Legal Pot By The Numbers: 99 Stores Licensed, $64 Million In Sales

WASHINGTON:  After a rocky start and supply troubles, the recreational marijuana industry is slowly gaining ground in Washington state. With the new year upon us, here are some numbers that help put things in context.

In Seattle, just eight retail marijuana stores have been licensed by the Liquor Control Board; seven are open.

The LCB allotted Seattle 21 stores. It plans to license as many as 334 stores statewide. Cannabis City, which opened July 8, was the first to operate in Seattle.

Unprepared applicants, difficulties finding legal space in a dense city as well as complicated zoning rules have slowed Seattle pot shops.

What Did Coloradans Search For Most Often On Google This Year?

COLORADO:  In the digital age, almost nothing is a secret — and that includes what you search for on Google. Estately, which bills itself as the “addictive, easy way to shop for homes” online, put together a list of the terms that residents of each state searched for the most. The data was compiled using Google Trends, which allows you to see where a search term is most popular. And the most popular Colorado search will surprise exactly no one.

Residents of the Centennial State looked up “marijuana” more than the residents of any other state in 2014. But since they live in the first state to roll out recreational marijuana, Coloradans must have a lot of questions concerning legality, access and the numerous ways cannabis can be ingested. 

But we weren’t the only state that was curious about the pot. Alaska beat out all other states for the number of people searching “legalize marijuana.” And residents of Washington State, which also legalized the sale of recreational marijuana this year, was pretty focused on finding “marijuana stores.”

 

The Year In Pot: Legal Sales And Anti-Marijuana Voices Boomed

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Marijuana has never had a year like 2014.

The first aboveboard just-for-fun cannabis markets rose in Colorado and Washington. Voters in Oregon and Alaska passed ballot initiatives to create the same. And a consistent majority of Americans said they support plans to legalize the drug nationwide, according to polls by NBC News and others.

Yet 2014 also brought the first formidable anti-marijuana message in ages. The men and women of Smart Approaches on Marijuana, or Project SAM, might be the most potent voice of prohibition since Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” tour three decades ago.

The result was a year of fierce cross currents.

Witnessing The Birth of An Industry: MJBA CEO David Rheins Looks Back At 2014

By David Rheins 

2014 has been an amazing year for those of us on the front lines of the legal cannabis movement. Thanks to the support of the now 300+ cannabis business members, dozens of sponsors and thousands of supporters, the b2b trade group I run, Marijuana Business Association (MJBA), has grown rapidly.  We’ve been busy during our first full year of operations helping our young industry lay the foundation for what will be one of  Washington State’s — and eventually the nation’s — major economic drivers.  Here are some of the year’s highlights:

Women of Weed

Women of Weed

As the industry grows, so do we: MJBA business groups now meetup regularly in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, and Spokane, WA. And in the first quarter of 2015, we’ll expand these networking events to support cannabis business communities in Denver, CO and Portland, OR.

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In the past year we’ve focused most of our energies helping to build Washington’s nascent legal cannabis business community. Focusing on our core values of providing reliable business intelligence, community and opportunity, MJBA organized two major b2b Vendor Fairs this year — both at Seattle’s Magical Butter Studios.  Our inaugural MJBA Vendor Fair in March 2014, came just as the first recreational marijuana licenses were being issued by the LCB.  That historic event, sponsored by leading edible company Evergreen Herbal, saw more than 300 businesses participate – with 25 sponsor/vendors.  Our second iteration,  MJBA Vendor Fair Summer, sponsored by Blue Line Protection Group, happened just days before the opening of Washington’s first legal pot shops and saw 20 vendors and 200 attendees who made crucial contacts and business deals.

Evergreen Herbal chief Marco Hoffman on stage at Vendor Fair.

Evergreen Herbal chief Marco Hoffman on stage at Vendor Fair.

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In between those two events, we launched the MJBA Women’s Alliance with an elegant power luncheon at the Columbia Tower Club, featuring a keynote speech by LEAP’s Diane Wattles Goldstein, guest appearance by Cheryl Shuman. Ah Warner, Cannabis Basics founder, and creator of Women of Weed, was presented with a lifetime achievement award.

