Massachusetts Becomes the First East Coast State with Legal Marijuana Shops

Though Massachusetts voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, the state saw its first two legal marijuana shops open on November 19th, 2018. The state first voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2012, earlier than most states and realized the opportunity that recreational marijuana provided 4 years after. Two United States military veterans received the honor of being the first customers to initiate the new, cannabis friendly, era in Massachusetts. Cultivate Holdings in Leicester, MA, and New England Treatment Access (NETA) in Northampton, MA were the two stores to kick off the new era in the state.

One of the military veterans, David Narkewicz, is also the current mayor of Northampton. As a former member of the US Air Force, Narkewicz did not purchase an item for his own personal use, yet rather for conservation purposes of a symbolic day. Purchasing a cannabis-infused chocolate bar, Narkewicz received a large amount of cheers as he ushered in a new Massachusetts.

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David Narkewicz (right), Northampton Mayor, made the first purchase at NETA, kicking off a new industry in Massachusetts. Arnon Vered (left) is the co-founder of NETA.

Narkewicz is setting a great example for many other politicians, as he has encouraged the growth of the industry, while not compromising his own values. Supposedly he does not plan to indulge the cannabis chocolate bar, but even if he did, I don’t think any of his constituents would be too upset. After a round of applause, Narkewicz spoke to the public and stated,

“I’m proud that Northampton is playing a role in this historic day ending some 80 years of prohibition here in the commonwealth of Massachusetts and moving into a new modern era where we have safe, tested, well-regulated adult use of marijuana and cannabis,” – David Narkewicz, Northampton Mayor, 2018

At the the other shop that opened on November 19th, Cultivate Holdings in Leicester, Stephen Mandile made the first purchase. As a US Army veteran who served in Iraq, Mandile has also been a long-time medical marijuana advocate. Not only was he thrilled to be able to be the first customer, yet he was just as excited that veterans were able to take part in such a historic day. After the purchase, Mandile stated that,

“I get to make history. It means a lot, and I never expected this would be the outcome of my advocacy — I was just trying to go about helping people. I’m pumped to break the stigma and the weird, scary aura people want to put around cannabis.” – Stephen Mandile, US Army Veteran, 2018

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Photo of Stephen Mandile (right), US Army Veteran who made the 1st purchase at Cultivate Holdings in Leicester, MA.

If you do not think that the people of Massachusetts were excited, just look at the turnout. The Leicester Police Chiefe, Jim Hurley, was surprised himself at the turnout. Originally they were expecting anywhere between 600 to 1000 people on the first day at Cultivate Holdings, but the amount of people they saw was easily more than that. According to Hurley, there were probably 300 people in line outside when he left at just 1:30 PM.

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Even on a cold Massachusetts afternoon, the line at Cultivate Holdings on opening day was wrapped around the facility.

Although the state used other states that have legalized recreational marijuana as a blueprint, Massachusetts still employed its own laws. Steven Hoffman, chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission knows that the state has benefited from others as an example, but knows no process is the exact same.

“So you can’t just lift and shift from other states, but we certainly can learn lessons about things that they’ve done that worked well and things that they wish they could have done differently,” – Steven Hoffman, Chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, 2018

Massachusetts laws allow shops to sell up to one ounce of flower or five grams of concentrate in a single purchase. Public consumption and driving under the influence of marijuana are still illegal in the state. A huge difference in Massachusetts legalization, was their emphasis on diversity, a concept that other states should follow suit. Hoffman stated that MA laws stand alone,

“…not just in terms of employment in the industry but in terms of equity ownership.” That also includes a requirement to “help those communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the previous war on drugs to make sure they’re full participants, – Steven Hoffman, Chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, 2018

This emphasis on not just employment, but ownership is something that I hope will carry on to other states. Many of my people, being a young African American, have been subject to the legal system and jail time over a substance that is now being sold for recreational use. Minorities should not be left out of this industry, and people like Steven Hoffman are making strides to make sure of that. I commend Hoffman for his efforts, and hope to see changes in the trend elsewhere as well.

Article: Massachusetts Makes History as First Legal Marijuana Shops on East Coast Open Tuesday

Cannabis College Program at Niagara College

I have always believed that education should be a direct reflection of society and its development, rather than be based solely off of what we already know. While history is important for individuals to learn, education should always be looking to the future as to foster innovation. As countries begin to change their personal and legal interpretations of cannabis use, the education systems provided should also begin to grow. Of course, our Canadian neighbors are leading the way since their decision to nationally legalize cannabis, as the first cannabis college program was opened not to long after.

