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.

Cannabis Laws in Colorado Tighten: Do they Limit Industry Success?

Cannabis Laws in Colorado Tighten: Do they Limit Industry Success?

New cannabis laws and regulations are stacking up in Colorado, making it difficult for the industry to operate. While regulations are effective, many businesses are suffering.

In 2012, Colorado was the first state in America to allow adult use of cannabis consumption through Amendment 64. Since the Amendment was adopted, cannabis laws and regulations for adult use in Colorado have continually become more strict, almost aiming for a failure of the industry as a whole.

Cannabis laws change constantly, sometimes overnight, and some business owners cannot keep up. When adult use was enacted, dispensaries did not have the harsh regulations like they do today. In fact, there were minimal limitations on how much product you could purchase at once as a consumer, which type of pesticides you could use to cultivate, and who store owners could receive their supply from.

Not So Wild West

Since Amendment 64 passed with such a short timeframe to enact the encompassed cannabis laws, there weren’t many limitations set forth that hindered a successful business. If you are new to the cannabis industry, you may not be familiar with the “Wild West” days from 2012 that ultimately gave small business owners a large chance for success, setting forth their own unique standards.

Since the success of recreational legalization, the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) has continually come up with harsh, almost unrealistic expectations for compliance within the industry. One of the regulations, enacted with HB 1284, is that business owners must track every plant in their possession from seed to sale, and report those numbers daily through a software system known as METRC.  If businesses do not track every seed and sale through METRC and confirm each night before closing, they could risk having to shut down their entire business.

That said, many of the POS systems used in retail stores to track the cannabis sales have a track record for crashing, which does not allow for business owners and managers to be able to track the sales if they choose to allow them while their systems are down. This sets businesses up for failure either way – whether they choose to allow sales or halt sales until the system is restored, which can cause a huge monetary loss depending on the time of day.

Cannabis Laws Hurt Small Business

As for applying for or owning a cannabis business license, the process has become so extensive (and expensive) that most small business owners cannot afford to continue renewing their licenses and are forced to sell their stores or go out of business. Currently, licensing fees can run upwards of $15,000, depending on how many licenses are being applied for and in which city. This does not even include the price of rent, which can be quadruple the base price of rent in Denver, specifically to cannabis businesses. The rent increase includes cultivation facilities and infused product manufacturers (MIPS) as well.

Additionally, these locations now cannot be within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare facility or rehabilitation center, and in some cities, another cannabis business. To date, since these new cannabis laws have been enacted, there have been about 50 cannabis businesses that have received a letter from the MED to close their doors due to being too close to one of the “off limits” facilities. In addition to the strict location laws, the State of Colorado has more recently adopted very strict pesticide laws for cultivation centers.

When the State updates their regulations, it is uncertain whether or not they will alert the public, or give you any timeline as to when these new cannabis laws will be enforced. If the MED randomly audits your facility and detects any “off limits” pesticide particles in the air, even if they have been discarded due to new regulations, they will issue a violation, destroy every plant in the facility, and cause the business owner an exorbitant loss of product.

New Laws, New World

Most recently, Green Man Cannabis was forced to destroy every plant in their facility as the MED found “residual particles” of illegal pesticides in their air system – pesticides that were legal to use shortly before the incident had occurred. The rules enacted by the MED seem to be aimed at daunting the success of cannabis in Colorado – but as we remain compliant and law-abiding, their restrictions cannot stop the ongoing success of this industry.

420 Rally Banned in Denver for Three Years

420 Rally Banned in Denver for Three Years

Denver’s 420 rally has been banned from Denver’s Civic Center Park for the next three years, but does anyone really care?

The ban comes after city council members say that the organizers of the Denver 420 rally/festival left the park a complete disaster, with trash strewn everywhere. While the city’s decision may seem to put a damper on things, the reality is that the spirit of 420 will live on…just somewhere else.

