Entrepreneurs Eye Emerging Marijuana Markets

COLORADO:  When James Howler created his marijuana-infused taffy in 2009, the Colorado entrepreneur had trouble finding an accountant willing to keep the books of a company making legally fuzzy medical marijuana candy.

Now, five years later, venture capitalists from New York City want to shower him with money for a stake in his Cheeba Chews and a foothold in a $2.6 billion marijuana industry now operating in nearly half the country.

With medical marijuana legal in 23 states and Washington, D.C., and recreational marijuana legal in Colorado and Washington state, the market for weed is rife with potential, and the people in pinstripes have taken note. As the marijuana companies grow more sophisticated — and profitable — they are attracting the attention of investors and corporations.

Tapping into the green revolution, however, brings unique challenges for entrepreneurs and corporate honchos alike. States may have bucked federal law, which considers marijuana illegal for any purpose, but they have imposed their own complicated, lengthy lists of regulations meant to keep cannabis tightly under control and, in some cases, keep the corporate behemoths out.

 

Cheeba Chews Production Halted By CO Marijuana License Denial

COLORADO:  Cheeba Chews began as an experiment in a home kitchen and grew into one of the biggest successes of Colorado’s medical marijuana industry, winning awards and attracting fans with the promise of being “potent, consistent and discreet.”

Then, last spring, the medicated chocolate taffy began disappearing from shelves. There was no public explanation other than a letter from CEO James Howler citing “internal changes.” He promised things would get back on track soon.

The reasons behind the upheaval — spelled out more precisely in records and correspondence reviewed by The Denver Post — provide an inside look at how questionable marijuana business structures and state regulatory delays in scrutinizing them can lead to problems.

Cheeba Chews’ case also exposes a blind spot in the state’s regulation of edibles companies: By licensing out production, owners effectively can skirt the scrutiny that others in the business face, including criminal background checks and Colorado residency requirements.

Cheeba Chews stopped production after the state in March denied the business license application of Green Sky Confections, which had a licensing agreement to produce and distribute the brand.

 

 

High-End Baking: Meet The Queen of Munchies

COLORADO: In the beginning, there were cupcakes; then came pie, and cake pops, and cronuts, and gluten-free everything. Everyone knows specialty baked goods are big business — but Karin Lazarus’s baked goods are a little more special than most. As the proprietor of Colorado-based Sweet Mary Jane, she’s brought a pastry chef’s savvy to the world of pot brownies. [Read more…]