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

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

 

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

 

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