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The Wink In Weed: The Midwest Leg Of ‘Cannafest Destiny’ Tours The Heartland

By David Rheins

So much attention is spent on the great progress that is being made on the East Coast, that we sometimes forget to acknowledge the truly historic changes that are transforming the country’s heartland.  As wise approach this Independence Day, those of us in the marijuana reform movement and legal cannabis industry have much to celebrate.  Roll fireworks, spark legal sparklers.

I grew up in the conservative Midwest dreaming of more.  Weaned on the music and poetry of Bob Dylan and John Lennon, rock & roll and marijuana sustained me during my formative years in the Indiana of the 1960s and 1970s. Back then, Midwesterners had little hope that legalization would ever really come to our bible belt.  Hell, you couldn’t even buy beer on Sundays, or buy a lottery ticket in the Hoosier state.

As soon as I could, I fled the flatlands of Indiana– first for the Central African Republic as a Peace Corp volunteer, and later to the libertine coastal towns of New York City and Seattle. In New York, I learned the business of media and marketing. At Rolling Stone Magazine, and SPIN and AOL Time Warner, I received a first-class education on building pop culture brands and established a network of lifetime friends and colleagues.

Since Colorado and Washington first voted to legalize recreational marijuana use in late 2012, the legal cannabis market has grown from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.7 billion last year, according to industry estimates. That kind of velocity gets the attention of investors, many of whom focus on tech.

MJBA has provided a safe place for professionals in legal cannabis to build the industry and establish best practices.

In Seattle, I found my people in a culture of bountiful marijuana and progressive politics.  The Pacific Northwest was where the hippies washed up.  In the cool forests and high-tech valleys of the Puget Sound, I found a society that had socialized, if not yet fully legalized, the use of cannabis. The PNW was rich in cannabis culture, and with extensive plant expertise, and established community, but no real business infrastructure. With legalization, and the complexities of compliance that come with it, we established the Marijuana Business Association to meet the many needs of those early business pioneers. We were privileged to be able to help establish one of the first legal cannabis markets, and a build a very vibrant community of cannabis business professionals that has allowed us to take that knowledge and expertise across the country as new markets opened.

Now, five years after those first market places began, we have established legal cannabis communities on both Coasts, and even in the Midwest.  Public opinion is firmly on our side, and even Congress has come around – with several bills currently circulating with bi-partisan support that will further unravel the age of prohibition.  By every indication, the country is moving towards legalizing marijuana for both medical and commercial use. The Senate, led by Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, has passed the 2018 Farm Bill which includes Hemp farming provisions that De-schedule Hemp and allow American hemp farmers to take advantage of a booming global market (insert link). We are about to embark on the hemp century, and that portends great things for the Midwest.

What a great time then to steer the CannaFest Destiny Tour – the educational tour that Curved Papers and the MJBA have been on for the last two years – to Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

Curved Papers is a national sponsor of The Marijuana Business Association.

Curved Papers is a national sponsor of The Marijuana Business Association.

We began our trip in Michigan, the land of a thousand dispensaries.  Second largest medical cannabis market in the country — with more than 300,000 patients — Michiganders will vote on full legalization in November, and the local cannabis activists are feeling confident in success.

But for now, Michigan and the High Times Cannabis Cup was all about Medical Marijuana.  For starters, you had to be 18+, and possess a medical card to get in. We arrive at the racetrack in the pouring rain.  Navigating the muddy parking lot, we are greeted with long lines and quickly learn that there is a strict, if indecipherable, wristband hierarchy in play.  Super VIPs have replaced VIPs.  And If you ain’t Super VIP, you are only slightly above the great unwashed.  A strict canna-class system is in full evidence:  High Times hogs ride around on ATVs, vested security guards checks wristbands to ensure to unauthorized entrance into meager VIP – with its tubs of free Flynt Water Bottles water, a free t-shirt, and a place to get sit down and medicate – and slightly better Super VIP tented areas.

michael with mjba button

High Times Michigan was held at the Auto City Raceway in Clio, a former dirt track turned asphalt flea market for weed smokers, er I mean, patients.  The venue was packed, despite the rain, and the track was lined with every flavor of entrepreneurs eager to serve a hungry crowd. Corn dogs and infused coffee, dabs (called wax in Michigan), edibles and local flower, lots of flower were available in an endless circle of booths and trailers.  Just don’t look for alcohol.  Despite the permanent venue advertising that lined the track, there was no booze available at the track.  Instead, we found the nicest crowd you ever saw – a blissed out army of stoned zombies gathered together for a day of smoking marijuana and singing songs in the Midwest muck. We had a blast.

After two days in at the laidback track, we made our way southward to Cleveland, Ohio.  The vibe changed drastically once we crossed the border into the Buckeye State. Despite passing into law two years ago, medical marijuana remains legal, but unavailable.  Through corruption and incompetence, the state has hemmed, hawed and delayed the process so that the mandated September launch will be pushed back for who knows how long. As a result, the members of the cannabis community – advocates, educators, patients and healthcare professionals – are justifiably frustrated.

2018-Generic-Badge-RWBThis was the setting for the inaugural meetup of the MJBA Cleveland chapter.  Sponsored by MaryJane Staffing Agency and hosted at the offices of Meyers Roman, the event was attended by a small but passionate crowd of lawyers, entrepreneurs, educators and advocates, and covered in the Cannabis Business Times.

