Category: Business (page 1 of 2)

Cannabis Lounge Dreams Afoot in Sacramento Microbusiness Permits?

capturesacramentomicrobiz

BY ED MURRIETA

Microbusiness licenses allow permit holders to operate three of four types of cannabis businesses: cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and retail.

This California license type is up for adoption Tuesday by the Sacramento City Council.

Soon, Sacramento will also consider increasing the number of cannabis retail stores it permits, currently capped at 30.

With one or two more tweaks — Sacramento will consider cannabis lounges in 2019 — I can envision a day when  microbusiness license holders in Sacramento — the self-appointed Farm-to-Fork Capital of America that prides itself on local — open self-sufficient boutique retail stores and adjacent lounges featuring their own “house-grown” cannabis in product styles and portion sizes — grams, joints,  micro-dabs — suitable for safe consumption at places of purchase near population centers, not necessarily destination dispensaries hawking BOGO deals at the edge of town.

Suiting Up for George Zimmer Cannabis and Business Interview

george-zimmer-splashA successful cannabis user since the 1960s, Zimmer will speak at the New West Summit in Oakland on Oct. 12.

Zimmer has agreed to my request for a separate interview and photo sesh before or after next month’s “fireside chat” in front of cannabis, business and media executives.

I specifically asked Zimmer’s assistant if we can discuss Zimmer’s  cannabis use during his business career and, vis a vis Elon Musk smoking pot on Joe Rogan’s podcast, get his advice for entrepreneurs and executives about how they should handle professional and public disclosure of their own cannabis use.

Got any questions for George Zimmer about cannabis and business? I’ll ask him the best ones. I guarantee it.

— Ed Murrieta

Positively Haight Street Legal

The Upper Haight-Ashbury — really, the only Haight-Ashbury to many, may finally get its first cannabis store.

Buying pot in San Francisco’s hippie ‘hood hits you like a surrealistic pillow in the very Aquarius age of cannabis legalization.

BY ED MURRIETA

SAN FRANCISCO — “Dank.”

“Green bud.”

“Need weed?”

Cannabis come-hithers hang over the Haight-Ashbury like body funk on street waifs — beacons and warnings signifying pot peddlers holding black-market bags.

I palmed two twenties and slalomed the sidewalk demimonde of dreadlocks, dogs and dubious hygiene.

I made eye contact by mistake.

Ganja girl flashed a broken smile and a digital scale.

“Full weight,” she said. “No Haighths, man.”

Haighths. That’s local lingo for notoriously pinched bags, two or three nugs shy of what both stoners and connoisseurs would agree is the common unweighed standard for an eighth of an ounce of cannabis flowers.

In the era of cannabis prohibition, Haighths were a form of street tax and convenience fee. Overpaying cash for underweight weed was the street-buyer’s bargain if you were a tourist, if your regular dealer was out of town, if your medical card expired or if you needed a last-minute housewarming gift on your way to dinner at your friend’s pad.

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Hungry for Hemp

Originally published in the Tacoma News Tribune, Jan. 12, 2005

downloadBY ED MURRIETA

When the pipe dreams of food entrepreneurs, hemp activists and libertarian farmers come true, America’s fruited plains will be ripe with emerald waves of industrial hemp, a plant deeply rooted in the nation’s fabric and politics.

In this imagined world, we’ll eat a perfectly balanced, scientifically documented source of the essential fatty acids we need to keep our arteries supple and our brains finely tuned, in consumer foods from hemp tofu to hemp ice cream. Never mind debunked claims of positive drug tests.

Hemp will rotate with corn and soybean crops, boosting domestic farming, processing and manufacturing as the United States joins industrialized economies from Germany to China in hemp cultivation.

Before American consumers get a mainstream hit of hemp, however, some hemp activists insist the ultimate shift in consciousness must occur: The United States government must end its prohibition against marijuana, hemp’s heady cousin.

These entangled political, market and consumer issues have bummed hemp’s high hopes of becoming the greatest thing since soy.

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High Times Blows Smoke over $140,000 Pledged to Black Activists?

UPDATED: SEPT. 12: High Times has not yet paid the City of Sacramento tax revenue generated from May event. High Times had told Sacramento the event would generate $200,000. A city official told me today only $60,000 was generated and that money has not yet been paid. “This event will generate roughly $200,000 in additional tax revenue for the City of Sacramento,” High Times lobbyist told me in May.

UPDATED: SEPT. 18: High Times’ permit application was removed from a council agenda today.

UPDATED: SEPT. 19: Video from Sacramento City Council meeting.

UPDATED: SEPT. 20: High Times has met its tax obligation, according to Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinberg’s chief of staff, Kelly Fong Rivas.


Money promised for cannabis festival permit not paid.

BY ED MURRIETA

SACRAMENTO, CA — Was High Times blowing smoke when it pledged $140,000 to Sacramento community groups in order to receive the City Council’s approval for California’s historic first legal cannabis festival in May?

Is the world’s oldest and best-known media brand dragging its feet over payment while rushing news of an upcoming event, which has not yet received Sacramento’s approval?

Four months after pledging the money, High Times hasn’t paid a penny.

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Sacramento Models Designer Cannabis

How the self-proclaimed Farm-to-Fork Capital of America quietly blossomed into California’s boutique bud capital.

sacramentopotbanner

BY ED MURRIETA

Not only is Sacramento the Farm-to-Fork Capital of America, it’s California’s designer cannabis capital, home to elite cultivators whose exotic, meticulously grown plants burst with frosty trichomes, odoriferous terpenes and trippy sex appeal, marketed, priced, packaged and sometimes hard to find like estate wine and craft beer. All are multiple winners of High Times Cannabis Cup awards and cite local growing success on Sacramento’s friendly regulations, including the city-designated “green zones,” and lower rents vs. the Bay Area.

Roots in Sacramento

#Gelato #41 #Bacio #Top #Shelf #Cali

A post shared by Connected Cannabis Co. (@connectedcannabis.co) on


Connected Cannabis
connectedcannabisco.com
@connectedcannabis.co Instagram

Launched in Sacramento in 2004 as Fruitridge Health and Wellness, Connected popularized the Cookie Fam’s Girl Scout Cookies, Gelato and Sunset Sherbert strains, all now widely copied.  After growing gold with Girl Scout Cookies and rebranding as Cookies, the cultivator and retailer finally rebranded as Connected Cannabis, running dispensaries in San Francisco, Long Beach and Santa Ana from Sacramento.  


The Village
TheVillageGrows.com
@_thevillage Instagram
Specializing in eco-friendly flowers, Michael Ish began working in and growing for his father’s medicinal cannabis dispensary, South Sacramento Care Center, in 2010. Post-legalization, Ish now grows in 6,000 square feet and is seeking a permit for an additional 10,000 square feet. “The city was working with dispensaries and grows before Prop. 64 and it attracted people to ‘safe spots’ because the city was so welcoming as long as you played by the rules,” Ish said, who also operates Symbiotic Genetics. 


Roads to Sacramento

Alien Labs
alienlabs.org
@AlienLabs Instagram
Founded in 2014 in now-fire-ravaged Redding, Alien Labs moved 160 miles south to Sacramento in 2016 due to Redding’s harsh regulations. Alien Labs grows in 10,000 square feet in one of Sacramento’s “green zones” and outdoors in adjacent Yolo County. “Sacramento was the first to offer licensure,” said Lidie, a former budtender at the capital city’s All About Wellness. “No cities offered it at the time. Sacramento’s where we always felt our home was.”