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Photo of Frank Campion, Mayor of Welland, and Dan Patterson, Niagra College President, holding up new street signs for the campus.

Niagra College Canada became the first post-secondary certificate program in the production of commercial cannabis when it opened in November 2018. Still in it’s beginnin gphases, the program only accepts 24 students, 3 times a year. Bill MacDonald, the Coordinator of the Commercial Cannabis Production Program, understood the importance of creating a real curriculum focused around the production of cannabis. MacDonald was a coordinator the greenhouse technician program at Niagra College originally, until he began consulting in the cannabis industry. With his new knowledge of the rapidly growing industry, MacDonald knew that the trends in cannabis would transform the greenhouse industry in total.

” {We] saw how much it was transforming the greenhouse industry and approached the college and said, hey, we need to do a program because this is transforming the whole greenhouse industry, growing industry, and a lot of licensed producers were coming to me saying, ‘ we need qualified growers. We don’t have enough experienced talented people,” – Bill MacDonald, Coordinator of the Commercial Cannabis Production Program, 2018

MacDonald makes an amazing point. As industries emerge, education ALWAYS follows. Take for example the technology industry. At one point in time, there was no fundamental curriculum for educating the youth about how to use technology, let alone develop it. Now, these types of programs are even offered at the grade school level. Not to say that Commercial Cannabis Production Programs will be offered to minors, however, I do believe that for those who are generally interested there should be a tangible education for them to attain.

Once college leadership was on board, MacDonald was able to build the program from scratch. There is no program for the school to follow being the first of its kind, therefore it is still in its developmental stages. To even be considered for the graduate program, a student must have a degree in a related field such as Agricultural of Plant Sciences.

What is funny about the article posted on 2 On Your Side is the reactions that many of the students family members had once hearing about the program. Opposed to before, in the current climate, cannabis production must be looked at as a profession, not just a hobby. Two of the first Canadians accepted into the Commercial Cannabis Production Program at Niagara College detail how their loved ones have grown to understand that what they are studying is a viable profession.

“Older people are like wow congratulations, it’s a growing industry. Then the younger people, you know, give me props and they’re like nice, you’re growing weed in school,” – Carson Otto, Commercial Cannabis Production Graduate Certificate Program at Niagara College, 2018

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Photo of a cannabis lab at the Commercial Cannabis Production Program at Niagara College

There is no doubt that as legalization sweeps through the United States, colleges and universities will begin to follow the lead of Niagara College. To build a successful industry, individuals need to be educated, and Niagara College is on the forefront of developing the next trends in the Cannabis Cultivation space.

“Like even my grandma’s going around telling people, hey, my grandson, he’s growing pot at school. So, it’s pretty awesome to see that and get that reaction from people,” – Denzil Rose, Commercial Cannabis Production Graduate Certificate Program at Niagara College, 2018

Article: Exploring Canada’s First Cannabis College Program

Women Changing the Face of the Cannabis Industry

As the cannabis industry continues to grow in the United States and around the world, the perceptions of cannabis use is continually evolving as well. Society can no longer label individuals that use cannabis products as “potheads” or “stoners” because those titles simply do not fit in the industry in 2018. With more understanding, education, and communication, we now know that cannabis does not only serve as a substance that caters to those that are lazy or lack ambition. We now know that productive members of society, such as doctors, chefs, and even writers alike use cannabis as a daily piece of their lives, and it does not hinder their productivity.

Realistically, the look of marijuana has changed and in my opinion, has changed for the better. One of the largest benefactors of this change has been women, as the changes in perception have allowed it to be specifically more acceptable for women in the greater eye of society. Prior to changes in regulation, women using marijuana were often considered “unladylike” or inappropriate, which was simply unfair. Based off an article posted in The Guardian by Candice Pires, we will highlight two women who have turned their love for cannabis into viable jobs, while never compromising their professional image. Continue reading “Women Changing the Face of the Cannabis Industry”

The Merging of the Alcohol and Cannabis Industries

With regulations on cannabis beginning to loosen at a rapid rates in the world, and the United States alike, it is apparent that everyone will be trying to get a piece of the pie. Although an individual would think that companies involved in alcohol production would be opposed to the increase of support for cannabis related products, we have found that many of them have already begun to capitalize on the trend. While many alcoholic beverage companies have begun to explore the possibilities of marijuana-infused beverages as well, other companies have taken their investments even further. Constellation Brands $4 Billion investment into Canopy Growth Corporation serves as a monumental indication of what is to come between these two spaces, and how they will coexist in a leveled playing field.

