I thought stoners were supposed to be lazy. Well someone should take a look at that stereotype because this last two weeks have been nothing short of an all-out hustle. Let's face it, anyone who's anyone in this business was in Denver, Colorado for 4/20 and for the CHA it was no exception as I was out in full effect at the Denver Mart for this year's 4/20 High Times Cannabis Cup Awards and trade show/festival.
When I arrived to Colorado I stopped at a few of the dispensaries, first up was Euflora. The dispensary was built into a bank, so it has an awkward look and feel but the experience was excellent. The bud tenders were super friendly and willing to help, but I wouldn't call them experts. They had one strain in particular of interest to me, the Gorilla Glue, which I'd heard about but hadn't had yet. It was nice. I'd say the best thing about Euflora was the freedom you had to browse, look, and smell the cannabis which was laid out on tables in jars. This was a different experience then when I went to dispensaries "The Clinic" and "Medicine Man". At MM, the bud tender Zack was the only tender I was able to deal with that really came across as an authentic, experienced, cannabis guy. I could tell he had years in just in the way he interacted with customers, very self-assured, polite, patient, and compassionate. I just had to walk up and tell him that I was old school and he recommended two strains that I thought were more than adequate, they were excellent.
I decided that no canna-vacation would be complete without a black market experience so I tapped into my network and got in touch with a guy we'll call "Bill". I went over to Bill's house that evening to discuss business and he showed me some high end concentrate called hash cookie, which was like a crumble but really looked like a cookie and it was there that I learned of "LIVE RESIN". Bill took out a large slab of this material which looked like green tea ice cream on a page and smelt like nothing I had ever smelt in the cannabis industry, honestly, the terps were mind boggling. I couldn't wait to take a dab. So out came the rig, up went the torch, and for a good 4-5 seconds I couldn't muster a thought. It was a beautiful euphoric high that left me feeling fully medicated. All I could think of was the song "Snowblind" by Black Sabbath...I digress. Being that I was stupefied, I forgot to buy anything from Bill and left feeling great, until the morning came and I realized I didn't purchase any live resin. I frantically dialed Bill, "I need that live resin!" Bill said, "sorry man it's 4/20 week, sold out right after you left." Heart...shattered.
The next day I attended a course known as "420 Certification" from Cloverleaf University. When I arrived I was instantly impressed, a cannabis event that was ready to start on time! Chloe Villano, the owner of Cloverleaf, justifiably prides herself on the Board of Education accreditation that her school receives and she should. To this day, I believe Cloverleaf is the only accredited school in the cannabis industry, despite the success of other learning companies like CTI, CCI, and Oaksterdam etc. The big takeaway from Cloverleaf for me was Villano's ability to attract a large quantity of highly credible seminar leaders/presenters. I was BEYOND impressed with the breadth and diversity of the presenters. There was absolutely no lack of information given, in fact I'd say if anything it was too much information! The important thing to note is the credibility of the speakers real world, hands on experience could not have been more impressive. Villano gave access to cannabis guru's Adam Dunn and Ed Rosenthal who've done it all and backed it up with a plethora of other leadership talent from the local community. What was most exciting was the diverse group of presenters, diversity always impresses me in cannabis and the first five presenters were all women from Chloe, to Nichole West, Jane Doe Hendricks, and then two women gave a cannabis culinary class (which I didn't stick around for to break for lunch.) Really for a $99 workshop, the amount of info was kind of ridiculous. I guess the one thing that was lacking was no take home material, but for $99, I'm not complaining! Just know if you attend Cloverleaf, be prepared to take notes!
The following day I attended the High Times Cannabis Cup awards, festival, and trade show. Expecting a really awkward day since The Cannabist reported that there would be no sampling at the event, I was relieved to hear that despite threats from the MED (Marijuana Enforcement Department) in Colorado that companies were sampling anyway. When I got to the cup I was shocked at the size and magnitude of the event but at the same time I also was surprised it wasn't even larger than I had expected. Everyone was buying and selling cannabis like crazy. I felt like it was the floor of the New York Stock Exchange only weed was flying everywhere instead of papers. The highlight of my time was having the honor/privilege to meet Jim from BOG seeds who produces some of the most incredible bubble gum based strains in the industry. I always feel that investing in genetics is important, because they last 20-30 years and having a strong bank is critical for any cannabis connoisseur. I spent the day dealing with vendors, one of the more interesting visits was with Jair, the owner of Gavita, the world leader in HPS lamps for cannabis growth. I was discussing with Jair distribution opportunities in the Northeast and he reported that he can't take on any more distributors because he is selling as much as his factory can produce. Sounds like a good problem to have. It seemed to me that the people that came from California to present were flexing there experience muscles as all of the products I tried from California were by far the best. I bought several bottles of a red syrup, designed after the popular recreational drug known as "lean" and in stead of taking 1/5 of the bottle the regular dose, I just drank the whole thing and couldn't feel my legs. Awesome.
I want to give a special shout out to the guys at Magical Butter who had heard about the work the CHA is doing and donated a Magical Butter machine to make our events event better. I love their product. I noticed the most popular items out there were e-nails and dabs were certainly what everyone wanted to do. The only negative thing I could say about the Cannabis Cup was it didn't really have a polished professional feeling and I could tell many of the vendors edibles weren't strong. It seemed that most of the vendors selling cannabis or infused products came to turn quick profit and rip people off by making really weak edibles or shorting people on weight counts. That part kind of sucked, but hey caveat emptor. You buy drugs from a guy in a crooked brimmed hat, what do you expect?
After the Cannabis Cup I went back to my hotel room and reflected on my week in Denver and started thinking about DC, New York, and Las Vegas, just thinking and thinking about all the different cannabis markets and what they bring to the table and I have determined that Colorado will be sustainable as the "Silicon Valley of Cannabis" because the police are cool with it. That means the politicians in Colorado are fully on board. You look at all the other states and it's a hodge podge of buy-in from each state. When I returned to New York on 4/22 I was booked to speak that very evening at New York University for Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
The panel was one filled with curiosity, with many of the students just learning about cannabis many had questions about "coming out of the shadows" with their cannabis use to their family and basic legalization questions. It really was a great way to introduce young aspiring minds to the cannabis industry Ashley Frankel and Erica Presson of SSDP put the lineup together and did a great job allowing the audience to ask all the panel questions. If you did not see the "CANNABIZ" panel CLICK HERE
It was a great little weekend that capped off in a really holistic way...if you listen to the panel you will hear my frustrations come out with New York after spending a week in legalization...one day hopefully this state will get their act together.