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

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

 

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!

The Economic Impact of Cannabis Tourism

A major development in the cannabis industry has been tourism. Particularly with more than half of the states in the US decriminalizing medical marijuana, many states have begun to capitalize on the public’s interest in the substance. In an article on Forbes, Nick Kovacevich goes into depth about the growing industry and how it will continue to develop in the coming years.

The preliminary example that Kovacevich uses comes from San Francisco. He begins to talk about an experience called the Gonja Goddess Getaway, which is a wellness retreat for women who already love cannabis, and those that simply want a safe space to try it for the first time. The retreat consists of yoga, educational classes, spa treatments, and of course unlimited cannabis. The retreat allows its visitors to try it in many different forms, including smoothies, creams, and even vapes. According to the co-founder, Deidra Bagdasarian,

“Cannabis attracts everyone, from lawyers to truckers,” – Deidra Bagdasarian, Co-Founder of Ganja Goddess Getaway, 2018

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A photo from the Ganja Goddess Getaway hosted in San Francisco

Bagdasarian has enjoyed the luxuries of this form of tourism, as she also created Bliss Edibles which is one of the premier cannabis companies in the United States. Her business has expanded so much that she plans to expand across the entire country and overseas in 2019. Her success, however, is not uncommon in this industry. In the Forbes article, it is said that Cannabis Tourism is growing at an incredibly fats rate and attracts thousand of people, which in turn produces millions of dollars in revenue. Kovacevich noted that in Colorado alone, this form of tourism has grown 51% since 2014, according to the states department of revenue. He went further to note that,

“The Colorado DOR said the state attracted some 6.5 million cannabis tourists in 2016, the most recent figures available. It estimates that number will have grown by at least 6% in 2017 and will match or exceed that figure this year. The report said those 6.5 million tourists logged nearly 18 million cannabis-use days in 2016, a clear demonstration of how the state racked up more than $5.2 billion in marijuana sales since it legalized cannabis in January 2014.” – Nick Kovacevich,  Forbes Contributor, 2018

Let me just emphasize these numbers again. Since 2014, just four years ago, the cannabis industry alone in Colorado has contributed $5.2 BILLION to the states economy! Colorado is the prime example because it was the catalyst for the rest of the country to follow suit. Kovacevich also notes the impact California has been monumental as well. Not only are “Wine and Weed” tours are becoming more popular, but so are “Puff and Paint” events. These states have found innovative ways to infuse cannabis use with traditional tourism, allowing for a better experience for tourists. He notes that,

“One tour company plays on the mystique of cannabis, offering tours “behind the curtain” of the legal marijuana industry in six states, along with some sampling along the way.” – Nick Kovacevich,  Forbes Contributor, 2018

Though Cannabis Tourism has produced a great deal of revenue, like the rest of the cannabis industry, it also has a banking problem. Since cannabis use is still considered illegal at the federal level, most banks refuse to do business with companies in the industry. With some states having it legalized and others refusing to do so, the legal uncertainty makes it hard for banks, and destination marketers to promote cannabis tourism. States are beginning to wake up to the potential, but there is a lot of work to be done.

According to Marijuana Business Factbook, the economic impact of legal marijuana will increase 223% from 2017 to 2022. Using the Great Experiment as an example, also called Colorado, we can assume that the more touristy the area of a certain state, the higher the cost of marijuana, which in turn generates higher sales tax revenue. In 2017, cannabis sales were higher than alcohol sales in Aspen for the first time in history. Even small towns near the border with states where cannabis use is not legalized have seen significantly higher per capita sales than interior areas of the state. This indicates that the out-of-state market of potential customers on a day-trip can be just as potent.

Even in Nevada, where cannabis use is outlawed on the Vegas Strip, people are finding a way to cash in on the industry. After marijuana revenue exceeded expectations by 25% in 2017, Nevada policy makers began to consider smoking parlors and pot lounges to draw more tourist. Kovacevich added that,

“In November [2018], a sort of cannabis theme park will open in Las Vegas, featuring laser graffiti walls, giant flying orbs, and light and water shows. And that’s before guests get to the dispensary.” – Nick Kovacevich, Forbes Contributor, 2018

In the coming years it is inevitable for us to see more cities loosen their restrictions on cannabis tourism, due to the fact that so much revenue is involved. It will be interesting to see how cities adapt around the development of the cannabis industry, and try to incorporate it into their tourism pitch. Comment which cities you would like to visit for your first Cannabis Tourism experience!

Article: The Next Big Thing In Cannabis: Tourism

The Great Experiment

While many states have legalized marijuana as of 2018, well at least medical marijuana use in most cases, Colorado was the first of its kind. The legalization of marijuana use in the state of Colorado is considered one of America’s greatest experiment to date. Though no one knew exactly what was to come from marijuana legalization, it is clear that the state has seen numerous benefits. In 2014 Colorado became the first state where marijuana, often referred to as “pot”, was made recreational. Voting numbers for the so called “Great Experiment” were unprecedented, and natives of the state have seen vast changes since its implementation. The so called “experiment” has been very beneficial for Colorado.

