The questions surrounding cannabis are so numerous that we created a weekly column to answer them, but even Ask a Stoner can’t satisfy all curiosity. Thanks to Colorado’s cannabis legalization efforts, though, you can now attend cannabis-focused courses that range from 420-friendly seminars to scientific discussions at a state university.
Add Dixie Elixirs to the list of Colorado cannabis companies continuing to expand north of the border. The pot-infused-products company just announced plans to go public on the Canadian Securities Exchange pending approval from the CSE.
Although cannabis and Colorado are inextricably linked in the minds of many outsiders, most of the state still bans pot businesses, according to new data from the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. Even so, over 550,000 pounds of cannabis were harvested throughout the first half of 2018.
While possession and personal cultivation were legalized throughout Colorado after voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012, the measure also gave towns and counties the right to ban dispensaries, commercial growing operations and other licensed pot businesses within their borders. So far, most of Colorado is still declining the green rush.
No matter the plant’s legal status, Colorado has never been short of growers of cannabis — so out-of-staters looking to get into the business need to know what they’re doing. And Mike Meyer (without the “s,” so don’t confuse him with Austin Powers or the Halloween slasher) definitely did. He got his start in California, growing cannabis in his attic as a hobby while studying horticulture in college.
In 2007 he jumped into California’s medical marijuana industry, where he spent ten years learning about strain breeding and perfecting his plants. After moving to Denver in 2017, Meyer found himself heading the cultivation department of Lucy Sky Cannabis Boutique, which is about to have four dispensaries open under its umbrella. To learn more about the craft of growing cannabis both commercially and personally, we chatted with Meyer about his budding trade.
Moffat was a major cattle shipping center along the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad in the early 1900s, but over the past century the population of this town in southern Colorado dwindled, until it now holds barely 100 residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
“I think they were counting the dogs and cats when they did that,” says former Moffat mayor Brian Morgan. “Now we need to figure out how to add more housing, because Moffat doesn’t have a lot.”
And why does Moffat need more housing? The small, sleepy town in Saguche County is expecting to welcome new faces now that its town board has approved plans for Area 420, a unique business compound that could bring nine different pot companies to Moffat — which will all share space.
Colorado’s cannabis industry has come a long way since medical marijuana dispensaries started popping up a decade ago. The industry exploded with the start of legal recreational sales on January 1, 2014, and a boom in capital funding soon ushered in a more corporate era. Now more Colorado towns and counties are allowing retail pot sales than ever before, with consumers buying much more than bags of weed at dispensaries.
Reagan Yeomans has seen plenty of changes burn through the industry since she entered the field in 2010. The Colorado State University graduate and her business partner, Tiffany Goldman, haven’t opened a dozen stores, like some of their competitors; instead, they’ve chosen to grow their dispensary chain, The Health Center, at a steadier pace. Today it has two longstanding dispensaries in Denver, a wholesale cultivation brand and a new store in Boulder.
The Marijuana Industry Group has helped the Colorado cannabis business develop into an awesome revenue machine that generates sales measured in the billions. But behind the scenes, MIG is embroiled in dueling Denver District Court lawsuits that pit the organization against Michael Elliott, its former executive director, in a fight that’s witheringly nasty.
Elliot’s complaint maintains that he was fired from his gig in June 2016 due largely to fallout from his rejection of sexual advances from a contract employee with the group. A few months later, he filed discrimination charges against the group with the Colorado Civil Rights Division — a prerequisite to a lawsuit, which was eventually filed in September 2017. But by then, MIG had already sued Elliott, arguing that he’d been sacked for misappropriating funds, among other things, and later retaliated by cooking up a fictional sexual harassment story that he then used in an unsuccessful effort to extort as much as $300,000.
Denver may be a leader in regulating recreational cannabis sales, but it’s hard to say the same about recreational cannabis consumption. Despite allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in town for over a decade and retail pot shops for nearly five years, Denver’s attempts to address social pot use have fallen just a few degrees above flat.
To be fair to Denver, the rest of Colorado isn’t exactly diving in, either, and neither are most of the other states legalizing the plant. Denver was the country’s first city to approve a program for issuing consumption licenses to qualified businesses, and one pot lounge is up and running, with another approved business on the way — but the program has its limitations. Approved by voters in 2016, the social consumption initiative was tweaked during its lengthy implementation process, with disputed location qualifications and restricted revenue streams added, to the dismay of the initiative’s proponents.
Colorado marijuana sales continued their summer uptick in July with record-breaking sales, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue. The state’s dispensaries collected over $138.5 million, the highest monthly sales figure so far, just beating August 2017’s tally of $138.46 million.
The vast possibilities of hemp are emerging as the legal barriers to hemp-based products begin to disappear, and among those possibilities is manufacturing products not for consumers, but for other companies. While many businesses involved with hemp and CBD are eager for the spotlight, others would rather do their work without the attention, in exchange for a manufacturing fee.
To learn more about the cannabis industry’s white-label products — something produced by one company for another to rebrand and sell — we talked with Maruchy Lachance, co-owner of CBD white-label company Boulder Botanical & Bioscience Laboratory.