A Maturing Marijuana Industry Prepares for the Future

Amid Record Sales, Pre-Election Seminar to Explore More Sophisticated Business Operations

With more than $1.4 billion in sales in Washington since legalization in 2014, and five additional states considering new legal marijuana markets, several veterans of the recreational cannabis industry will gather next month in Seattle to discuss how they are planning to compete in a multi-billion-dollar industry that virtually did not exist just three years ago.

Dozens of cannabis processors, producers, retailers and ancillary businesses are set to meet on November 3rd at the downtown Seattle office of Garvey Schubert Barer (GSB) to discuss how they can operate in a more sophisticated environment than ever before. The agenda includes a range of pertinent topics, such as how to work with a growing and more experienced marijuana workforce, making smart decisions about human resources, managing financial risk and insurance, and navigating the patchwork of ever-changing regulations in every state where a cannabis business might operate.  Two enforcement officers from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board will also be present, and they will cover the hot regulatory issues and answer questions from cannabis industry members.

“Stunning sales figures and the prospect of more states legalizing cannabis means that the days of the dynamic, bootstrapped marijuana startup are giving way to companies that have to operate just like any other business,” said Emily Gant, attorney and Co-Chair of Cannabis Industry Group at GSB and moderator of the Seminar’s opening session. “I think this next election is going to open a lot of eyes that the cannabis industry really is becoming a major force in the economy.”

Polls are showing that the business of recreational marijuana is set for a nationwide expansion, and the prospect of new customers, new competitors and new partners has many in the cannabis business realizing that their industry is reaching a new level of maturity.

“It’s only natural that we are starting to hear the first credible efforts of cannabis workers looking to organize and possibly join unions,” said Jared Van Kirk, attorney and Co-Chair of the Labor & Employment Practice Group at GSB and one of the Seminar’s presenters. “We’re looking forward to a discussion that focuses on the human resources challenges we’ve already seen, and how to prepare for the business consequences of a larger, smarter and a more prepared workforce in the marijuana industry.”

The Seminar, organized by Seattle-based law firm Garvey Schubert Barer, accounting firm ACT Resources and Mosaic Insurance Alliance, will offer expanding cannabis businesses a chance to discuss growing pains and how to stay competitive, from the perspective of individual businesses and the industry at large.

“In the beginning we saw folks enter the marijuana business market and make all the right moves, only to be derailed when a national vendor or the insurance market could not meet their business needs or was unable to make sense of rapidly changing market conditions,” said Norm Ives of Mosaic Insurance and speaker at the Seminar. “As competitive as this industry has become, we have to keep convening so that business operations evolve to capitalize on the most current market conditions and become just as competent or sophisticated as other industries have developed over decades or longer.”

“The pace of change in this industry isn’t likely to let up,” said Dani Espinda of Act Resources. “The regulations faced by marijuana entrepreneurs in each state create unique challenges, and the expansion of recreational marijuana after this next election is going to have a real impact on what strategies will make for a successful business.”
The half-day seminar will include interactive discussions between attendees and speakers, followed by a cocktail reception.

 

About the Event:

 

What:

2016 Cannabis Business Seminar: Transitioning from Infancy to Maturity

Where:

Garvey Schubert Barer

1191 Second Avenue, 6th floor

Seattle, WA 98101-2939

When:

Thursday, November 3, 2016

1:00 – 4:30 pm, cocktail reception to follow

Cost:

Free

RSVP:

Space is limited! RSVP to Bonnie Chung at bchung@gsblaw.com or at 206-816-1487


Moderators:

Emily Harris Gant, attorney and Co-Chair of Cannabis Industry Group, Garvey Schubert Barer

Andy I. Aley, attorney and Co-Chair of Cannabis Industry Group, Garvey Schubert Barer

 

Speakers:

Jared Van Kirk, attorney and Co-Chair of Labor and Employment Practice Group, Garvey Schubert Barer

Michael S. Brunet, attorney and Member of Labor and Employment Practice Group, Garvey Schubert Barer

Dani Espinda, CPA, Tax and Cannabis Business Consultant, Principal, Act Resources, PLLC

Norm Ives, Cannabis Program Manager & Commercial Broker, Mosaic Insurance, LLC

Officer Joseph Bussman, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board

Lieutenant Lorn Richey, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board

Spokane’s First Cannabis Job Fair Draws Huge Crowds

WASHINGTON: Nearly 900 eager job seekers turned out for Spokane’s first ever cannabis job fair this past weekend, many of them lining up as early as 7:30 to drop their resumes off and meet some of eastern Washington’s leading cannabis industry employers.