Attorney Steven Baden gave the attendees an overview of where the state stood with the rollout of its medical marijuana program (he expects delays to last until the first of the year), and MaryJane President Michelle Blank outlined the hundreds of new jobs and career opportunities for participants in Ohio’s legal cannabis system.  Entrepreneur Michael O’Malley shared his story of innovation, and opportunity for product marketers in the lucrative ancillary arena.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhQZhfvZATg]

Back to the beginning of my personal quest, Indiana is also the last frontier for legal cannabis. But even in Pence’s Indiana, there are rays of freedom breaking through.   The current Governor has signed the law legalizing CBD, and a few brave politicians are standing up for legalization.  At the First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis, Grand Poohbah Bill Levin is awaiting a judge’s decision that could legalize Cannabis as a religious sacrament.

But for now, there is no cannabis in sight as the Cannafest Destiny Tour participated in the Church’s weekly Wednesday services.  Before the services, we receive a call to remind those of us from legal states that we cannot bring our weed onto church grounds.

But inside the classic Indiana Church building, a warm congregation (made even warmer as the air conditioning was on the fritz on the hot and humid Hoosier evening) welcomed us.  In addition to an inspiring sermon by Grand Poohbah Levin, we are treated to testimony from Indiana NORML Chairman Neil Smith, and members of the congregation. Curved Papers founder Michael O’Malley delivered an inspiring talk about the birth of a cannabis brand, and I was able to tell my personal story.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfGnKHeZpIM]
As we left Indiana, the congregants of the First Church of Cannabis are on pins and needles. (as we publish this, the Judge has pushed back the date to render her decision until July 9th).  Levin, ever the advocate for LOVE, told me that he is confident that history is on his side.

Stay tuned to these pages…

Cannafest Destiny Tour Stops At First Church Of Cannabis In Indy On June 13th, 2018

INDIANA: Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) Founder David Rheins and Curved Papers Founder Michael O’Malley will be featured speakers at the weekly services of the First Church of Cannabis, spreading education and encouragement to Indianapolis’ cannabis community on Wednesday, June 13th, as part of the midwestern leg of their “Cannafest Destiny” educational tour.

The two will participate in the weekly services of The First Church of Cannabis, led by Grand Poohbah Bill Levin.   Levin and the Church first made international news back in the spring of 2015, after the group sued then Governor Mike Pence, and the State of Indiana, over the right to use cannabis as a sacrament in church services. The suit argues that cannabis consumption is protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a controversial law championed by Pence, that some have used as defense of discriminatory behavior against LGBTQ, Muslim, and other minority communities. That it could be used to protect cannabis would be ironic, given (now Vice President) Pence’s longstanding disapproval of marijuana use.

"Victory is having cannabis as our church sacrament."

“Victory is having cannabis as our church sacrament.”

It’s been a long, drawn out process, but after more than 3 years in the courts, a decision in the lawsuit will be announced by the end of June. “We are currently waiting for a verdict from our case,” Levin told MJ News Network. “The case ended on May 30th 2018, and the Judge has 30 days to render a verdict. We are obviously VERY OPTIMISTIC about the outcome.”

When asked if a victory meant that consumption of cannabis would be added to the weekly services, the Grand Poohbah assured us: “Yes. Victory is having cannabis as our church sacrament.”

And where will the sacrament, still illegal under Indiana state and federal law, come from? “We have church members in legal states who will gladly help us celebrate on this great day of religious freedom,” the Grand Poohbah assured us.

Levin and MJBA Founder David Rheins both grew up in Indianapolis and were colleagues and fellow pioneers in the independent music and publishing scene back in the 1980s.   “I’m thrilled to be back in my hometown,” said MJBA’s Rheins, “As a Hoosier who experienced first-hand the challenges facing those whose religious beliefs or lifestyle did not conform with the norm, it is an honor to be able to return with the good news that things are changing for the better. Federal Prohibition is ending, and legalization brings jobs, tax revenues and opportunity to Indiana.”

What does it mean to have the MJBA and Curved Papers address the congregation?   “I’m excited to see national businesses finally recognizing Indiana’s potential in the cannabis industry. It is an honor to welcome MJBA and Curved Papers here at The First Church of Cannabis,” Levin said.

Curved Papers supports the political activism of the cannabis community nationwide,” Michael O’Malley told MJNews. “Our Cannafest Destiny Tour with MJBA, and our licensing agreement with NORML contribute to the promotion of personal freedom and  the communication of accurate up-to-date information about the legalization movement. “

The Cannafest Destiny Tour first began in 2016, and has made stops in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.  The Midwestern leg of the tour will include stops in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

The Wink In Weed: CannaFest Destiny Takes MJBA To Las Vegas

MJBA Expands National Footprint, Relocates HQ To Silver State

By David Rheins

This summer I undertook a cross-country, coast-to-coast, “CannaFest Destiny” road show. Sponsored by Curved Papers, the MJBA tour made ‘official’ stops in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Indiana, Massachusetts and New York. We gathered in small groups and large, hosting meetups, participating in panel discussions, exhibiting and speaking at trade shows, investor summits and Hempfests. We exchanged ideas, shared our dreams and committed to working together to build a truly sustainable, profitable and ethical legal industry.

The MJBA held court at Indianapolis’ oldest political venue, the storied Antelope Club, where alongside Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis and the Indiana Chapter of the Libertarian Party, where we discussed ways that Hoosiers can participate in the Cannabis and Hemp revolution today.

The CannaFest Destiny Tour generated excitement and positive press – in local newspapers and radio, on podcasts, through Facebook feeds and social media – opening eyes and making new allies and friends all along the way.

mylesanddavecurved

Having spent much of the past 5 years working to build the legal cannabis industry in the Pacific Northwest and Colorado, it has been exciting for me to witness CannaFest Destiny at work: how each new state and local community is incorporating and modifying best practices from Washington, Colorado and Oregon to create a unique legal marketplace tailored to the needs and sensibilities of the local culture.  While laws, rules and regulations vary widely, I found a common spirit of community and cooperation and commitment to building a fair and responsible industry.