Complicated Circumstances

The circumstances surrounding the banning are questionable at best. While it is true that trash was indeed left in an ugly heap all around the 420 rally venue, how the trash got there may not have been the organizers fault. As fast as the reports of the incident hit social media, so did claims disputing the announcement. Dozens of local residents who either took part in the cannabis festival or were passers by, reported that when the event was concluded trash was cleaned up and the park was, for the most part, in order.

It Wasn’t Us

According to Miguel Lopez, the rally’s organizer, the problem came about when a man with a knife, intentionally tried to scuttle the efforts of the festival clean-up crew, who had already bagged up most of the trash. Around 80 to 120 bags were cut open and thrown around by the lone individual, who when confronted, pointed his knife at the workers.

Police were called around 2am to respond, Lopez says. The Denver PD showed up, but made no attempts at taking a report on the incident, a blatant violation of DPD policy. When questioned about it, they acknowledged they had responded but “didn’t know” anything else about the incident at the 420 rally .

Was it ever about the trash?

Despite the revelations by Lopez, the city wasted no opportunity to inject their own personal views on the Denver cannabis festival and the message it permeates. The ban was an opportunity the city council couldn’t pass up, yet it had very little to do with trash. According to Lopez, the ban is the city’s way of silencing the festival’s message. He plans to fight the ban, as the rally was pulled off without a hitch, until an act of sabotage spoiled the fun for everyone.

Another point of contention, according to Lopez, is that the 420 festival had until noon the next day to do clean-up, a deadline which was met. Lopez was also fined almost $12,000 for the incident, while according to the city, damages totaled only $190.

Here, there, 420 everywhere

The one thing that the city of Denver can count on is that the spirit of the 420 rally is not defined by its location. The 420 rally is about freedom, and embracing a culture of togetherness. It’s about loving your neighbor, and coming together as a community. The one thing that the city will never get is that cannabis unites people, and nothing will ever change that, no matter how hard they try.

The Evolution of Cannabis Strains & Cultivation Techniques

The Evolution of Cannabis Strains & Cultivation Techniques

On a new episode of The Real Dirt with Chip Baker, Chip sat down in the studio with Dave Malone from Green Dot Labs, and Doug Marvin from nutrient manufacturer Botanicare.

Cannabis extracts are all the rage lately, but not all extracts and cannabis concentrates are created equal. Greed Dot Labs specializes in how to make high grade concentrates made from cannabis flower, grown using top quality seeds and the best nutrients around. But what sets Green Dot Labs apart from the competition? Dedication to quality and innovation in the grow room.

“It’s the timeless classic varietals that we’ve preserved over the years, your kushes your diesels, every so often something new and revolutionary comes out. It’s happening more and more.”

Part of Green Dot Labs’ success is attributable to the quality of their strain genetics. Besides the classics, Green Dot Labs stays on top of the cannabis world by producing some of the newest and best cannabis strains around.

Chip and his guests sampled some Triangle Mints, a cross of Triangle Kush and Girl Scout Cookies, which is just one example of the new and cutting edge genetics being grown at Green Dot labs.

“And now that extraction is a large part of the business in cannabis, we’re able to really see this plant through the different lens and ways we could breed this plant now to have as much essential oil as possible, as much terpene content as possible.”

Cannabis extracts are now the fastest growing segment of the retail cannabis world. They are inexpensive, easy to make and provide a concentrated burst of cannabinoids and terpenes without the fuss of rolling a joint. But not all plants make good extracts, or provide the right amount of cannabinoids or terpenes, leaving Dave and the team at Green Dot Labs to discern which strains are best for concentrates.

As Dave and Chip discuss, the best strains for extraction are those heavy with oils and resins. The best high-cannabinoid plants for blasting have genetics going back to many of the original hash plants like Afghani or Lebanese. These landrace genetics have gone on to play a major role in many of the strains consumed today.

