Outtakes From Marijuana Research

WASHINGTON:  I wanted to pass along a few interesting notes that did not make it into my Page 1 story last week about the marijuana supply ramping up. Like it or not, marijuana is now a cash crop in Washington and that means it will fall into my agricultural coverage from time to time.

Greta Carter, owner of the Life Gardens farm near Ellensburg featured in the story, is not just a marijuana farmer. She’s an outspoken cannabis activist, retired Republican banker and the executive director of the Care Wellness Center, a nonprofit outreach that provides public education about medical cannabis. Carter helped draft Initiative 502, which created the state’s legal recreational industry when voters passed it almost two years ago and frequently speaks to policy groups and lawmakers across the country about marijuana issues.

Financing has been a struggle for marijuana entrepreneurs in both Colorado and Washington, the first two states to legalize recreational use. Banks, often insured by federal programs, are hesitant to loan money, but the state’s licensing inspectors raise their eyebrows at unconventional loans. In fact, the license application process requires a surprising amount of detail about where growers get their start-up money. You can read the details at the Liquor Control Board’s website, but basically, regulators want to make sure cartels or other illicit enterprises aren’t involved. To come up with the untold thousands of dollars required to create Life Gardens — the security cameras alone cost $42,000 — Carter and her investors pre-sold their marijuana to retail shops, much the way wine grape growers and hop growers produce for contracts. Nobody, not even marijuana farmers, wants to be stuck with a crop they can’t sell.

I’m still trying to get a full picture of this, but marijuana obviously is regulated like no other crop. At Carter’s farm, each individual plant bore a tag with a unique bar code that allowed investigators to trace it to the production facility, batch, row and pot number. While photographer Mason Trinca and I visited, workers found a piece of branch about one-inch long that had at some time snapped off and fallen to the ground. An apple orchardist would just leave something like that and go on to bigger issues. State law requires Carter’s crew members to collect the branch, weigh it, report it to the state and then destroy it. They showed me a shiny new mulcher they bought just for that purpose.


Pot Prices Could Come Down As Harvest Ramps Up

WASHINGTON:  Green pastures and barbed wire surround eight grow tents. Irrigation tubes guide water through neat rows. Seasonal employees tie up branches heavy with the fall crop.

In many ways, Life Gardens southeast of Ellensburg feels and functions like any farm.

“It’s just another crop, other than we grow a Schedule I drug,” said owner Greta Carter, one of five licensed Kittitas County recreational marijuana producers.

Slowly and in beat with the rhythms of agriculture, licensed producers are growing enough pot that retailers hope to eventually lower prices enough to diminish the black market, one of the major justifications for Initiative 502, passed by state voters nearly two years ago.


Tech Mogul Jamen Shively Keynotes “Technology And Your Cannabis Business” Seminar Weds, Aug 27 In Seattle

WASHINGTON: All industry eyes will be on technology-turned-marijuana mogul Jamen Shively, the former Microsoft strategist best known as the man behind premium retail pot brand Diego Pellicer, as he delivers the keynote speech for “Technology & Your Cannabis Business” seminar at Seattle’s ultra-hip Motif Hotel.

Shively’s much-anticipated talk before the elite gathering of Washington’s leading cannabis and technology brands, will reportedly focus on the state of the emerging industry, and how he is providing support to the worldwide cannabis & hemp industry through his new venture, the International Coalition of Cannabis Companies & Organizations ICCCO .

Joining Shively will be Randy Simmons from Washington Liquor Control Board, the agency overseeing Washington’s nascent legal marijuana business; along with John Davis, co-founder and Executive Director of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics (CCSE); Patrick Vo, COO, of BioTrackTHC; Dr. Dominic Corva, Executive Director at Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy; Cannabis Training Institute’s Greta Carter, and many other industry thought leaders.

Technology & Your Cannabis Business Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM Motif Hotel, Seattle, WA

Technology & Your Cannabis Business
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM Motif Hotel, Seattle, WA

The full-day business seminar, targeting participants in Washington’s legal cannabis industry – growers, processors, retailers and the professional services providers who support them — is being organized by Seattle-based Marijuana Business Association (MJBA), a b2b organization called “the chamber of commerce for cannabis” by NBC News, and sponsored by Cannabis Industry Professional Services (CIPS).  Journalist/Activist Ben Livingston will act as Master of Ceremonies.

“Technology & Your Cannabis Business” is the first in a series of professional education seminars that the Marijuana Business Association is hosting as a service to its members,” explained MJBA chief executive David Rheins. “Earlier in the month, we invited I-502 licensees and applicants to participate in an online policy conducted by MJ Research.  More than three dozen business pioneers participated in the survey. We then invited them to a listening summit, where we conducted a “voice of the customer” facilitated conversation — through which we’ve identified the key industry pain points. Technology — from compliance software to grow-room automation — was at the top of the list. In response, MJBA has organized this professional forum where all the key stakeholders can gather together to work through possible solutions.”

At Wednesday’s show, packaging technology, grow room automation and compliance software are the hot topics. “We’re delighted to have senior representatives like the WSLCB’s Randy Simmons, BioTrackTHC’s Patrick Vo there all under one roof, there to directly engage with end-user licensees to address this critical and time-sensitive issues,” Rheins said.

Tickets are $100 for MJBA members, $150 non-members, and are available online, and at the door.