2017-07-15 11.10.04

Nowhere did I witness more radical change in such a short time as Nevada.  It has not been too many years ago that possession of a seed or stem in the Silver State would get you 20 years, and trafficking could earn you life behind bars.  Today, Las Vegas is home to the biggest of the industry trade shows (though recently the Casino and Gaming Commission has discussed banning the legal cannabis industry from Casinos) and nearly 150 licensees grow, process and sell some very fine cannabis.

Screenshot 2017-09-03 09.27.11

The state passed its medical marijuana initiative in 2000, and its recreational initiative in 2016.  Adult use sales began on July 1st and since that time Nevada has outpaced the launch of both the Colorado and Washington markets.  With 42 million tourists visiting annually, Las Vegas is ground zero for the next wave of the legal market, heralding in the era of Commercialization and Normalization. Demand has challenged supply, overwhelming a short-lived monopoly by the alcohol distributors and causing major bottleneck. Pains of growth are inevitable and signs that legalization, once the exclusive province of the liberal West Coast, has now reached the mainstream. Las Vegas is where America (and the world) comes to play – and the players want their legal weed.

True to our mission to provide reliable business intelligence, professional networking and business opportunity to participants in legal cannabis, the Marijuana Business Association has decided to relocate its HQ to Las Vegas.  An ideal location to service the expanding national footprint of the MJBA, Las Vegas offers cheap and easy travel, amazing entertainment venues and one of the fastest-growing legal cannabis marketplaces in the world.   In addition to hosting meetups and professional education events, we will be in a better position to support our growing MJBA Chapters in Oregon, California and Washington, while simultaneously growing our presence on the East Coast – expanding MJBA New York and launching MJBA Boston.

MJBA is Amazing

We’re taking on new partners, and soon will be unveiling a more robust suite of member benefits, including meaningful discounts on the industry’s most important trade events and media opportunities, a new b2b technology platform, and exclusive members-only invitations. Stay tuned to this space!

 

 

 

 

‘I Can Still Do That Foundation’ & Tom Pacheco Premiere “Freida’s Secret Garden”

Shot in Humboldt County, the video uses local talent and filmmakers to promote cannabis legalization

NEW YORK: The I Can Still Do That Foundation, a New York City-based non-profit whose mission is to connect people so they can share information and empower each generation to teach the others, launched “Freida’s Secret Garden “  a pro-pot music video based on a song by legendary Woodstock singer-songwriter Tom Pacheco.

“The time to end irrational prohibition of cannabis is now,’  Dan Schneider, Executive Director of the Foundation, announced. “With 33 States now recognizing the benefits of medical cannabis and another 11 States legalizing recreational cannabis, a majority of Americans are in favor of legalization and the end of the irrational and Draconian laws which have stifled research on the potential benefits of cannabis. These laws have had a disparate impact on people of color and restoration of civil rights to those who have been adversely affected is also required to promote equity. The patchwork of irrational and inconsistent federal and state laws must end and the federal law must allow these now legal business to access the federal banking system to that black market producers of questionable products can be replaced by healthy and tested, legal cannabis and CBD products.”

“We want to thank advisor Lelehnia DuBois and her friends in the Humboldt County for helping us make the new music video,” Schneider said. “You can see the new video here in a sneak peek. Please share it with friends. We are trying to help Tom get the recognition he deserves as a legendary singer/songwriter who has written songs for Bob Dylan, The Band, Jefferson Starship, and others. He has a music publishing catalogue of more than 500 songs; “Freida’s” is just one of many great ones.

Still Do That advisor, Curved Papers Founder Michael O’Malley, said, “This song and video bring together the West Coast and East Coast hippie vibes – from Humboldt County to Woodstock – that have given rise to the contemporary cannabis legalization movement. Call it Cannafest Destiny. The fun, the healing compassion and sensible restoration of marijuana’s rightful place in society are all captured humorously in Tom’s lyric and rocking rhythm.

David Rheins, founder of the Marijuana Business Association and Still Do That Advisor agreed: “Marijuana has gone mainstream, and the mainstream media is now getting hip to the power of the plant and the amazing possibilities that legalization brings.  Through the work of artists and activists like  Tom Pacheco,  we are raising cannabis consciousness, and dispelling the dangerous myths and harmful policies of prohibition.”

Still Do That Advisor Melissa Gibson, founder of Hemp and Humanity said, “This folksy and campy musical send-up to the authentic cannabis lifestyle pays homage to the plant, place and people who have championed it for generations. As marijuana use reaches a tipping point in mainstream acceptance, and the cannabis industry has attracted big business, Tom Pacheco take us back to the root(s) of this plant and its essential spirit of connecting humans with one another. What Frieda and her happy, hippy grandson Paul know, is that cannabis has the power to heal, clothe, feed, house, fuel and sustain human’s ability to live on this earth. And that’s worth singing about.”

Still Do That Advisor Lelehnia DuBois, cannabis community advocate and Sensi Magazine publisher, who co-produced the video and played the title role of Freida added, “I come from a culture of Frieda’s. It felt like she was my own mother. It was an honor to play the role”

According to Schneider, an entertainment lawyer by trade, the Foundation plans to produce a weekly TV news series called, “High Hopes”,  to educate people on the history, legal issues, health issues, science and finance surrounding the booming legal cannabis industry.  “We may even use Tom Pacheco’s song as a theme song for our TV series,” Schneider said. “We are currently looking for partners and sponsors for the series and are particularly interested in pro-cannabis celebrities to help demystify the stigma surrounding cannabis.”

