The WeedWeek California Pro newsletter

Every Thursday morning the newsletter delivers exclusive reporting and analysis about what’s happening in the California market and why it matters for your business.
(See an example here.)

March 30 2022,

TOGETHER WITH

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SOMETHING NEW...

THE BIG IDEA

Hi all,

We’re excited to introduce the first issue of WeedWeek California Pro, the only publication for people who make money in the world’s largest cannabis market. 

In this new newsletter, I’ll deliver exclusive reporting and analysis every week. Subscribers will also have access to our new, interactive tax and licensing maps, powerful tools to help you better understand the Golden State’s $5B+ cannabiz. 

Check it all out with a two-week trial for just $1

And don’t worry, we’ll still publish the free WeedWeek newsletter on Fridays.

Thanks for reading. I hope you find it valuable.

Alex

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SHAKE UPS

LA SET TO OVERHAUL LICENSE PROCESS

LA’s Department of Cannabis Regulation held a webinar yesterday on forthcoming changes to the city’s cannabis ordinance.

Built on top of entrenched grey and illegal markets, the city known as the world’s largest market has struggled with a host of challenges since the California REC market opened in 2018.

  • Cat Packer, the department’s first executive director stepped down in early March. Her former deputy Michelle Garakian has the reins on an interim basis.

Largely in response to frustrated applicants, the city began an ordinance review process in September. Among other goals, the new draft ordinance aims to clarify and accelerate licensing, with an emphasis on ensuring a smoother process for social equity applicants.

Among its proposals:

  • A lottery, probably next year, would determine winners of the “phase 3, round 2” process for social equity applicants seeking retail licenses.
  • They no longer have to be holding the property to apply for a license, but the definition of who qualifies as a social equity applicant is narrower.
  • City cultivation licenses would be reserved for social equity applicants through January 1, 2025.
  • Emily Hackman, a license specialist with law firm Vicente Sederberg, said one big takeaway is DCR would have to meet codified deadlines for responding to applicants 

The new ordinance could be approved by city council as soon as April, but they will also have opportunities to modify and delay it. 

See the city’s presentation here.

BILL PROPOSES BIG YELLOW WARNING LABELS

State Sen. Dr. Richard Pan (D – Sac.) is holding a virtual press conference today to support SB 1097, the Cannabis Right to Know Act. It would require cannabis products to carry big yellow warning labels.

If the bill passes:

  • One-third of packages would have to be covered with warnings about DUI, use during pregnancy and cannabis’ potential to contribute to mental health problems, especially when THC is consumed frequently or in high doses. 
  • One of the messages would say: “WARNING: Buy Legal! Illegally sold cannabis is more likely to contain unsafe additives or harmful contaminants such as mold or pesticides.”

The California Cannabis Industry Association opposes the bill.

In a March 25 letter to Sen. Richard Roth, (D-Inland Empire), chair of the Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development, CCIA executive director Lindsay Robinson argued the bill would:

  • Create additional regulatory burdens for an industry that has its share
  • Be redundant since products already have “significant and effective warning labels”
  • Lead to increased landfill waste and carbon emissions
  • Do nothing to reduce demand for illegal product

The bill’s supporters include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

  • California ER visits with cannabis as the primary cause have increased from 9,793 in 2016 to 14,999 in 2019.

Dr. Lynn Silver, a pediatrician and senior advisor to with Getting It Right From the Start, a program by of the non-profit Public Health Institute, which promotes public health and equity on cannabis policy called the labels a “very low cost intervention.” 

  • “I think it’s in the interests of the cannabis industry for consumers to have safer positive experiences and to avoid adverse experiences,” Silver said. 
  • She expressed optimism that the bill would pass. “We hope to have the support of the cannabis industry as well.”

EQUITY

SAN DIEGO CO. BEGINS LISTENING TOUR

San Diego County, the second most populous in the state, also has one of the lowest concentrations of dispensaries (See chart below). Now it’s seeking to develop an equity program and crack down on the illegal market. 

This week a company contracted by the county, Womxn’s Work Consulting kicked off a listening tour to discuss what equity could look like.

  • Aside from familiar equity issues, participants made intriguing, but unlikely suggestions like community cannabis gardens, farmers markets and government purchase quotas.  
  • Womxn’s Work is also conducting a community survey on what equity should look like and who should benefit. The responses will inform how the county shapes the program.
  • The listening tour continues Saturday at 10 a.m. You can tune in on Zoom

QUICK HITS

Politics:

Regulation:

Business:

Fun and interesting:

WEED DESERTS HO!

CHART OF THE WEEK

Our first chart of the week digs into WeedWeek‘s maps and state data to find the California counties with the fewest retail licenses per person, (storefront and non-storefront).

The graph takes us from Los Angeles County, where 328 active licenses amounts to just one per 30,000-ish people to Placer County which has one active license for its population of just over 400,000 people. It’s Golden State Patient Care, in Colfax, in case you’re hard up. 

  • To be included, a county had to have at least 1 pot shop and 100,000 people.

