Craft Cannabis with Dave Perkins – The Real Dirt with Chip Baker

Craft Cannabis with Dave Perkins – The Real Dirt with Chip Baker


A little over a year ago, Dave Perkins moved to Washington with his family to pursue his dream of working in the cannabis industry. He would end up working with a cannabis consulting group that aided cannabis businesses in branding, promoting, and even growing their product. He currently works with Artizen Cannabis Company, one of the leading distributors of craft cannabis in the state of Washington.

From modernizing the technology inside the grow to finding the right buyers, Dave helps Washington cannabis brands find their footing and boost their visibility.

“It all comes down to different price points. Different quality. It’s all the same.”

The Washington cannabis market is constantly moving an changing, and staying on top of the trends is essential to staying on top of the industry. The competition in Washington leads to a fight over quantity and price more than quality. Whoever can produce the most decent quality cannabis that consumers still buy, will be the most successful.

Artizen has managed to meet this criteria while still providing some of the highest quality craft Washington cannabis in the state. As one of the top distributors in the state, Artizen grows a variety of strains, some well-known and others exclusive to the Washington cannabis industry. All of their cannabis is vigorously tested and monitored from seed (or clone) to harvest for a top-notch product that consumers love.

Listen to Dave’s story and where he thinks the cannabis industry is moving on this week’s episode of The Real Dirt Podcast!

Prop 64 Helps California Cannabis Convictions

Prop 64 Helps California Cannabis Convictions

California may have legalized cannabis in 2016, but what does it mean for those who were convicted of cannabis-crime before?

California has always been known for its mostly liberal attitude toward the use of cannabis, itself being one of the first states in the U.S. to legalize medicinal use back in 1996. However, due to its federal status as a Schedule 1 narcotic on par with heroin and crystal meth, the state still suffered at the hands of federal law.

History of California Cannabis Convictions

Between 2006 and 2015, there were over half a million arrests in California for marijuana, many of those arrests resulting in either misdemeanor charges or incarceration. With the addition of Proposition 64, California’s new cannabis law, these numbers are expected to drop drastically, while those who suffered prior to Prop 64 at the hands of the law are now fighting for appeals.

Since Prop 64’s passing in November of 2016, there have been over 2,500 requests for appeals sent to local courts from those who were handed charges for their cannabis use, whether for possession or cultivation. One attorney who focuses specifically on marijuana related cases, Bruce Margolin, received as many as two to three cases a week from those fighting for dropped charges and even release from prison.

So how is Prop 64 different from those that came before it? Earlier propositions such as Prop 47, which passed in 2014, reduced multiple non-violent felonies associated with cannabis to misdemeanors.

This still left a tear in the societal implications, where those who decided to cultivate their own cannabis for personal use could still be punished under federal law for cultivation with intent to distribute. Proposition 64 fixed this for the most part by completely legalizing the use of cannabis for adults aged 21 and over.

Leading the Way

Counties like San Diego took charge after Prop 64’s initiation, receiving the most petitions for repeals in the first two months after the law passed, reducing sentences and convictions for nearly 400 cases. Not everybody that applied for repeals or sentence reductions were so fortunate, however.

Some district judges and courts are still fighting reductions and appeals for those who commit additional crimes on top of cannabis cultivation or use, such as committing environmental crime like stealing or polluting water. Others won’t get their appeals if they have a major felony in their past record, such as sex offenses, or multiple convictions for the same crime.

Fresh Starts

For some, Prop 64 has opened the door, quite literally, to their freedom. One such person, Jay Schlauch, was sentenced to nine months in prison for felony possession with intent to distribute large quantities of cannabis. After Prop 64 passed, he ended up serving only a month. Many like Schlauch have shown up for court hearings, expecting a long, grueling battle for sentence reductions, only to come out moments later with reduced time behind bars due to the new laws.

Many of those whom suffered at the hands of poorly written and established cannabis laws in California can take a breath of relief. Their chances of reducing their sentence or getting charges dropped altogether for misdemeanor charges increased significantly with the help of Proposition 64. The new law will also help the minority groups that are vastly over-accounted for in regards to incarceration for cannabis.

The Future Awaits

California has always been known for their lax-laws and views toward cannabis use among its citizens, yet there is still much to be done about the damage inflicted on the local communities by poorly-thought-out laws from the past. Even with the aid of newly-implemented Prop 64, there are still issues that consumers must face, one such issue being where to obtain “legal” cannabis when every dispensary is medicinal.

While the new laws in California have led to many reduced sentences and dropped charges, there are still many more looking to do the same throughout the state. Additionally, other states can now see the results of California’s new law in real-time.