The Wink In Weed: Lessons Learned At Seattle Hempfest

By David Rheins

I’m just back from another epic Seattle Hempfest.  The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful regions on the planet, and its volcanic mountains, vibrant cities and evergreen forests never cease to inspire wonder.  I cherish my PNW canna-family, and am humbled at how rich and meaningful have been our shared experiences, as we workers in weed have toiled to reform marijuana law, and establish a legal cannabis industry.

Jake The Professor and Don Skakie talk Washington Homegrow

Jake The Professor and Don Skakie talk Washington Homegrow

It is a treat to spend time with legends: Farmer Tom Lauerman, Jake The Professor, Grandma Cat Jeter, Kevin and Crystal Oliver, AC Braddock and Fritz Chess, David Tran, Vivian McPeak, Joy Beckerman, Nurse Heather Manus, Ah Warner and so many others.  This year we were honored to have USVI Senator Positive Nelson, who was traveling with a video crew from 420MEDIA,  visit with us.  I first met Terence, who is universally known as ‘Positive’, at a High Tea at Seattle’s Green Labs Farms a few years back, when as moderator I had the privilege of introducing the pro-pot and “positive living” politician to the cannabis community.  Look for great things from the Senator and USVI (pot tourism anyone?) soon.

The canna family gathers every year at Hempfest

The canna family gathers every year at Hempfest

Seattle Hempfest for me has always seemed like the ‘State Fair of Weed.’  Tens of thousands of people — of every age, shape and size — streaming through a labyrinth of vendor booths, food trucks and tents, smoking weed, hanging out and listening to advocates preach to the choir, and bands sing about “Mary Jane.”  This year was no different, a little smaller — a couple fewer stages due to lack of sponsorship support — and smokier, as a result of raging fires in Canada and Eastern Washington.

2018-08-19 14.44.11

Eden Labs’ Fritz Chess, Flower Girls Queen MJ, and MJBA Ambassador At Large Jake The Professor

At the Curved Papers/MJBA booth, and at a series of industry parties, I had the opportunity to reconnect to my industry friends and colleagues. What I heard was a consistent narrative: these are make or break times for Washington licensees.  Competition is fierce and getting fiercer.  Wholesale prices are brutally low for producers, and while sales remain strong at retail and gross revenues are high, profits are elusive and unfair taxes still eat up most of the profits.  For licensees the choice is straightforward: differentiate or die.

Much of our conversation revolved around the mainstreaming of cannabis — and the impact that the $4B USD investment that Constellation Brands just made with Canopy Growth would have on the mom & pops. The game has gone from grassroots to international overnight, and for the smaller players there is tremendous pressure to scale.  Undercapitalized businesses are putting their licenses up for sale, or looking for partnerships and mergers.

 

DOPE celebrated its 7th Anniversary with a “Golden Ticket” Party

Cannafest Destiny.  The West Coast is the fertile birthplace of the legal cannabis industry.  While NORML, established in 1970, can rightfully claim authorship of the political legalization and reform movement, the business — and more importantly the community — started in California, Oregon, Washington (and British Columbia).   The legitimate markets that we have created out West have blazed bright, sparks have now inspired entrepreneurs, activists, investors and politicians across the country — from Maine to Maryland, Michigan to Oklahoma. Our duty and opportunity is now to export the incredible experience and knowledge to these new emerging markets.

In a weird wrinkle of federal prohibition, Legal Cannabis has become international, before it has become a national industry!  Our neighbors to the north are rapidly ramping up their legal cannabis industry, and positioning themselves globally with distribution deals in emerging European, Caribbean and South American markets. Public Canadian companies are gobbling up American brands, and deals are now measured in the billions.

Jeremy MIller is organizing Viva Las Hempfest!

Jeremy Miller is organizing Viva Las Hempfest!

No where can we witness the mainstreaming of marijuana better than Las Vegas.  Neon billboards on strip.  24/7 retailers with drive thru.  Las Vegas, once upon a time among the harshest places in America to be caught with a seed or a stem (an infraction that could land you 20 years in the hoosegow) now actively planning the opening of consumption lounges and canna-friendly hotels.  No peace, love and tie dye hippie culture here.  Just the business of entertainment.  It is fitting then that the next stop for the Cannafest Destiny tour will be Las Vegas Hempfest on November 3&4th — Viva Las Hempfest! Hope to see you there!

The Wink In Weed: Why Seattle Hempfest Is Still Worth Supporting

By David Rheins

It’s been five years since Washington opened its legal cannabis marketplace, and today adult consumers in the Evergreen state have an abundance of high-quality, legal weed available in an impressive array of product configurations at affordable prices.

Seattle Hempfest, taking place this week along the gorgeous Puget Sound, is the nation’s oldest and largest “Protestival.”  It began as forum and platform for activists, patients and pot smokers to gather together to fight for their rights to toke in peace.  Back then, firing up a joint in public had real potential consequences — and could land you with a fine or even jail time.

My fellow Hempfest Volunteers in their Green T-Shirts

Hempfest Volunteers

Today, Washingtonians don’t have to go to the park to spark up. Pot smoking is legal, accepted and somewhat normalized in the Pacific Northwest. Leading some to ask what is the relevance of Seattle Hempfest?

While more of a party these days than a protestival, Seattle Hempfest is still a must-attend annual gathering of the cannabis tribes.  Our Green Revolution is a broad tent, with a diverse set of communities.  We are advocates, patients, farmers, business professionals, parents, teachers and caregivers, all united under the belief that Federal Prohibition, and the War on Drugs — and Drugs Users — must end. There is something powerful and undeniable about seeing a hundred thousand pot smokers gather together to celebrate community.

