Pot tourists can smoke it where they buy it in San Francisco

Jeff Chiu / Assocaited Press

Rick Thompson, left, and Keith Baskerville smoke marijuana in the smoking lounge at Barbary Coast Dispensary in San Francisco. San Francisco plans to issue more permits for marijuana smoking lounges this year after health officials finalize updated regulations.

SAN FRANCISCO — The smoke was thick and business brisk at the Barbary Coast Dispensary’s marijuana smoking lounge, a darkened room that resembles a steakhouse or upscale sports tavern with its red leather seats, deep booths with high dividers, and hardwood floors.

“There’s nothing like this in Jersey,” said grinning Atlantic City resident Rick Thompson, getting high with his cousins in San Francisco.

In fact, there’s nothing like the Barbary Coast lounge almost anywhere in the United States, a conundrum confronting many marijuana enthusiasts who find it increasingly easy to buy pot but harder to find legal places to smoke it.

Only California permits marijuana smoking at marijuana retailers with specially designed lounges. But it also allows cities to ban those kinds of shops.

Unsurprisingly, San Francisco is the trailblazer. It’s the only city in the state to fully embrace Amsterdam-like coffee shops, the iconic tourist stops in the Netherlands where people can buy and smoke marijuana in the same shop.

San Francisco’s marijuana “czar” Nicole Elliot said new permits will be issued once city health officials finalize regulations designed to protect workers from secondhand smoke and the neighborhood from unwelcomed odors. The lounges are required to install expensive heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to prevent the distinct marijuana odor from leaking outside.

Other California cities are warming to the idea.

The city of West Hollywood has approved plans to issue up to eight licenses; the tiny San Francisco Bay Area town of Alameda said it will allow two; and Oakland and South Lake Tahoe each have one lounge. Sacramento, Los Angeles and other cities are discussing the issue but have not authorized any lounges.

Jackie Rocco, the city of West Hollywood’s business development manager, said residents and cannabis businesses complain there is “no safe place, no legal place, to use it.”

Rocco said city officials envision smoking lounges set up like traditional bars, but for now the idea is more concept than plan.

Meanwhile, lawmakers and officials in other states are dithering over the issue.

Massachusetts marijuana regulators considered approval of “cannabis cafes.” But the proposal came under withering criticism from Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration and law enforcement officials, who claimed among other things that opening such businesses would lead to more dangerously stoned drivers.

The five-member Cannabis Control Commission ultimately yielded to pressure by agreeing to put off a decision on licensing any cafes until after the initial rollout of retail marijuana operations, expected this summer. Members of the panel, however, continue to support the idea.

“Those who wish to consume cannabis are going to do so whether social sites exist or not, and are going to make driving decisions regardless of where they consume,” said Jim Borghesani, spokesman for the Massachusetts chapter of the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project. “Social sites will simply give cannabis users the same options available to alcohol users.”

In Colorado, one of the first states to broadly legalize, lawmakers failed in a close vote to make so-called “tasting rooms” legal. However, cities may do it, and Denver has authorized lounges where consumers bring their own marijuana, issuing a single permit so far.

Nevada has put off a vote on the issue until next year. Oregon has considered and rejected legislation. In Alaska, regulators rejected onsite use last year but are scheduled to revisit the issue next month.

San Francisco has allowed medical marijuana patients to smoke in dispensaries for years, though there was uncertainty over whether the practice was authorized when California voters in 1996 made the state the first in the nation to legalize cannabis use with a doctor’s recommendation.

The Barbary Coast, which received its state license in January, first opened as a small medical dispensary in 2013. It expanded and opened its smoking lounge to medical users last year. On Jan. 11, the shop opened to all adults when it received its California recreational use license. The state started issuing those on Jan. 1 and continues to approve dozens of applications a month since voters broadly legalized the use and sale of marijuana.

Thompson traveled from Atlantic City to celebrate his 27th birthday with his cousins, who live in Oakland. They decided to celebrate in style, getting as high as they could in San Francisco.

The three 20-somethings bought a variety of buds and the quick-acting “wax,” a potent pot concentrate, and settled into a booth with all the accoutrement they needed. After customers purchase at least $40 worth of product, the Barbary Coast will supply bongs, joint rollers, “rigs” for wax smoking and just about any smoking tool desired.

