Releaf Magazine
25Aug/160

This is huge leap forward for all in the industry

marijuana-leaves_largeNation's First Online Cannabis Trading Platform Set to Revolutionize Industry

PR Newswire - 08/24/2016

CannaFo.com Trade Desk Offers Seamless Connection for Marijuana Producers, Processors, Dispensaries and Retailers

BEND, Ore., Aug. 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The nation's first online cannabis trading platform is set to revolutionize the industry. CannaFo.com offers Trade Desk, an online trading platform that seamlessly connects marijuana producers, processors, and dispensaries.

"It's difficult for growers and retailers to find each other. What we offer with Trade Desk is seamless connection," explained CannaFo.com President, Kelly Martin. "We are advocates for the cannabis industry. We are trying to help and improve it, as we can, through technology."

While the cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing in the nation, there has been a lack of a trustworthy platform allowing cannabis business owners to connect and develop strong business partnerships with other vendors. Laws vary in each state, and no centralized source, such as Craigslist, previously existed. Trade Desk is primed and ready to change all of that.

CannaFo's Trade Desk platform provides connection opportunities in four sections: Connect, Buy, Sell andPricing. Together they work to allow producers, processors and dispensaries the time to focus on their businesses, rather than hunt for connections.

The Connect section brings producers, dispensaries and seed companies together. It provides listings, names and contact information, and an anonymous chat system for added security.

For those looking for product, there is the Buy section. Buyers may browse through available inventory and connect with the seller directly. The Sell section allows producers to list inventory available to businesses, whether they have already connected or not.

CannaFo has created the cannabis industry's first transparent open market. The Trade Desk Pricing section provides up to date listings of the average pricing based on location. Variations in price do not affect most consumers, but when purchasing for wholesale, finding a fair price is crucial.

Trade Desk is a subscription-based table platform. The subscribers will have to demonstrate proof of license, in order to participate. CannaFo.com developed Trade Desk to be used on a state-by-state basis, as there are no current Federal guidelines to follow, and laws differ between the states. CannaFo is excited about Trade Desk, and offering its services free for sixty days to new subscribers.

There is also an app for that! The CannaFo app is tablet-supported, as well as IOS, Android and Blackberry. Access is important to CannaFo, and they intentionally programmed the app to be available to anyone, no matter their device. According to Josh Pardee, Co-founder/Lead Engineer, "There is simply no device that can't access the info."

About:
CannaFo.com, headquartered in Bend, Oregon, is the world's largest online resource for all things cannabis. The site provides a comprehensive directory, marketplace and social platform for cannabis consumers, businesses and growers/producers. While only less than a year old, CannaFo already has over 90,000 followers on Facebook and continues working to build their following and help improve the industry they love.

Get in the know, with Cannafo!

Contact:
1558 SW Nancy Way Suite 104
Bend, Oregon 97703
541-640-8135
info@cannafo.com

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24Aug/160

Oregon’s Whopping Cannabis Tax Revenue

Legal Cannabis Flowers and Packages. Legal cannabis and it's pacOregon’s Legal Marijuana Raised More Than $25 Million In Tax Revenue This Year

CNN - By. Kate Samuelson - 08/23/2016

According to Oregon’s Department of Revenue, the state has collected more than $25 million in taxes on marijuana in 2016 so far.

As KGW reports, the total revenue from January 1 to July 31 this year is far more than the $18.4 million the Oregon Liquor Control Commission anticipatedfor the two-year period starting in July 2015.

A statement on the Department of Revenue website explains that medical marijuana dispensaries started collecting a 25% tax on their recreational marijuana sales in January, which spokeswoman Joy Krawczyk told KGW has contributed to the high amount of tax, the revenue of which will pay for police, addiction programs and schools in the state.

In January alone, the state collected $3.48 million in taxes.

In 2014, Colorado brought in $76 million in tax revenue from legal cannabis sales when the state became one of just two (along with Washington) to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 or older. Figures from the state’s Department of Revenue in 2015 showed that itoutpaced revenue from alcohol taxes in the fiscal year ending on June 30.