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Official logo for Canopy Growth Corporation (TSX: WEED and NYSE: CGC. As of November 19th, 2018, the company’s stock sells for nearly $33 a share.

Prior to the era of legalization, alcohol companies had little to worry about when it came to marijuana. They naturally owned the competitive advantage over cannabis related companies due to one fact:

Alcohol has been legal in the majority of the world for years. Cannabis is just now recently nationally legal in a few countries; yet that wont last long. 

The alcohol industry enjoyed this exclusivity over cannabis, yet now it does not own the same luxury. Though alcohol has proven to temporarily impair individuals and also cause long-term health effects when consumed improperly, it has enjoyed nationwide legalization regardless. By being a legal entity, it has reaped the benefits of a much more relaxed perception and connotation, even though it’s record of destruction has been recorded along the way. In today’s age, however, cannabis is now creeping into the same space. Companies such as Constellation Brands have already made the conscious decision that rather than try to delay what is inevitable, they will invest in the development of the cannabis industry.

For background information, Constellation Brands is one of the leading international producers and marketers of beer, wine, and spirits. Ranked as the number 3 beer company in the United States, Constellation is the host brand for many iconic beers including Corona, Corona Light, Modelo Especial and Pacifico. Under its premium spirits brands, the company supports SVEDKA Vodka, Casa Noble Tequila, and High West Whiskey. On the other hand, Growth Corporation was one of the early distributors in the Canadian and international marijuana market, which has in turn allowed it to become the largest player in the game. The company is not solely interested in providing consistent access to high quality cannabis products, but is just as invested in educating healthcare professionals and conducting clinical research about cannabis.

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Image depicting the iconic beer brands under host company, Constellation Brands.

Constellation Brands investment gives them a 38% share in Canopy Growth Corp., while also giving them further warrants that could take the stake to over 50% in the near future. The investment will help Canopy solidify its position as an industry leader and gives them the funds to build or acquire new assets. While more than 30 countries, including Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Germany, and South Africa, begin to purse medical cannabis programs, the $4 billion investment will help Canopy to serve those markets. According to Forbes, the money will also help for the company to be more invested in the cannabis edible space. Forbes states that,

“For example, in Colorado, the share of edibles and concentrates went up from 11% and 13% at the beginning of 2014 to 15% and 29% by the end of 2017. Furthermore, in California and Oregon, their combined share exceeds 35%.” – Trefis Team, Great Speculations, 2018

The leading alcohol brand was determined to find a new influx of revenue, as it’s own industry has been suffering. According to Forbes, in US States where medical marijuana has been legalized, there has been a 15% drop in monthly alcohol sales. This figure can prove to be detrimental to the industry at large, but to Constellation in particular. It has already experienced falling revenues in the wine and spirits segments, and predicts a decline in the beer market and the US as well.

This trend will continue to grow as regulation continues to spread across the United States. What company do you think will follow next? Comment and let us know!

Article: What Constellation Brands’ Massive Investment In Canopy Growth Corp. Means For Both Companies

Marijuana Dispensaries Tapping Into High Design

Let’s face it. The industry of cannabis is developing into that of a household name, similar to the domination of Tobacco related products for the past century. In 2018, many industries are beginning to take more advanced and technological approaches when it comes to the way they conduct their businesses, and the way that they present them to consumers. The cannabis industry is no different; as consumer perceptions continue to become more and more positive and accepting, the industry itself must adapt to create a culture that is no longer associated with the negative stigmas of marijuana consumption. Professionals in the cannabis industry want their stores to mirror the concept that cannabis can be consumed professionally and is, in fact, a modern substance.

In recent years we have all seen the merging of art and certain industries. Hospitality approaches in the residential, healthcare, retail, and now, cannabis, are all moving towards art for the design. As marijuana becomes legalized across the United States more and more, emerging modern design niche’s make many industries look synonymous. Interior designers of cannabis shops are now looking to design their interiors to the point that if you somehow did not recognize the marijuana, you could easily mistake it for a high-end hair salon or advanced coffee shop. In an article by Meghan Edwards on Interior Design, she outlines 5 different cannabis stores that exhibit modern approaches to interior design.

1) Park Range Recreationals by The High Road Design Studio. Located in Oak Creek, Colorado. 

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Inside look at the Park Range Recreaitonals store by The High Road Design Studio owned by Megan Stone.