There is still much legal reform that needs to happen before cannabis consumption is fully normalized — and it is encouraging to see the momentum behind the STATES ACT and the Marijuana Justice Act as Congress has finally gotten the word that the American public — on both sides of the aisle — are through with prohibition.  The 2018 Farm Bill, with its Hemp Farming provision, will de-schedule industrial hemp and open the way for explosive growth in hemp-based products, including consumer goods, industrial materials, foods, fuels and medicines.

We are in a fight for the control of our legal cannabis industry.  Big Pharma, Big Alcohol, Big Tobacco, Big Agriculture and Big Government Regulators are all fighting to establish their places in our new mainstream marijuana marketplace. We must continue to stay involved now as the new regulations and standards of our emerging industry are crafted. I see Hempfest as a natural venue for showcasing the best and most innovative hemp products. Cannabis consumer rights need to be protected to ensure that the legal products are safe, tested and of the highest quality. Legal cannabis businesses have an opportunity to build an industry based on the highest standards of production, marketing and operations.  We need to be fair and equitable in our hiring and compensation practices, and we need to direct the windfall of new marijuana tax revenues towards improving the health and welfare of local communities, particularly those hit hard from the War On Drugs.

CurvedPapersHempfest512x440As our alternative culture takes centerstage, it is important that we stand together for our shared values.  We are witnessing and influencing the end of an era. The post-WWII, better living thru petrochemicals, conspicuous consumption society is unsustainable — and is quickly being replaced by a global, plant-based lifestyle, renewable energy zeitgeist.

MJBA is proud to once again participate as a media sponsor and exhibitor of Seattle Hempfest.  We’re thrilled to be sharing a booth with Curved Papers, with whom we’ve been touring the country on a Cannafest Destiny Tour.  We’ll be showing off our NORML 100% Hemp rolling papers, and showcasing our latest poster by Michael Guttsen, and doing social media blasts with MJBA Ambassador At Large Jake Dimmock.  Please join us at Booth #323 across from the Hemposium.

Michael O'Malley, David Hynes Michael O'Malley David Rheins

It has never been more important to stand up and be counted.  Please come out to Myrtle Edwards park this weekend, listen to the speakers, dance to the music and support the many food and merchandise vendors.  Be sure to drop a few bucks in the donation bucket:  Seattle Hempfest is an all-volunteer effort, and it depends on the support of its Vendors, Sponsors and Attendees to survive.

 

 

NYC Cannabis Parade Redux: A Month Ago Today

By Michael O’Malley

NEW YORK: New York Gubernatorial hopeful Cynthia Nixon thrilled the crowd on a perfect Spring Day.  I had taken the opportunity that Steve Bloom, Editor of Freedom Leaf and Celebstoner.com, had given me to speak at the NYC Cannabis Parade on May 5th seriously, because it seemed to me like the chance of a lifetime for a New Yorker to stand up in Union Square to say anything.

So I wrote and wrote everything I could think of saying. In the end, I thought if I only get to say one thing what would it be? Vote. But I forgot to say it.  It’s funny the month-a-versary is Primary Day in eight states. At least here I’ll remember to say, it’s an election year people! November 6th. Be there.

New York Gubernatorial hopeful Cynthia Nixon thrilled the crowd on a perfect Spring Day.

New York Gubernatorial hopeful Cynthia Nixon thrilled the crowd on a perfect Spring Day.

Here’s what I wound up saying on that fine Saturday:

“Hello New York! Hello New York Cannabis Community!”

“I want to thank Steve Bloom for inviting me to represent innovators and entrepreneurs in the cannabis space. He was the first one to write a product review of Curved Papers.”

“I invented a new kind of rolling papers. They’re curved, that makes it easy to roll.”

“I got one fun fact: the first big rally in Union Square happened on 4/20! It was April 20th, 1861.”

“You guys know who NORML is? Yeah. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law. NORML. We need ’em more now than ever. They are like the New York Yankees of Legal Weed. And Keith Stroup is like the Babe Ruth of Legal Weed.”

“Keith says “we’re not just talking about marijuana, we’re talking about personal freedom.” Okay? But they say there are Red people and Blue people. We need a big red, white and blue party. Even Met fans and Yankee fans should get along!”

At this point I reversed my reversible Mets/Yankees Jacket and Stu Zakim of MJBA, who had done a great Curved Papers commercial for me in his introduction, chimed in with, “Look at that fashion statement! A true New Yorker!” And with that we started threw out free rolling papers and Curved Papers t-shirts to the audience. The whole thing was so much fun!

I unveiled my sacrilegious reversible Mets/Yankees jacket. Unthinkable! It’s a symbol of diametrically adversarial parties finding common ground and unity at a higher level.

I unveiled my sacrilegious reversible Mets/Yankees jacket. Unthinkable! It’s a symbol of diametrically adversarial parties finding common ground and unity at a higher level.

“Everybody get along! Happy Cannabis Parade!”

Stu said. “Go MJBA!”

“MJBA says pop culture is pot culture.”

“Happy Cinco do Mayo!”

“Remember The Kentucky Derby!” Which was also that day, and just about to start.

“Good Shabbos!” Stu added for good measure.

Emcee Amanda Reyes came out to extroduce us, but I had to add …

“CCA NORML!” Because the big news of the day was an announcement that Cannabis Cultural Association was turning into a new NORML Chapter.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beXsW6yaVQs&w=560&h=315]

Here’s the really long version of the speech that would have taken forever and put everyone to sleep if they didn’t give me the hook halfway through:

Hello New York! Hello New York Cannabis Community!