“Once you’ve found out the ways of how Botanicare products can help your plants, it’s hard to go back. I’ve seen cannabis all over the world.”

In order to grow the best plants, you need the best cannabis nutrients. Doug has spent 20 years working to create some of the industry’s top selling nutrient lines. Botanicare has been around since the late ’90s and fuels the garden at Green Dot Labs. Botanicare’s professional lines of nutrients provide a wide range of supplements that pack the punch of nutrient salts for cannabis, while maintaining the fullness and essence of an organic grow.

“So to make the ultimate extract in my mind is to preserve 100 percent of the terpenes on the plant and 100 percent of the cannabinoids, and then homogenize those two and filter out every other impurity such as your lipid, your plant waxes, your cuttin.”

One of the newest trends in cannabis concentrates is called high terpene full spectrum extract. The idea is to preserve 100% of the terpenes and cannabinoids, resulting in the highest quality ‘full spectrum’ cannabis extract available. The need for full spectrum extracts comes from the Entourage Effect, in which terpenes and cannabinoids work together to enhance each other’s properties.

THC or CBD alone fail to reach their full potential if ingested alone. Only in consuming a variety of cannabinoids at once can you be sure to maximize their effectiveness. The more we learn about cannabis, the more we realize that whole plant remedies and full spectrum cannabinoid profiles, are what make the magic happen.

Find out the full scoop about extractions and the future of concentrates from Dave and Doug themselves on The Real Dirt with Chip Baker Podcast.

Cannabis Extract Sales Soaring in Colorado

Cannabis Extract Sales Soaring in Colorado

Cannabis concentrates or marijuana extracts, are without question the new frontier of cannabis consumption. According to recent reports, the demand for concentrates in Colorado was up by nearly 125% for the first quarter of 2016 over the previous year.

Whats the deal with cannabis extracts?

The demand for cannabis extracts, also known as concentrates has sparked a wave of innovation and scientific advancement in extraction technology, and has resulted in a significant portion of the overall cannabis market sales. Cannabis extracts can be used in cooking and tinctures, but are primarily consumed by dabbing. Dabbing involves the vaporization of THC-rich cannabis oil, typically extracted from the trimmings of the cannabis plant. Extraction techniques involve the injection of high pressured gas, through cannabis trim, resulting in a concentrated oil, wax, or hard shatter.

Cannabis extract sales TerpX

While flower sales will always be popular, their growth pales in comparison to that of cannabis extracts who went from just under $27 million in early 2015 to over $60 million by the end of the first quarter of 2016. That sort of increase in market share undoubtedly caught the attention of would-be cannabis investors looking for the next big thing in the marijuana business.

Anyone familiar with extracts and dabbing knows about TerpX, the Colorado based concentrate company. Jordan Psigoda has taken his connoisseur concentrate brand TerpX to the High Times Cannabis Cup and come home with no less than five awards. Their Lemon Amnesia Shatter, Kosher OG, and San Lorenzo Valley OG have all made waves in the world of high end dabbing. But what goes into the best of the best of concentrates? According to Jordan, its all about terp profiles.

Why are cannabis extracts all the rage?

So why the cannabis extracts blowing up right now? Here’s the deal. Terpenes are the invisible hand behind the THC and cannabinoids that marijuana is usually known for. Terpenes are responsible for the incredible aromas, and scents we taste as we inhale our favorite strains. The various extraction processes that have come to be are able to isolate these terpenes, which have been shown to have a profound effect on our buzz. Various terpenes appear to have varying effects in not only our mood, but also in how THC and CBD interact with the body.

There are half dozen primary terpenes that make up the majority of cannabis flavors and aromas. These terpenes, however, do more than just affect taste and smell, they have a direct impact on our experience. For example, Limonene is what gives cannabis its citrusy scent. It is also believed that strains high in Limonene are more likely to have a soothing or relaxing effect. Myrcene is another terpene that has an earthy smell, and appears to increase the flow of THC and CBD through what is known as the blood-brain barrier. Terpenes, as it seem, are far more important to our understanding of cannabis than we previously could have imagined.

