Cashing In On Cannabis: CannaCon’s Banking Panel

By Sahar Ayinehsazian

Since Washington state legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, recreational cannabis sales have totaled over $1 billion, translating to more than $250 million collected in new taxes. Such substantial sales, however, have also brought problems for licensees in the form of cash.

Because of marijuana’s federal status as a Schedule I substance, financial institutions continue to deny banking services to state licensed marijuana businesses. Consequently, these businesses have been forced to deal in cash and suffer the sometimes lethal consequences.

There are, however, licensed marijuana businesses who have broken free from cash with the help of third party platforms like PayQwick. Licensed marijuana businesses can now easily access regular businesses bank accounts, cash management and bill pay services and the ability to send and receive electronic payments. These businesses also enjoy the added benefit of compliance services, which keep them operating in line with all of the state’s regulations.

To learn how to break free from cash, marijuana business owners and those considering the marijuana industry can attend CannaCon’s banking panel, Cashing In On Cannabis – Compliance, Banking and Cash Management” on Friday, February 17, 2017 at 11:30 am in seminar room two. Moderated by MJBA CEO and Co-Founder David Rheins, the panel features industry experts Kenneth Berke, Christine Masse, John Vardaman and Myles Khan.

Ken Berke is the Co-Founder and CEO of PayQwick, a compliance, cash management and electronic payment processing platform that has facilitated regular business bank accounts for over 200 licensed marijuana businesses throughout Washington. He is also an attorney with 29 years of experience and has advocated for the legal marijuana industry before regulators throughout the U.S.

Christine Masse is a partner at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, where she leads the government and regulatory affairs practice group and specializes in representing businesses in highly regulated industries with their transactional, regulatory, and public policy needs. She also leads the firm’s tribal team, providing counsel to various Northwest Native American tribes and organizations on matters such as marijuana.

Myles Harlow Kahn is a legal officer at Foundry Law. His practice focuses on corporate, entertainment, intellectual property, business development, cannabis and regulatory matters. He is also the owner of Buddy’s in Renton, one of Washington’s most prominent marijuana retailers.

John Vardaman is Executive Vice President & General Counsel of Hypur, makers of technology enabling financial institutions to service cash-intensive businesses in accordance with legal compliance requirements. He helped author the Cole Memorandum, the DOJ document outlining how financial institutions can bank marijuana businesses in states where cannabis has been legalized.

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.”

honuteam

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.

curvedpapers3

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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VIP Speaker And Sponsor Lineup Announced For HOTBOX: The Best In Marijuana Design And Packaging 2016

WASHINGTON:  The Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) and Online Marijuana Design (OMD) have teamed up to present HOT BOX: The Best In Marijuana Design & Packaging 2016, at the historic Union Bank of California Building, 1011 Pacific Avenue, in Tacoma WA,  Thursday, June 2nd, 2016 10-4:20PM.

According to the event’s organizers, the design and packaging of cannabis product packaging is of paramount importance to marijuana marketers trying to distinguish themselves in a crowded marketplace.  “Your packaging communicates product quality, brand personality and value,” MJBA Executive Director David Rheins told MJNN. “We’re excited to show off examples of the best design and packaging work being done in the legal cannabis industry today.”

hotboxhighergtvpostcardsmallMJBA and OMD have today announced the lineup of featured speakers and VIP Sponsors.  Washington’s top cannabis marketers, brand creatives and packaging professionals will explore industry best practices and showcase the best examples of brand, design and packaging on the legal market today participate in a full-day of panel discussions and featured presentations.

HOT BOX VIP SPEAKERS AND PANELISTS

CREATIVE PANEL

Michael Guttsen, Guts & Glory; Jared Mirksy, Online Marijuana Design; Patrick Bennett, Bennett Photo/Motion; Michael Stusser, Higher Ground TV

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS CASE STUDY

Madhu Singh, Foundry Law & Myles Kahn, Buddy’s 

“Visual Madness: From the Devil’s Harvest to Cannabis Connoisseur”

 Michael Stusser, Higher Ground TV

PHOTO GALLEY EXHIBITION

 Patrick Bennett Photo/Motion Gallery Show

BRAND MARKETER PANEL

Adam Smith, Avitas; Graham Sorkin, Mary’s Medicinals; Kevin Oliver, Washington’s Finest Cannabis; Tom Lauerman, Farmer Tom Organics; Kimberly Ott, Green Lion Industries; Michael O’Malley, Curved Papers

PRINT & PACKAGING PANEL: Linda Kepper, DCG One; Jason Lammers, 420WholesalePack.com; Phillip Parrish, PrintWest; Rob Griswold, Trysk Print Solutions

COMPLIANCE LAW REVIEW

Anne Van Leynseele and Aaron Pelley, NWMJ Law

MODERATION: David Rheins, MJBA

SPONSORS: Online Marijuana Design (Presenting) Great Pacific Packaging, NWMJ Law, Trysk Print Solutions, DCG One, PrintWest, Foundry Law Group, 420WholesalePack.com, Curved Papers, Farmer Tom Lauerman