I’m Michael O’Malley. Like most people, I was born in Brooklyn. I’m eighth of my parents 14 kids. I’ve invented a new kind of rolling papers! Yes, a new kind of rolling papers that are easy to roll. They have a patent-pending easy to roll curved edge.

A lot of good rolling papers have come from New York. E-Z Widers, Raw, Bambu. They are all from New York. And now Curved Papers.

Growing up in Brooklyn, going to Holy Innocents in Flatbush, I never imagined I would have a chance like this. Or that it would be because of weed!

Thanks Steve Bloom (of Freedom Leaf) for inviting me to speak, primarily as an innovator and entrepreneur in the cannabis space.

I finished my speech yesterday and it timed out to 4:20. I only have three minutes, so I’ll have to talk fast. No problem. Everyone from my neighborhood talks really fast.

My invention, Curved Papers, with the easy to roll curved edge, solve the centuries old RYO (Roll Your Own) problem: if you’re not careful to keep your edges parallel, your front corner doesn’t tuck, it goes up. Our innovation is super simple, and genuinely makes it Easy to Roll.

I’d like to lend some encouragement to the work we’re doing and the fun we’re having here. I guess I was invited because I made a cool invention and started a company. The business and commerce opportunities with weed are important.

We call the West-to-East Green Wave of legalization and mainstreaming: Cannafest Destiny!

We call the West-to-East Green Wave of legalization and mainstreaming: Cannafest Destiny!

 

I love New York! I’ve worked in every building in Manhattan. When people ask me where I’m from, I usually say Penn Station. The Beatles, The Rolling Stone, High Times, Saturday Night Live, Gangs of New York; I’m a life-long fan of New York pop culture, and as David Rheins of MJBA says, “Pop Culture is Pot Culture.” We call the West-to-East Green Wave of legalization and mainstreaming: Cannafest Destiny!

It brings us all to Union Square today. Fun fact: the first big rally in Union Square happened on 4/20! Yes, April 20th, 1861, at the start of The Civil War. The Confederates had attacked Fort Sumter, and the Civil War was joined. Union supporters gathered here to demonstrate their resolve and their readiness to respond. True story. Have you ever seen Gangs of New York? I’ve watched that movie 500 times. Martin Scorcese.

Don’t let history be a thing of the past. Fast forward over 100 years later, this parade we’re having today was founded here in the revolutionary times of John Lennon and the Yippies, after the end of the Sixties. Those were the days of the founding of NORML, too. Like I always say, fifty years of NORML, 30 years of HEMPFEST, next thing you know, weed is legal.

michael with mjba button

But the Pot Parade very much started here, like traffic lights, labor laws, and so many other modern progressive thinking.

The Global Marijuana March came later and they merged and now the whole thing is over 40 years old, with 40 global chapters. I think this is actually the 47th in New York City.

At Curved Papers, we’re in touch with people in many cities around the world marching today in solidarity. We want to give a special shout out to Toronto, where we started making the papers. They have a great parade up there today.

Now the “Global Marijuana March” is “the NYC Cannabis Parade and Rally.” I’m very proud Curved Papers could be a part of it this year. I was going to do a cheer for the Marijuana Movement in New York, like, say “Hello Marijuana Movement,” and go:

Give me an M! [Throw one.] M!

Give me an A! [Throw one.] A!

Give me an R! [Throw one.] R!

Give me an I! [Throw one.] I!

Give me an H! [Throw one.] H!

Or would it be give me a J?  Forget it.

Is it Marijuana, with a “J,” or Marihuana with an “H?” It doesn’t matter how you spell it, or what name you prefer – cannabis, marijuana, ganga, dope, pot, mary jane – they’re all good. As Keith Stroup, the Founder of NORML, says, “We’re only incidentally talking about marijuana – what we’re really talking about is personal freedom.”

The word marijuana never meant anything bad to me, that negative vibe was created by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst who didn’t want the hemp industry to overtake paper. So he launched a campaign – yellow journalism – the dawn of Fake News – to exploit the anti-Mexican racism of his day!

NORML is The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law. They’ve been fighting for legalization and getting people out of jail for 50 years. They’re like the New York Yankees of legal weed, and Keith is like the freaking Babe Ruth. Like I always say, “50 years of NORML, 30 years of HEMPFEST, next thing you know, weed is legal.

We have designed and produced 100% organic hemp rolling papers that will help support them. We need NORML now more than ever.

"we're very proud to be associated with NORML. This commercial program will help sustain the world-changing work that NORML does to protect personal freedom and reform our nation’s marijuana laws."

“We’re very proud to be associated with NORML. This commercial program will help sustain the world-changing work that NORML does to protect personal freedom and reform our nation’s marijuana laws.”

New York has been the largest marijuana market in the world for decades, and probably still is. The no flower thing is a mixup, but legalization will work out. The medical programs here and in all our neighboring states are evolving. I heard at Cannabis Learn that they were going to allow flower in PA by Memorial Day. And in Florida soon, too. There is no reason to try to force people away from smoking the flower. Nobody gets cancer from smoking marijuana. Flower, paper and fire. That is a simple, natural way that has worked for centuries. Stay close to the plant!

There’s only 9 states down. 41 to go.

We can achieve the rule of law without racism and the oppression of women and children. But only by voting. Election Day is Tuesday November 6th: Register (now), Educate (yourself and others), and Vote. Find someone who doesn’t vote and get them to register and vote.