NOTABLES

Company Milestones:

Job Moves:

Upcoming:

Send your milestones to hello@weedweek.com

VAPE IT UP EDITION

WEEDWEEK HIGH SOCIETY

Collin Palmer, head of formulations at PAX with Chris Sayegh “The Herbal Chef,” and PAX COO Steven Jung smile for the camera at a tasting event for PAX’s new Live Rosin with Natural Diamonds vape pods.  Sayegh hosted the event at Nostalgia Bar & Lounge, his restaurant in Santa Monica. 

Pax
Photo by Kaitlin Parry @shootpeople_ , Courtesy of PAX

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May 6 2022,

TOGETHER WITH

THE BIG IDEA

Hi all,

Here’s my dispatch from Hall of Flowers.

Next week, don’t forget, we’ll be starting Thursday morning conversations in WeedWeek Discord, a few hours after the newsletter drops.  

Today:

  • Fun at Hall of Flowers
  • Seven brands with interesting business models

Enjoy,

Alex

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FUN AT HALL OF FLOWERS

 

Courtesy of Luchador

The Star Wars themed party for distributor Herbl, was already bumping when two big guys had a beef and stripped down to their leotards. It was a promotion, of course, for the edibles brand Luchador.

Wrestling, is fake, but up close it looks and sounds real. Surrounded by a tight circle of cheering budtenders, it had a frisson of fun and daring that similar stunts rarely do.

Cannabis is more fun, and to my mind more appealing, when it doesn’t take itself too seriously. So in a market where the overwhelming mood is doom and gloom, it was refreshing that everyone at Hall of Flowers seemed eager to shake the pandemic and enjoy themselves.

Wellness seemed to be on the back burner. Instead brands like Moxie and Papa’s Herb brought fresh, contemporary takes on classic American motifs. Korean-inspired streetwear brand Sundae School delivered a natural extension with Mochi gummies. And Pure Beauty raised eyebrows with its menthol cigarette joint. (Menthol tobacco cigarettes could soon be banned nationwide.)  

  • Nor did I detect much pot snobbery. No one was bashing wedding cake clones.

The good mood might also reflect that the operators able to attend Hall of Flowers represent only a small percentage of the market.

Rashaan Everett, founder and CEO of delivery company Good Tree, said the event, with the company’s hot pink booth in the baking sun represented an outlay of $100,000 which he hoped to make back with 33 orders of $3,000. Plenty of companies aren’t in a position to take that kind of risk.

  • The delivery service, which operates in SoCal, the Bay Area and Sacramento is the biggest equity business in California, with 200 employees, and perhaps the country. 

DOGWALKERS

Filings suggest more upheaval at TPCO

Michael Bowen, a financial industry veteran and must-follow on LinkedIn for news dug out of SEC filings, notes that California operator TPCO “had to pay off [departing] COO [Dennis O’Malley] to stay quiet.”

Also noted in the filing, (and by Bowen) three TPCO directors are departing: Former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz, former Barracuda Networks CEO Jeffry Allen and Desiree Perez, CEO of Roc Nation.

  • Perez was effectively Jay-Z’s representative on the board.
  • TPCO did not respond to a request for comment.

WeedWeek recently explained why the company wrote down $654M last year.

Another question about Fresno licensing

Fresno, the largest city in California without a pot shop, began its licensing process in 2020. The city has awarded 21 licenses but none have opened thanks to appeals, lawsuits and other delays.

The San Joaquin Valley Sun recently obtained a letter which shows former major league pitcher Matt Garza, the local owner of applicant Authentic 559, contacted Mayor Jerry Dyer (R) in violation of a clause prohibiting contact between applicants and relevant officials about their application.

  • A social equity applicant was disqualified for breaking the same rule. A city spokesperson didn’t respond to requests for comment. 

Without any dispensaries open, Fresno isn’t collecting pot taxes.

QUICK HITS

Business:

Legislation:

  • The state senate governance and finance committee advanced SB 1336, a labor-supported bill which would offer cannabis businesses tax credits equal to “employment compensation, safety-related equipment and services, and employee workforce development and safety training.”    

Regulation:

  • Three quarters of California’s nearly 13,000 licenses are still provisional, a sign of backlog at DCC.
    North Bay Business Journal 

Legal:

  • A federal judge threw out claims that corrupt law enforcement officials conspired to extort Mendocino Co. growers.
    Courthouse News

Crime: 

Local:

Fun and interesting:

CHART OF THE WEEK

This week’s data, from point of sale software provider Cova, looks at 4/20 sales across its shops in two big SoCal counties. Recent same store growth looks especially strong in Riverside. 

NOTABLES

Milestones:

Upcoming:

PALM SPRINGS EDITION

WEEDWEEK HIGH SOCIETY

DJ Nutritious oversees Fare Child‘s High on Life party following day one of Hall of Flowers in Palm Springs.

DJ Nutritious, Photo by Rhys Harper. Courtesy of Fare Child

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