MEDIA PARTNERS: Ganjapreneur, Higher Ground TV, 420MEDIA, Cannabis Daily Record, MJNewsNetwork

Advance Tix on sale now:

 

Relief In Sight: WA Liquor & Cannabis Board To Consider Rules Changes

By 

WASHINGTON: I have been telling my cannabis industry clients and constituents for two years to be patient; the regulations which, to a great extent, have choked the development and growth of the legal cannabis industry in Washington, will loosen up eventually. Washington’s restrictive and conservative approach, which has purposefully stayed under the federal oversight scrutiny, appears to be relaxing in some rather substantial and positive ways if the proposed rule changes announced by the WA State Liquor and Cannabis Board on January 6, 2016 are adopted by the Board come February 24th.

I have been telling my cannabis industry clients and constituents for two years to be patient; the regulations which, to a great extent, have choked the development and growth of the legal cannabis industry in Washington, will loosen up eventually. Washington’s restrictive and conservative approach, which has purposefully stayed under the federal oversight scrutiny, appears to be relaxing in some rather substantial and positive ways if the proposed rule changes announced by the WA State Liquor and Cannabis Board on January 6, 2016 are adopted by the Board come February 24th.

To the credit of the WSLCB, they have heard and listened to the comments, constructive or otherwise and are prepared to loosen some of the constraints that have held the Washington market back artificially, as compared to the Colorado legal cannabis market or other less regulated early stage ripe growth markets. Certain other constraints imposed by the yet unresolved and very present Federal illegality resulting from cannabis being a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance will still exist, and while there is hope for some movement there (the DEA and FDA are currently huddling over and considering “data” of unknown origin or veracity to consider re-scheduling of the plant), that will be the topic of a future article.

Highlighting the proposed changes to the WSLCB regulations, which will have an immediate and potentially substantial effect on the existing legal cannabis businesses, are the removing of the six-month residency requirements for financiers (effectively opening the door for out of state financiers – something that has slowed the start and growth of the industry in Washington). In my view, this is HUGE. While the source of the funds will still be subject to scrutiny as to its origin (to assure the exclusion of organized crime, influence, and money laundering) as will the personal backgrounds of said financiers, this move alone will open up virtually unlimited additional sources of funding that are so badly needed in an our industry. Until now, the industry has been suffering the plight of severe under-capitalization on top of other regulations restricting the ability to take advantage of economies of scale enjoyed by other industries. Restrictions such as limits on canopy, limits on the number of licensed businesses with common ownership, limits on who may own businesses in terms of residency, and prohibition of full vertical integration have held the legal cannabis industry from achieving its fullest potential. On top of these overly burdensome regulations, the lack of access to institutional banking and financing in the form of mortgages for cannabis businesses (with limited exceptions with some creative structuring) or other normal business start up source of capital continue to stunt the industry’s growth in Washington. The cherry on top of this all, let’s not forget, is the onerous federal taxation codified at IRC Section 280E due to our state legally licensed businesses still being considered illegal by the Feds, disallowing most normal business deductions on federal tax returns.

The system overall is still far from perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. Kudos to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board for listening and acting sensibly. Other changes being proposed at this time include removing language from the regulations which prohibit the use of terpenes and cannabinoids, removing language which prohibit the characterization of flavors for inhalants, removing the requirement of re-testing after 30 days, and several others. In a separate action, the Board also adopted emergency rules to expand the number of retail marijuana outlets to accommodate the forthcoming integration of the medical and recreational markets from 334 to a new cap of 556 . . . zoning and willing and available real estate permitting. For a full list and summary description of the proposed changes as well as the actual change in the language of the regulations go to the WSLCB website. If adopted, the new rules would be effective as of March 24, 2016.

I-502 Compliant Banking & Merchant Services Is Monday, June 29th In Bellevue, WA

WASHINGTON: If you have anything to do with banking or merchant services for Washington’s legal cannabis industry, you’ll want to make sure to attend the Marijuana Business Association’s Professional Education Seminar on I-502 Compliant Banking & Merchant ServicesMonday, June 29th, 2015 1:00-4:30PM a the Red Lion Hotel, 11211 Main St. Bellevue, WA 98004. Featuring an impressive lineup of the state’s leading authorities on cannabis industry banking and finances, the event was organized by the MJBA at the behest of state’s I-502 Licensees and applicant, MJBA members and other cannabis industry service providers. The half day seminar will feature presentations and panel participation from:

  • Washington State Department of Financial Institutions Director of Banking, Rick Riccobono;
  • Timberland Bank COO, Jonathan Fischer
  • Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board CFO, Mike Kashmar
  • Legal Officer at Foundry Law Group and I-502 Retail Licensee Myles Kahn
  • PayQwick CEO Ken Berke and CFO Keith Marks
  • President & Executive Director of the Community Bankers of Washington, Mark MacDonald
  • Moderation, David Rheins, Executive Director of the Marijuana Business Association

Foundry Law Group will sponsor a post-event reception at the hotel bar at the conclusion of the seminar.