As of 2018, just four years after the legalization of cannabis, Colorado continues to be characterized by record low unemployment rates. As of March of 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Colorado has an unemployment rate of just 3%, while the national average is at 3.9%. In 2017, only three years after it’s legalization, Colorado reached a record-low unemployment rate at 2.6% in May. Multiple factors contribute to Colorado’s low level of unemployment, including the state’s business-friendly policies.

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The chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the historical high and low unemployment rates for Colorado

According to Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, Colorado’s very low business tax rate is one of the lowest in the country at 4.6%. Carey Wedler from the Word On Tree, another blog based on the business of cannabis, noted that Colorado’s approach to business taxes has helped create over 60,000 jobs in the clean energy sector, however it is undeniable that the cannabis industry has played a vital role in the states development. Wedler states that in 2016 alone,

“Cannabis generated $1.3 billion in profit, which yielded nearly $200 million in tax revenue that the state is using for various programs, including education, substance abuse and cannabis awareness programs for youth, and even the Attorney General’s office.” – Carey Wedler, Word on Tree, 2017

With over a billion dollars worth of business in one industry, it is inevitable that jobs would follow. In 2015 alone, just a year after the implementation of recreational cannabis, the industry created 18,000 full time jobs. The Washington Post reported that,

“These indirect impacts of marijuana legalization came from increased demand on local goods and services: growers rent warehouse space and purchase sophisticating lighting and irrigation equipment, for instance. Marijuana retailers similarly rely on other companies, like contractors, lawyers and book-keeping services, to conduct their own businesses.”

marijuana-legal-pot-sales-620The trend has not slowed down, as the industry continues to increase on jobs and revenue. In 2016, CBS posted a report that according to the Marijuana Business Daily, Colorado has more than 27,000 occupational licenses, which was up from the nearly 16,000 licenses that were held at the end of 2014. In order to compare the impact of the economy that the legalization of cannabis has versus clean energy, we can look at the number of jobs that were created. In the article on Word of Tree posted by Carey Wedler, clean energy jobs outnumber the amount of cannabis jobs by more than 35,000, the actual speed of job creation is faster with marijuana. According to the Denver Business Journal, the clean energy sector created 1,583 new jobs in 2014. In opposition, the Marijuana Business Daily reported that,

“….  In May of 2014 that less than six months after legalization, the cannabis industry had already generated between 1,000 and 2,000 new jobs — roughly the same number of jobs as clean energy created in the course of the whole year.”

These numbers really speak for themselves and have major implications for the rest of the country. Born and raised in Los Angeles, I have already seen some of these implications manifest themselves first-hand. Business Insider noted that the state of California, which legalized marijuana in November of 2016, could see major economic benefits. In the state capital region alone, there can be an increase of 20,000 potential jobs if it becomes a hub for the industry. Even though it has proven to be an economic bonus for Colorado and states that have followed suit, many remain reluctant to admit it’s impact. Even Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado initially opposed legalization, yet changed his mind once he saw positive results. He believes it is too soon to know what the downsides are of legalized marijuana, but he now remains optimistic. He even notes that the state has not seen a big spike in teenage consumption, or any consumption; it is now just through a regulated process.

Related Links:

Word on Tree : First State to Legalize Weed Has Lowest Unemployment Rate in the Country

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Eight States at Historically Low Unemployment Rates in March 2018

CBS News: Measuring Colorado’s “Great Experiment” With Marijuana

The Use Of Marijuana In Sports

In order to eliminate the negative stigma that accompanies the use of cannabis, one of the first steps involved is recognition. Cannabis use has been widely recognized by many scientists as an alternative to traditional medications, and has been recognized by many prominent entrepreneurs as a viable business option; however, this is not the recognition I’m speaking of.

To fight the stereotypes that go hand-in-hand with cannabis use, people need to recognize that many of their favorite athletes, entertainers, and businessman are using cannabis to their advantage and not a handicap. The following article from Bleacher Report is a testimonial from many former NFL and NBA athletes that will attest to the fact that marijuana helped them to succeed. According to one NBA athlete, Matt Barnes, in all of his best games, he was medicated. In an interview with the Rich Eisen Show, Barnes said:

“It relaxed me, it was something that allowed me to sleep easier, it was something that took pain away — because I’m not really big on alcohol or pain killers. And it was something that just put me in a different area where I was able to relax and be at peace for a small part of my day.” – Matt Barnes, former NBA Forward, 2018

1e046786220416ba330287e046b4a6b7_crop_exactWhile the NBA is more receptive of the use of cannabis, the NFL currently has a much more strict policy for its players. NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, even admitted to Bleacher Report that the league is, “interested in better understanding the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana”. The NFL is on the other side of the spectrum though, and has offered to work with it’s Players Association, but remains hesitant to provide support. Roger Goodell has been consistent in his message when he stated that:

“[Marijuana] does have [an] addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long term. All of those things have to be considered. And it’s not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game.” – Roger Goodell, Current NFL Commissioner of 12 seasons, 2017

While it may be true that cannabis use can be addictive, it is also clear that if used responsibly it can have numerous benefits for athletes. According to newly retired tight end Martellus Bennett, about 89% of NFL players use cannabis as an alternative for prescriptive medicine. If many of your favorite athletes continue to make highlight play after highlight play while using cannabis, can it really be a negative entity? It sure makes you tune in on a weekly basis.

Article: NBA’s Matt Barnes Discusses His Marijuana Use