By July 8 this year, Washington state’s treasury had taken in more than $250 million in excise tax since marijuana legalization began in July 2014.

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23Aug/160

Those Who Use It-How Do You Like LED

heliospectraUsing LED Lighting Tech in Commercial Grows

Cannabis Now - By. Dave Carpenter - 08/21/16

Indoor-grown marijuana is an energy-hungry leviathan. A national study released by the U.S. Department of Energy reports that a full one percent of the U.S. electric grid is now dedicated to growing cannabis. Equivalent to the energy output of 1.7 million American homes (and counting) the emerging industry is putting a significant strain on the national power grid and is the country’s most energy-intensive crop at a cost of nearly $6 billion annually.

For decades, the traditional indoor grow light of choice has been high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps. The same sodium lamps that illuminate a majority of world’s city streets have for years been lighting grow rooms from San Diego to Syracuse. Meant to mimic the intense rays of the sun, flowering rooms equipped with HIDs —  typically outfitted with multiple lamps burning for 12 hours at a time — require continuous air conditioning and de-humidification. And all that usage translates to excessive power waste. LED lighting, on the other hand, consumes less power and emits far less heat, which means greater return to the grower’s bottom line.

Because common cultivator wisdom follows the philosophy of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ there’s a pervasive reticence to switch to new tech and invite the high cost of re-outfitting a grow room. But with the ever-expanding evidence around global warming, and subsequent soaring cost of electricity, LEDs are in the limelight as a more sustainable approach to indoor cultivation.

Head grower Kevin Biernacki at The Grove Nevada’s 50,000-sqft. cultivation facility was interested in LED and looking for low-heat, cost-saving lights during the manufacture of their vertical-grow site in Las Vegas. “We really needed a multi-tiered system that wouldn’t cook the roots above,” he says.

Stacking grow racks in tiers means the Grove can double or triple their square footage — and vastly increase profits at the same time. Biernacki says he went through a host of LED companies, putting each to the test with side-by-side independent lamp tests. He explains why, after an exhaustive search, they ended up purchasing 650 LED grow lights from the company Heliospectra.

“It really came down to grams per watt,” he says. “Also, we liked that Heliospectra [LED] lights allow you to customize light recipes, which other people simply don’t have.”

The Grove is now able to design light combinations that mimic sunrise, mid-day and sunset, combined with a “far red push” during the last few weeks of flowering. “The last three weeks of harvest we are able to push the light spectrum a little differently,” says Biernacki. “At the very end, we are getting that far red and we are able to speed up the product to harvest.”

Affecting harvest times by as much as one full week shaved from a 10-week flowering period, the dollars saved speak for themselves. Biernacki says it was also important to the Grove to consult other commercial cultivators who use Heliospectra’s LED lights, like Pink House in Colorado, and found that the growers were “continually expanding their number of Heliospectra lights. We obviously looked at that as very positive,” he says.

“It was a little daunting at first to learn how to manipulate lighting,” says Biernacki, “but we soon learned that with the click of a button we could change the light recipes.” He adds that the Grove’s first harvest with LEDs yielded a strain with a whopping 10 percent myrcene cannabinoid level and another boasting a powerhouse 31.4 percent of THC.

The unprecedented level of control over grow rooms that LED lights give cultivators is a giant leap forward for cannabis tech. Rapid return on investment, cutting down on wasteful energy bills and increased control over cannabinoid levels could very well change the entire cannabis growing paradigm as we know it.

Would you switch from HID to LED lights in your grow room?

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22Aug/160

Gambling & The Marijuana Legalization Movement

marijuana_congress (1)What Gambling Can Tell Us About Legalizing Marijuana

ATTN: - Keith Stroup - 08/19/16

I am old enough to remember when Nevada was the only state where gambling was legal. In 1931, during the Great Depression, the state legislature had legalized casino gambling as a way to stimulate their economy, create new jobs, and entice more people to the state.

For decades Nevada had a monopoly on casino gambling — that, along with legalizing “no fault” divorces, and later legalizing prostitution — when most states did not offer those options. These factors combined to give Nevada a reputation as a maverick state where people could visit to engage in naughty behavior without legal consequences. “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas.”