MJBA Women's Alliance Luncheon

MJBA Women’s Alliance Luncheon

Later in May also saw the debut of MJBA’s first Professional Education Seminar, “Canna Business and the Law.” Sponsored by Canna Law Group and emceed by CNBC’s Al Olson, the event featured VIP Keynotes by Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and WSLCB Member Chris Marr.

Seattle Attorney Pete Holmes was a keynote speaker at Canna Business & The Law

Seattle Attorney Pete Holmes was a keynote speaker at Canna Business & The Law.

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Pete Holmes and Chris Marr take questions

In June the MJBA moved into its HQ in Bothell, WA.  And to commemorate the occasion, we held an MJBA Women’s Alliance Held a picnic at the compound, with more than 70 cannabis ladies pitching in for “pot luck.”

In July, we launched the South Sound Tacoma MJBA meetup at Surge Tacoma. The first event was over-capacity and demonstrated that the need to support cannabis business was not just a Seattle phenomenon

Those getting into the marijuana industry today are getting a leg up on the growing wave of competition. The New York Times recently covered the industry that is now receiving financial backing from several networks of investors that are ready to plunge millions into the industry.

South Sound supports a robust MJBA community

For 4 days in August, MJBA was a VIP Sponsor of Cannacon V1.0 at the Tacoma Dome. Our MJNewsNetwork and Marijuana Channel One on YouTube covered the event extensively.  Canna personality Radical Russ Belville interviewed key MJBA business members for his 420 Radio Network.

LCB's Randy Simmons and David Rheins at CannaCon

LCB’s Randy Simmons and David Rheins at CannaCon

In August, MJBA also hosted a benefit for NORML at its Bothell HQ.  The event was sponsored by Blue Line Protection Group, O.pen Vape, Evergreen Herbal and Washington Bud Company.  NORML founder Keith Stroup, travel author Rick Steves, cannabis celebrity Cheryl Shuman, Washington NORML founder Kevin Oliver and High Times Editor Rick Cusick were all in attendance.  The event raised $1500 for NORML.

NORML's Keith Stroup, David Rheins and Kevin Oliver

NORML’s Keith Stroup, David Rheins and Kevin Oliver

In August, MJBA Women’s Alliance sponsored a benefit for the Pink Gene Foundation at Suite at the Hyatt in Bellevue.  $1000 was raised via a silent auction of donated wares from MJBA’s generous business members and sponsors.
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Washington Bud Co's Shawn DeNae and attorney Stephanie Boehl

Washington Bud Co’s Shawn DeNae and attorney Stephanie Boehl

We held our first ever MJ Research listening summit in August, which informed our second MJBA Professional Education Seminar, “Technology & Your Cannabis Business”  held at the Motif Hotel in Seattle. Sponsored by CIPS, the event featured keynote presentation by Jamen Shively and ICCCO, and featured five all-star expert panels.

Ben Livingston Emceed MJBA's Technology & Your Cannabis Business Seminar

Ben Livingston Emceed MJBA’s Technology & Your Cannabis Business Seminar

MJBA at CannaCon 2014

MJBA’s David Rheins being interviewed at CannaCon 2014

In September, MJBA launched the Vancouver Meetup. The Mayor of Vancouver proclaimed the day “Cannabis Hemp Awareness & Marijuana Safe Usage Day” – Viridian Sciences was host, and Congressional candidate Bob Dingethal spoke to the group.  And we’d like to thank Danille Ulvila with Life Gro for hosting our most recent Tacoma Meetup at her impressive Life Gro facility.

Viridian Sciences hosted MJBA Vancouver's first meetup

Viridian Sciences hosted MJBA Vancouver’s first meetup

 

MJBA held its monthly Seattle meetups at Magial Butter Studios in SODO

MJBA held its monthly Seattle meetups at Magical Butter Studios in SODO

In September, MJBA launched MJBA Job Fair, a historic gathering of Washington Cannabis Industry’s employers and job seekers. Presented by Weedhire.com, and sponsored by Viridian Sciences, Eden Labs and Blue Line Protection Group, the event attracted more than 400 attendees, with 30 employer sponsors and more than 140 job openings.  We even hosted a “Marijuana Is Safer Than Unemployment” Fashion Show!

 

Job Fair Seattle was a huge success

Job Fair Seattle was a huge success

Eden Labs' CEO AC Braddock on the runway at the MJBA Jobs Fair in Seattle.