Lumpy’s Flowers
lumpysflowers.com
@lumpstatus Instagram
Lumpy’s CEO Josh Veal and partner Jason “Lumpy” Dias started growing in Napa County 15 years ago. They made a big impression with gassy-funky Apple Fritter six years ago. Napa’s anti-cannabis regulations drove them to Sacramento last year. Lumpy’s currently grows in half of its 25,000-square-foot facility in one of Sacramento’s city-designated “green zones.” “Sacramento is very friendly and prices are cheaper than Oakland,” Veal said. “You’re less likely to get your door kicked in by people with AR-15s. So Sacramento it is. The city has been more than helpful for us.”


Sherbinski
sherbinskis.com
@Sherbinski415 Instagram

A member of the original team that bred the blockbuster Girl Scout Cookies and numerous follow-up crosses, Sherbinski crafted Gelato and Sunset Sherbert, powerful strains that burst with dessert flavors, Sherbinski started growing outdoors 15 years ago in the Emerald Triangle’s Mendocino County and eventually migrated indoors in San Francisco and Oakland. Sherbinski moved to Sacramento, his hometown, in early 2017, partnered with local store Zen Gardens and currently grows in a 22,000-square-foot space.

QR Code on Pot Product Label — Other Examples?

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BY ED MURRIETA

This QR code on a jar of Lumpy’s Flowers designer cannabis links to lab test details.

Can you point me to other examples and uses of QR and augmented reality technology in the cannabis industry?

Bay Area Cannabis Companies Will Raise Funds for #PermitPatty Victim

BY ED MURRIETA

San Francisco Bay Area cannabis companies will hold a fund-raising party Saturday for the 8-year-old girl now-disgraced pet pot company founder Alison Ettel, aka #PermitPatty, reported to police for selling bottled water, an act many saw as flat-out racism by a white lady against a black kid.
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Ron Jeremy Joints and Gummies Shaped Like Porn Legend’s Claim to Fame?

BY ED MURRIETA

Ron Jeremy is one of the most legendary pornographic movie stars of all time. He is huge.

He tweeted that folks should contact his manager if they want him to do promotional work.

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San Diego Brewery Set to Release First Cannabis Beers in Nevada

UPDATED JUNE 19: Press release below.
UPDATED JUNE 18: I interviewed the brewery today. Stand by for story.


two-roots-lifestyle

Press release is embargoed but Two Roots Brewing Company is already promoting non-alcoholic craft beers infused with THC.

BY ED MURRIETA

One of my sources in my recent Leafly hemp/cannabis beer report tipped me to this last month but I could not get the brewery to confirm it. Now the San Diego brewery is releasing the nation’s first non-alcoholic THC beer. It will be sold in California cannabis stores starting in July.

Two Roots is brewing a deal with Cresco Labs to brew dealcoholized THC-infused cannabis beers in the six medicinal states it operates in.

San Diego’s Two Roots Brewing Company now promotes its “CannaCrafted” cannabis beer on its website:

Two Roots, the worlds first “CannaCrafted” beer

Good-for-You

High-Quality

Cannabis Infused

Non-Alcoholic

Craft Beer

Southern California Born


Cannabiniers Expands Portfolio with THC & CBD infused Craft Beers, Cold Brew Iced Teas, and Cold Brew Iced Coffees

Leading US Company Enhances Product Offerings, Further Normalizing the Consumption of Cannabis

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (June 19, 2018) – Cannabiniers, a foodservice, technology & brand management company, that is revolutionizing the cannabis industry with patented, safe and natural flower-based extraction technology, has announced the expansion of its alternative beverage portfolio. Two Roots Brewing Co, the world’s first line of CannaCrafted non-alcoholic THC and CBD infused craft beer, and Just Society, a line of THC and CBD infused cold brewed iced coffees and teas, both join the company’s cannabis infused beverage collection.

“The popularity of craft beer and coffee has grown across all demographics, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, 2nd only to water. We’re excited by the potential for Two Roots Brewing to be the first to market, offering products infused with THC & CBD, with the ultimate goal of normalizing the consumption of cannabis-infused products, especially given the recent announcements of potential development from the former Blue Moon founders and Constellation Brands, as well as its investment in Canopy Growth.” said Timothy Walters, president of Cannabiniers. “Beer, coffee and tea hold such a widely accepted and even celebrated place in society, so we are thrilled to offer a line of beverages to fit anyone’s preferred beverage choice within the rapidly expanding cannabis market that have been responsibly formulated to emulate the effects of alcohol, micro-infused, onset within 5 – 10 minutes and dissipation in less than two hours.” “What Does It Take To Be A Pioneer”

Crafted by expert brewers and artisans, Cannabiniers has sourced the first of its manufacture and design technology to enter the United States, to create Two Roots Brewing Co the only line of craft beer in the United States using state of the art technology for de-alcoholizing beer. Brewed in California and infused with THC and CBD in Nevada and California, Two Roots initial product offering consists of five flavors including Lager, Stout, New West IPA, Blonde Ale, and Wheat; with a “Tribute” style beer that tastes like cannabis to immediately follow.

“After two years of research and development, we are thrilled to see our creations on product shelves in July. Our portfolio is continuing to expand and we are proud to be providing the highest quality products made in the USA and changing the perception of consuming cannabis and the entire industry,” said Director of Product Development, Kevin Love of Cannabiniers. “We are committed to offering products that consumers are demanding and we are proud of both lines being released.”

Just last year, Cannabiniers launched the world’s first line of cannabis infused coffee, tea and cocoa delivered through a patented, 100 percent compostable flower-based single-brew pod, BrewBudz. Based on consumer trends and feedback from customers, Just Society is the next evolution with flavors of iced teas including: Lemon, Mango, Mint, Raspberry, and Honey; and iced coffees including: Original, Café Mocha, Salted Caramel, and French Vanilla.

This announcement coincides with Cannabiniers Series B capital raise of their multistate rollout of both Just Society and Two Roots covering a twelve state product release.

For more information about Two Roots, Just Society and other products developed by Cannabiniers, please visit: www.cannabiniers.com.

RELATED
In re: cannabis and beer, cannabis marketers may learn something from women craft brewers’ tales of sexist beer marketing in my previously unpublished report from the 2007 Craft Brewers Conference in Austin, Texas.

Eve of Cannabis Destruction: Here’s How Pot Will Be Destroyed in July

BY ED MURRIETA

Any cannabis flowers and manufactured products  — edibles, concentrates, tinctures, beverages, transdermal patches and suppositories — that have not been lab-tested cannot be sold in California cannabis stores as of July 1 under state law that mandates such products must be destroyed.

Don’t expect to attend any pot bonfires.

Here’s how destruction must happen, per the state Bureau of Cannabis Control’s Cannabis Waste Management regs:

A licensee may not sell cannabis waste. (b) Licensees shall comply with all applicable waste management laws including, but not limited to, Division 30 of the Public Resources Code. (c) A licensee shall dispose of cannabis waste in a secured waste receptacle or in a secured area on the licensed premises.

For the purposes of this section, “secure waste receptacle” or “secured area” means that physical access to the receptacle or area is restricted to the licensee and its employees and the local agency, or waste hauler franchised or contracted by a local agency.

Public access to the designated receptacle or area is prohibited. (d) If a licensee is composting cannabis waste on the licensed premises, a licensee shall do so in compliance with title 14, California Code of Regulations, chapter 3.1 (commencing with Section 17850).

(e) If a local agency, or waste hauler permitted by a local agency, is being used to collect and process cannabis waste, a licensee shall do all the following:

(1) Provide the Bureau with the following information for the local agency, or waste hauler franchised or contracted by a local agency, who will collect and process the licensee’s cannabis waste; (A) Name of local agency providing waste hauling services, if applicable; (B) Company name of the local agency franchised or contracted or permitted waste hauler, if applicable; (C) Company business address; and (D) Name of the primary contact person at the company and contact person’s phone number.