The state is expected to legalize the recreational use of marijuana via voter initiative (Question 2) this November, which will further enhance that reputation.

Other states obviously knew that legal gambling was an alternative that might provide an economic boost to their states as well, but the prevailing morality at the time was far too negative towards gambling for elected officials in other states to pursue. It was a time when the religious communities had successfully convinced most Americans that a life of virtue, not vices, was the path to happiness.

But social mores change over time, and as gambling began to be seen as a legitimate form of entertainment, instead of a moral sin, the tax revenue and economic benefits from legal gambling were more attractive. In 1977, by voter initiative, New Jersey legalized casino gambling in Atlantic City, offering an east coast version of Nevada, where gambling hedonists could legally do what they could not yet do in their own states.

And gradually the barriers banning legal gambling began to crumble nationwide, leading to a situation today in which every state has some form of legal gambling, such as state-run lotteries, albeit with strange limitations in some states (e.g., in Missouri it is illegal to gamble on land, but perfectly legal to have casinos on riverboats on the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers, although the boats never leave the shore).

Which leads to the question of why behavior thought by many to be inappropriate (or even morally offensive), can nonetheless sometimes be legalized? Or put another way, when is conduct with the tinge of sinfulness out-weighted by the potential for economic benefits to the states?

I raise that question because of the increasingly profitable side of legal marijuana in the states that have elected to regulate and tax marijuana. As the latest revenue data make clear, legalizing marijuana has been an enormous benefit for the few states that have taken that step, and that fact will be more and more difficult for neighboring states to ignore over the coming years. As we saw with gambling, once the economic benefits of legal marijuana are obvious, the moral opposition will fade and the economic arguments will prevail.

The Latest Data from Colorado and Washington.

In Colorado, the first state to get their legal retail outlets up and running on January 1, 2014, the gross sales of marijuana, and the tax revenue to the state, have continued to rise each year. For 2015, licensed marijuana stores in the state totaled an astounding $996,184,788 – just shy of $1 billion dollars, up from $669 million in sales in 2014.

Colorado collected more than $135 million in taxes and fees last year (including $35 million dedicated to school construction), up from $76 million in 2014 (when $13.3 million was raised for schools).

In Washington state, marijuana retail sales reached $322,823,639 in 2015, up from only $30,783,880 in 2014, when retail outlets were open for only a portion of the year. That 2015 sales figure has already been eclipsed in the first seven months of 2016.

The state retail tax revenue for fiscal year 2016 from recreational marijuana sales totaled $30,017,823, while state retail sales taxes from the sale of medical marijuana totaled $5,236,536. Local retail sales tax totaled $11,228,861 from recreational sales, and local retail tax totaled $2,084,323 for medical sales.

These, as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump might say, are “yugee” numbers, and they are continuing to increase each year, making them more and more difficult to ignore by other states.

Which brings me to my main point. At a time when several national polls confirm that between 55 and 61 percent of the entire country now favor full legalization, it is difficult to argue that marijuana smoking is, any longer, considered immoral behavior. Sure, there are pockets of fundamental moralists to whom anything pleasurable will always be suspect behavior, including sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. But this puritanical perspective is finding less and less support each year, and when balanced with the economic windfall that results when a state legalizes marijuana, it simply cannot prevail.

Today a majority of Americans under 65 support marijuana legalization, particularly younger adults: 71 percent of adults under 35 think marijuana use should be legal, a jump of 10 points since last year. The demographics are clear and unstoppable, as younger voters replace those over 65.

Just as all states now have some form of legal gambling, within a few short years, all states will offer some form of legal marijuana. It’s the smart thing to do; it’s the right thing to do; and it’s inevitable in a democracy, when most people want it.

Keith Stroup is a Washington, D.C. public-interest attorney who founded NORML in 1970.