For retail designer, Megan Stone, forging a positive connection with the community was her primary goal for the project. Stone owns the first design firm that Interior Design has seen that specializes in retail design. Park Range Recreationals is a 500-square-foot space that keeps a sense of openness due to storage that is cleanly concealed behind wooden panels and stainless-steel canisters. The steel library looking ladder in the left hand corner of the photo above adds to the stores inviting atmosphere. Stone states her reasoning for designing the store as such:

“Design can be a powerful tool in changing negative perceptions of cannabis and elevating the value these businesses can add to a community. As a result, a more sustainable and profitable business is possible.” – Megan Stone, Owner of The High Road Design Studio, 2018

2) Paper & Leaf. by Johnson Squared Architecture and Semigood Design. Located in Bainbridge Island, Washington 

The co-owners of Paper & Leaf opened the doors of the shop in 2017 to embody a central vision; that of a high-end art gallery that featured a warm, inviting atmosphere. The store is very brightly light, features handcrafted wooden cases, and a 12-foot-long oak table that they call the “discovery station”. Brendan Hill and Steven Kessler decided that bamboo lining across the rafters of the store help to banish any concern that their purchase is “taboo”. In other words, they want their customers to know they are purchasing quality marijuana.

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Paper & Leaf by Johnson Squared Architecture and Semigood Design located in Bainbridge Island, Washington State

3)  Columbia Care by Bruce Hampton and RPG. Located in New York City, New York

Design and build firm based in New York city, RPG created a branded experience for 10 medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of New York. The very first flagship was revealed in New York in January 2018. Columbia Care features wood, marble, bronze, and white solid surfacing. These features are meant to appeal to patients, pharmacists, and consultants alike by fostering a contemporary and comfortable environment. Their spaces create a new image for medical marijuana shops due to soft lighting, modern seating, and large-format photos to educate patients on various cannabis products. The store also runs videos and has tablets for each patient to maintain professional.

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Columbia Care by Bruce Hampton and RPG located in New York City, New York.

4) Silverpeak Apothecary by Tanagram Design. Located in Aspen, Colorado.

If you notice the theme, 2 of the shops that we have already mentioned are located in the country’s leader in marijuana sales. Having legalized marijuana in Colorado first, the retail scene is transforming with marijuana shops everywhere. Mentioned by Meghan Edwards, one can expect the stores in Aspen to look much more upscale. Tanagram Design turned Silverpeak into a luxury environment with warm wood accents and sleek display cases.

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Silverpeak Apothecary by Tanagram Design located in Aspen, Colorado. 

5) Pineapple Express by The McBride Company. Pineapple Express is a national chain.

The McBride Company is ahead of the curve with their design concept that they soon plan to implement across the country once legal marijuana takes place nationwide. Their aesthetic of a refined Hawaiian resort. The CEO of the McBride Company is very adamant in providing a sales experience that reflects the continuously evolving perception of marijuana. He states that,

“The store design and atmosphere we created offers consumers a space that incorporates all the elements of great retail design, but addresses the unique display and service challenges faced by the cannabis retail industry.” – Pat McBride, CEO of The McBride Company, 2018

Go check out your local dispensary and see how they have adapted for the modern day political climate and consumer perceptions. Thank you to Meghan Edwards and Interior Design for the wonderful article.

Article: Trending: 5 Marijuana Dispensaries Tap Into High Design

 

Steve Kerr Hopes Professional Leagues Soften Stance on Marijuana

As discussed in The Hemp Chronicles first blog post, cannabis is somewhat of a hot topic in the sports realm right now. While rules and regulations begin to loosen its policies on cannabis use everywhere, many of the major sports leagues have not been as progressive. The NFL has been the most resistant, however, when discussed in the NBA it is also a sensitive subject. While our first post was based around testimonials from former athletes that either played in the NFL or NBA, this one is focused on a testimonial from one of sports most successful young coaches.

After a 17-year career in the NBA as a reliable shooter, Steve Kerr was primed to become one of the NBA’s best coaches after he left the hardwood. During his playing career, Steve Kerr won 5 NBA Championships, alongside a few of the best players of all time. Playing on the Chicago Bulls alongside Michael Jordan (arguably the best player to ever touch the hardwood) from 1993-1998, Kerr won 5 Championships and contributed one of the more iconic shots in finals history against the Utah Jazz. After leaving the Bulls, Kerr won another championship with the Spurs in 2003, his final season. While with the Spurs, Kerr played alongside not one, but two of the leagues greatest big men in Tim Duncan and David Robinson.

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Photo of Michael Jordan and Steve Kerr celebrating after the Bulls won the 1997 NBA Championship following Kerr’s game-winner.