(2) Obtain documentation from the entity hauling the waste that indicates the date and time of each collection of cannabis waste at the licensed premises; and (3) Obtain a copy of the certified weight ticket or other documentation prepared by the entity hauling the waste confirming receipt of the cannabis waste at one, or more, of the following solid waste facilities: (A) A manned, fully permitted solid waste landfill or transformation facility; (B) A manned, fully permitted composting facility or manned composting operation; (C) A manned, fully permitted in-vessel digestion facility or manned in-vessel digestion operation; (D) A manned, fully permitted transfer/processing facility or manned transfer/processing operation; or (E) A manned, fully permitted chip and grind operation.

(f) If a licensee is self-hauling cannabis waste to one, or more, of the solid waste facilities in subsection (e)(3) of this section, a licensee shall obtain for each delivery of cannabis waste by the licensee a copy of a certified weight ticket or receipt documenting delivery from the solid waste facility. Only the licensee or its employees may transport self-hauled cannabis waste.

Elite Regulators and Entrepreneurs Will Meet in Mendocino Retreat

California cannabis regulators, entrepreneurs and activists will gather for Meadowlands2018 in the redwoods next week. 

BY ED MURRIETA

California’s top cannabis regulators will join some of Northern California’s top cannabis entrepreneurs and activists in the cannabis-friendly Mendocino County redwoods June 15-17 to network and discuss the state of the industry.

Sponsored by San Francisco cannabis technology company Meadow, the exclusive, all-inclusive Meadowlands 2018 gathering will feature gourmet catered  cuisine and open cannabis consumption. It will be held at Camp Navarro, a rustic retreat offering cabin, tepee and tent camping, plus yoga, meditation and climbing near both the Navarro River and the Pacific Ocean.

Regulators scheduled to appear include include California cannabis czar Lori Ajax, San Francisco cannabis czar Nicole Elliott , Sacramento cannabis czar Joe Devlin and Los Angeles cannabis czar Cat Packer. Other speakers include leading Northern California entrepreneurs and activists and legendary hashmaker Frenchy Cannoli.

The weekend includes Friday night’s non-infused dinner prepared by cannabis chef Coreen Carrollof The Cannaisseur Series. Saturday’s agenda includes speaker sessions, lunch and lawn games, fireside chats, BBQ dinner and entertainment.  Wake and Bake Brunch wraps up the weekend on Sunday.

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Scent of Craft Brewers: Beer Marketing Lessons to Cannabis Marketers

What do women craft brewers want? Flavor, variety, class and less skin.

Ed’s Note: Written in May 2007. Not published anywhere but my dormant food portfolio and now here.

BY ED MURRIETA

AUSTIN, Texas — Never mind Miller, Bud and Coors’ foam-soaked fantasies. Jenny Talley is a craft brewer who doesn’t squirm when sex sells suds.

“We have a sexy girl on the bottle,” said Talley, a 38-year-old blonde from Utah, who bears an outdoorsy dream-girl resemblence to the midriff-revealing Provo Girl on the label of her award-winning pilsner.

Though decidedly G-rated like the Provo Girl, (Talley brews 4 percent ABV in Utah, after all), Talley is pictured on Squatter’s Pub’s Web site with two gold medals she won at Great American Beer Festivals; the awards plunge down the T-shirt that clings to her taught torso.

“The Great American Beer Festival was founded on scantily dressed women trying to get you to vote for someone’s beer,” Talley said. “If a woman wants to use her body to sell beer, she has every right. If it works and it sells beer, I’m OK with it.”

Natalie Cilurzo, general manager of Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, isn’t OK with it. Aside from free-flowing beverages and the occasional kilt, the Craft Brewers Conference was a buttoned-up affair. (“We like it classier,” Cilurzo said.) One vendor’s scantily clad model stood out at the trade show.

“I was very uncomfortable for her because that’s not what we’re about,” Cilurzo said. “She’s not going to help that guy sell more tanks. I don’t want to do business with him because I don’t like his marketing. Can you believe this guy?”

The comley model stirred Cilurzo’s incredulity kettle. She recalled a radio advertisement for a Sonoma County beer festival that she and her brewmaster husband, Vinnie, sponsored in March.

“I told Vinnie: I’m offended by this commercial,” she said. “The whole commercial was just about people being totally disgusting and drunk. And then the guys says, ‘Hey, babe, you bring the beer, I’ll bring the condoms.’ Vinnie said, ‘We’re pulling out.’”

As interviews with a dozen women brewers and brewery executives at the Craft Brewers Conference here in April revealed, figuring out what women want — both in beers and their marketing — is obvious and impossible.

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Marketing Content Creation

Ed Murrieta provides native content and content marketing solutions for cannabis companies and brands.

joaquin-murrieta-gold-rush-blends

BY ED MURRIETA

This an example of the marketing content creation I can do for cannabis businesses and brands. The Joaquin Murrieta brand above is my concept brand. The content below — a travelogue story and map stalking early California’s most notorious legend — fits the brand. Imagine smoking Joaquin Murrieta joints at the historical sites and beautiful open spaces related to Joaquin Murrieta’s legend. There’s already wine, beer, tequila and a cocktail in Joaquin Murrieta’s honor.

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To Make Dank Beer, Brewers Forced to Get Creative

My latest for Leafly.

Read all of my cannabis news, culture and lifestyles journalism reports for Leafly.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, GreenState.com and other leading cannabis publications.

Handicapping Sacramento Cannabis Lounges

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Top five contenders for opening capital city’s first cannabis lounge for social consumption.

BY ED MURRIETA

Sacramento’s City Council recently voted overwhelmingly in favor of the nations’s first event featuring open consumption of cannabis in public.

The next milestone facing Sacramento is whether the city should permit cannabis lounges — licensed and regulated places where adults age 21 and over can congregate to consume cannabis in social settings, like the lounge scene in San Francisco.

The city is expected to consider allowing cannabis lounges this fall. If allowed, applicants will be limited to currently operating businesses holding retail sales licenses from the state, and locations will be tied to stores’ physical addresses.

Until then, here are my top five contenders for opening Sacramento’s first cannabis lounge:

  • Northstar
  • Hugs
  • A Therapeutic Alternative
  • 515 Broadway
  • Abatin Wellness

My observations and comments, based on the nature of the current operation, management’s credibility, and future lounges’ locations and proximity to public transit, are contained within the embedded map below.

Here’s my vision and pitch deck for a cannabis lounge.

Read all of my previous cannabis lounge coverage.

Pairing San Francisco’s Culinary and Cannabis Treats

Enhance the city’s 2018 James Beard winners with the city’s best dispensaries and smoking-vaping lounges.

Dominique Crenn, left, and Barbary Coast.

Dominique Crenn, left, and Barbary Coast.

BY ED MURRIETA

Four San Francisco culinary stars were recognized by the 2018 James Beard Foundation Awards this week. By way of toasting their accomplishments and complementing their allure, here are my suggestions for pairing San Francisco’s Beard award-winners and the city’s best legal commercial cannabis experiences.

Dominique Crenn + Barbary Coast

Poetic, adventuresome, traditional and modernist all describe San Francisco’s two Michelin star chef and the city’s sexiest cannabis destination.  Dominique Crenn, chef and owner of Atelier Crenn, Bar Crenn and Petit Crenn, won the Beard award for best chef in the Western United States. If there was an analogous award for best all-in-one store-dab bar-smoke lounge in the West, it would be Barbary Coast. Aesthetically an homage to old-school San Francisco’s Gilded Era vice district. Barbary Coast is straight-up state-of-the-art — from high-end concentrates to high-tech vaporizers and HVAC systems that silently suck smoke from the room so it doesn’t stink up your clothes.  