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22Aug/160

An Upscale Cannabis Country Club Opens In San Fransisco

Stoner-Club-San-Francisco-STONER0816San Francisco Now Has a Cannabis Country Club

Travel + Leisure - By. Cailey Rizzo - 08/20/2016

If a drug den isn’t your preferred venue for toking, elevate your marijuana experience at San Francisco’s very first private cannabis club.

Harvest, a San Francisco dispensary, announced the opening of its members-only club last week. Already, the lounge is being compared to a cannabis country club for its steep fees, exclusive membership, and tasteful decor—brown leather couches, oriental rugs, and glass ashtrays (duh).

While anyone can buy pot from the dispensary, only members can get access to the smoking room in back. Other perks of membership include a locker for storing goods, invites to educational events and, of course, the ability to puff, puff, pass with the city’s other well-heeled pot aficionados.

Those who aspire to membership have to go through an application process and, if accepted, “pay monthly fees comparable to the cost of an Equinox gym membership,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. (An Equinox memberships runs about $200 per month, for those wondering.)

Thousands of people are in Harvest’s collective (basically a list of people who have registered to buy pot from the dispensary), but founders envision the private club only having a couple hundred members. Applicants have to pass a criminal background check and be personally approved by Harvest’s founders.

Although Harvest isn’t the first dispensary to allow use of their product in the back, it’s the only dispensary in California that charges membership fees to do so. There are a few private club options for the discerning stoner (with cash to throw around) in Denver, however they’re not exactly legal and are occasionally raided by the police.

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10Aug/160

Part II of Legal Weed: Are We Good To Grow Yet- By. ReLeaf Writer, Mark Ward

canna-law-newsLEGAL WEED: Are We Good To Grow Yet? (Part II)

Dope Magazine - Mark Ward - 08/05/2016

Taxes aren’t the only facet of corporate and political ravenousness that hinders citizens and patients from cultivating.Patriot Care is a company that has acquired licenses for cannabis facilities in Boston, Greenfield and presently has a dispensary and cultivation facility in Lowell, Massachusetts. The company is directed by CEO Bob Mayerson, who would know a great deal about big business as former president and chief officer at Eastern Mountain Sports, and through his financial roles at Pepsi and Staples. Patriot Care’s Lowell facility joins Ayer, Brocton, North Hampton and Salem as a select few Massachusetts cities with facilities providing medicine to cannabis patients. The Boston and Greenfield facilities will be completed over the summer. Patriot Care has made an arrangement with the city of Lowell containing such conditions that they will pay $25,000 to the city for every dispensary that uses their cultivation center’s products. It would make sense that medical and recreational home cultivation would compromise the great investments these companies have placed into the medical cannabis industry.

Activist Brianna Morrel clarifies why Patriot Care’s lobbyists work so diligently to inhibit legalization and home grows, “Patriot Care has associations with anti-legalization campaigns in Massachusetts.” According to Morrel, “Patriot Care has vowed to never become a recreational dispensary even after legalization. Their board has voiced support for Flaherty’s zoning bill which would restrict how closely dispensaries can open to one another. Patriot Care’s lobbyist, Daniel Delaney, has filed an anti-legalization effort (supposedly on his own accord) dubbed, Safe Cannabis Massachusetts, as well as having a second connection to Safe Cannabis Massachusetts through outsourced contractor Greg Czarnowski, owner of the domain registered to the anti-legalization group.”

Ultimately we have come to find that legal home cultivation is imperiled and confined to only a few medical cannabis states, but is not consistently permitted in all. Dispensaries have not only campaigned to regulate dispensary proximity zoning, but also how close a patient’s home grow may be to their establishment as well. Dispensary administrations are going so far as to support and even form anti-legalization organizations in an effort to combat competitive growing. At the same time, they are actively supporting lawmakers’ proposed tax-per-plant policies, setting up patients for anxiety, compliance failure and potential prosecution. As a result of all of this intimidation, apprehension and confusion, the question we are left with is: are we good to grow yet?

“These dispensary administrations are going so far as to support and even form anti-legalization organizations in an effort to combat competitive growing.”

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21Jul/160

Floridians Gain Access!!