Cannabis concentrates are the future

The science of cannabis extraction has not only produced new methods and techniques, it has helped carve out an entirely new industry. The increased demand for cannabis extracts are evident in the numbers.  As cannabis sales continue to grow throughout the nation, extract sales are sure to follow. There will never be a shortage of cannabis consumers who want frosty green nuggets, however, extracts are sure to give flower sales a run for their money in the years to come. The growth of  concentrate sales and the development of advanced extraction technology marks a new era for an industry that is never short on innovation.

Five 420 Friendly Ways to Enjoy a Holiday Weekend in Denver

Five 420 Friendly Ways to Enjoy a Holiday Weekend in Denver

It’s a holiday weekend in Denver and it’s time to figure out what you’re going to do with that extra day. In an amazing city like Denver, there are so many fun activities and strains to smoke that it might seem overwhelming. Good news, we did the decision making for you. Here are our top five choices of fun things to do on your holiday weekend and the strains to bring along.

1. The Ogden Theater with Durban Poison

Concerts are the one of the best ways to celebrate life (and long weekends). Luckily, Denver‘s local music scene is always popping. For a good show, you’re going to need a strain that will energize you and won’t burn you out. This weekend Drive By Truckers are playing two nights at The Ogden Theater. You’re not going to want something that will let your mind wander with the music while your eyelids stay wide open. Durban Poison is a great choice for lofty head highs that won’t drain you of energy.  Durban Poison is a pure sativa that is strong and flavorful. It’s a popular choice among cannabis enthusiasts making it pretty easy to find.

2. Skiing adventures with Northern Lights

We know it’s a little cold out, but the crisp Denver air is just a little sweeter this time of year. Rent a little cabin, hit a bed and breakfast, or go skiing for the day. If you want to stay close to Denver and still enjoy that fresh pow, check out Arapahoe Basin. Enjoy the very best of the winter season and don’t forget to bring a little nug of cheer. A nice indica will help take the edge off of that winter chill. Nothing goes better with winter than Northern Lights. Northern Lights is a popular indica hailing from the Pacific Northwest. The sweet and piney flavors will go well with your wintertime outdoor activity of choice.

3. Gaming with Blue Dream

For those of us who are scared of a little frostbite and prefer to spend the day indoors, cozy in our Denver homes, plugging into an Xbox or Playstation can be just as satisfying, especially since you don’t actually need to leave your house to hit the ski slopes anymore. Video games have become a perfectly good way to spend your time…or all of your time. Now just which strain do you need to go along with a day in front of the tube? You want to stay focused so a nice hybrid like Blue Dream will do the trick. Blue dream is sweet and fruity strain with a high THC count that will keep you elevated game after game.

4. La La Land with Death Star

Everyone loves going to the movies. In Denver, there are a series of historic Landmark Theaters that make the move going experience even better. Playing this weekend at The Mayan in Denver is “La La Land,” which is quickly cleaning up in awards and accolades.  You’ll want to stay focused enough to follow the plot, yet relaxed enough to really enjoy yourself. Regardless of what movie you go to see, Death Star is what’s going to get you there. Death Star is a pungent indica dominant hybrid known for its heavy diesel flavor. Use the force and grab some Death Star, the perfect compliment to a day at the theater.

5. Doing nothing and dabbing

You don’t have to succumb to the pressure of finding something to do in Denver on your holiday weekend. You can sit at home, relax and take advantage of not having to anything whatsoever. For the extreme tasks of sitting on the couch and staring off into space, skip the bud all together and get yourself a nice concentrate. Shatter, wax or butter doesn’t really matter, the concentrated dose of THC will put you in a place that will make doing nothing feel great.

What are your favorite strains for long weekends? Let us know on social media.