Category: Business

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 Friday 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?

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

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

BY ED MURRIETA

Charticle? Listicle? Intro graf about the San Francisco-Los Angeles rivalry TK. Blurb blurb blurbity blurb. #Skunkworks.

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.”

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Super-Potent Edibles Soon to Be Illegal in California

Oakland’s Korova owns the high-THC edibles market, which will be banned under the state’s historic regulations

BY ED MURRIETA

Korova Edibles is about to lose its claim of “Unrivaled Potency.”

Since it launched in 2011, the Oakland company has owned the super-potent edibles space. Its current product line-up includes two dozen edibles each containing between 150 and 1,000 mg of mind-bending, body-soothing THC.

All of those super-potent edibles are on the verge of being banned under historic cannabis regulations that begin Jan. 1 in California,

Come Jan. 2, when medicinal dispensaries re-open after the New Year’s holiday, all Korova products sold via 765 stores and delivery services will effectively be as potent as every other edible brand in California’s newly regulated market and on potency par with other medicinal and recreational states: no more than 100 mg of THC per package.

Same goes for when recreational cannabis sales start later in the week, month or year, depending on local approval.

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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

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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).

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

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. I’m awaiting the vape cartridge. I’ll sit down soon with a pot-loving craft brewer and report our findings.

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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My High Times Scoop — My Journalism Career First

BY ED MURRIETA

I’ve been doing journalism, and smoking pot, since 1985. Today, I had my first scoop — exclusively reporting the acquisition of High Times magazine, the bible of stoner culture.

Here’s my story, as reported in The San Francisco Chronicle.

CBD cold-brew cannabis coffee stirs market with hemp, tech and international online sales

Nano technology turns therapeutic cannabinoid  into water-soluble crystals. Non-psychoactive beverage is packaged in sexy, single-serving containers. You can legally buy and drink Mary Jane Java worldwide. 

BY ED MURRIETA 

A new kind of cold-brewed cannabis-infused coffee is riding a wave that’s cresting beyond medical and recreational marijuana markets using hemp-derived CBD and cutting-edge technologies.

Mary Jane Java won’t get you any higher than a cup of Folgers.

But it might mellow out your caffeine jitters and an array of other ailments — legally around the world as it contains no THC and only CBD, the non-psychoactive botanical component in cannabis and hemp plants that induces mind-and-body relaxation, not trippy head highs.

You don’t need a doctor’s recommendation to drink Mary Jane Java, nor do you need to live in a recreational cannabis state to buy Mary Jane Java.

Mary Jane Java joins a host of easy-to-obtain CBD-infused food products, or edibles, sold online whose appearance and flavor resemble higher-octane THC-infused counterpart products sold in medical marijuana dispensaries and retail cannabis shops  — brownies, gummy candies, chocolates, popcorn and other snacks without intoxicating ingredients any stronger than sugar and caffeine.

Other CBD products, including sprays, lotion and hemp vapor oil, are sold online by major retailers like Walmart and Overstock.com.

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Mainstream Coffee Brand Jolts Cannabis Marketing

Oakland edibles startup and San Francisco micro-roaster brew cannabis industry’s first Intel Inside moment.

BY ED MURRIETA

To aficionados who enjoy a caffeine buzz with their marijuana buzz, coffee and cannabis go together like cream and sugar and Cheech and Chong rolled into one energy-inducing, mind-altering jolt.

After decades of counterculture popularity, the classic java-and-a-joint combo, aka the Hippie Highball, has been re-booted in the modern age of legal weed.

Cannabis-infused single-brew coffee pods entered California’s medical cannabis edibles marketplace in 2015 but require K-Cup-style brewing machines and remain a novelty.

The more accessible 2017 pairing combines three red-hot trends — cold-brewed coffee, artisan cannabis concentrate and low-dose edibles — into a singularly robust concept that boasts the added kick of being the first example of a mainstream company lending its brand to a cannabis product.

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Send It Back: When — and How — to Return Pot to Cannabis Dispensaries

BY ED MURRIETA

The Bay Area’s sophisticated restaurant patrons have little compunction about sending meals back to kitchens for any reason — under-cooked, over-salted or simply unappealing upon arrival.

How about cannabis? What do consumers do when the flowers, oils or edibles purchased at dispensaries or from delivery services don’t meet their desires?

And how do they do it? What are the protocols for returns and refunds at Bay Area dispensaries?

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Reciprocity: Your Passport to Nevada Pot

One-of-a-kind program lets out-of-state visitors buy medical cannabis — but there’s a catch for Californians

BY ED MURRIETA

RENO — Here’s a new word for your cannabis lexicon, one that will serve you well if you’re a gambler, skier or business traveler seeking medical cannabis in Nevada:

Reciprocity.

In woo-woo terms, reciprocity is an exchange of mutual benefit. In potspeak, reciprocity means people from California and 26 other states and the District of Columbia can legally obtain and use medical cannabis in Nevada.

While dispensaries and the state attorney general haggle over the exact documentation California residents must provide, Nevada offers reciprocity to qualified medical cannabis patients from any state where medical cannabis is legal.

Medical cannabis users no longer need to transport their stash across state lines. They can buy it Nevada.

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San Francisco Pot Task Force Urges Swift Actions on Licensing and Tourism

BY ED MURRIETA

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco’s Cannabis State Legalization Task Force was formed in January to prepare the city for cannabis legalization. Today, one day after California voted to legalize cannabis use by adults, the task force delivered preliminary recommendations urging the city to swiftly license cannabis businesses beginning in 2018.

“Prop. 64 creates a very specific state licensing scheme from seed to sale,” said Terrance Alan, chairman of the 22-member task force. “The response needs to be local and focus on how well local jurisdictions implement those license types.”

Alan said the task force is focused on land use, public safety and tourism. Business types include cannabis farms, processing and manufacturing facilities, testing labs, kitchens and cafes.

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