636046363501306357-PNITab-07-06-2016-Z11-1-A002--2016-07-04-IMG-medical-marijuana-1-1-V4ET5LD9-L839795569-IMG-medical-marijuana-1-1-V4ET5LD9First Florida marijuana dispensary opens in Tallahassee Tuesday

Tallahassee Democrat-Ryan Dailey-07/21/16

Florida’s first marijuana dispensary will open Tuesday at 800 Capital Circle SE, Tallahassee.

Licensed cannabis grower and distributor Trulieve won the race among the state’s six medical cannabis licensees to open the state’s first retail location. It will sell its proprietary high-CBD, low-THC strain of marijuana named Vita Jay, and has plans for a stronger strain on the horizon.

To do so, according  to Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers, the company had to complete a rigorous 2,000-page application that was “very technical,” and pass the consequent inspections from the Department of Health.

“At the end of the day, we are responsible for the plant, what comes out of the ground, and responsible for processing. It is highly regulated, of course, but also a very serious medicine,” Rivers said.

Trulieve is involved in every step the cultivation and sale, with its processing plant Hackney Nurseries located in Quincy.

“We, of course, hope and anticipate a warm welcome from our Tallahassee friends, neighbors and community,” Rivers said. “We’re local, and that’s why it was really important for us to open our first dispensary here.”

Rivers said that she and the company hope the public will see the medicinal value that Trulieve’s product can bring to those with health needs.

“I think once people realize that it really is medicine, that it’s not in any way recreational, they will see why people need it,” she said.

Under Florida’s Right to Try law, which gives patients with diagnosed terminal illness the right to try certain approved “experimental” drugs or ones not found in a pharmacy, Trulieve will have a higher-THC strain available mid-August.

In order to obtain the more potent strand, patients must be declared terminally ill by two physicians.

Customers will not be able to make marijuana purchases with plastic at the store, however, as state law allows only cash transactions at dispensaries.

The company has locations listed on its website as “coming soon” to Pensacola, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Bradenton.

Trulieve will host a press conference at the Capital Circle location at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

 

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18Jul/160

More Renewable Resources Are The Only Way

Curbing-the-marijuana-industrys-voracious-energy-appetiteCurbing the marijuana industry's voracious energy appetite

By Gina Warren-University of Houston-7/18/16

As voters go to the polls this November, at least four states will consider ballot questions on marijuana legalization. Pending proposals in Nevada, Maine andCalifornia would authorize recreational marijuana use, while Floridians will vote on whether to allow medical marijuana use.

Legalization of marijuana in the United States has spread rapidly over the last few years. Half of the states have legalized marijuana in some form. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia have legalized it for recreational use. And the Democratic Party platform committee recently voted 81 to 80 to amend the federal Controlled Substances Act to remove marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 drugs. The stated purpose of this proposed amendment is to "provid[e] a reasoned pathway for future legalization."

States with some form of legalized marijuana have implemented stringent regulatory and licensing schemes with regard to the who, what, where and how of marijuana possession, cultivation, and distribution. But policymakers have failed to address an important area: the marijuana industry's energy and climate impacts. Although marijuana is a plant, it is not a "green" product when grown indoors. As more states – and, potentially, Congress – consider legalizing the marijuana industry, they should also adopt rules to make it more environmentally sustainable.

Indoor marijuana farms are energy hogs

Indoor marijuana cultivation is one of the most energy-intensive industries in the United States, generating nearly $6 billion in energy costs annually. According to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, which carries out energy planning for the Columbia River Basin states (Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon), growing marijuana indoors consumes up to 5,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per kilogram of output. For comparison, aluminum production requires about 16 kilowatt-hours per kilogram.

Colorado's experience demonstrates marijuana's large energy footprint. Since the state legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, the industry has expanded rapidly there. In 2015 legal marijuana businesses in Colorado made nearly $1 billion in sales, up 42 percent from the previous year. And as marijuana businesses become more competitive and specialized, growers are moving their farms indoors to get a more controlled product.

