Utilities Struggle To Control Appetites In Energy-Hungry Marijuana Industry

WASHINGTON:  Kurt Nielsen is on a strange assignment, especially for a public employee. As the manager of the Lighting Design Lab, which is a spinoff of Seattle’s power company, he has been tasked with finding energy-efficient lights for the growing of marijuana.

Most of the country’s legal cannabis farming, in Washington and Colorado, is happening indoors and under scorching-hot lights. Washington state has issued licenses for the cultivation of 1.2 million square feet of cannabis “canopy,” as it’s called, since voters approved its production and sale for recreational purposes two years ago.

But neither state has given much thought to where the energy will come from.

Nielsen has been looking for a while now and declared that the efficiency quest is “a wild goose hunt.”

“This has become a major issue with most of the regional utilities, now that we have legalized the recreational use of cannabis in this state. There is a huge new industry that’s popping up, grow operations. They’re getting as much as 200 watts per square foot of lighting power density, which is astronomical,” he said. “How are they going to handle and manage this industry?”

Utilities and energy officials in Washington and Colorado indicate they are deeply worried about serving their new set of energy-intense customers while not running afoul of federal drug laws. The intertwined relationships between state and federal governments mean that acting to lower marijuana’s energy usage could endanger millions of dollars in federal grants or electricity deliveries from federal hydroelectric dams.

 

Washington’s Legal Marijuana Industry Open For Business

WASHINGTON: More than a year and a half since voters in Washington overwhelmingly voted for the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults, retail stores in the Evergreen State will finally open for business on Tuesday, July 8.

Around two dozen venues around the state are expected to open their doors — a fraction of the 334 retail stores that will eventually be licensed and supervised by Washington’s Liquor Control Board.

National and local press will focus on Seattle’s Columbia City, where Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes (an 1-502 sponsor) and ACLU’s Alison Holcomb (who authored I-502) will be witnesses to the historic event. Long lines, limited product (mostly bulk, and pre-rolled flower) and steep prices are anticipated at the event, which begins classically at “High Noon.”

But from my perspective as the CEO of the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) – a.k.a. “the chamber of commerce for legal cannabis business,” the real story goes much deeper than Tuesday’s media event.

For the past year and a half the building blocks for a new industry have been laid in Washington State. A true grassroots phenomenon, the legal marijuana industry is being created by a broad swath of Americans, each bringing something unique to the party.

Cannabis Industry Kicks Off Business Summit

COLORADO: The tagline for this week’s Cannabis Business Summit in Denver is, “Where Commerce Meets a Revolution.”

And in speaking with some of the several hundred people in attendance at the two-day event, billed as the marijuana industry‘s first big business conference, there was a sense of mission that isn’t usually found at most trade fairs.

Keynote speakers received applause when they talked about being in a state where cannabis is legal both for medical and recreational use and the importance of running businesses that their industry can be proud of.

“This industry is being born, you can’t stop it,” said John Davis, an industry activist and CEO of the Northwest Patient Resource Center in Seattle.

Uncertainty Surrounds Marijuana ‘Green Rush’

WASHINGTON: As Sam Calvert prepares to open one of the state’s first legal marijuana stores next month, he sometimes thinks of a historic parallel from a previous century.

Washington may be about to experience a marijuana “Green Rush” similar to the Alaska Gold Rush at the end of the 19th century, when discovery of gold in the Klondike prompted thousands to seek their fortunes in unfamiliar territory. Only a small percentage of the miners who went into the frozen hills came out with enough gold to get rich, Calvert said. More people got rich by selling them picks, shovels and other supplies before they went in, and food and alcohol when they came out.

“There’s an endless array of people who want to provide me with supplies or services,” said Calvert, who formerly operated a commercial property company and plans to open Green Star Cannabis on North Division in mid-July.

Other prospective marijuana businesspeople – some call them “ganjapreneurs” – report similar appeals. Lawyers and accountants offer specialized service for the tightly regulated and heavily taxed businesses; software companies offer systems to track the plants from startup to sale; and security businesses offer advice on protecting against robbery or internal theft.

Seize Pot Opportunity To Grow Economy

WASHINGTON: Opponents of pot are still trying to wage social, ethical and moral arguments against the majority of citizens who voted in favor of the legalization of marijuana (Initiative 502). Legitimate concerns are lost in the perpetuation of misinformation and emotional irrationality, but what everyone seems to agree on is that marijuana does indeed grow money. So why aren’t we talking about this inevitable, legal, emerging economic impact to our region and how it may help us grow out of the looming fiscal calamities that our communities are facing?