Eden Labs’ CEO AC Braddock on the runway at the MJBA Jobs Fair in Seattle.

In November, the Women’s Alliance hosted “The Power To Lead,” a day of inspiration, information and celebration, featuring Ladybud publisher Diane Fornbacher and financial guru Debbie Whitlock.

Ladybud Publisher Diane Fornbacher keynoted "The Power to Lead"

Ladybud Publisher Diane Fornbacher keynoted “The Power to Lead”

A couple of days later in November, MJBA Research published its first market research report, and held its third Professional Education Seminar:  “Dollars & Sense: Risk & Financial Planning for your Cannabis Business.” Sponsored by RMMC Consulting, the daylong event included a robust vendor area, and a daylong series of panels, including an hourlong Q&A with LCB Deputy Director Randy Simmons. 7 expert panel focused on actionable advice for the more than 200 I-502 licensees and applicants on their major areas of concern: financing and money management; insurance and risk; security, distribution and transportation; merchant service; business intelligence. MJ Freeway sponsored the 4:20 happy hour.

 

Dollars and Sense of Risk & Financial of Your Cannabis Business

Dollars and Sense of Risk & Financial of Your Cannabis Business

Just under 500 job seekers networked for opportunities to work in WA's legal marijuana industry.

500 job seekers came to MJBA Job Fair Seattle

In December 2014, the Company held its first annual “Cannabis Xmas Bazaar: Hot Pot Products for the High Holidays,” an historic showcasing of marijuana-themed products and innovations with participation by over 20 independent vendors and 150 members.   And, to top it all off, we were honored to be nominated as “Best Cannabis Association of 2014” in the Dope Industry Awards.  All in all, I’d say it was a fantastic first year in the life of a Green Rush startup.

Can’t wait to share what next year brings.  Hope you’ll stay tuned.  In the meantime, here’s wishing everyone a safe, happy, hempy holiday season.

The Cannabis Elders at the Dope Industry Awards

The Cannabis Elders at the Dope Industry Awards

 

Leafly sponsored Sativa Santa at MJBA Cannabis Xmas Bazaar

Leafly sponsored Sativa Santa at MJBA Cannabis Xmas Bazaar

Farmer Tom "Sativa Santa" and Seattle Hempfest's Vivian McPeak

Farmer Tom “Sativa Santa” and Seattle Hempfest’s Vivian McPeak

Michael Stusser and Higher Ground TV captured this year's Hot Pot Products

Michael Stusser and Higher Ground TV captured this year’s Hot Pot Products

My Best Guess on Outcomes of Marijuana Initiatives

BY  

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  This column is being written a couple of days prior to the November 4th election, and will be published on Monday, Nov. 3, election eve. So it only seems appropriate to offer my prognosis on the four statewide marijuana-related voter initiatives, as well as a number of municipal voter initiatives in Michigan and Maine.

Our Opponents Claim the Sky Is Falling

Before setting out on this dangerous endeavor of projecting election results, I should acknowledge the emergence of a seemingly re-energized gang of drug warriors, still willing to exploit fear and misinformation to justify the continued criminal prohibition of marijuana, and to protect their jobs. Our opponents were clearly caught somewhat off-guard by the legalization victories in 2012 in Colorado and Washington, despite their opposition. These smug law-enforcement and drug counseling industry reps had grown accustomed to their ability to shape the public debate over marijuana policy, and to paint anyone who favored the option of legalizing and regulating marijuana as being out of the political mainstream.

Over the last several months, we have seen Kevin Sabet with Project Sam, the principal remaining anti-marijuana zealots supporting prohibition, making outrageous claims about the experience with legalization in these first two states, claiming all sorts of unintended consequences. One vocal opponent of the Florida initiative recently  referred to the overwhelmingly favorable experience in Colorado as the “Colorado calamity.” The Brookings Institution, in fact, did a comprehensive report on the first six-months of legalization in CO, and found the roll-out of the new law had been overwhelmingly successful. But no one needs to worry Sabet and his ilk with the facts.

One of our opponents in Oregon recently claimed at a public debate that five children in Colorado had died from overdosing on edibles, only to be embarrassed into apologizing and retracting the statement when confronted with demands for the evidence (which, of course, did not exist, since it is impossible to die from an overdose of marijuana, either edible or smoked). While the number of these ideologues making new claims of “reefer madness” is small, they continue to get national media attention with their allegations, and to confuse and dumb-down the public debate.

