This Saturday, 30 March at 8.30PM local time, is Earth Hour. With its campaign #Connect2Earth, Earth Hour 2019 aims to unite millions of people around the world to show their commitment to the planet and tackling climate change. To join the movement, switch your lights off on 30 March, 8:30 pm your local time in solidarity with global efforts to secure nature and our home.
Hoping to make another major earth-friendly change this year? As well as switching off your lights, make the switch to hemp!
The cannabis plant is thought to be one of the earliest agricultural and economic crops, coveted for its multi-purpose nature. From building to clothing to food, medicine, and recreation, cannabis is one of the most versatile plants used throughout history. Here’s why we need to bring it back.
1. Hemp Cleans Soil
Hemp is like a sponge for environmental chemicals. The cannabis plant pulls in environmental toxins like excess mineral deposits through its roots, binding up potential toxins in its fibrous stalks and leaves. A key component in a process called “bioremediation”, hemp plants have already been successfully used to clean up dioxin, a pervasive environmental pollutant produced as a byproduct of steel smelting, in this case.
In a recent project from Colorado State University, hemp was used to absorb selenium buildup in an experimental setting. While elements like selenium are naturally found in soil, agricultural runoff deposits excessive quantities of the mineral into the surrounding landscape. The contaminant can harm aquatic life if it leaches into waterways, and it may cause harm to plants and animals that are less tolerant of the pollutant.
2. Cannabis Makes Biofuel
There are many reasons to invest in alternative fuels. For one, carbon emissions are the single largest contributor to climate change, which is already impacting weather patterns, animal migrations, and changes in food supplies around the globe.
Secondly, fossil fuels are a finite resource, meaning that there is only a limited amount available for consumption and we cannot make more. The overreliance on fossil fuels makes for security risks for many countries, who are dependent on access to a finite resource for basic living.
Here’s where hemp comes in. Hemp, like other plants, can be processed to make biofuels. Biofuels are oils extracted from plants. In the case of cannabis, the oil produced by hempseeds can be transformed into fuel through a process called transesterification, in which the oil is blended with combustible alcohol via the help of a catalyst.
While all biofuels are better for the environment than fossil fuels, hemp biofuel is a particularly attractive option. The benefit of using biofuel is that plant-based energy sources can be cultivated continuously in local areas without the risk of running out. Hemp is a vigorously growing plant that can thrive even in infertile soils, which makes it a superior selection over other biodiesel crops.
3. Build Carbon-Negative Homes with Hemp
Cannabis may be a sponge for soil pollutants, but it is also a sponge for carbon. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that carbon dioxide emissions are fueling a rapidly changing climate. Cannabis plants are unique in that they can both absorb carbon dioxide, retain the carbon, and release only oxygen back into the atmosphere.
In a sense, hemp plants are like carbon storage devices. For this reason, hemp is oft touted to be one of the “ultimate sustainable building materials”. Hemp stalk and pulp can be mixed with lime to create a plant-based concrete, concrete that incidentally prevents carbon from being re-released back into the environment. This process of “locking away” carbon is called carbon sequestration.
In a 2017 poster presented at the International Conference on Advances in Construction Materials and System, researchers found that a cube of hemp concrete successfully stored 307.26 kilograms of carbon per meter cubed of material. Unlike other materials like wood and metals, which are heavily reliant on fossil fuels and are not considered sustainable building materials, structures made from hemp concrete are considered carbon negative. Hemp pulls more carbon out of the environment than it puts back.
4. Hemp Makes Better Plastic
Let’s be honest, we’ve got a plastic problem. Plastic is polluting the ocean, leaching harmful chemicals into our foods, and refuses to degrade in any reasonable amount of time. Recently, major corporations like Starbucks have recently announced commitments to reduce their use of plastics. Many cities have stopped providing plastic bags in grocery stores, while others have banned the use of plastic straws.
While it would be silly to suggest that we could replace all plastics, the need for widespread alternatives is upon us. Currently, many compostable plastics are made from corn or other botanical materials. Hemp can provide another alternative.
Remember all of that carbon hemp plants pulled in from the atmosphere? Well, it turns out that the herb uses it to make high concentrations of cellulose, a natural polymer needed to make natural plastics.
Hemp biomass contains 60 to 75 percent cellulose, making it a particularly good candidate for biodegradable plastics. By comparison, corn stover has clocked in at a little over 50 percent. The result is a strong and durable plastic that can decompose into natural compounds like carbon dioxide and water, without leaching harmful chemicals back into the environment.
