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The Wink In Weed: The Road To Oklahoma Hempfest

By David Rheins 

OKLAHOMA: You know the winds of progress are blowing in your favor when you find yourself making plans to head to Oklahoma City for a cannabis festival.

The Road to Oklahoma Hempfest begins this weekend, as the first of three events heralding in a new era for the Sooner state.   A licensed and approved spinoff of Seattle Hempfest, The event will provide a forum and rallying point for participants in the nascent medical cannabis and industrial hemp communities;  a gathering place for sharing information, conducting education and coordinating efforts for the November elections, where adult-use cannabis is on the ballot.

Tickets are FREE to the historic event, which begins at 9am at the Sheraton Reed Convention center in Midwest city. Featured speakers at the Hemposium include many seminal figures — including Connie Johnson, Oklahoma State Senator and Cannabis Advocate, Seattle Hempfest’s Sharon Whitson and Vivian McPeak, Patrick Saint, Twenty22Many Foundation, and Grandma Cat Jeter. The Marijuana Business Association is proud media sponsor for Oklahoma Hempfest, and MJBA founder/executive director David Rheins is a featured speaker.

The Hemposium programming starts at 9AM and will go until 4PM.

  • Oklahoma Hempfest

Speakers List for “The Road to Hempfest”
Connie Johnson – Oklahoma State Senator and Cannabis Advocate
Terri Leek – CEO/Founder Pure Hemp Collective
Victoria Huggins – Studio 89 Massage – Advance Massage
Patrick Saint – Founder of Twenty22Many Foundation
Cat Jeter – Cannabis Activist centered on children
Vivian McPeak – Director of Seattle Hempfest
Sharon Whitson – Operating manager of Hempfest Central
Chad Bibler – Hemp advocate and social media activist called the Hemp Father
Timothy Edwards – Founder of Cannabis Saves Lives
David Rheins – Founder of Marijuana Business Association
Brandi Bibler – Hemp Advocate
Lenny Vanhorn – Comedian and Cannabis Activist
Rusty Shackelford – Cannabis Activist after injury
Mark Hubbard – Industrial Hemp Expert
Norma Sapp – Oklahoma NORML

Oklahoma native Scott McKinley — CEO of HiTunes and a longtime promoter at Seattle Hempfest, Cavi Gold and many other canna events — and his local partners have tapped into a lifetime of connections and personal contacts to make this historic series of events a reality.  In support from Seattle Hempfest, the team worked tirelessly to muster talent, sponsors, vendors and political support — in the midst of the legal wrangling around medical marijuana — needed to make this first Hempfest possible.  It wasn’t easy, and due to the magnitude and overwhelming response from the public, the organizers decided to move the initial main event date back to June 7th – 9th, 2019.

Why is this Hempfest such a big deal?  Oklahoma represents the bedrock of the conservative Midwest, and is culturally as far from the liberal West Coast as you can get.  When legal cannabis comes to Oklahoma, it has arrived in the front yard of middle America. We are witnessing the mainstreaming of marijuana in real time.

Legally, Oklahoma has never been a canna-friendly place, and even with the new medical cannabis laws passed this summer, and adult-use legalization on the November ballot, the Sooner State maintains some of the harshest penalties for possession, cultivation and sale on the books — especially when it comes to concentrates and hash. The War on Drugs remains very real here, and prohibition continues to ruin lives.

Oklahoma Cannabis Laws, according to NORML:

  • Possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a term of imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000
  • The sale of less than 25 pounds is a felony, punishable by incarceration for a period of 2 years-life, as well as a fine of $20,000.
  • Cultivating up to 1,000 plants is a felony, punishable by a maximum $25,000 fine and between 20 years and life imprisonment.
  • Cultivation of marijuana by the owner of land is a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment between 2 years and life and a fine up to 50,000.
  • Converting or attempting to convert marijuana into hashish or concentrates is a felony punishable by a fine no greater than $50,000 and a term of imprisonment no less than 2 and up to remainder of the offender’s life
  • Distributing, dispensing, transporting with intent to distribute, possessing with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, hashish or concentrates is a felony punishable by a fine no greater than $20,000 and a term of imprisonment no less than 2 years and up to the remainder of the offender’s life.

Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Law:

  • Those possessing a state-issued license may possess the following: up to eight ounces of marijuana in their residence; up to one ounce of concentrated marijuana; up to 72 ounces of edible marijuana; up to six mature marijuana plants; up to six seedling plants; and up to three ounces of marijuana on their person. Those who do not possess a license face a fine-only misdemeanor for the possession of up to 1.5 ounces of herbal cannabis.

Demand for legal medical cannabis from the public has been strong, as more than 1,600 people and businesses applied for Oklahoma medical marijuana licenses on the first day that applications were made available, according to ABC News

Tickets to The Road To Oklahoma Hempfest are FREE, and available online.

 

 

 

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.

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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.

 

 

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 the heartland of 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.

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.