B. Patisserie + SPARC

The work-and-life partners behind B. Patisserie, a small Pacific Heights bake shop with a cult-like following, are San Francisco baking royalty. Belinda Leong was pastry chef at San Francisco fine-dining notables Gary Danko and Manresa. Michael Suas founded the San Francisco Baking Institute. Get their killer kouign amann to go and enjoy the buttery Britney-style croissant buns South of Market at SPARC, along with Volcano-vaped, farm-grown, lab-tested cannabis and free hot tea from the self-serve bar. (SPARC told me $2 cups of organic family-farmed coffee are on the way.)

In Situ + Urban Pharm

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s restaurant serves “borrowed” dishes “on loan” from world-renowned chefs. Feed your head on a la carte dabs at Urban Pharm (or smoke joints if that’s your jam) then feast your eyes on intentionally spare alternate dimensions at In Situ, which won the Beard award for Outstanding Restaurant Design (76 seats and over). Like In Situ, Urban Pharm elides polished and raw, a steampunked Burning Man blend of cut metal and re-purposed wood.   

Zuni Cafe + The Apothecarium

The iconic restaurant’s roast chicken and hamburger are both longtime legends. Now. Zuni’ Cafe‘s front of the house gets its due — Beard’s Outstanding Service award. Hop on a classic street car for a half-mile ride to The Apothecarium, the flagship of three local cannabis stores where chandeliers, marble counters and soft music ooze elegance of high-end jewelry boutiques. To match Zuni’s service, let The Apothecarium’s professional consultants guide you through a delicious selection of California’s best edibles, concentrates and cannabis strains.

California Pot Tax Revenue Still in Dumps But Not as Bad as Teased

Tax revenue for the first quarter of 2018 totaled $60.9 million, less than half of the state’s projection of $175 million for the fiscal year ending in June.

BY ED MURRIETA

SACRAMENTO — California tax revenue for the first three months of cannabis legalization is way below state projections but not as bad as partial figures teased this week in a state economist’s blog post.

The state on Friday released full financial figures from California cannabis revenue for the first quarter of taxed and regulated sales — including excise, cultivation and sales taxes.

An initial figure of $34 million in combined excise and cultivation emerged Wednesday in a blog post by an economist at the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Friday’s figures the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration was slightly lower — $32 million from the state’s 15 percent excise tax and $1.6 million from the $9.25-per-ounce cultivation tax. The CTDFA released sales tax figures showing $27.3 million in revenue, not counting city and county taxes.

Tax revenue for the first quarter of 2018 totaled $60.9 million, less than half of the state’s projection of $175 million for the fiscal year ending in June.

 

California Cannabis Tax Revenue Short of State’s Projection

The state’s $141 million shy of the $175 million it predicted cultivation and excise taxes would generate by the end of the fiscal year.

Ed’s Note: Ed Murrrieta is an experienced, versatile journalist who needs full-time work.  Read him. Hire him. 

BY ED MURRIETA

SACRAMENTO, CA — California adults are not purchasing enough taxed-and-regulated cannabis to meet the state’s revenue projections for the first six months of legal, levied sales.

A report due Friday from the Department of Tax and Fee Administration will show the state collected $34 million in cannabis sales for the first quarter of 2018 — leaving the state $141 million shy of the $175 million it predicted cannabis cultivation and excise taxes will generate by the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year, June 30.

The figures were published online Tuesday in a blog post by an economist at the state Legislative Analyst’s Office and are the latest indication that California cannabis consumers may be turning to the black market to avoid paying up to 45 percent taxes when local sales taxes are factored.

The Department of Tax and Fee Administration figures do not address local taxes, which range from 7.25 percent to 9.25 percent, and are tallied at the local level.  

In addition to black-market sales affecting state projections, lower-than-forecast tax revenues may be due to the number of California cities and counties banning cannabis businesses, and the late start of adult-use retail sales in Los Angeles, the state’s largest market.

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National Music Promoters Want a Slice of the Cannabis Pie

Read it by me on Leafly.com

Read all of my cannabis news, culture and lifestyles journalism reports for Leafly.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, GreenState.com and other leading cannabis publications.

Dollar Dabs & Penny Pre-Rolls Fire Up the Sacramento Cannabis Cup

Read it by me on Leafly.com

Read all of my cannabis news, culture and lifestyles journalism reports for Leafly.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, GreenState.com and other leading cannabis publications.

Onsite Sales Bring Cannabis — and Scrutiny — Back to Cannabis Cup

Read it by me on Leafly.com

Read all of my cannabis news, culture and lifestyles journalism reports for Leafly.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, GreenState.com and other leading cannabis publications.

Dosing Do-Si-Do: Indexing Intoxicants

Brands of ultra-premium joints and non-alcoholic beer spiked with THC seek to reach mainstream consumers by comparing potency of cannabis against society’s common understanding of alcohol.

Ed’s Note: Ed Murrrieta is an experienced, versatile journalist who needs full-time work.  Read him. Hire him. 

BY ED MURRIETA

On sale in Colorado and California, the nation’s two leading adult-use recreational cannabis markets, Toast’s ultra-premium, low-potency joints are dosed to mirror the equivalent potencies of bar-measured cocktails.  One joint, containing a proprietary blend of strains measuring 10 percent THC and 2:1 CBD:THC, is billed as being as intoxicating as one alcoholic drink.  

Meanwhile, the Colorado brewer who created micro-to-macro Blue Moon ale announced a line of non-alcoholic craft beer containing THC and dosed at easy-to-understand alcohol-to-cannabis intoxicant-equivalence measures — lower-potency light beer labeled with one marijuana leaf, medium-potency amber beer labeled with two marijuana leafs and higher-potency dark beer labeled with three marijuana leafs.

Both Toast and Ceria are positioning their products to be consumed responsibly and enjoyed comfortably in social settings — marketing to mainstream, upscale consumers who understand alcohol but are clueless, and possibly even concerned, about pot.

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Cannabis Intoxicates Brewers

Craft beers infused with CBD and THC and natural aromas and flavors engineered to mimic cannabis terpenes buzz adult beverages makers.

BY ED MURRIETA

The Hemperor, New Belgium Brewing Company’s new IPA, is not the first beer brewed with hemp seeds.

Nor is it the first beer to celebrate the botanical, olfactory and gustatory similarities between hops and cannabis.

It is, however, the first hemp-infused India pale ale — an HIPA — to be distributed across the United States.

And The Hemperor, released in early April by the Colorado brewery best known for the Fat Tire brand, is certainly the first adult beverage in the legal cannabis era that’s been engineered in a laboratory to mimic the aromas and flavors of cannabis while containing no trace of the plant’s psychoactive cannabinoids.

Prohibited by the federal government from brewing with hemp flowers that would impart aromas and flavors mirrored in hops along with non-psychoactive cannabinoids like therapeutic CBD, New Belgium brews The Hemperor with hemp hearts, the meat of shelled hemp seeds, which imbue a mild, hazy nuttiness but no intoxicating effects of cannabis, hemp’s botanical sister and hops’ botanical cousin.

To mimic cannabis terpenes, New Belgium draws on other natural ingredients. In The Hemperor’s herbaceous case, natural cannabis aroma and flavor means those attributes were engineered in a laboratory to parrot pot’s polymorphic punches to noses and mouths using extracts from natural aromatics like citrus peel, grapefruit and pine sap.

The Hemperor is on tap in 49 states (Kansas bans hemp products) and will be released in six-pack bottles in late May.

I paid $4 for a 5-ounce pour of The Hemperor at Capitol Hop Shop in Sacramento on Friday, 4/20.  

The Hemperor announced itself as the bartender set the rosette glass in front of me — a waft of familiar cannabis that caught my nose and whipped my neck side to side to pick up the aroma’s source. Continue reading

Permit Denial Leaves 420 Cannabis Cup Dry, Not High

My latest on Leafly.com.