In his tenure with both the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs, Steve Kerr had the opportunity to play under two of the games most accomplished coaches as well. The pair of Phil Jackson and Greg Popovich has 16 NBA titles combined. While Kerr was never the star of his respective teams, it is clear that the coaches championship pedigree rubbed off, as he has now led the Golden State Warriors to 3 NBA Titles in just 4 seasons as head coach.

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Photo of Greg Popvich and Steve Kerr while he played for the San Antonio Spurs.

Kerr is not only good at setting plays on the floor, yet is also good at putting ideas into motion off of it as well. In the past few years, it is no secret that Steve Kerr has had chronic back pain, and he has not been shy in sharing how he has dealt with it. In 2015, Kerr underwent two back surgeries, which caused him to miss the first half of the 2015-16 season, and experience continued discomfort. Though he returned to win the 2016 NBA Coach of the Year Award, Kerr was very transparent in how he went about treating his pain, and how he wished others would deal with it.

In a podcast with Monte Poole, Kerr was adamant in his belief that cannabis can be a viable alternative to prescribed medicine. According to him, he tried cannabis, yet it did not “agree” with his body and did not fully relieve his back pain. However, Kerr also recognizes that it did more for his body than any prescribed medicine.

“… If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you got lot of pain, I don’t think there’s any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin. And yet, athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it’s Vitamin C, like it’s no big deal. And there’s like this perception in our country that over-the-counter drugs are fine but pot is bad. Now, I think that’s changing.” – Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors Head Coach, 2016

Kerr recognizes that one of the main reasons that sports leagues are not so receptive in allowing cannabis use is due to its perception. He believes that the NFL is worried about their fan base believing that “All the players are potheads”, however he is sure that it is a much better alternative for it’s players. Though Kerr received negative feedback for his comments about the substance, he remained firm in his belief and did not shy away from the conversation. Kerr stated,

“It’s a very important issue to talk about. Having gone through a tough spell over the last year with my own recovery from back surgery, and a lot of pain, I had to do a lot of research. You get handed prescriptions for Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet, NFL players, that’s what they’re given. The stuff is awful. The stuff is dangerous. The addiction possibility, what it can lead to, the long term health risks. The issue that’s really important is how do we do what’s best for the players.” – Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors Head Coach, 2016

The 3-time NBA Championship Head Coach knows that it is only a matter of time before bans on marijuana are lifted and much more accepted by the greater society. My prediction is that these huge leagues will eventually learn to listen to their players, as it is inevitably their bottom line being affected. Especially in a sport like football, if it allows players to feel better after placing their bodies through near hell every Sunday, then why not consider it as an alternative? The longer that players are able to stay on the field the better for a teams success and overall profit.

Comment and let us know what American professional sports league you think will legalize marijuana first!

Article: Steve Kerr Says He Used Marijuana for Back Pain

 

Canada Already Setting the Blueprint for Cheaper Cannabis

Although the country just became the second nation to legalize marijuana earlier in 2018, Canada has already began to become an example for the rest of the world. While the United States has been tentative about legalizing marijuana, our neighbors up North have figure out how to do so in an effective manner. The country has learned that it did not need to create completely new facilities to produce cannabis, yet can adjust it’s current infrastructure to do so. Greenhouses that once were used to grow consumer products are now being restructured with air filters and light-blocking shades to create the perfect conditions for cultivating marijuana.

“We haven’t changed the footprint… We’ve just changed the crop.” – Rob Hill, CFO of Emerald Health Therapeutics, 2018

Many tomato and pepper plant growers have already began to replace their crops with cannabis plants. According to USA Today, these new, large scale operations are the future of mass production of marijuana. Obviously the goal of most producers of marijuana is to make money, however, these large-scale operations have real implications on the affect of the black market as well. According to Trevor Hughes, these highly sophisticated operations will drive the price of marijuana so low that black marketeers would have no choice but to give up.

Apart of their legalization of marijuana, Canada requires that cannabis be grown indoors by only licensed providers. Companies such as Emerald Health Therapeutics, that grows marijuana in Delta, Canada, have not looked at the regulation as an obstacle, but an opportunity. The company partnered with a longtime produce operation, Village Farms, in a joint venture of their own. Pure Sunfarms, a product of Emerald Health Therapeutics and Village Farms, is already capable of producing ridiculous amounts of marijuana. According to Trevor Hughes,

“Pure Sunfarms [is] capable of producing a staggering 82 tons of marijuana annually from the 1.1 million square foot greenhouse complex about 30 minutes south of Vancouver.” – Trevor Hughes, USA Today, 2018

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Drone image of the Pure Sunfarms cannabis greenhouse operation. The complex is just 30 minutes from Vancouver.