As many cities in our state rush to resurrect failed limit, prohibit, and ban policies to keep marijuana out of their communities, they fail to acknowledge the simple fact that marijuana is already here and has been flourishing for generations. Illegal and quasi-legal cannabis operations rake in enormous tax-free profits with little regulation, oversight or enforcement. Implementing I-502 may be our only chance to stop nurturing and sustaining organized crime, shut down dangerous amateur-extraction labs, eliminate hazardous home-baking enthusiasts, and put a stop to residential grow operations.

I-502 gives the state and local jurisdictions the power to regulate and tax authorized businesses who grow, process or sell marijuana. Although marijuana is still a federally illegal substance, the federal government has indicated they will not interfere with the efforts of states to legalize recreational marijuana if their highly regulated system works toward the elimination of the black market, avoids undue social harm (i.e. gets it out of the hands of children because they already have easy access to it), and prevents an exodus of cannabis products from crossing state lines. This is what everyone working in the legitimate medical cannabis community and the recreational marijuana industry is trying to accomplish. It’s not a matter of if cannabis will be federally legal, it’s now a matter of when.


Washington’s Leading I-502 Companies Showcased At MJBA Vendor Fair Seattle Summer June 28 & 29

MJBA Vendor Fair Seattle Summer
Attention Business Pioneers! 
Start making sales and meeting new customers with a presence at the Marijuana Business Association’s (MJBA) Summer Vendor Fair, a 2-day trade show for Washington I-502 legal marijuana businesses. But don’t delay! The venue will accommodate only 25 exhibitors and this event will sell out quickly, so please reserve your booth today to ensure availability. 

June 28 and 29, Magicalbutter.com Studios

MJBA’s first-ever Spring 2014 Vendor Fair was a tremendous success with 300+ trade-only attendees and over 30 new and established canna-businesses generating orders and creating new connections. Check out photos of MJBA’s Spring 2014 Vendor Fairhere. 

JVendor Fair Packages

All vendor packages include a 10′ x 10′ exhibit with skirted table, 2 chairs, electricity and wifi. Just bring yourself, your samples and your order book! View the Vendor Packages. 

Want even more visibility and branding? Become one of 10 VIP Sponsors and get your logo ID in all email campaigns, ads, mailers, event signage, sample bags and MORE! MJBA also has one exclusive Presenting Sponsorship available which includes a top-level “Presented By” Logo ID on all event materials and promotion. Every sponsorship includes the complete 10′ x 10′ exhibit booth package. To make sure your logo is included in all Vendor Fair marketing materials, reserve your VIP Sponsor package today!

VIEW THE VENDOR FAIR PACKAGES


MJBA Members Sace 25 Percent

Joining the Marijuana Business Association comes with great benefits like a 25% discount on Vendor Fair booth pricing and connects you to a network of like-minded entrepreneurs seeking to promote their business and advance the interests of the industry. Join MJBA today and we’ll email you an MJBA Business Member or MJBA Corporate Sponsor badge to proudly display on your website. Learn more about the MJBA

Why Washington Is Taking So Long To Get Recreational Pot In Stores

WASHINGTON:  Like Colorado, Washington voted to legalize marijuana in November 2012. But 18 months later, not a single ounce of legal recreational pot has been sold in the state.

Washington has repeatedly delayed implementation of its new law. The state has, for example, delayed issuing licenses for marijuana growers and processors twice — and punted  the launch of retail businesses from this spring to July at the earliest.

Washington shows just how difficult it is to establish a legal marijuana industry. Legalization is not a matter of just turning the switch; it instead involves a long, complicated process of balancing concerns about the drawbacks of marijuana and the public’s willingness to allow the drug for recreational use. For Washington, how to achieve that balance is a work in progress.

“You have to understand that, other than Colorado, no one has done this in the world,” says Brian Smith of the Washington State Liquor Board, which is overseeing the state’s marijuana businesses. “There’s no blueprint, and every step of the way of the way as you go forward there are challenges.”

Cannabis Advertising In Uncertain Times

WASHINGTON: I had the unique opportunity to interview Darran Bruce, President of Cannadvertising, who’s mission is to inform his clients on the legality of advertising in the cannabis industry to ensure they are executing the best marketing campaign.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. You recently spoke at the MJBA panel discussion in Washington last week, what were some of the primary takeaways? 
A: First off I would like to thank Dave and Morgan at the Marijuana Business Association, for inviting me to take part in such a wonderful event. The primary takeaway was education; educating not only the “Cannabusiness” community, but the public at large. There are many misconceptions surrounding the industry and only by educating the local governments and communities can we begin to change the way people think about cannabis.