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…

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)

The Wink In Weed: Eating High On The Healing Hog (And Heifer)

Anyone paying attention knows that Slim Jim has lots of company on the grocery store shelves these days.  Jerky and meat snacks — high in protein, low in calories – are gaining popularity as a healthy snack alternative to greasy potato chips.  In fact, Nielsen research company reports that Americans consumed more than $2.8 billion of jerky last year.

Now, thanks to the clever chefs at Humboldt FarmAssist, cannabinoid-hungry consumers can satisfy their paleo passions with a full line of CBD-infused jerky products. Healing Hog CBD-Infused Bacon Jerky and Healing Heifer CBD-Infused Beef Jerky come in a variety of flavors – including Peppered Orange Teriyaki, Western Barbeque, Haunting Heat and Jalapeno.   Each one ounce bag is an individual serving, with a total of 50mg cannabidiol from hemp.

They even make Smoky Sriracha CBD-Infused Beef Jerky bits, perfect for adding to soups, stews and salads.  The munchies may never be the same.

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!

 

 

 

 

The Wink in Weed: How Redmond, Washington’s First Legal Pot Shop Will Forever Change The City That Bill Gates Built

By David Rheins

WASHINGTON: Redmond, Washington, is famously the home of Microsoft and Nintendo America, and less famously known as the Bicycle Capital of the World.  The affluent community is home to 60,000 residents, it’s quaint streets lined with upscale shopping choices providing a local population of techies and young families with all their daily needs: Starbucks Coffee, Hot Pot Donuts, Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, and now thanks to the opening of the town’s first legal pot shop — Always Greener Downtown – a fine selection of curated cannabis products.

Established by Redmond’s Jenny Carbon and Shauna Mindt, Always Greener Downtown is a gorgeous shop with natural woods and an organic design that feels more like a jewelry store than dispensary.  The new 502 store joins some 370 licensed marijuana retailers already operating in Washington State, but theirs is not just another pot shop opening.  Redmond is ground zero for Washington’s successful technology industry, and the town is home to many “Microsoft millionaires” and their compatriots who demand the best of mainstream American consumer culture.

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The inclusion of Always Greener Downtown – prominently located in the heart of Redmond’s shopping district — is a victory for cannabis normalization, and a testament to the tireless efforts of Jenny and Shauna and their many cannabis industry supporters who turned out to testify at the countless Redmond City Council Zoning board hearings. The seamless integration of a legal pot shop into the fabric of the community will forever change what it means to be a pot smoker in Redmond.

GrasshopperHub CEO Heidi Arsenault was customer #1 at opening of Always Greener Downtown

GrasshopperHub CEO Heidi Arsenault was customer #1 at opening of Always Greener Downtown

I sat down with Jenny Carbon, and asked her to reflect on the historic store opening.

Q: What does it feel like to be the first pot shop in Microsoft’s home town?

A: We love our local clientele, whether they be Microsofties, local small business or out-of-towners.  Our community has been underserved and unregulated for far too long and we are thrilled when we hear how happy people are that they no longer have to fight traffic to find their products.

Q: It took you 3 years after applying for your license to open your store.  Why was it so difficult?

A: Redmond had a moratorium, once that was lifted it was confirmed that there was NO retail zoning that fit the 1,000 ft. buffers. We had to file to amend the 2030 comprehensive plan to create zoning. We were put on a 18 month wait list, once our issue was heard it went to planning commission for months of discussion, then went to council for a public hearing. In the meantime, legislation passed that allowed for buffers to be reduced and council approved 100ft buffers from parks and playgrounds, which we have a plethora of in Redmond.

Q: Tell us about the store decor, and why you decided to spend so much money on natural materials and reclaimed woods.

A: Choosing materials that are eco-friendly and sustainable just takes a bit more intention, the cost was not much different than most other products out there, but choices are not as readily available, so we had to take the time to source the products. We felt that any way we could help to reduce our carbon footprint was worthwhile. We know that matters to Redmond and wanted to bring our “Always Greener” concept full circle.

Q: What kind of cannabis products will you carry?

A: We carry flower, concentrates and edibles. We have some paraphernalia in house but plan to expand our collection as we grow.

Q: Next to your 502 shop, you will soon be opening Always Greener Mercantile.   What are your plans for that space?

A: AG Mercantile will be a place to showcase our branded eco-friendly apparel line, as well as support our local merchants and artists. We will feature cannabis related products as well as other novelties and non-psychoactive forms of cannabis such as HEMP and CBD products.

Q: The artistic work of Michael Guttsen is featured in the space now.  Who is he and what is his relevance?

A: Michael Guttsen is an artistic genius. He was someone who understood our vision early on and brought what we were thinking and feeling to life through our brand expression. He has done a plethora of work over the years, in many media forms and perceives the world through a larger lens than I could ever imagine. We have danced to a similar drumbeat which has enabled us to develop a kinship and synergy the easily allows for visual creations to appear. He is our muse, and we are forever grateful.

