HONU Wins “Best Cannabis Brand Design” 2016 in MJBA/OMD Poll.

WASHINGTON:  Cowlitz county Tier 3 producer HONU was named “Best Cannabis Brand Design 2016” in an online poll published by Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) and Online Marijuana Design (OMD Agency).  More than 1500 votes were cast in the MJBA/OMD Facebook Survey, which asked cannabis industry participants to vote for the best cannabis brand designs of 2016.

HONU’s Hawaiian-flavored design featuring a stylized sea turtle garnered the brand a total of 245 votes.  “Turtles have always been important to the local Hawaiian people as they provided spiritual influence, tools, food and clothing. But the Hawaiians never “took” from the turtles lightly, they always revered the turtles,” the company’s website proclaims. “We have chosen this as the name for our business as it embodies what we hold sacred as a team.”


Results of the vote were announced at the recent “HOT BOX: The Best Marijuana Design and Packaging 2016” seminar in Tacoma. Team Honu was on hand to accept the award from MJBA founder/executive director David Rheins.  The Hot Box seminar took place June 2, 2016 in the historic Union Bank of California building in Tacoma, WA.

The event was produced by the Marijuana Business Association. Online Marijuana Design was the event’s presenting sponsor.  VIP Sponsors included Great Pacific Packaging, DCG One, PrintWest, Pearson Packaging, 420WholesalePack.com, Tryst Print Solutions, Foundry Law Group, Farmer Tom, NWMJLaw, Higher Ground TV, Curved Papers, Guts and Glory, Ganjapreneur, 420Media and Freedom Leaf.

Second place with 186 votes went to Renton, WA retailer Buddy’s. The jazz-themed pot shop was named after proprietor Myles Kahn’s grandfather, Buddy Kahn, a famous Salsa musician and band leader. The hip design of the company’s branding, with a strong retro music feel, was crafted by Guts and Glory creative director Michael Guttsen.

Buddys Poster

With its dramatic Italian glass jar, and a ‘fresh-picked locally’ design approach branding, Tier 1 producer Green Bluff Greenhouse took third place with 157 votes. Specializing in rare, old school Sativa’s, the small grower is quickly gaining a big reputation for quality. Green Bluff owner Rick Lynn Roening was on hand to accept the award.

Dramatic Italian glass jar Green Bluff Greenhouse

Dramatic Italian glass jar Green Bluff Greenhouse

Fourth place went to Tier 2 indoor producer SKöRD Marijuana, whose bold black and cream design and iconic umlauts proudly resonate with Scandinavian heritage.   The company produces flower, concentrates and infused edibles.

skord marijuana logo

Rounding out the Top 5 Best Cannabis Brand Design of 2016 is Curved Papers.  With an “Easy To Roll” theme and a eco-friendly minimalist package that emphasizes the brand value – a new shape for rolling papers that is a true innovation.


Company founder Michael O’Malley and his daughter Grace were on hand at the Hot Box seminar to accept their award.

Curved Papers' Michael and Grace O'Malley

Curved Papers’ Michael and Grace O’Malley


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The Wink In Weed: Lessons From The Grape Trade

By David Rheins

There are many lessons the legal cannabis business can learn from studying the evolution of America’s wine industry.

As agricultural products with inebriating properties, wine and weed have much in common. Like cannabis, wine has been an integral part of human society since pre-historic times. Wine like cannabis is used in many different ways, including medicinally, recreationally and ritually. Like cannabis, the qualities of wine vary widely from region to region, and age to age.

Both cannabis and wine are social drugs – used to lubricate the tongue, loosen inhibitions and facilitate fun. Like cannabis cultivation, winemaking was often done at home for personal use, flourishing first as a cottage industry before morphing into big business.

Before prohibition shut down the industry in 1920, America boosted some 2,500 commercial wineries – more than 700 in California alone. Only 100 survived to see the end of Prohibition. It took many decades for the wine industry to rebuild after prohibition but today, Americans consume more wine than any other nation, with US wine sales topping $37 Billion annually.

The country had to be re-educated how to consume alcohol responsibly before the industry could achieve that scale of success.  Once tainted by ties to mobsters and gangland violence, wine had to redefine itself as a sophisticated product used by responsible adults.

Back when I was a kid in the 60s and 70s, wine was something you had primarily at fancy dinners, or special religious occasions. Beer was something you had at the end of the day or on the weekends. Weed was something we smoked furtively.

Julia Child and the Galloping Gourmet taught me, and much of middle class America how to entertain – schooling us on how wine could be paired with meals to create a better dining experience. At first that education was basic. We learned to sort grapes into colors before we got to varietals: Red vs. White. Red wine was for meat, served at room temperature. White was for fish or fowl, best consumed chilled. Over the years, the public became more sophisticated and popular brands began to emerge.

galloping gourmet

It is not hard to see familiar parallels with legal cannabis’ big buckets: Sativa vs. Indica. Budtenders (our industries sommeliers) teach the neophyte that Sativa delivers a head high, and is best smoked during the day; that Indica gives one a body high best smoked at night on a comfy couch. For edibles, we learn the golden rule: “start low, go slow.”

Like Red and White in the wine industry, Sativa and Indica are entrée points for the novice in cannabis. Through consumption and experience, the palate is educated. Subtle preferences emerge – not just for chardonnays or cabernets, but for brands and vintages.

Wine has gone big time and is now every bit as American as apple pie.  We bring a bottle of wine when we’re invited to dinner –  not the cheapest, or the strongest – but the one that expresses something about ourselves and the occasion.  When selecting the right bottle of wine at retail, the consumer cannot usually taste or smell the product, and so makes the purchase decision based upon visual appeal of the package – the bottle, the label, the brand – and the price.

Patrick Bennett has made a fine living and a great reputation doing commercial photography for the wine industry: shooting farms, farmers and gorgeous grapes.  For the past two years, Bennett has been capturing the early days of the legal marijuana marketplace, photographing Washington’s top cannabis producers, processors and retailers as they establish a new industry.  The techniques he perfected in his work with the wine industry transfers seamlessly into cannabis. He recently showed off some of his work at Hot Box: The Best of Marijuana Design and Packaging 2016, where he was a featured presenter, including these images of the iconic Farmer Tom Lauerman.