Indoor cultivation requires electricity to power high-intensity lights, frequent air exchanges and ventilation and to maintain consistent temperatures and humidity levels day and night. As a result, the state has numerous indoor warehouses that consume huge quantities of electricity.

Experts estimate that a 5,000-square-foot indoor marijuana facility in Colorado consumes six times more electricity per square foot than an average commercial business and 49 times more than an average residence. Last year Denver officialssought guidance from the Department of Energy on ways to curb the industry's power requirements. Electricity use in Denver is rising by 1.2 percent yearly, and marijuana farms account for nearly half of the increase.

Colorado has set a goal of generating 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Currently, however, only 18 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources. The rest is generated from coal and natural gas.

On-site generation systems, such as rooftop solar arrays, and community-scale energy projects cannot produce enough electricity to meet marijuana growers' energy needs. As a result, the marijuana industry is indirectly increasing Colorado's reliance on fossil fuel.

Legalization provides some energy benefits. For example, it allows indoor cultivators to connect to existing electricity grids instead of relying on carbon-intensive gasoline and diesel generators. However, these benefits are swamped by the industry's fast-growing electricity requirements.

Experts estimate that nationwide, indoor marijuana cultivation accounts for nearly15 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually – more than the annual energy-related emissions of South Dakota, Delaware, Rhode Island and Vermont, or the District of Columbia. Public utility commissioners across the nation are discussing strategies for managing power demand from indoor pot growers.

Legalize and regulate

When states legalize marijuana cultivation, they establish detailed regulatory and licensing schemes governing who may sell, possess and cultivate the plant, where they may do so, and how much they must pay for licenses. Policymakers should also seize this opportunity to enact rules governing the industry's climate and energy impacts.

Since indoor growers consume such enormous amounts of electricity, policymakers should start by requiring indoor cultivators to consume only carbon-free energy sources or to pay a carbon fee until such measures can be implemented.

Boulder, Colo., is addressing this issue by implementing city and county licensing schemes that require indoor marijuana cultivators to use energy monitoring technology and routinely report their energy use. Growers must offset their energy use by utilizing 100 percent renewable energy, purchasing renewable energy credits or paying a carbon fee. However, few other states or localities have followed Boulder's lead.

Oregon has established a task force to study energy and water use for marijuana production. The group is scheduled to report its findings to the state legislature later this summer. Preliminary indications are that the task force will call on growers to follow energy best practices, but it is unclear whether it will recommend making this policy mandatory or merely a suggestion.

States that do not have enough renewable energy generation to meet the industry's electricity demands, such as in Colorado, should take a two-pronged approach. First, they should require indoor growers to pay escalating carbon fees based on their electricity consumption. These funds should be used to support development of more efficient technology and climate-friendly electricity facilities.

Second, legislators should also require an exponential increase in the percentage of energy consumed by indoor growers from renewable energy sources via on-site generation – such as rooftop solar – or community renewable energy facilities. This two-pronged approach would ensure growers do not become complacent just paying the fee.

The best time to address impacts of this magnitude is before they occur, not after a major industry is already established. Marijuana production is rapidly developing into an extremely lucrative industry that can afford to manage its impacts on the environment.

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20Jun/160

here comes big pharma…..

GFarmaLabs plans to build nation's largest commercial cannabis farm in Desert Hot Springs

gf

By Leticia Juarez
Thursday, June 16, 2016 02:47PM

DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. (KABC) --
The first and largest marijuana cultivation farm in Southern California will be located in Desert Hot Springs.

GFarmaLabs is spearheading this initial movement.

"It's going to be filled with greenhouses. It's going to be an agricultural center out in the middle of the desert," Berto Torres of GFarmaLabs said.

Legal marijuana cultivation can prove to be beneficial for the city of Desert Hot Springs. Land values are skyrocketing, and new businesses are sprouting up overnight.

Ben Breinberg moved from the Netherlands five months ago to open a hydroponic business.

"This is going to be the biggest in the world. So yeah, I'm happy to be right in the middle of it," Breinberg said.

However, there are mixed reactions from residents. Desert Hot Springs resident Joan Davis is concerned about the new cultivation businesses.