Read all of my cannabis news, culture and lifestyles journalism reports for Leafly.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, GreenState.com and other leading cannabis publications.

Ed Murrieta’s Cannabis Edibles Safety App Pitch Deck

BY ED MURRIETA

Ed Murrieta’s Cannabis Lounge Pitch Deck

Wherever cannabis is legal, the public needs safe and comfortable places to smoke pot and socialize. Here’s a vision for such a place, even a chain of smoking lounges. 

BY ED MURRIETA

Follow Northstar to Top-Shelf Flowers and Budget Deals in Sacramento

BY ED MURRIETA

Prohibition-era zoning pushed many cannabis stores to cities’ industrial fringes. Northstar Holistic Collective, while technically in the heart of downtown Sacramento, is located in a neighborhood that was, just a generation ago, an industrial edge of the capital city, where Victorian homes, leafy trees and tired warehouses comfortably coexist today.

It’s here on a quiet corner near a light-rail station, a historic highway and a Quonset hut that one of Sacramento’s oldest shops consistently proves why it’s one of the city’s best: fine flowers, concentrates galore, across-the-board prices, smart budtenders, easy parking and no pretense.

Check-in is no-fuss and high-tech. Get buzzed in, hand your ID to the receptionist and look into a camera connected to software that’ll digitally compare your facial features to the photo on your ID, one of the ways cannabis stores are trying to prevent ID fraud and over-visiting.

Easy-to-read flat-panel menus on the waiting room wall are helpful and convenient — not just because you’ll be sitting in a comfortable chair in a spacious room for 10 to 15 minutes at peak times but because Northstar’s old-school glass retail cabinets aren’t much to look at and pretty much serve as storage and counter space.

Northstar is my go-to store for bargain bud. While you’ll find many great top-shelf strains (Animal Cookies and Titan OG tempt me at $50 an eighth, pre-tax), you’ll also find incredible strains (recently: Mr. Nice Guy, Kalifa Kush) for $50 per half ounce (that’s four eighths), pre-tax.

House joints ($7 mid-grade, $10 top-shelf) are pleasurable and priced right. While I don’t buy concentrates, I recognized many of the resins and shatters I’ve sampled in the lounge at Urban Pharm, Northstar’s San Francisco cousin. Northstar has a good selection of edibles and topicals, too.

Northstar recently added a great new perk for its medicinal cannabis customers. Your printed-on-paper Prop. 215 recommendation — no need for the $100 county-issued card — will save you nearly half off the 23.75 percent combined state and local taxes Northstar charges adult-use customers.

Continue reading

San Francisco Cannabis Lounges Reviewed and Mapped

4/17 update: SPARC now now recreational.

Barbary Coast, Urban Pharm, Lounge 847 and ReLeaf Herbal serve recreational cannabis consumers in the heart of hotels, museums, entertainment and shopping.

BY ED MURRIETA

America’s first legal cannabis lounge will not open in Denver. America’s first legal cannabis lounge will not open in Las Vegas. Forget about Alaska, Maine and Massachusetts, too. America’s first legal cannabis lounges are already open in San Francisco.

Permitted for more than a decade and tolerated since the earliest days of the city’s medicinal cannabis community in the 1990s, San Francisco cannabis lounges are models of public use in social settings. They’re now serving the city’s legal adult-use recreational cannabis market, including locals and tourists.

Here they are, reviewed and mapped.


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Cannabis Tourism Is a Thing in California

San Francisco Chronicle Travel section dives into Golden State’s legal new attraction.

sfchroniclecannabistourism

BY ED MURRIETA

I’ve got two stories in the San Francisco Chronicle’s California cannabis travel package today.

Here’s my story on the Top 5 California cannabis tourist destinations.

Here’s my story on the best cannabis-friendly lodgings.

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San Francisco Scores First Public Cannabis Lounge in U.S.

Update 2/11: ReLeaf Herbal’s bare-bones lounge is now serving recreational adult-use customers.
Update 2/8: Green Door’s Lounge847 is now open for recreational consumers.
Update 1/18: Urban Pharm opened for recreational sales and lounge use today, Thursday Jan. 18.

Decadent, safe, comfortable and regulated, Barbary Coast is now serving recreational cannabis consumers.

Barbary Coast

A view of the dab bar at Barbary Coast’s lounge. 

BY ED MURRIETA

America’s first legal cannabis lounge will not open in Denver.

America’s first legal cannabis lounge will not open in Las Vegas.

Forget about Alaska, Maine and Massachusetts, too.

America’s first legal cannabis lounge opened Thursday in San Francisco.

Actually, Barbary Coast Collective opened its luxe lounge next to its South of Market medicinal cannabis dispensary in March. Barbary Coast started serving adult-use recreational customers Thursday, making it the first legal, regulated cannabis lounge in America — the holy grail of the modern cannabis era.

“It’s something we’re proud of and excited about,” Barbary Coast director Jesse Henry told me. “I think we are going to get a lot of people who’ll think it’s like going to Amsterdam, and we’ll provide a safe, clean, comfortable place for folks to smoke.”

Continue reading

San Francisco Leads Legal Pot Lounge Sweepstakes By a Nug

One of the city’s medicinal cannabis lounges will be America’s first recreational pot lounge when adult-use cannabis sales start Saturday.

san-francisco

ED MURRIETA

SAN FRANCISCO — The first pot lounge in America will not open in Denver.

The first pot lounge in America will not open in Las Vegas.

Forget about Alaska, Maine and Massachusetts, too.

The first pot lounge in America is already open in San Francisco.

On Saturday, when San Francisco medicinal cannabis dispensaries are expected to transition to the adult-use recreational market, it’ll be official.

There are eight pot lounges in California’s historically progressive cannabis capital, all currently operating inside or adjacent to dispensaries, providing the city’s medicinal cannabis consumers comfortable and safe environments to smoke, vape, dab and socialize — the holy grail of every pothead who’s ever heard of Amsterdam.

“We have eight existing lounges in the city, and they will be able to continue operating in 2018,” San Francisco’s Office of Cannabis director Nicole Elliott said.

Permitted for more than a decade and tolerated since the earliest days of the city’s medicinal cannabis community, San Francisco dispensary lounges are models of public cannabis consumption.

Whichever dispensary/lounge receives its temporary adult-use retail sales permit from the state — all San Francisco dispensary/lounges reportedly await city permits, the first step in the permit process before permits are granted — will be the first licensed, on-premises consumption lounge in an adult-use recreational cannabis state, leaving Las Vegas, Denver, Alaska, Maine and Massachusetts all playing for second.

There’s at least one more cannabis store/lounge on the way. The Vapor Room opened in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in 2003 and was shut down by the federal government in 2012. The Vapor Room was cleared to open as a medicinal dispensary/lounge and is now under construction in a new location downtown with an eye toward the recreational market.

“The lounges are like a civic water cooler where people gather and build relationships and community,” said Lloyd Francis, a San Francisco novelist who frequented The Vapor Room on Haight Street. “I have met many close friends at San Francisco cannabis lounges.”

Cannabis lounge proposals have been pursued, with limited success and the requisite fits, stops and starts, in Las Vegas, Denver, Alaska, Maine and Massachusetts.

America, meet your first legal pot lounges.*

*Pending city and state permits.

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Dispel Your Pipe Dreams of Pot Parties a la Post-Prohibition Beer Busts


 

BY ED MURRIETA

Despite modern cannabis advertising in the back pages of alt-weekly newspapers, cannabis legalization will not be celebrated like the end of alcohol Prohibition was toasted.