Countries all over the world are watching Canada very closely after their legalization of marijuana. The financial implications of the new law can be ground breaking for many countries around the world. According to Hughes, Trevor Hughes states that just three years ago, wholesale marijuana was selling for $2,000 per pound. Wholesale marijuana currently sells for $600 a pound on average in a few states that have legalized it in the USA, making it far more financially valuable than any other crop. When analyzing on per-plant profit margin basis, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, and even almonds are all usually measured in fractions of a penny.

 

Since its cultivation is widely still illegal in many places in the US, many farming operations have decided to stay away from marijuana, fearing potential prosecution. By Canada making it legal nationwide, they actually combat the problem of marijuana related crime face-to-face. With the ability of many to produce marijuana legally, the country has already driven down the price of cannabis. By driving down the price, experts agree that it will assist the Canadian government in ridding itself of cartels and other black-market dealers. According to BDS Analytics,

“In Colorado, for instance, the price of smokable “flower” has dropped 40 percent since January 2014, from $7 a gram to $4.19 a gram today,” – BDS Analytics, 2018

As laws continue to grow with the industry, it is clear that Canada is just the beginning of what we will see with marijuana growth. Hughes states that indoor growers of legal and black-market marijuana consumed 4.1 million megawatt-hours of electricity in 2017. That number is roughly equal to the total amount of electricity generated by the Hoover Dam, according to New Frontier Data. Yes, the Hoover Dam! Though it may be expensive to grow indoors, those who harvest the plant can cultivate year-round. In an industry with constant demand and a growing consumer base, this is extremely important for those who are not located in warm weather climates.

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Photo of Greenhouses filled with marijuana at Pure Sunfarms in Delta, Canada

Since regulation has begun to flow through the United States and to our neighbors above the border, the price of wholsale marijuana has continued to fall. As we begin to develop proven tactics and effective methods of cultivating the plant, I am sure that the trend will tend to continue. I’m also very curious to see what the ultimate price floor for wholesale marijuana will be. As more and more producers come into the market, prices will be undercut and consumers will have less loyalty. At it’s current price, marijuana is still considered a boutique crop, however, as the market grows it will be interesting to see its value change. The following graph from Cannabis Benchmarks is a great visual of the downward sloping price curve that currently characterizes legal marijuana.

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Information from states that have already legalized marijuana in the USA. Source: Cannabis Benchmarks

Let us know your thoughts on the current state of pricing in the cannabis industry!

Article: Future of Legal Marijuana by USA Today

 

O Canada: The second nation to legalize marijuana

Although Canada neighbors the United States, it is unfair to assume that the country and its constituents share our same values. While 30 states in America have legalized medical marijuana, only 9 of those states (including the District of Columbia) have legalized recreational marijuana. On the opposite side of the border, our Canadian neighbors have adopted a policy that legalizes the use of marijuana everywhere, not by provinces and territories. In June of 2018, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana use, behind Uruguay who did so in 2013.

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Current map of the states that have legalized recreational marijuana and medical marijuana. 30 states have legalized medical marijuana and 9 have legalized recreational marijuana.

The Cannabis Act, also known as Bill C-45, comes from a campaign pledge from Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to keep marijuana away from underage users and to reduce the related crime. The Cannabis Act was first introduced on April 13th, 2017 and was passed in the House of Commons in November of the same year. Bani Sapra, a writer for CNN, notes that,

“Although the Canadian government had initially stated its intent to implement by July 2018, provinces and territories, who will be responsible for drafting their own rules for marijuana sales, have advised that they would need eight to 12 weeks after the Senate approval to transition to the new framework.” – Bani Sapra, CNN, 2018

While Donald Trump utilizes Twitter to provoke response or simply to tile up his constituents, it is clear that the prime minister of Canada uses Social Media in a much more positive manner. On July 19th, after the bill’s passing, the prime minister took to Twitter to share his appreciation for the bill and his optimism that it will be the answer that they have been looking for all along.

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Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, tweets his support for the Cannabis Act, also known as C-45

The justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, was also in support of the bill, even stating that it is a, “… historic milestone for progressive policy in Canada”. Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould are consistent in their belief that the bill will help to protect the youth from cannabis risk, while keeping profit out of the reign of one-off criminals and factions of organized crime. Though the country has chosen to legalize marijuana use nationally, there are still rules and regulations on how to do so within the confines of the law. Bani Sapra provides a great list in her article on CNN for those that are interested in consuming marijuana in a legal fashion:

  • Adults can carry AND share up to 30 grams of legal marijuana in public.