Suffice to say, much like Colorado and Washington, California will now be under the microscope of the rest of the country, being studied and picked apart like another lab rat in the experiment of cannabis legalization. I expect the results to be similar to that of its predecessors; less convictions, less crime, and let’s all hope, lower prices!

Amsterdam Weed Market Slowly Falls

Amsterdam Weed Market Slowly Falls

When you think of the marijuana capitol of the world, what comes to mind? For many people, the first place they think of is Amsterdam. But, this might change as the Amsterdam weed market starts to fall.

Amsterdam has always been world-renowned for its marijuana coffee shops that allow the Dutch as well tourists from all over the world to partake in recreational cannabis use without fear of persecution. However, few know the true cannabis laws of Holland, and how those laws are slowly tearing down the Amsterdam weed market and the rest of the Dutch nation.

Laws Limit Success

Although it may seem that Holland is very lenient on the use of cannabis in the country – which compared to other nations they certainly are – the laws they passed in recent years have made it difficult for coffee shops to operate. Holland’s cannabis law maintains a decriminalization status; meaning there is no penalty for personal use and consumption. To show a little contrast to the flaw of Holland’s laws, sex work, i.e. prostitution, is completely legal.

It may come off as odd that a country would permit the sale of legal sex yet be opposed to the full legal use of cannabis, which much of the country already consumes. Yet the government of Holland is not backing down.

Eighteen coffee shops have closed in Holland over the past two years, many due to being too close to a school. Even the oldest dispensary in the country, Mellow Yellow, closed in January for being too close to a hairdressing academy in which the students were over eighteen, making them eligible customers.

Government Crackdowns

Eighteen coffee shops in two years may not sound like much, when there are still 573 licensed sellers and coffee shops in Holland, 173 of which are in Amsterdam. That’s about thirty-three percent of the coffee shops in the country. Despite the ever-increasing constraint of new laws, businesses are staying afloat in Amsterdam and other parts of Holland, and many have come to accept the current laws in the country as the way things will stay.

Recently the country’s government passed what was known as the “Weed Pass,” which permits only Dutch nationals to partake in the marijuana market there, which so far has become somewhat of a prohibition, mostly resisted by the Amsterdam weed industry, the main tourist spot in Holland. However, these developments have led to an internal reflection within the U.S., as despite our changing laws, there are still many complications, much like our European friends.

What Can We Learn?

While cannabis has been legalized in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and other states, there are no coffee shops like those in Amsterdam, or anything relatively close for that matter. Many cannabis connoisseurs have flocked to places like Denver and Portland, only to be let down when told by dispensary workers that they cannot smoke there, or at any licensed coffee shop.

Even though Colorado recently passed new laws that allow private businesses to apply for licenses permitting cannabis use on-site, the laws are strict. No alcohol can be sold where marijuana is used, nor can marijuana be sold where it is consumed. Due to these complicated and seemingly counter-intuitive restrictions, a lot of the businesses that are eligible for these licenses may not even bother.

Next Cannabis Capitol

So where will we find the next marijuana capitol of Europe? A sleeper city in Spain may be coming up as the new champion, as Barcelona has hundreds of marijuana “clubs”, much like the coffee shops in Amsterdam. The difference between the two cities however, is that all the clubs in Barcelona are private, meaning there is a required fee to be a member at any given marijuana club.

However, as some of these places offer great deals for yearly memberships, the costs for these new pseudo-coffee shops may well be worth it. Locals and tourists alike have started referring to Barcelona as the new marijuana capitol, but with similar strict private use laws much like the Amsterdam weed market, the city still has much ground to cover.

Mirror Opposites

We seem to be in some weird time-warp where marijuana laws are one way in a certain country, and mirrored the complete opposite in another. While Amsterdam has plenty of places to consume marijuana, the restrictions on businesses and those that can actually partake have begun the tightening of the noose on the falling marijuana capitol. Yet in the United States, where it is completely legal in some places with no potential backlash from authorities, there is no safe public or private place to consume it other than one’s own home.

The world is learning together as marijuana becomes more accepted nationally in the U.S., as well as globally, with more countries considering the plant’s potential benefits as medicine or as a recreational product. So, while Amsterdam may slowly fall, a new marijuana market will rise from its still smoldering ashes; a market with freedom, accessibility, and mutual understanding, whether it be in Europe or America. It will be there.

Jeff Sessions: Cannabis Enemy No.1

Jeff Sessions: Cannabis Enemy No.1

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. A fittingly obnoxious and frustrating name to match the unbearable character of the United States Attorney General; the same man that is single-handedly attempting to take down the recreational and medical marijuana industries.

It’s no surprise that Jeff Sessions, whom even Trump now wants to quit, would take such a negative stance on the medical marijuana industry as well as the legal market. Considering he is a conservative with ties to the private prison industry, in which almost half of the drug-related crimes for which people are placed in these prisons is marijuana-related, one can’t be too shocked that he would take this path.