Q: The town of Redmond is abuzz with excitement for a weekend-long grand opening celebration, complete with ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring local politicians, luminaries and industry VIPs. Can you share with us the schedule of festivities?

A: The Grand Opening Celebration begins at “High Noon” on Friday, March 3rd, 2017. 

Highlights include:

Friday

12:00

  • Joy Beckerman presents us with true hemp cord for our cutting ceremony.
  • City officials, OneRedmond, as well as Redmond Reporter will join us for the cutting followed by cakes by Lisa Dupar catering (owner of Pomegrate Bistro, a Redmond favorite).

12:00-3:00

  • Hans Brehmer (jazz pianist) with guest Bassist & our very own Shauna Mindt accompanying them on tap!

Vendors:

12:00-3:00

  • Green Barn Farms

3:00-6:00

  • Washington Bud Co

6:00-9:00

  • Dynamic Harvest
  • Galaxy Donuts (and more!) 3-6pm

Saturday

12:00-5:00

  • Peach and the Pig Food Truck- Incredible pork sandwiches
  • Hans Brehmer (jazz pianist) with guest Bassist

4:00-6:00

  • Joe Duce of Trainwreck for some good old Grateful dead and classic rock

Vendors:

12:00-3:00

  • Mother Earth Farms

3:00-6:00

  • Hemp Zen
  • Ionic

6:00-9:00

  • Bad Ass Grass

Sunday

12:00-2:00

  • African drumming with Alex and friends
  • Espresso cart
  • Top Pot Donuts

Vendors:

10:00-1:00

  • Bondi Farms

1:00-3:00

  • Willie’s Reserve

 

The Wink In Weed: Woodstock Nation Goes to Pot

By David Rheins

It’s early for a Saturday in Seattle, but I’m German and so I am the first to arrive. Entering the swanky lobby of the downtown boutique hotel, the vibe is New York City chic, appropriate enough for my introduction to New Yorker Michael Lang – the once and still cherubic face behind Woodstock.

Michael is making the rounds of the cannabis business community, looking for partners for Woodstock-branded weed, and a mutual friend has arranged for us to have coffee.  It is our first meeting, and I’m happy to speak with a generational icon.  What I notice first is his smile – still boyish despite 72 years as a celebrity rock promoter – followed quickly by his still impressive head of hair.  I am reminded of the famous photos, Lang on stage, or riding his BSA Victor motorcycle.

Michael on his BSA

While I’m too young to have partied in the mud at Max Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York, the album, the Warner Brothers concert film, and the iconic photographs of the event were deeply influential to me growing up, and I tell him so.  There is no brand that resonates more solidly with baby boomers than Woodstock.

Unlike the appeal of Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson and Tommy Chong – the Holy Trinity of stoner celebrity cannabis brands –Woodstock’s cache transcends mere pot celebrity. Not just an historical festival featuring all the hippie heavyweights, Woodstock was the first gathering of the rainbow nation. An “Aquarian Exposition,” a happening, and a coming-out party for America’s disenfranchised long hairs, who came together from all corners of the country to let their freak flags fly during 3 days of peace, music & pot smoke.

Woodstock branded weed is a no brainer – it is hard to imagine a brand with a more canna-friendly image, and initial consumer demand is likely to be high, particularly with the hoopla surrounding the planned 50th anniversary concert in 2019.

I was part of the 1994 Woodstock II celebration.  Spin magazine, where I served as associate publisher, was media sponsor, and we rented a large house next to the festival grounds.  We used our sponsorship as an occasion to demonstrate to our advertising partners the power of music and youth culture.  Woodstock was nostalgic even in 1994, and its mystique had less to do with the music of Jimi Hendrix and Country Joe than it did with the power of community. That experience transcends generations.  The masses of Generation X celebrants, covered in mud, crowd surfing and smoking pot to Metallica we felt the same spirit of tribal communion as the 1969 crowd did, and the photographs of both are almost indistinguishable.

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The Woodstock Nation is now in its 70s, and the quaint marijuana of the 1960s has grown up into a sophisticated consumer marketplace. Today’s cannabis comes in all shapes and sizes, flavors and forms.  Competing with a super market full of canna brands for shelf space and consumer mind share won’t be easy – even for an iconic brand.

Woodstock will likely feature old school strains, and Lang is leaning toward classic 60s strains like Panama Red and Acapulco Gold.  His task now is to find local farmers in each market whose product can live up to expectations for such a legendary brand. To succeed he must create consistent experience worthy of such a pedigreed name, a challenge made more difficult as each state will have its own growers, who’ll operate under unique rules and standards.

Uneven production can quickly diminish the value of an entire franchise.  Other licensees have seen that when you rely on third party producers, product quality and potency can be inconsistent from crop to crop, batch to batch, and certainly state to state.

Now more than ever, the key to success for cannabis producers and processors lies in brand differentiation, a topic I’ll be discussing at CannaCon on Friday, February 17th at 10am. We’ll be examining Marijuana Marketing, and how pot culture is quickly becoming pop culture.