Newspaper advertisements and photographs  culled from the morgues of the Sacramento Union and the Sacramento Bee show Sacramento celebrated the repeal of alcohol Prohibition in April 1933 — with ample amounts of beer and food in bars, restaurants, hotels and drug stores steps away from the state Capitol.

All the normals in Sacramento — the Midwest capital of the West Coast — would sprint to the nearest dog-friendly craft beer garage with their hair on fire if anything like this happened with pot.

Tokechella Is California’s Smoking-Hot Desert Cannabis Tourist Destination

Massive Cultivation, Most Dispensaries Per Capita
and Cannabis-Friendly Resorts and Rentals
Make Palm Springs, Cathedral City and
Desert Hot Springs a Pot, Pot, Pot, Pot World

BY ED MURRIETA

It’s high season in the Coachella Valley — for tourism and for pot.

Now’s the time to combine them both.

If you want to visit California next week for a taste of historic cannabis legalization in the Golden State, the Coachella Valley — in particular the resort-town cluster of Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Desert Hot Springs —  is one of the best places to plan a cannabis getaway for Opening Day of legal pot sales, better than other California cannabis travel destinations like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe, all lagging behind the Jan. 1 start date.

A longtime playground for movie stars, mobsters, sunseekers and alternative lifestyles 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles, the Coachella Valley has the key elements intrepid cannabis travelers need to ring in California’s new legal era:

  • massive local cultivation;
  • most dispensaries per capita set to sell flowers, edibles and concentrates to adults age 21 and over;
  • cannabis-friendly lodgings, including two cannabis-friendly (and clothing-optional) hot springs resorts and a colorful mountain hotel with a vape-friendly cabin and smoke-friendly grounds;
  • and cannabis-fueled stargazing in Joshua Tree National Park.

Tokechella’s a pot, pot, pot, pot world for sure.

Continue reading

Medicinal-to-Recreational Pot Transition Tangled Up in Bureaucracy and Crossed Fingers

BY ED MURRIETA

The transition from medicinal cannabis to adult-use recreational cannabis in California is rife with bureaucracy. I met today with a man who prepared the application packages for two Sacramento dispensaries that hope to begin recreational sales on Jan. 1.

Here are the steps in the transition as my dispensary source laid them out:

  • Submit application with City of Sacramento to sell adult-use cannabis.
  • Obtain a letter of authorization from the city affirming currently permitted medicinal cannabis dispensary has paid its taxes and passed  audits.
  • Submit a Neighborhood Responsibility Plan.
  • File application and receive approval for minor modification of conditional use permit (eg: transition from medicinal to recreational) with city Planning Department.
  • Apply for and receive business operating permit.
  • Apply for temporary operating license from the state.
  • Continue to apply for permanent annual state license.

My source said that as of noon today, one of his dispensaries has checked off all but the last two on the list and the other dispensary is trailing the first by a day in the process. He said the first business license will be in hand ASAP and applications for state permits will filed as the business licenses for each dispensary is obtained.

The state will review the applications and verify the dispensaries’ operating status with the city before approving licenses.

My source said he hopes his two dispensaries — two of the best-run shops in Sacramento, one accounting for 25 percent of total amount of money generated by the city’s 4 percent dispensary tax — will be open for recreational sales at 9 a.m. Jan. 1.

The City of Sacramento is closed for business Friday, Monday and next Friday. That leaves tomorrow, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for dispensaries to complete all the necessary steps and get approved to legally sell recreational cannabis on the first day of the new year — the beginning of a new era in California cannabis.

The First Cannabis Lounge of the Legal Era in America Will Be in San Francisco

‘We have eight existing lounges in the City, and they will be able to continue operating in 2018,’ S.F. cannabis czar says.

san-francisco

BY ED MURRIETA

While Denver, Las Vegas and Massachusetts are racing to claim the honor of being the first place in America to host a legal, adult-use cannabis consumption lounge, eight San Francisco medicinal cannabis dispensary lounges are poised to give San Francisco claim to being the home of the first  legal, adult-use cannabis consumption lounge in America come 9 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2018 — the first day of the new legal era in which the city’s currently permitted medicinal social lounges can serve the recreational market.

Anyone wanting to be the first cannabis lounge in America has until 8:59 a.m. PST on the first Saturday  of January.  You’ll be competing with the Apple store of cannabis lounges, a Burning Man-inspired lounge that feels like a steampunk sex club and the newest most decadent lounge in town, which I just had the honor of helping to name the best cannabis lounge in the San Francisco Chronicle’s GreenState Awards.

“We have eight existing lounges in the City, and they will be able to continue operating in 2018,” San Francisco’s Office of Cannabis director Nicole Elliott told me in an email this afternoon.

California has not yet created a licensing scheme for cannabis lounges, nor does the state expressly prohibit cannabis lounges.  Absent state prohibition, local governments like San Francisco, Denver and Las Vegas can approve cannabis lounges.  San Francisco’s eight existing medicinal cannabis dispensary lounges — along with one that was shuttered by the federal government in 2011 and is preparing to re-open near Twitter headquarters — will be allowed to operate under city regulations they’ve operated under over the past decade.  Dispensaries that apply for new licenses in 2018 will be subject to stricter ventilation and  hermetically sealed smoking room requirements.

California pot czar Lori Ajax told regulators in Sacramento last week that when the state licenses cannabis lounges some time next year, lounge licenses will be tied to dispensary permits. There’ll be no stand-alone pot cafes in California.

San Francisco is the de facto model for pot lounges and social cannabis consumption in America.

Three of San Francisco’s leading dispensary lounges — Barbary Coast, Urban Pharm and Sparc — told they’re pursuing the state permit that’ll allow them to transition to the adult-use market. I’m checking with the other five dispensaries regarding their plans.

urban-pharm-san-francisco_320x240_826a-1

Urban Pharm

Sparc

Sparc

Barbary Coast

Barbary Coast

 

Here’s a tour of San Francisco cannabis lounges  I wrote last year.Here’s one San Francisco pot lounge story I wrote for the Denver Post’s The Cannabist in 2015. Here’s another.

Which San Francisco pot lounge do you want to visit when the first recreational pot lounge(s) opens in America on Jan. 6, 2018?

Los Angeles vs. San Francisco: How California’s Top Rival Cities Stack Up on Cannabis

First it was sports, food and culture. Now it’s pot.

BY ED MURRIETA

A largely unregulated Wild West of cannabis vs, a well-regulated city-state.

Continue reading

Toldja! Specialty Food Association and Fancy Food Show Embrace Cannabis Cuisine

Pot-infused foods are No. 8 on Big Foodie’s top 10 food-trend predictions for 2018. Whole Foods edibles ahoy?

BY ED MURRIETA

On Oct. 17, I asked the Specialty Food Association if cannabis edibles will be featured at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco Jan. 21-23.

I did not receive an answer.

Until today, when I located a press release the Specialty Food Association issued Nov. 15.

Cannabis cuisine is No. 8 on the association’s Trendspotter Panel’s top 10 food-trend predictions for 2018 and will be discussed at the Winter Fancy Food Show.

“Cannabis cuisine. As more states legalize recreational marijuana, the varieties of pot-enhanced food and beverage will increase. Look out for continued interest and acceptance in a host of snacks, treats, and beverages with a little something extra.*”

“*The Specialty Food Association recognizes that Federal law prohibits the possession, sale or distribution of marijuana, but its sale and use is declared legal under some state laws. In recognizing cannabis as a food trend, the SFA in no way endorses or encourages activities which are in violation of state or Federal law.”

Continue reading

The Regs: Wild Wacky Tobaccy Taxes Explained in New Ask-and-Answer Column

What’s the deal with sky-high taxes
were going to pay on Californy wacky tobaccy?