  • Adults are allowed to cultivate up to FOUR plants in their household and make products such as edibles for personal use.

  • Consumers are expected to purchase marijuana from retailers regulated by provinces, territories, or federally licensed products.

  • Marijuana WILL NOT be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco.

  • Canadian government has also implemented changes to the countries impaired driving laws, to create repercussions for operating a vehicle under the influence of cannabis.

The Cannabis Act set the floor for the minimum age of a consumer to be 18 years old, opposed to the 21 years that the United States uses for both alcohol and cannabis consumption. The production, distribution, or sale of cannabis as a minor will be constituted as an offense. Provinces and territories are free to increase the minimum age of consumption, however, the Canadian government has made it clear that 18 is the desired age that will make C-45 an effective law. Related image

Although the Canadian government has been consistent in voicing it’s praise for the bill in order to decrease cannabis related crime, I am sure that that is not the only desired result. By legalizing marijuana nationwide, I am positive that the Canadian government is aware that they are officially entering a financially rewarding industry. The Cannabis Act, or C-45, is expected to spark a billion-dollar industry in Canada. Sapra notes that total spending on marijuana can surge up to 58%, particularly because consumers will be willing to pay a premium for legal access to the component.

On our side of the border in the United States, it is clear that the marijuana industry is growing, even without nationwide legalization. Sapra states that,

“In the United States, BDS Analytics estimated that the pot industry took in nearly $9 billion in sales in 2017. The revenue from the sales is equivalent to the entire snack bar industry.” – Bani Sapra, CNN, 2018

Our Canadian neighbors have taken advantage of the growing industry early, and many Canadian companies have begun to become the center of United States investment. Canopy Growth Corp., Aphria Inc., and Aurora Cannabis Inc., have begun to lead the early charge in mass production and distribution. Though the United States and Canada differ, one thing is clear: Canada has figured out an effective bill that decriminalizes marijuana, while protecting the youth from cannabis use at too early of an age. Possibly the United States will take a page out of their book, yet it seems that there is a much more uphill battle for legal marijuana here in the United States.

Please comment your suggestions, ideas, or viewpoints on the current state of legal marijuana adoption in America. Why do you think it hasn’t happened?

Article: Canada Becomes Second Nation in the World to Legalize Marijuana

 

Artist Feature: Snoop Dogg Is More Than Just An OG In The Rap Game

Growing up in Los Angeles, I have always been a fan of Snoop Dogg. Growing up in Long Beach, Snoop Dogg has created timeless music for the West Coast, and has been an active member of the community as well. Coincidentally, I actually have experienced the charitable person that Snoop Dogg is, having played in his youth football league growing up in the city. Though he did not come up in the best situation, having an unstable presence of a father in his life, Snoop Dogg made the most out of what was given.

Growing up, Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, ran into the law frequently due to his affiliation with the Rolling 20’s Crip gang in East Long Beach, but I can assure you that he has never been just a “gangster”. Since dropping his debut album, Doggy Style, in 1993, Snoop Dogg has continued to alter his life. Now, the infamous Westcoast rapper has been at the pinnacle of the rap game, and has been active in finding new ways to make money off of what he enjoys: Marijuana.

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The Original Cover Art for Snoop Dogg’s Debut Album “Doggy Style” (1993)

Debuting in 1993, Snoop Dogg is considered one of the original rappers of the Gangster Rap era in the early 90’s. His status as an OG is not cemented solely by his tenure in the rap game at this point, as he is one of the most successful artists to be involved in the business of cannabis as well. Snoop Dogg’s company, named Leafs by Snoop, was launched in November of 2015, and since has gained considerable traction. Using capital that he had accumulated during his music career, the rapper was able to begin selling his own cannabis pens, strain, and other related products.

Though it is known that the artist has been very successful in his cannabis adventures, new developments in his charge have landed him on our blog. There is a great article by Sean Williams of The Motley Fool that speaks to just how much money the artist has been able gather for the cause. Williams points out a major figure that influences Snoop Dogg’s success, and it isn’t simply his status as a superstar. Williams states that,

“Cannabis research firm ArcView recently noted that legal pot sales in North America climbed 33% in 2017 to $9.7 billion, and they’re expected to grow annually by 28% through 2021, hitting $24.5 billion a year in the process. You’d probably struggle to find an industry with more consistent growth prospects.” – Sean Williams, The Motley Fool, 2018

One unique aspect about the cannabis industry is that it is not simply the direct growers that have been able to capitalize of the legalization of marijuana, but the ancillary players as well. Snop Dogg has been on the forefront of capitalizing on what he has always loved to do, and has co-founder a venture capital firm that focuses on investments in the cannabis space. Casa Verde Capital (translated to “green house”) is currently the leading venture capital firm focusing exclusively on the cannabis industry.