Organized by the Marijuana Business Association, and presented by Washington NORML and the Islander, MJBA Job Fair Spokane was held at the Spokane Convention Center and featured employers and exhibitors included leading cultivators Washington’s Finest Cannabis, Blue Roots Cannabis, Triple T Farms, Kush Comfort Farms, and Buddy Boy, who were looking for trimmers and agricultural help; leading cannabis brands including Evergreen Herbal, Cannabis Training Institute, 420MEDIA, Analytically Correct, Mosaic Insurance, PayQwick, BioTrackTHC, Miller Soils, WeedTraQR, and Dope Magazine.

The Inlander publisher Ted McGregor delivered the keynote address, using the occasion to look back on the first year of Washington legal cannabis (the state’s first recreational shops opened on July 8, 2014).  Ted gave a shout out to Spokane resident Mike Boyer, the first recreational pot consumer in the state who subsequently lost his job after a workplace drug test confirm his legal consumption, who was in attendance at the fair optimistically seeking employment opportunities.  He drew parallels between the end of alcohol prohibition and today’s unravelling of the failed war on drugs.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pz6ENqeR8Dc&w=560&h=315]

Business Intelligence expert Joe Armes, Analytically Correct, preceded the keynote, and delivered the MJ Research Jobs Report in which Analytically Correct estimates WA State recreation cannabis direct industry jobs to be 3,000 – 4,000 by the end of 2015 and 5,000 – 6,000 by the end of 2016.

MJ Research Jobs Report

MJ Research Jobs Report

420MEDIA and Kerri Accardi were in the house, hosting an open casting call for their upcoming web series, Hmm…Did You know.   A panel of cannabis cultivators from Washington’s Finest Cannabis, Farmer Tom Organics, Kush Comfort Farms talked about careers as a pot farmer.  Other featured speakers included Luc Nelson, Cannabis Training Institute; Kevin Oliver, Washington NORML; Melissa Braddock, Eden Labs; Norm Ives, Mosaic Insurance; Dan McMahon, BioTrackTHC, Aubrey Armes, Analytically Correct HR; Eric Ogden, WeedTraQR; Isaac Curtis, UFCW; Crystal Oliver, Washington’s Finest Cannabis; Terry Polyak, PayQwick; Kerri Accardi, 420MEDIA; Heather Gehrman, Evergreen Herbal; and Jon Hofer, RMMC Consulting.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fG7Fqt_G_Zg&w=560&h=315]

 

Dollars & Sense: Washington Liquor Control Board Canna Insurance Requirements

By Paul Pukis

WASHINGTON: With all the excitement of starting your recreational marijuana business and the mounds of paperwork to complete, for I-502 licensees readying for market, little details about mundane topics like insurance may get overlooked.  The bad thing about overlooking any of the required details, is that you risk your application falling to the bottom of  your investigators list.  To eliminate this from happening, let’s dive into the LCB requirements for insurance.

According to WAC 314-55-082, the intent of the insurance you’re required to buy is to protect the consumer of your product.  For this reason, the LCB requires two coverages and they both have to be at $1,000,000 or higher.  First, Commercial General Liability (CGL) is required to protect someone from your negligence on the premises.  For example, if someone comes to your property and slips and falls due to water on the floor, then you may be responsible for their injuries.  But, that’s not all.

Second, due to the specific language in the Code, which says, “…insurance shall also cover bodily injury, including disease, illness and death…” you’re also required to purchase Product Liability.  Although the term Product Liability is never mentioned in the Code like General Liability is, the only way to get coverage for disease, illness and death from the product you sell is Product Liability.  Therefore, in order for you to obtain and keep your license, the LCB must see General Liability and Product Liability listed on the Certificate of Insurance listing the WA State LCB as an Additional Insured.

Keep in mind, just because these are the only two required coverages, that doesn’t mean they’re the only coverages you can get.  As you’ve seen, every organization is out to make a buck in this industry and the insurance companies are no different.  For whatever price they set, the insurance companies are willing to provide coverage for indoor and outdoor equipment/tools, building, Loss of Income, Crop Coverage, and, more recently, Commercial Auto Insurance for delivery.

If you have more questions, feel free to contact Paul Pukis at Mosaic Insurance Alliance LLC where he runs the WA State Recreational Marijuana Insurance Program.  Through this program, Paul has access to five insurance companies willing to compete for your business.  You can reach Paul at 425.320.4280 or Paul@Mosaicia.com.