638253596BY ED MURRIETA

Taxes top The Regs’ inaugural you-ask-the-questions-we-dig-up-the-answers column about California’s new cannabis regulations.

“What’s the deal with sky-high taxes we’re going to pay on Californy wacky tobaccy?

— Bobbi Zimmerman, San Francisco

Continue reading

Local Cannabis Sales Taxes Are All Over the Map in California

Get ready to pay wacky rates on wacky tobaccy
—  the largest levies in the legalized land.

 

BY ED MURRIETA

Starting Jan. 1 (or more likely Jan. 2 given dispensaries’ holiday closures, and even later for most recreational shops given local lawmakers’ plodding pace), levies on California cannabis will be the highest in the legalized world. They’ll include:

  • state excise tax (15 percent)
  • state cultivation tax ($9.25 per ounce of cannabis flowers, $2.75 per ounce of leaves)
  • state sales tax (7.25 percent)
  • local sales tax (ranging from 7.25 percent to 10.25 percent depending on city and county rates).

Continue reading

Huge Tax Savings, Higher Weight Limit in Cards for Some California Medical Cannabis Consumers

Read my version in the San Francisco Chronicle’s GreenState. 

Will exemption from the largest levies in the legalized world and a half-pound stash allowance popularize obscure government IDs?

BY ED MURRIETA

Want to avoid paying sky-high taxes on California cannabis?

Got a qualifying condition to use the botanical herb medicinally?

Need to carry a half pound of pot?

Get a California Medical Marijuana Identification Card.

California’s historic cannabis taxes, announced last week with other final regulations governing cannabis from cultivation to sales, increase the currency of an obscure, voluntary government program that could save you bongloads of money and provide you legal protection to possess eight times the recreational limit.  

Come January and the start of California’s merged medical and adult-use markets, medical cannabis consumers can still use printed-on-paper recommendations and made-in-office plastic authorization cards from doctors to shop at dispensaries. Like other adults, medical cannabis consumers can shop at recreational pot stores when they open.

But you’ll need a county-issued issued card linked to a state database if you want to partake of the perks available only to official card-carrying medical cannabis consumers:

Exemption from paying the largest state levies in the legalized world and the legal protection to possess up to 8 ounces of pot, 7 ounces more than recreational users are allowed to carry.

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Whole-Plant Cannabis Oils and On-Demand Vape Pen Are a Perfect Pairing

Constance Therapeutics’ Patent-Pending Extracts
Meet Jupiter Research’s Elegant Fusion
of Science and Design

BY ED MURRIETA

Two companies whose highly regarded products previously have not been sold directly to consumers through medicinal cannabis dispensaries or delivery services are now partnered and bringing patent-pending, whole-plant cannabis oil extracts and cutting-edge vapor-on-demand pen and cartridge technologies to the consumer market throughout California.

Constance Therapeuticsfull-spectrum cannabis oil extracts previously have been available to qualified medicinal cannabis patients directly from the company and only to patients enrolled in Constance Therapeutics’ protocols and patient-support program.

Jupiter Research’s ceramic-core CCELL vaporizer pen, which features tamper-proof magnetic cartridges, breath-activated instant drawing, timed-signaled dosing, long-life battery and built-in mini-USB charger, previously have not been available in Northern California.

Now, in a partnership between two leaders in their respective sectors, Constance Therapeutics’ cannabis oil extracts are available in proprietary cartridges that magnetically attach to Jupiter Research’s vapor pens .5-gram and 1-gram units of five different blends, including sativa-dominant, indica-dominant and hybrid strains, plus strains rich in the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD.

Constance Therapeutics’ cannabis oil extracts (priced $70-$132) and a Constance Therapeutics-branded version of Jupiter’s vape pen ($40) are now available in San Francisco at Octavia Wellness, a delivery service specializing in cannabis care for seniors and the first of Constance Therapeutics’ new distribution partners.

I recently evaluated Constance Therapeutics’ patent-pending, full-spectrum cannabis oil extracts and Jupiter Research’s Liquid 9 cartridges and ceramic-core CCELL vaporizer pen. Here’s my review:
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Buzzy Headlines Say Las Vegas Is the New Amsterdam

Is it?

las-vegas-vs-amsterdam-8 Continue reading

29 Places to Stay in Las Vegas Other Than Casino Hotels That Hate Pot

BY ED MURRIETA

Nevada gaming officials unanimously agree that casino licensees should be discouraged from hosting cannabis-related trade shows or conferences in casino convention spaces and ballrooms. I recommend cannabis tourists traveling to Las Vegas for its legal recreational pot avoid casino hotels at all costs. Here are 29 hotels and resorts in Las Vegas that aren’t affiliated with casinos.  Continue reading

Sin City vs. the Marijuana Mirage

Las Vegas cannabis tourism is a roll of the dice
two months into recreational pot legalization

BY ED MURRIETA

In the struggle for cultural commercialization and mainstream acceptance of cannabis, Sin City straddles miracle and mirage.

In less than three years since Nevada voters authorized medical cannabis, this oasis of indulgence has blossomed into a vertically integrated capital of cultivation, processing, manufacturing and retailing packaged for the masses amid glitz, glam and government regulations as keenly choreographed as Cirque du Soleil.

Thanks to voter approval in November and fast-tracked retail sales that began July 1, weed’s now legal for adult recreational use in Nevada, joining gambling and prostitution on the list of activities adults can enjoy in the Silver State but go to jail for elsewhere.

But is the Nevada pot experience attainable in toto? Is Las Vegas ready for its pot prime time?

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Burner Box welcomes pot connoisseurs to the Playa

Cannabis essentials kit celebrating Burning Man experience on sale Friday in Nevada as Burners head to bacchanal of art and alternative cultures.

Photo by DopeFoto

Photo by DopeFoto

BY ED MURRIETA

Whether this is your first time or your 31st time attending Burning Man, you’ll be the envy of every pot-friendly theme camp when you open a Burner Box, a connoisseur-grade survival kit of cannabis products, tools and tips curated for the Playa-going experience.

Never mind that possession and use of cannabis and drug paraphernalia  are illegal on the federally managed Black Rock Desert.

Available starting Friday, limited-edition Burner Boxes are a collaboration between Blüm, a cannabis chain store with outlets in Las Vegas and Reno, and Vegas Weekend Box, a Sin City startup that curates and markets Nevada’s best-selling cannabis products packaged in consumer-friendly style for tourists.

Like the big-ticket curated theme-camp experiences that brought Silicon Valley bro-tech vibes to the annual bacchanal of art and alternative cultures in the past decade, Burner Boxes aren’t cheap — $299 — but they are loaded with cannabis oil, edibles, bud and joints from leading Nevada producers, along with a state-of-the-art portable vaporizer and a high-end mini-torch that’ll withstand desert windstorms.

Burner Boxes have no affiliation with the radically anti-commercial Burning Man gathering that runs Sunday through Sept. 4 125 miles north of Reno, save for some employees and investors of both Blüm and Vegas Weekend Box being Burners themselves.

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Hops + Pot and Terpenes + Beer

Great tastes that taste great together meet in collaborations between producers of artisan intoxicants.

BY ED MURRIETA

The message behind Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups’ classic Seventies slapstick TV commercials —“You got peanut butter on my chocolate. You got chocolate in my peanut butter. Two great tastes that taste great together.” — is being rebooted for the cannabis era in two collaborations between two California producers of artisan intoxicants: AbsoluteXtracts and Lagunitas Brewing Company.

One collaboration puts Lagunitas’ hops into AbsoluteXtracts’ vape pen cannabis oil cartridges. The other puts AbsoluteXtracts cannabis terpenes into Lagunitas ale.

Hops and cannabis are botanical cousins, containing similar aromas and flavors.

