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Social Cannabis Use Reform Receives Big Endorsement

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Social Cannabis Use Reform
PHOTO | The Colonel
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The first cannabis reform victory in the United States occurred in 1973 when Oregon decriminalized cannabis possession. In 1996, California became the first state to legalize cannabis for medical use. Colorado and Washington State became the first states to legalize cannabis for adult use in 2012.

Another historic victory was achieved in 2016 when Denver voters approved an initiative to legalize social-use establishments in city limits.

Social cannabis use reform is a relatively new political concept, however, social use establishments have operated in the United States for a number of years, albeit illegally.

What is Social Cannabis Use Reform?

Social cannabis use refers to venues that allow on-site cannabis consumption. Lounges, cafes, concerts, and yoga studios are examples of social cannabis use venues.

Unregulated, unlicensed cannabis clubs have existed in the United States for decades, many of which have allowed on-site cannabis consumption.

Some establishments were designed to distribute medical cannabis and others required people to bring their own cannabis and pay a fee to enter the venue.

Many concerts served as de facto social cannabis use sites over the years, with concert-goers openly consuming cannabis. On-site cannabis consumption was very common at cannabis competitions where musicians performed.

During the second half of this decade, a big push has been underway to license and regulate social use venues, including events. 

Fortunately, licensed social use venues are becoming more common in legal states, although many legal cannabis states still prohibit them.

The Social Cannabis Use Reform Movement Receives a Big Endorsement

Earlier this week, presidential candidate Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard endorsed social cannabis use reform in an interview with the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC).

Congresswoman Gabbard will be appearing live from the campaign trail via Skype at the upcoming ICBC in San Francisco in February.

“If someone can legally purchase cannabis from a state-regulated dispensary, legally possess it, and legally consume it, they should also have a legal setting in which to conduct that activity if someone wants to provide that setting for them in a safe manner that keeps cannabis away from children and properly helps mitigate driving under the influence,” Gabbard said in the interview.

The endorsement appears to mark the first time that a presidential candidate has specifically endorsed social cannabis use reform.

“Cannabis opponents act as if social cannabis use venues do not exist anywhere in the United States, which is not actually the case,” Gabbard went on to say. “The city of Denver passed an initiative to allow regulated social cannabis use venues, and they exist in parts of California as well.

“Venues would need to be implemented and regulated properly to ensure safety and that age restriction policy is enforced. A strong, ongoing public awareness effort would need to occur as well, which could be funded by social-use license fees. As President, I’d support giving our states and local jurisdictions the flexibility to adopt sound public policy that includes social cannabis use reform.”

Social Cannabis Use Is an Important Component of Comprehensive Cannabis Reform

In 2012, social cannabis use reform was not on most cannabis advocates’ radar. It is a fairly granular cannabis policy that has taken time for advocates to become familiar with.

Social cannabis use reform is very important and is something that cannabis advocates should always push for as part of the greater effort to legalize cannabis for medical and adult-use.

Cannabis may be legal to purchase in Washington State, however, racial disparities in cannabis enforcement is still a problem.

In Seattle, a study found that “about 36% of those arrested for public pot use were African American, who are 8% of the city’s population.”

That’s unacceptable.

If a medical cannabis patient lives in housing that is subsidized by the federal government, they are not permitted to consume cannabis in their homes.

College students that live in student housing and tourists in legal markets have nowhere to legally consume state-legal cannabis, despite the fact that they can legally purchase it.

Social cannabis use reform is the answer. It provides for a legal setting for patients and consumers and it’s a smart public policy, as Congresswoman Gabbard points out. 

Hopefully, her endorsement will boost social use reform efforts.

Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard will be appearing at the ICBC in San Francisco via Skype from the campaign trail live from New Hampshire.

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New Odor-Proof Bags Will Keep Your Stash Safe & Stylish

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Higher Standards x Revelry

Cannabis carryalls have come a long way. Continued advancement in smell-prevention technology has created a new breed of odor-proof bags. Just in time for 420, two of the cool kid brands have just launched a collection of form-meets-function travel bags to keep your stash safe.

The Higher Standards x Revelry collection fuses East Coast style with the West Coast spirit of adventure. Each odor-proof bag in the collection is made with Revelry’s signature three-layered carbon filtration system of activated charcoal and synthetic filters that soak up all unwanted smells.

The collab showcases minimalist design with maximum technicality across four odor-proof bags — a fanny pack; zip pouch; dopp kit and backpack. Additionally, the bags are waterproof, made from lightweight fabrics with heavy-duty rubber backing, and seal shut with double-lined zippers.

Higher Standards x Revelry collection is available now in stores and online.

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The Highly Anticipated Collab Between Bllrdr x G Pen Has Dropped

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Bllrdr x G Pen
Noah “40” Shebib with the new G Pen Dash | PHOTO Mark Blinch

G Pen has partnered with Bllrdr to introduce a new collaboration, an exclusive co-branded global line of G Pen advanced technology vaporizers, starting with the Bllrdr x G Pen Dash.

This collab integrates new cannabis products from Bllrdr with G Pen’s proprietary innovative technologies and hardware, to make for even more brand diversity of the popular G Pen vaporizers.

Helping to both elevate and advance the cannabis experience, the two companies have a shared history of innovation, something that is set to continue with each brand to bring sought-after collaborations to the market.

Bllrdr x G Pen
Noah “40” Shebib grinds his iconic Afghani BullriderPhoto by Mark Blinch

Bllrdr is a Toronto-based cannabis brand founded by Noah “40” Shebib, a Grammy award-winning producer, and Jef Tek, a legendary cultivator. The brand is known for its extensive market-leading cannabis genetics and small-batch production, developing rare and special cut strains.

After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Shebib discovered the benefits of using the Afghani Bullrider cultivar. Tek’s late wife, medical marijuana activist Michelle Rainey, who suffered from Crohn’s disease and cancer, also found the strain offered relief from her symptoms.

G Pen, known for championing and celebrating the connection between consumption and art, is thrilled to partner with Bllrdr, Canada’s best new lifestyle cannabis brand, supporting its people and their mission.

“I’ve known Noah since the early stages of G Pen,” says G Pen CEO and founder Chris Folkerts, “and this partnership brings it full circle.”

“It’s an honor to be a part of the launch of the most highly-anticipated and unique genetics in the Ontario market.”

Bllrdr x G Pen
Noah “40” Shebib at his studio in Toronto with the new G Pen Dash | PHOTO Mark Blinch

Now, the two brands plan to bring sought-after collaborations to the market increasing the brand diversity of the popular G Pen vaporizers by integrating new cannabis products from Bllrdr with G Pen’s proprietary innovative technologies and hardware.

This first release from the G Pen x Bllrdr Collection is well-timed, with the launch of Bllrdr’s highly anticipated Afghani Bullrider strain — considered as one of the rarest genetics on the market — now officially available on the Ontario Cannabis Store. And just like Afghani Bullrider, the Bllrdr x G Pen Dash delivers satisfying and flavorful results.

The Bllrdr x G Pen Dash is now available in select Ontario retailers and on bllrdrco.co.

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5 Tips for Owning and Operating Successful Cannabis Dispensaries

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Cannabis Dispensaries
PHOTOS | Shiny Bud

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.”

Cannabis Dispensaries
Shiny Bud cannabis dispensaries are bright and clean, with plenty of quality products and customer education opportunities.

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.

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