Stuck in Prohibition

With restrictions on private prisons all but removed completely, Jeff Sessions has set his sights on one of the fastest growing markets in American history. Marijuana still maintains a Schedule 1 status federally, meaning it has a high risk of abuse with no accepted medical use and lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

Although I do agree with the last part about lack of safety for use, that is only due to its schedule status which makes it near impossible for research funding and efforts to create a safe all-encompassing set of guidelines for the industry. Ironic, I know.

What is even more ironic is the fact that a conservative government – which if I recall correctly from my gen-ed history courses in college is meant to be small and hands-off with state decisions – would want to go after states that have deemed in their laws the legal or medicinal use of marijuana. So much for respecting the states, right Jeff?

Grabbing at Straws

While we appear to be in the midst of the largest opioid epidemic in our country’s history, Sessions insists that marijuana is a growing flame that needs to be snuffed out, citing increased violence as his reasoning. Maybe I’m crazy or I’m not seeing things properly because I smoke a little too much, but I can’t recall any recent breaking news stories of someone getting stabbed or shot over some marijuana, let alone any reported death from a marijuana overdose in the history of recorded human existence.

Mr. Sessions has taken it upon himself to begin the process of rolling back the Obama administration decision that restricted federal funds being spent on efforts to counteract state’s legal measures regarding medical marijuana. To sum up this federal budget change, the administration basically told the DEA and other drug task forces to leave alone states that decided to legalize marijuana whether medicinally, recreationally or both, despite the federal status.

Jeff Sessions is Stuck in the Past

Now I can see how an old traditionalist such as Jeff Sessions might be scared and nervous that the younger generations are recognizing the vast medicinal benefits of marijuana, such as its use in aiding those with epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and more. If only Jeff Sessions moved forward instead of backward, states could gain even more funding to research the true potential of marijuana.

I remember not long ago hearing the terrible stories of children being taken away from their parents because they tried using medical marijuana instead of harmful prescription drugs. I heard other stories of families picking up and leaving their home state to find a legal medical marijuana state to treat their children or themselves without risk of persecution.

The legalization efforts across the country are creating major waves that are reshaping the modern view on marijuana as it becomes less stigmatized and more accepted for its medical benefits. So why should we go backwards?

Can’t Stop Us

Jeff Sessions is attempting to tear down an exploding market that could be worth upward of $50 Billion by 2026. We are at a tipping point in the marijuana industry where it can continue to skyrocket at its current pace, or get knocked down a few pegs by an impeding government. Do I think the industry will fall completely and disappear like Jeff Sessions probably wants? No.

The cannabis industry has too much momentum and growing support to just die because of an overbearing Attorney General, and with most conservatives maintaining their original stance on state rights, there is sure to be some division among the party once the issue hits the senate floor. Despite this, Sessions will surely keep pushing his hard head into the concrete wall that is the cannabis industry.

The Train Keeps Moving

I think Jeff Sessions knows his time is coming. Trump has spoken out against him numerous times, as well as others in the republican party, and I don’t think I have ever met a person that claimed to like him. The guy sucks, but we shouldn’t worry.

There is so much opposition against Sessions both on the republican and democrat side as well as from the majority of the American public on this issue. It will always blow my mind that the government has yet to learn anything from alcohol prohibition or the war on drugs. When will they just accept their fault and work to make a safer and more accessible market? Colorado and other recreational states have already shown it can be done to great success and effectiveness. Just look at their decreasing opioid use rates and excess taxes going toward schools.

The evidence in favor of legalization and medicinal use of marijuana is growing more and more every day, with new studies revealing effective medical uses, and legal states showing the potential revenue and job creation that can be achieved with a monitored and regulated market. Despite Jeff Session’s best efforts to reverse the progression of the marijuana movement, the train can’t be stopped.

Marijuana saves lives, creates jobs, builds communities, and makes people happy. Jeff Sessions will never be able to take that away.

Cannabis Research in Israel

Cannabis Research in Israel

While the United States makes great strides in medicinal cannabis research, Israel has been doing the same for nearly 35 years.

Israel has become the recognized leader in medicinal cannabis research and innovation. In the US, legal states like California and Colorado opened the door for scientific and medical research in the late nineties. Israel, however, has a nearly 35 year head start.

Unlike in the US, the Israeli government has supported medicinal cannabis research, despite its prohibition among the general population. Israel’s recent decriminalization and pledge to support cannabis initiatives marked a shift in global attitudes toward cannabis and has drawn new investors looking to get into what could be a transformative industry for the nation.