5. Cannabis Makes Better Fiber
Cannabis plants have been used to make textiles and papers for millennia. And yet, cannabis prohibition back in 1937 interrupted what could have been a thriving and sustainable hemp industry. Cannabis plants require less water than cotton or wood, which are the two most common natural fiber sources used today.
Further, hemp plants feature a low concentration of lignin when compared with wood. Lignin is a natural fiber in plants that provides a hard, sturdy structure. This lignin concentration is important for making products like paper. With a lower lignin concentration, hemp requires synthetic chemicals to process into paper and cardboard than wood. This makes processing hemp pulp a more environmentally-friendly practice overall.
Remember to switch off in solidarity with #Connect2Earth and global efforts to secure nature and our planet on 30 March, 8:30 pm your local time.
5 Tips for Owning and Operating Successful Cannabis Dispensaries
The cannabis retail landscape has changed. Once regarded as somewhat of a novelty, legalization has allowed cannabis dispensaries to evolve into modern and innovative retail storefronts more akin to an Apple Store than the dark, secretive spaces they used to be. Some, like Shiny Bud, are proving to be leaders in the space, setting an exemplary standard of a contemporary cannabis retail experience.
Shiny Bud is one of Canada’s most successful dispensary chains. They pride themselves on offering customers a premium experience from the moment they enter, from a contemporary and inviting store design to highly trained staff, and of course, premium products.
Co-founder Alex Ledesma joined the cannabis industry when the Canadian government passed the Cannabis Act in 2018. She comes from a forward-thinking family of entrepreneurs, so the move to cannabis was an obvious next step.
“I saw an opportunity to be part of something big in Canada’s history, so we started following the industry, and applied for an application,” said Ledesma.
Shiny Bud opened its first dispensary in Toronto on February 14. Fast forward only a few months, and the company has opened the doors to its fifth location in a small town called Orleans, just outside of Ottawa.
“We have a pretty aggressive rollout,” said Ledesma. “Coming from a quick-service industry, we’re quite comfortable with builds and finding locations. We took our expertise from that and put it into cannabis. And it’s all completely within the family.”
Shiny Bud was awarded 75 dispensary licenses by the Canadian government. The company’s expansion plans include two more Ontario store openings this year, bringing the total number of store openings to seven. And they have no plans to slow down.
“We should be hitting 30 stores by the end of 2021. And we’re planning on maxing out to 75 stores allocated. When we stop to think about it, it can take our breath away.”
The constant march forward of legalization has created an ever-growing interest in dispensary ownership. Below, Ledesma offers up five pieces of advice for those looking to enter the cannabis game.
1. Have a Well-Trained Team That’s Focused on Customer Experience
As the industry is still so young, formal education in cannabis is still relatively scarce amongst prospective employees. For Shiny Bud, this presents an opportunity to reinforce one of their most important business objectives: provide cannabis education and training for their budtenders to pass on to their customers.
“Education is everything because the industry’s so new,” Ledesma said. “We truly believe that we’re an industry where we need to listen to our guests. This is one of the first things we teach our budtenders, along with providing a safe and educational experience for our customers in-store.”
For many customers, the biggest value in going to a dispensary is learning which products are best suited for a specific condition or effect, whether they’re seasoned cannabis consumers or newly curious.
“The goal for budtenders at Shiny Bud is to ensure customers are choosing the right product for them to provide a safe experience both in-store and at home,” Ledesma said.
2. Create a Guest Centric Environment
This goes without saying, but customer service is critical to the success of any retail operation. Ledesma attributes Shiny Bud’s success to the brand’s core vision of providing a “fast and friendly cannabis retail destination.”
“We strive to offer our customers a unique and memorable experience — this has stayed with us since day one,” Ledesma said. “When you walk into any of our Shiny Bud cannabis dispensaries, they’re bright, they’re big, and there’s a lot of education. The budtenders are dressed uniformly, and there’s personality — it’s not what people expect.”
Watching the change in customer demographic has been encouraging to Ledesma, who notes the increase in the 60+ demographic looking to add cannabis to their health and wellness, whether it be recreational, or to aid with a specific ailment.
“As a disclaimer, we always have to tell them that we’re not doctors and we can’t give them medical advice, so to start low and go slow,” Ledesma said. “It’s nice to see people like my mom, my dad, and grandparents come through the door, because you also know you’re helping break down the stigma.”
3. Stock the Best Inventory
With so many quality products now available, choosing which ones to bring to Shiny Bud is quite a lengthy process.
“We carry out a lot of research in terms of what’s new or trending, and what our customers are looking for in each location,” Ledesma said. “I wish I knew consumers’ buying preferences before our initial order was placed. We ended up buying too much!”