The two party system is not that bad. Who’s in power goes back and forth. The will of the majority and the rights of the minority. It’s fair. Trump and the 1% are trying to dismantle government. Capitlism gone wild. Reform is necessary, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

There are only four things wrong, and people are working on them. Gerrymandering, voter access, lobby reform and campaign finance reform. Barak Obama and Eric Holder are working on gerrymandering. That’s when the ruling party distorts the electoral districts to make sure they can never lose an election. Voter Access! Lobby reform and campaign finance reform, starting with Citizens United. Don’t lose faith in democracy. Don’t lose faith in government.

Engage in political action. Support your local activists and advocates. Know your representatives, and bother them all the time. Vote. That’s the main thing. Register and vote Nov. 6th.

Today people are polarized by the incredible influence of contemporary media. There are red people and blue people. But in real life, most people seem to agree on most things. What we need a big red, white and blue party. We always need to find ways to work together to get the big things done right.

Only 14% of Americans are marijuana smokers, but 80% of Americans support the rights of states to legalize it. And over 80% support medical marijuana in their state.

Curved Papers is a national sponsor of The Marijuana Business Association. If you want to find out about opportunities in Cannabis, The MJBA is a great place to start. Curved Papers also sponsors and supports many aspects of the legalization movement. Always let us know when your group is having a cannabis event.

 

Curved Papers is a national sponsor of The Marijuana Business Association.

Curved Papers is a national sponsor of The Marijuana Business Association.

Some business advice to the inventive or entrepreneurial: I invented Curved Papers when I was 20 years old. Keep track of your good ideas. When the time comes, make a business plan, and get the capital you need to make it happen. This is capitalism. Right now there is a lotta money going down in the cannabiz. Investors are a dime a dozen, so if you’re an inventor or entrepreneur, don’t let them tell you the opposite. You need to protect your ideas. Immediately file a provisional patent, which only costs $100 and covers you for a year. This is one reason we have a government, by the way. Figure out the right way to do your thing, and if it requires capital, find partners who have what the project requires, and make a fair deal, in writing. Work with partners you trust, but be formal. You don’t want to own 100% of nothing.

Curved Papers also sponsors and supports many aspects of the marijuana movement, legalization, medical applications, veterans, women, criminal justice, anti-racism, sustainability, and personal freedom.

Smoking a joint is still the #1 way to consume cannabis, a natural and economical way.  Doctors and nurses agree: it’s generally a fine way to take your meds. Nobody gets cancer from smoking joints. It burns at relatively low temperature, and it is easy to moderate dosage. And everybody agrees it’s a very nice way to get high, and fun to do with friends.

Keep on rolling!  Follow us @curvedpapers on all platforms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MJBA Launches Ohio Chapter June 12th, Interest High As September 8th Deadline Approaches

OHIO: The Marijuana Business Association (MJBA), a leading national trade association for participants in the legal cannabis industry and publishers of the MJ News Network, will host its debut meetup in Cleveland, Ohio, as part of the midwest leg of it national “CannaFest Destiny” educational tour that includes stops in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

The professional networking event will be held at the law offices of Meyers, Roman on June 12th, 6:30-9PM.  Featured speakers will include Michael O’Malley, founder of Curved Papers; Michelle Blank, President and Robin Ann Morris, Founder & CEO of the MaryJane Agency; Steven Baden, Attorney-At-Law, Meyers, Roman; and MJBA founder David Rheins.

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Medical marijuana became legal under House Bill 523 on September 8th, 2016. Under the bill, administered by The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, people with certain medical conditions, upon the recommendation of an Ohio-licensed physician certified by the State Medical Board, will be able to purchase and use medical marijuana. It’s taken the state two full years to roll out the program, keeping patients and caregivers, along with would-be participants in the legal mmj industry, waiting and frustrated.

Ohio's Medical Marijuana Control Program

Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program

Interest in legal cannabis, one of the fastest growing segments in our economy and a major engine for both job creation and tax revenue generation, has never been higher.  Michelle Blank, President and Robin Ann Morris, Founder & CEO of the MaryJane Agency, decided to organize the Cleveland meetup because they wanted to create a Business Forum for leaders in Ohio’s Cannabis community to gather and collaborate in a professional environment.  “We are so excited to be affiliated with bringing MJBA to  Ohio and feel this is a great avenue for Principals in this area to learn from each other and grow their businesses,” Ms. Blank said.

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Steven L. Baden, Attorney at Law featured presenter, and venue host for the group’s inaugural meetup commented, “Being involved with helping MMJ businesses take root and thrive in Ohio fits perfectly with MJBA’s mission and is why I’m part of getting MJBA established in Ohio.”

The MJBA was instrumental in the establishment of Curved Papers,” Michael O’Malley told MJ News Network. “We joined as business members in Denver in January 2015, where we introduced Curved Papers to Colorado’s cannabis industry leadership, and we are honored to be able to participate in the launch of the MJBA Cleveland and MJBA Ohio communities.  We’ve grown and prospered through our association with the MJBA, and are proud to serve as National Sponsors, traveling across the country on this “Cannafest Destiny” tour.

NORML-MJBA-CURVED

“As a native midwesterner, born and raised in Indiana,  I’m thrilled to be able to come back home and help Ohio’s nascent cannabis business community,” said David Rheins, MJBA founder and executive director. “We look forward to helping to shape common market standards, providing market intelligence, and developing best ethical business practices for all participants in the emerging legal marijuana industries.”

Attendance at the June 12th MJBA Cleveland event is FREE to MJBA Members and qualified industry professionals and caregivers.  Space is limited, so please RSVP to reserve your spot here.

The Wink In Weed: Back East We Are Winning The War

By David Rheins

I’m back from a week on the East Coast, part of an ongoing CannaFest Destiny Tour of education, professional community and business development that myself and Curved Papers founder Michael O’Malley have been on for the past eighteen months or more.  On this last leg, MJBA and Curved Papers made stops in New York City and Boston, hosting meetups, sitting down with cannabis industry influencers, investors as the legal canna-business shifts into overdrive.

