry. His incredible passion and knowledge of this magical plant have had a powerful impact on my life & career as now the head of education for Papa & Barkley and I can’t thank him enough.”

It’s been a long time since Backes has had to hide behind a screen name. Rapid political and cultural perception changes have been increasingly underway, and a new inertia is pushing more people out into the open about their cannabis consumption. For those who are still reticent, Backes can relate, given the true reason behind his screen name in the early 2000s.

Michael explains, “When I started writing reviews, I was working on Marvel movies so I couldn’t use my real name. I chose Morpheus because he was a mysterious character, and the Matrix was relatively new. I couldn’t openly speak on cannabis at the time without potentially risking my job.”

One could believe we are living in our own dystopian reality where the genetic diversity of cannabis is being threatened and where mass-produced low-quality products, misinformation, and fear floods the market. It’s up to the conscious consumer, the industry’s long-time researchers, educators, advocates, and most vocal players, and brands such as Papa & Barkley and Perfect to strive for and defend truth-seeking and enlightenment. Life can be better. The Morpheus of cannabis, Michael Backes, is a true steward of this pursuit of knowledge, the power of the plant, and its life-changing qualities. Delivering consistent, accessible products that appeal to both novice and experienced consumers is no easy task, but Perfect just might have the falling invisible green Matrix code to do just that, as both the canna-cautious and connoisseur alike get curious enough to consider: What could life be like after Perfect?

Blue Pill or Red Pill.

Morpheus can help you see. But only you can choose.

Choose your Perfect at

Follow on Instagram: @Blendsbyperfect




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