“We also use recommendations from our team members, our budtenders, and our customers. A lot of times we bring in representatives of the licensed producers to educate our budtenders about the products we’re selling.”
The three most popular purchases across three Shiny Bud locations are dried flower, vapes, and pre-rolls. “Our most frequently asked question is, ‘what is your highest THC or CBD?’” Ledesma said.
4. Have a Great Location
The age-old proverb of “location, location, location” rings true in the cannabis industry, too. Finding the right real estate is arguably the most important part of retail success. Plus, because of the industry’s prohibition history and the nature of the products being sold, it’s important to find understanding landlords.
“Initially, landlords have said to us, ‘absolutely not, we will not entertain the idea of having a cannabis retailer here,’ so I invite them to take a look at one of our dispensaries so they can see the vision of what and who we are as a company and as an industry.”
5. Ensure Your Cannabis Dispensaries Connect with the Community
Dispensaries are already major focal points in their communities. For Ledesma, giving back and helping break down old stigmas related to cannabis is a top priority.
Shiny Bud is in the process of launching a collaboration with Tsaichedelic to create a line of tie-dyed tees and other merchandise. The proceeds will go towards supporting Cannabis Amnesty projects, like providing legal counsel to get those with criminal records over minor cannabis charges expunged.
“Being a woman and a person of color in the cannabis space, I really believe in the fact that it needs to be the same playing fields for everybody,” Ledesma said. “Teaming up with Cannabis Amnesty just felt right.”
With the regulated cannabis market still so new, it’s important that business owners are able to adapt to changes and weather the ever-changing landscape of cannabis and the regulations.
“It’s ever-changing, so we’re constantly learning and growing from it,” Ledesma said. “Regulations are always changing, so being fluid helps a lot.”
Look for Shiny Bud cannabis dispensaries in Canada and keep an eye out for their expansion into America in 2021.
Gwyneth Paltrow and a Slew of Celebs Invest in ‘Social Tonic’ Brand, Cann
Gwyneth Paltrow is one of several high-profile celebrities investing in cannabis-infused beverage company, Cann.
Rebel Wilson, Ruby Rose, Darren Criss, Tove Lo, Casey Neistat, former NBA star Baron Davis and Bre-Z have also invested in the company.
The actress and Goop CEO and founder calls cannabis a “hero ingredient of the future” for wellness and says she was drawn to Cann’s drinks, which are infused with small doses of THC and CBD, as an appealing alternative to alcohol.
“There’s a whole sober-curious movement that’s going on and the cannabis-curious movement that’s going on, this is kind of at the intersection of those things in a way,” said Paltrow.
Cann is not the health and wellness moguls’ first cannabis investment. Paltrow admitted that while she’s not a big cannabis user personally, she acknowledges its “amazing medicinal qualities.”
“There’s no reason why alcohol should be so much easier to purchase than Cann, and I’m confident the founders will lead the charge in finding ways to integrate it into the same purchasing channels and drinking environments,” she said via a news release.
Cann founder Luke Anderson called the comments made by Gwyneth Paltrow “a sign that Cann (and microdose beverages more broadly) are a viable answer to that very common consumer pain point.”
He added that when people think of Paltrow, “they don’t think of ‘weed’ – they think of cutting-edge solutions for today’s health and wellness needs.”
Cann has positioned itself as a “healthy” and hangover-free alternative to alcohol. Most of Cann’s “social tonics” contain roughly 30 calories and are “microdosed” with 2 milligrams of THC and 4 milligrams of CBD. A recently introduced Pineapple Jalapeño flavor contains 50 calories and 5 milligrams of THC.
Earlier this year, Cann secured $5 million in funding as part of the company’s 2020 production and distribution expansion plans for 2020.
According to TechCrunch, the beverage startup has sold 150,000 cans, which retail for $4 each, since last May. Cann products are available at just 60 dispensaries in California, and online via the Eaze cannabis marketplace, making the $600,000 in revenue the company generated in less than a year even more impressive.
Miss Marijuana: Canadian Beauty Queen Alyssa Boston Is on a Mission to End Stigmas
Alyssa Boston is a woman on a mission. The 24-year-old Canadian beauty queen is using her platform to start a conversation on ending stigmas around mental illness, competing in pageants — and cannabis.
While she doesn’t actually smoke weed, Canada’s crowned Miss Universe caused a media uproar when she wore a sparkling cannabis-inspired look during the 2019 Miss Universe competition in Atlanta, Georgia.
Cannabis Aficionado spoke to her about breaking stigmas, social media and of course, that costume.
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