A packed house full of business pioneers filled The Blinc Group for the MJBA  New York February MeetUp

A packed house full of business pioneers filled The Blinc Group for the MJBA New York February MeetUp

With sweeping views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the New York HQ of The Blinc Group was the site of the February MJBA NY MeetUp, a discussion of “The Business and Science of Vaporization.”  More than 70 industry pioneers – including representatives from CannaGather, HIghNY, Women Grow, NJCS — came out on a beautiful Monday evening to enjoy a presentation from The Blinc Group’s Arnaud Dumas de Rally, who video conference in from Berlin.

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MJBA NY members enjoy rooftop views of the Brooklyn Bridge

I was able to share with the room — packed with a mix of growers, manufacturers, investors and entrepreneurs – the realities of what legalization looks like out West.  I spoke about the amazing diversity of product innovation and retail experience available to legal cannabis consumers, and the challenges of a hyper competitive, over-regulated marketplace.  With New Jersey likely to open its adult-use market as early as this summer, the crowd in New York was electric.  The same excite that we saw in Colorado and Washington in 2012, and in Alaska and Oregon in 2014, was present here in 2018 New York City.  MJBA’s Stu Zakim gave a recap of last month’s successful NJ Cannabis Symposium, and invited MJBA members to enjoy a special discount on tickets on the next NJ Cannabis Symposium event on March 29th, The Finance and Investment Event.

MJBA Members enjoy special discounts at NJCS events

MJBA Members enjoy special discounts at NJCS events

On Wednesday and Thursday, MJBA Communications chief Zakim and I drove up to Boston for the Cannabis Market Strategies New England conference.  An intimate gathering, the event was designed to provide peer-to-peer dispensary and cultivator strategies to help participants master the business challenges of the region’s industry.

Distinguished Speaking Faculty included Michael Dundas, Sira Naturals; Jeffrey Finkle, ARC Angel Fund; Kris Krane, 4Front Ventures; Aimee Burke, Phylos Bioscience; Julia Germaine, Temescal Wellness MA; and Roz McCarthy, Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana.  Both Stu Zakim and I were honored to be featured speakers, representing MJBA. Tim Smale, Remedy ME, served as the master of ceremonies during the two-day conference.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p97Or96tR-s&w=560&h=315]

The folks at the conference are from Maine, and Vermont and Massachusetts.  The industry is still caregiver safe access points and medical marijuana dispensaries.  Cannabis here is a cottage industry, oftentimes described as the “grey market,” and it could be 10 years ago in Washington or Oregon.  The people who make things happen have come out to see what the future portends.  They exchange industry intelligence, swap business cards and sneak outside for a furtive hit with fellow industry colleagues.  “Is this legal here in Massachusetts?” asks one Maine farmer as he takes a toke and passes the dutchie to the left.

“We’re not supposed to be smoking in public,” answers a local.  “But the cops in Boston have better things to do with their time.”

 

 

The Wink In Weed: Why You Should Join Me At CCC PDX

By David Rheins

2018 will be a crucial year for the legal cannabis industry.  Five years after the first adult-use marijuana marketplaces opened in Colorado and Washington, our industry has grown large and gone mainstream.  Big and getting bigger, with the opening of the California and Nevada markets, Oregon is now part of a contiguous legal West Coast spanning from Canada to Mexico. CannaFest Destiny has never seemed more apparent, and competition never more fierce.

Legal cannabis production has never been higher, while wholesale prices have never been lower.  The harsh reality for an industry that is hyper-competitive, overtaxed and over-regulated, is that for most licensees profit margins have never been tighter.  Many mom and pops have already sold out, and many more are on that fence.  Add to this the recent saber rattling of drug-warrior-turned-Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, and it is easy to see that for many in the industry, 2018 has begun as a time of great uncertainty and anxiety.

CCCPDX issues an industry call to action

CCCPDX issues an industry call to action

As I wrote in my “Open Letter to Jeff Sessions,”  now is the time for industry leaders, businesses and supporters to stand united.  We must show that not only has our legal industry become a vital engine of reform and economic activity —  generating hundreds of millions in new tax revenues — but we have reinvigorated communities across the country by creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

The industry has arrived at a critical juncture in its evolution, and Oregon is on the front lines of the fight for an independent legal industry.  As the Cannabis Collaborative Conference’s Mary Lou Burton puts it, “The CCC has grown up with the industry in Oregon.  Now three years into full legalization, we no longer need to offer cannabis 101 education.  Now we are focused on education geared towards successfully and profitably operating in the current environment. ”

Differentiate: The commercialization and mainstreaming of the legal cannabis industry has put enormous pressure on licensees , who must focus on building brand equity and establishing effective marketing practices that will allow them to stand out from the competition.  I’m delighted to be moderating the marketing panel discussion at CCC this year, where along with canna-brand experts Stephen Gold, The Daily Leaf; Sean Lucas, NUG Digital Marketing; and Ryan Michael, KindTyme, we will discuss the top branding and marketing trends  that every canna-marketer must know. 

Activate: Congressman Earl Blumenauer will once again deliver a keynote speech at the conference. “This is a call to action.” he said in response to the Sessions announcement. “It’s time for anyone who cares about cannabis to mobilize to defend state marijuana laws.”

Burton added, “come together with fellow law abiding and tax paying professionals in the Cannabis Industry and unite!  CCC 4.0 provides the perfect opportunity to ban together and show the media and the world that we will not back down.”

REGISTER TODAY and receive $50 off (promo code: CCC50)