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Photo of the Casa Verde Capital Logo. Currently the firm has more than $45 Million in Investments.

Before closing to new investors, Casa Verde Capital had raised $45 million. Its reason for closing to the public was sos it can look for large investments of more than $1 million or up only. The firm plans to follow up with closing that requirement, and making all investments $3 to $5 million instead. TO date the company has made 8 investments in total and plans to continue growing!

Article: Snoop Dogg’s Marijuana Fund is Budding After a $45 Million Capital Raise

Artist Feature: Wiz Khalifa’s Success in the Cannabis Industry

As a longstanding fan of Hip-Hop, whether it be from today’s day in age or the generations of the past, I enjoy when I get a chance to see the artists that I follow develop themselves off of the beat as well. As an inspiring young businessman, I tend to respect artists that have their hands in multiple pots and understand the value of having multiple streams of income. Though they make millions through album sales, touring, promotions, and appearances, the most financially responsible artists know that they can use their capital to invest in other streams of income. While everyone knows about legends Hip-Hop such as Jay Z and P. Diddy creating their respective business empires, there are a few artists careers that I have been following that should also be put on notice. Since this blog is focused upon the ever growing industry of cannabis, our feature for today will be an artist who has made a successful career out of his marijuana based verses and lifestyle:

Wiz Khalifa

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Since releasing his first mixtape in 2006, Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania, Wiz Khalifa has established himself as one of the more prominent artists in the game. The Pittsburgh rapper, heavily influenced by marijuana consumption, has named the majority of his mixtapes or albums based off of cannabis. Titles include Kush and Orange Juice, Rolling Papers I and II, Burn After Rolling, 28 Grams, Bong Rips, and many more.  Of course, there are many artists who are also avid supporters of recreational cannabis use, there are few that have actually turned their passion into tangible dollars. Wiz Khalifa is one of them.

Along with his music, Wiz Khalifa has extended his empire to the digital marketplace and cannabis retail front. On April 20th, 2017, Wiz Khalifa launched his own mobile video game called Wiz Khalifa’s Weed Farm. The Pittsburgh native worked in tandem with Metamoki, a boutique gaming studio that specializes in making apps on the free-to-play market. The app gives users a virtual glimpse into the future of the cannabis industry. Gamers have the opportunity to grow, harvest, and reinvest their money into the marketplace. Throughout the course of the game, users will receive updates that will allow them to expand their business across the US as cannabis is legalized in the virtual world. In an article posted by Forbes in November of 2017, just 6 months after the release of the game, Wiz Khalifa’s Weed Farm had already gotten 4 million downloads.

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Wiz Khalifa’s Weed Farm is currently ranked the #66 Strategy Game and has a 4.8 Star Rating on the app store

 

In the year prior to the release of his gaming app, Wiz Khalifa had already begun selling his own line of marijuana products. Early in 2016, Khalifa announced his partnership with Colorado-based RiverRock Cannabis to sell his own strain, Khalifa Kush. In addition to Khalifa Kush, or KK, Wiz Khalifa and RiverRock have already begun to sell many infused products and concentrates. Khalifa Kush released on April 20th of 2016, and of course, it is not a simple coincidence. According to Forbes, Khalifa brought in an excess of $28 million in 2017 due to Khalifa Kush and the Weed Farm mobile app.

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The rapper has never been shy about his love for marijuana, and has even expanded his business onto the Big Screen. In 2012, Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa appeared in the film Mac and Devin Go To High School. Directed by Dylan Brown, the film is a story about two high school students, Mac and Devin form an unlikely bond. The geeky Wiz Khalifa, or “Dev” as called in the movie, befriends Snoop Dogg, or “Mac”, who then introduces him to cannabis. The movie has been considered one of the more successful comedies that revolves around cannabis use.

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Advertisement for Mac & Devin Go To High School Starring Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa

The moral of Wiz Khalifa’s story, is that there is always a way to monetize your passions. Prior to his music career, I am sure that he never thought he would own his own strain. After working his way to becoming a national artist, he continued to let his passions drive his business as well. The consumption of cannabis might be his, but to those reading, I hope you all can find a way to make money off of what you love!