There’s no THC in the hopped-up beer collaboration — just the complementary flavors and aromas of Blue Dream and Girl Scout cookies cannabis strains captured in the terpenes. And there’s no alcohol in the vape oil — just piney, lemony, citrusy flavors of seven different hops strains.

Both collaborations are called “SuperCritical” after the CO2 extraction process AbsoluteXtracts uses to isolate and preserve cannabis and hops terpenes.

Lagunitas sent me a growler of beer and a couple of vape cartridges. 

I tested a growler of  Lagunitas’ SuperCritical, a golden-straw ale. Its floral bouquet tickled my nose. Its dry hoppiness parched my tongue. Cannabis terpenes — flavors and aromas evoked if not the plant exactly certainly evoked the distilled essences of cannabis you experience in high-end concentrates. It finished with an uplifting intrigue, gaining depth and intensity as it warmed.

Here are my notes from the beer and the vape cartridges:

Lagunitas SuperCritical Ale

Beer infused with non-psychoactive cannabis terpenes

Airy foamy head

Floral nose, almost soapy

Golden straw color

Hoppy, dry, tongue-sucking and nose-tingling

Floral flavors sweeten as the beer warms and deepens

Uplifting buzz

AbsoluteExtracts Hop Cannon and Stereoterpical cannabis oil infused with hops terpenes.

Hop Cannon spicy and floral … wafting uppercut to the sinus, a tingling prelude to an earthy, biting finish on the back of the tongue.

Stereoterpical crisp and clean

PAIRINGS:

Note-for-note match to both hoppy vape pens: Piney, floral, slightly earthy … tingly mineral finish

Vape. Hold. Shoot. Swallow. Exhale. Like the Boilermaker of weed and beer. Worlds collide but harmony prevails.

Vape. Hold. Drink. Swirl. Meld. Swallow. Exhale. Flavor bomb. Concentrated subtleties. Deepen the spice. Soften the bite.

Vape. Exhale. Drink. Swallow. Like you perfectly prepared your palate for an ephemeral blossom of savory alpine.

Drink. Hold. Vape. Swallow. Exhale. Maybe get a little bubbling action on the vape pen’s mouthpiece. An extremely clean hit and clean finish, almost indistinguishable from any substances except the straight essence of cross-fading intoxication.

Cultivate Your Ultimate Reno-Tahoe Cannabis Weekend

BY ED MURRIETA

RENO — The Biggest Little City in the World is dwarfed only by Las Vegas in Nevada’s newest bonanza — the greenrush of recreational cannabis and drug tourists’ dollars.

Thanks to Reno’s scale, getting a taste of Nevada’s newly legal recreational cannabis is a lot easier here than it is in sprawling Las Vegas, and Reno is a good place to begin exploring Nevada cannabis as growers, processors and edibles makers from Reno, Sparks, Carson City and Incline Village supply Las Vegas dispensaries. You can even buy a tourist-oriented welcome basket of Nevada cannabis products, marketed as the Vegas Weekend Box in both Las Vegas and Reno.

Whether you’re traveling to the Reno-Tahoe region to gamble, ski, see shows, engage prostitutes, make a pit stop en route to or from Burning Man, or solely to purchase pot legally, making cannabis part of your next visit here is easy — especially if you can swear off odiferous buds and commit to enjoying locally made edibles, tinctures and vape pens.

Arrive by automobile, bus or train and begin your Reno-Tahoe cannabis trip a short walk away from Reno’s “Biggest Little City” sign at Mynt, downtown Reno’s only cannabis store and creator/purveyor of Kynd, the locally produced, widely available line of flowers, edibles and concentrates.

Or reach Reno via Lake Tahoe, where recreational cannabis at Incline Village’s tony NuLeaf dispensary is the North Shore’s buzziest attraction since The Ponderosa Ranch “Bonanza” TV Western theme park invigorated the historic logging hamlet in the Sixties.

Along the way, behold breath-taking lake and mountain scenery, drink craft beer brewed from Lake Tahoe’s famous blue water and eat a cut above buffets.   

Bring your medical cannabis authorization from any legal medical cannabis state and avoid paying Nevada’s 10 percent excise tax.

California residents with medical cannabis recommendations will hit the pot-tourist jackpot a mile from the California-Nevada state line in South Lake Tahoe, where dispensary and grower Tahoe Wellness Cooperative operates a rare tourist necessity: a cannabis consumption lounge, in this case endorsed and sanctioned by city leaders expressly to keep people from smoking pot on South Lake Tahoe’s shore and streets.

South Lake Tahoe is also home to what the Reno-Tahoe region (and Las Vegas) needs to cultivate in higher volume — a bud, bed and breakfast run by an innkeeper who provides locally grown cannabis and the greenlight to smoke it legally, no matter where you come from.

Can’t bear the thought of foregoing joints, dabs and bong hits while you’re visiting Reno or the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe? Forget about staying at hotels. Instead, reserve a 420-friendly gypsy camping wagon, custom-made by a Burning Man artisan and easily towed or delivered to campgrounds or private properties in the Reno-Tahoe area.

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Check into the gift of pot on your pillow

California tourist rentals give guests recreational cannabis — no doctor’s note or state residency required.

Photo courtesy The Om House

BY ED MURRIETA

Full-on legalization that will allow tourists from other states and other countries to purchase California cannabis from regulated retail stores is at least four months away.

But a provision in the Golden State’s recreational cannabis law provides a legal path to pot right now.

It’s called gifting, and since Prop. 64 took effect upon voter approval in November 2016 it’s been a way that cannabis-friendly tourist rentals — from an upscale cannabis resort on a historic ranch in the fabled Emerald Triangle to a modest apartment in a workaday Southern California neighborhood to a vegan bud, bed and breakfast in Lake Tahoe — can legally provide all of their adult guests tastes of local cannabis, similar to the way bottles of wine and wedges of cheese welcome guests in boutique hotels and inns across America.

“We don’t sell cannabis,” said Lisa Donnelly, proprietor of The Red Barn House guesthouse in remote Shasta County, 220 miles north of San Francisco. “But I can give guests a couple of grams from my own personal what-I’ve-got.”

Whether you’re a California resident who lacks a doctor’s recommendation to use state-legal medical cannabis, whether you live in any of America’s 49 other states or whether you’re visiting from any country in the world, it’s legal in California for one adult to gift another adult up to 1 ounce of cannabis.

But don’t expect that kind of weight awaiting you at California’s cannabis-gifting vacation rentals.

In most cases, expect gifts closer to one Michael Mischer filled chocolate, not a boxed assortment of Poco Dolce confections.

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Cannabis Firm Plots Epcot of Pot

Arizona’s American Green purchases Southern California ghost town for $5 million, intends to develop a cannabis tourism destination in the Mojave Desert.

BY ED MURRIETA

A publicly traded cannabis company has purchased an Old West ghost town in Southern California for $5 million and plans to turn the historic Mojave Desert hamlet into a cannabis tourism destination and cannabis production hub that taps the 80-acre town’s ancient underground lake and modern solar power.

Nipton, located 10 miles off the main highway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, is a 112-year-old former mining town of approximately 20 residents in unincorporated San Bernardino County, about 3 hours east of Los Angeles and 1 hour south Las Vegas, a mile and a half from the California-Nevada border.

The buyer, American Green Inc. of Phoenix, hopes to develop what it’s likening to Disney on cannabis — the Epcot Center of Pot — offering cannabis-friendly tourist attractions, manufacturing and retail outposts, culinary events, bed-and-breakfast lodging, RV camping, artist-in-residence programs and mineral baths spiked with therapeutic cannabis.

Stephen Shearin, general manager of American Green’s Nipton project, expects to host Nipton’s first cannabis tourists in November.

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