A History of Cannabis Research in Israel

Israel has played a major role in the modern history of cannabis. It was an Israeli scientist, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who identified CBD and THC in the 1960’s, allegedly from a piece of Lebanese hash he obtained from police. His research served as the basis for Israel’s own medical cannabis distribution program that went into effect in 1992, years before California followed suit.

Along with decriminalization, Israel has announced its intent to provide additional funding for research with the goal of helping new cannabis products find their way to the market and to develop a further understanding of cannabis’ role in medicine.

Expanding and Progressing

The announcement made it clear that Israel is intent on greatly expanding the medical marijuana market. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development plans to invest approximately $2.1 million dollars into thirteen new cannabis projects including medicinal applications,  biochemistry and improving cultivation techniques.

One of the more exciting projects on the horizon is the development of national catalog of strain genetics. Mapping the cannabis genome and developing the ability to identify specific traits associated with genetic markers could have incredible implications for the development of new strains that target specific ailments.

The main difference between the US and Israeli cannabis research field, is that scientists in the US have struggled to work around federal law which has always had a strict prohibition on cannabis. The federal government’s inability to see past the politics of the drug war has set the US back decades in cannabis research.

Israel’s approach, while socially prohibitive, allowed researchers to do the work they needed to do to fully understand the potential health benefits of the cannabis plant. The result is that they are now the recognized world leader in cannabis science.

American Investor’s Dream

A medical marijuana market that has the full support of the government is an investor’s dream. In the US, the uncertainty of a future national market has held back large investors. Knowing that politics won’t get in the way of making a dollar in Israel’s medical cannabis industry, American investment firms are believed to have sunk at least $50 million into companies actively working to develop new products for the burgeoning market. Many involved in Israeli’s cannabis industry believe that it will grow to become a $100-million-dollar industry by the end of 2017.

With the past distribution system limiting the number of legal consumers to the 23,000 or so medical marijuana card holders, the industry itself was limited to around $20 million dollars on the high end.

The shift in public policy and investment in the industry as a whole will undoubtedly help the country reach its goal of $100 million dollars in sales, which itself seems like a conservative estimate. The industry’s recent developments come after decades of cutting edge research, which ultimately forced the government to recognize not only the incredible health benefits but the economic advantages to legalization as well.


Cannabis Retailers Compete in Denver: Survival of the Fittest

Cannabis Retailers Compete in Denver: Survival of the Fittest

Colorado’s cannabis industry hasn’t fallen short of record breaking, even three years after the first recreational sale. In fact, the industry continues to grow, surpassing the previous revenue records each year.

In the month of March, Colorado hit another record for the highest amount of revenue collected from licensed cannabis retailers, according to the publicly available state sales tax data, at $131.7 million. The Colorado Department of Revenue announced that they collected a hefty $22.9 million in tax revenue during the month of March alone.

Denver, the state’s Capital, is the most populated city in Colorado, home to a whopping 5,540,545 people in the 2016 consensus, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Naturally, this means that Denver has the highest concentration of cannabis retailers in the state, hosting roughly 400 of the 698 licensed businesses in Colorado.

Cannabis Retailers Compete

With such a large concentration of licensed cannabis retailers in the city, what does this mean for competition? For some of the larger brands, it doesn’t mean much. To smaller business owners, it is becoming much harder to compete with the established brands, and many owners find themselves selling their licensed businesses.

MJBizDaily interviewed the owner of cannabis dispensary 3D Cannabis Center, who went from worldwide media attention for the state’s first legal recreational sale in 2014, to selling her once widely recognized business for $2 million because of the fierce competition.

Many smaller “mom and pop” dispensaries have started to see a decline in sales, even though the state continually hits record high sales numbers. The smaller businesses are especially hurting with the rapid growth, as the prices for licensing, application fees, utilities and rent continue to rise.

colorado cannabis retailers compete for the best marijuana

Overcoming Obstacles

Another hurdle for competition among the industry is the limited advertising ability for cannabis brands due to the strict state laws. Alas, that has not hindered ads through outlets such as print magazines, radio stations and events, which target a large portion of the Denver population – millennials. Larger companies usually pay to have their brand front and center on a full page ad, or on the front cover of magazines, while smaller brands may only to be able to afford a quarter page ad, if any at all.

Some smaller companies may not have the supply or resources to be able to offer discount coupons, aimed at bringing in more business. You will often see larger brands offering product discounts such as 15% off for first time customers, making it extremely hard for smaller companies to compete if they cannot offer discounted products.

Many companies have now come up with a reward system for customers, marketing directly to their phones or email addresses. Businesses have to come up with extremely creative ways to market their products, because there is a good chance another competitor sits just a few blocks away.

Denver has seen so much growth in cannabis business that they have put a moratorium on new store fronts and cultivation centers, in hopes that they can slow down the competitive industry, and focus on responsible growth.

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