Q: You carry the ‘fear torch’ when it comes to cannabis advertising, so what should we be afraid of?
A: Lol, The ‘fear torch’…I would say I carry the “correct information torch” that informs not only Cannabusinesses but also community leaders and the public. A person or company is allowed to exercise their rights under the First Amendment to advertise their business. The pitfall, however, is that many of these new entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry are going to face issues when they try to work with major companies like Google, Bing, GoDaddy, and Facebook, because of their terms and conditions that prevent “illegal activity” on their sites. They will continue to shut down any “illegal activity” without warning or recourse.

Seattle City Attorney Holmes And WSLCB Member Chris Marr Keynote “Canna Business & The Law”

WASHINGTON: Sometime in July, the first recreational marijuana retail stores will open their doors in Washington State.  In anticipation hundreds of  I-502 applicants are scrambling to get all their ducks in a row, so they can attain their license in time for the market debut.

The impending deadline has put tremendous stress on these mainly small legal “canna businesses,” all of whom share the traditional pressing needs of any startup – business planning, financing, real estate, HR, branding, marketing, and sales — with the additional burden of adhering to the strict compliance regulations set by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB).

In an effort to get all key players in one room, Marijuana Business Association (MJBA), the leading trade organization serving the emerging legal cannabis, medical marijuana and hemp industries, has teamed with Canna Law Group – the nascent industry’s leading legal firm – to present, “Canna Business and the Law: A Must Attend B2B Seminar for I-502 Licensees, and Professional Service Providers,” at the Westin Seattle, Thursday May 22nd, from 9:00-4:20.

Screenshot 2014-05-20 13.20.04Canna Business and the LawSeattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who famously sponsored I-502, will deliver a keynote address at lunch, as will WSLCB Member Chris Marr.  Salal Credit Union, the first credit union in Western Washington to announce it would begin accepting some I-502 accounts will make news by sending its Chief Lending Officer, Bob Schweigert, to participate on the “Managing Your Marijuana Money” panel.  Patrick Vo, COO of BioTrackTHC, the official software of I-502, will be a featured panelist, as will Redmond’s #1 Pot Lottery retail winner, the Grass Is Always Greener’s Jenny Carbon. The rest of the featured participants on the day’s 5 panels reads like a Who’s Who of Washington’s legal marijuana business, including representatives from the top attorneys, CPAs, business leaders and governmental officials.

“It is the mission of the MJBA to provide the reliable business intelligence, professional community and best ethical practices necessary to create a viable, sustainable and profitable marketplace,” said MJBA CEO David Rheins. “We are honored to have both Seattle City Attorney Holmes and WSLCB Member Marr address this historic I-502 Seminar. Together their two speeches will signal the ‘ringing of the market bell’ ushering in not only a new legal industry for Washington, but a new era of economic re-invigoration and job creation for our local communities.”

Canna Law Group Practice Leader Hilary Bricken, Dope Magazine’s “Marijuana Attorney of the Year” in 2013, will deliver the breakfast keynote, and CNBC Senior Editor Al Olson will be the exclusive event’s master of ceremonies.

Tickets are $199 for MJBA members, $250 non-members, and include a continental breakfast, boxed lunch and invitation to a 4:20 Happy Hour. Buy your tickets here:

Marijuana Brands Push Past Bans To Go National

NEW YORK: Marijuana may still be an illegal drug at the Federal level, but that isn’t stopping some companies from building a national presence. “I think people are already positioning themselves for a national cannabis industry,” said David Bienenstock, a marijuana consultant. “The people who make a smart move now will be rewarded later.”

The opportunity for investors seems obvious. First, there is an established customer base. Granted, most of these consumers have been buying their product in the black market, but many probably prefer to do a legitimate transaction, assuming the price is right. Next, there are no entrenched players. The field is wide open to the budding entrepreneurs to be the first to market.

However, it isn’t that simple. The industry is subject to many regulations and restrictions. For instance, the product can’t be transported across state lines. This has caused many of these companies with national aspirations to become creative with their corporate structures. Also, the promotional efforts are challenging. It’s difficult to build a national brand when your advertising is limited.