The Secrets Behind The Midterms

There’s a hidden history to the nasty midterm election campaign that will, mercifully, end on Nov. 4. What’s not being widely talked about is as important as what’s in the news.
Under appreciated fact No. 1: The number of Democratic seats that are not in play this year.In planning their effort to take control of the Senate, Republicans shrewdly launched challenges to Democrats in states that would not automatically be on a GOP target list. “Broadening the map” is wise when you’re in a strong position.

Two of the states on that extended list, Colorado and Iowa, have paid off for Republicans. It’s still far from certain that they will defeat Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado or Rep. Bruce Braley in Iowa, who is trying to hold retiring senator Tom Harkin’s seat. Republicans have a clear shot at both, and this has strengthened their chances of taking the majority.

Just as striking is how many Democrats seem to have nailed down races the Republicans had once hoped to make competitive. This has narrowed the GOP’s path to a majority. Among them: Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Rep. Gary Peters of Michigan, who is likely to retain Sen. Carl Levin’s seat. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia is also polling well, though he was always favored against former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire is in a tougher race with former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, but she has led most of the way.

Seattle’s Best Edibles 2014

WASHINGTON:  While Washington State continues to roll out regulations governing legal cannabis, edibles makers are getting prepared, lab testing, researching and experimenting with dosage, flavors and new ideas for fantastic infused products. Under the new regulations developed by the Liquor Control Board, infused hard candies, gummies and lollipops will not be allowed, since these could be appealing to children. However, baked goods, chocolates, drinks and savory products can win approval after edibles-makers submit photos of the packaging to state regulators, agree to a facility inspection and lab testing of their products before they hit store shelves.

Many of the products entered into the third annual HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup held in Washington State would have made regulators proud, as companies vying for new customers have adapted their edible items to different tastes and dosage needs. U.S. Cup entries are open to any adult 21 years of age or older, while Medical Cup categories are reserved for medical marijuana providers and caregivers.

As always with edibles, look for an appropriate dosage in a satisfying portion size. If you are suffering from chronic pain and can tolerate a high dose, search out cannabis capsules or medical edible products with high dosages. If you are a curious newcomer to the scene, start small with a truffle containing only 10 milligrams of THC. Wait at least one hour before consuming any more cannabis-infused foods, since the effects need to be processed through your digestive system and can take some time.

 

Dems Rally Around Marijuana In 2014 Push

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Lawmakers across the country are turning to relaxed marijuana laws as a winning issue ahead of 2014.

A bi-partisan group of House members sent a letter to the White House on Wednesday morning requesting a change in federal marijuana policy. Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon led the group of 17 Democrats plus California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in the drafting of the letter, asking the president to “instruct Attorney General Holder to delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way.” The lawmakers requested the changes in part so that businesses in states where recreational or medical marijuana is legal can deduct business expenses and receive tax credits. [Read more…]

Dems Rally Around Marijuana In 2014 Push

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Lawmakers across the country are turning to relaxed marijuana laws as a winning issue ahead of 2014.

A bi-partisan group of House members sent a letter to the White House on Wednesday morning requesting a change in federal marijuana policy. Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon led the group of 17 Democrats plus California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in the drafting of the letter, asking the president to “instruct Attorney General Holder to delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way.” The lawmakers requested the changes in part so that businesses in states where recreational or medical marijuana is legal can deduct business expenses and receive tax credits. [Read more…]

Alaska Voters Could Legalize Pot This Summer

ALASKA:  Enough petition signatures have been verified to place an initiative seeking to legalize marijuana on the ballot this summer in Alaska, election officials said Tuesday.

The petition has met all the thresholds necessary to appear on the Aug. 19 primary ballot, the Alaska Division of Elections said.

The lieutenant governor’s office said it had verified the signatures from registered voters as of Monday evening. The total of 31,500 was a thousand more than needed, with about 6,000 signatures remaining to be checked.

The office has not yet certified the question for the ballot, but it’s expected to do so in the coming weeks.

“It’s good news,” said Bill Parker, an Anchorage man who was one of and initial sponsor of the initiative.