"We have to look at the big picture. Our children are our future, and where is the future for them and this?" Davis said.

Resident Jonathan Thomas is more supportive.

"If somebody settles here with a business and is doing productive things for the city, I don't see how somebody could have a problem with that," Thomas said.

Everyone, though, agrees that Desert Hot Springs needs the money. The city declared insolvency in 2014.

Mayor Scott Matas said in a statement, "We anticipate the GFarmaLabs project will provide local jobs and spur up to $1 million in tax revenue allowing for more funding for police, education, health resources and infrastructure within the city."

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15Jun/160

Wanna work with weed? Here’s insider info on pot jobs

Insiders share their stories from the 'fastest-growing industry in America'; marijuana isn’t included in mainstream jobs reports, but another report says pot outsold Girl Scout cookies in 2015

By Brooke Edwards Staggs, The Orange County Register
workers

Some have messy buns and sleeve tattoos. Some have salon cuts and $2,000 suits.

Some are joining blue-collar unions, getting health benefits as they grow and sell a plant they’ve long loved. Some say they never touch it, but they’re standing guard outside shops and fiercely lobbying legislators in Sacramento to ensure that others can.

As public support and legalization of cannabis spreads, those who’ve quietly worked in California’s medical marijuana industry are slowly emerging from the shadows. And professionals who never would have considered joining the industry a couple of years ago are leaving behind traditional careers in law, real estate and finance as they flock to what they see as the next big boom.

“The fastest-growing industry in America is marijuana, period,” said Jake Bhattacharya, who recently quit his information technology job to open a cannabis testing lab in Upland.

With medical marijuana legal in 25 states and recreational use allowed in four, pot outsold Girl Scout Cookies in 2015, according to a report from Marijuana Business Daily, a 5-year-old news website covering the industry.

Pot retail sales are expected to hit $4 billion this year, and Marijuana Business Daily is projecting that number could nearly triple by 2020.

The actual size of the industry may already be much larger, too, since California hasn’t tracked its massive medical marijuana market in the 20 years since it’s been legal. And it could skyrocket if voters here and a handful of other states approve recreational use Nov. 8.

The lack of reliable data coupled with the “niche” aspect of the industry is why cannabis — and the connected marijuana jobs — isn’t included in mainstream economic and jobs reports, according to Christopher Thornberg, director of the Center for Economic Forecasting and Development at UC Riverside.

“It’s still too fly-by-night,” Thornberg said.

California’s Employment Development Department doesn’t track the diverse daisy chain of cannabis jobs either. And several recruitment firms said they don’t deal with the industry.

Job seekers and employers instead turn to Craigslist or specialized sites. There’s a recent post on WeedHire.com for a $75,000-a-year account manager at GFarmaLabs, which makes marijuana products in Anaheim, and one on 420careers.com for growers and trimmers at Buds & Roses dispensary in Los Angeles.

Working in the industry isn’t without complications.

It remains illegal at the federal level, which limits access to financial services and causes lingering concerns over raids by federal authorities.

California’s market is also emerging from two decades of nearly nonexistent regulation and intense battles with local governments who were less than welcoming to “potrepreneurs.” That legacy means newly licensed shops often still rely on growers and manufacturers in the gray market, and they struggle to survive alongside unlicensed operators who aren’t paying the same hefty taxes.

Then there’s the glaring disapproval that comes from shrinking (per the polls) but vocal pockets of the public. Fear of backlash from conservative family members or future business associates kept a number of cannabis workers from speaking on the record for this story.

“Let’s face it, of course there is a stigma,” said Juliet Murphy, a career coach who runs Juliet Murphy Career Development in Tustin.

Murphy expects that it would raise eyebrows for more traditional employers to see a weed industry job on someone’s résumé. However, Murphy sees it as less of an issue going forward as the industry becomes more mainstream and as millennials continue to transform the workforce.

“There are still a lot of kinks that are being worked out. But I think this presents an opportunity for a lot of jobs, provided that people do it right,” Murphy said. “I think in the next 5 to 10 years, it’s going to be huge.”

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