They smoked and debated the merits of smoking buds versus wax. The verdict: There’s something innately satisfying about smoking buds, but wax gives a quicker high even if it requires a hotter flame and more elaborate setup to smoke.

Barbary is in a once-rundown neighborhood that is gentrifying. Two other dispensaries with smoke lounges are three blocks away. Three flat-screen televisions tuned to sports hang on the lounge’s brick walls. Outside the enclosed room, customers line up at the dispensary’s glass counters to buy marijuana.

General manager Jesse Henry said Barbary’s owners plan to open a bigger store and smoking lounge about a mile away, across the street from a popular concert hall, after city health officials finalize regulations for on-site consumption.

“This city is built for tourists,” Henry said. “We put a lot of work into giving them a San Francisco experience.”

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Surprise candidates shake up NV primary races


Ryan Bundy, outside the federal courthouse in Las Vegas, reacts to the judge’s declaration of a mistrial in the Bundy Ranch standoff case. Robert Anglen/azcentral

Familiar names dominate Northern Nevada contests

A relatively quiet two-week filing period for Nevada political candidates came to a thunderous close on Friday as top Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Danny Tarkanian made national news with a surprise: A Trump-approved bid for a seat in the U.S. House.

Excitement over Tarkanian’s dropped Senate run soon eclipsed what had been the biggest story to emerge from the filing period — famed anti-government activist Ryan Bundy’s almost equally unexpected bid for governor.

The 45-year-old militia movement icon — who in 2016 helped lead a well-armed clash with government authorities at a militia-seized federal building in Eastern Oregon — put in papers last week to run as an independent candidate for term-limited Gov. Brian Sandoval’s seat.

More: Here’s who’s running the 2018 Nevada primary election

More: Will Heller survive? Is a ‘blue wave’ coming? Here’s your guide to Nevada’s primary vote

More: Tarkanian won’t run against Heller after Trump asks him to switch to U.S. House race

Bundy’s arrival counts as an unwelcome development for Republicans, since the upstart candidate will likely siphon off votes that might otherwise go to the Republican candidate in the general election.

Attorney General Adam Laxalt and state Treasurer Dan Schwartz remain at the head of an eight-candidate pack of GOP hopefuls in that race. On the Democratic side, longtime Clark County Commissioners Chris Giunchigliani and Steve Sisolak filed alongside three others contenders for the governor’s office.

Fellow progressives Pat Spearman, a state senator, and ex-congressman Steven Horsford still lead a crowded, six-candidate field of primary candidates to replace U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev.

Kihuen, faced with mounting pressure to resign amid a host of sexual misconduct allegations, in December announced he would not seek a second term representing Nevada’s fourth congressional district.

Republican Cresent Hardy, who took the seat from Horsford in 2014, will face four lesser-known primary election opponents seeking to represent the sprawling district, which runs south from Yerington all the way to North Las Vegas.

U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., drew a higher profile primary election opponent in Sharron Angle, the former Tea Party darling who lost a combative and unexpectedly close 2010 race to unseat former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Angle — who suffered a lopsided defeat in Nevada’s 2016 Republican U.S. Senate primary — could hardly wait to join the four-way primary race against a heavily favored Amodei, making her bid to represent Nevada’s second congressional district official within 15 minutes of the filing period opening in Carson City.

Rick Shepherd, a self-described progressive “Berniecrat,” and Clint Koble, an Obama-era appointee to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, sit atop a five-candidate field of Democratic primary hopefuls in the district.


Perhaps lost amid the hubbub over surprise filings was a pair of key campaign developments in Sparks, where an emerging political power couple will seek to make their name just blocks away from the boundaries of one of the Nevada’s most closely watched state Assembly races.

Republican Alexis Hansen, wife of longtime Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, last week officially launched a bid for her husband’s seat in Assembly District 32.

Not long after, Ira Hansen put in paperwork to seek the state Senate post vacated by Sparks Republican Don Gustavson, who is retiring.

Alexis Hansen, a licensed real estate agent, said she initially balked when her husband suggested she run for his old seat. She eventually came around to the idea, citing, among other things, a long list of family members who were elected or appointed as public servants in Southern Nevada. 

Another relative, Ira Hansen’s aunt Janine Hansen — a multi-time Independent American Party candidate — is also running for lieutenant governor.

A few miles south on Pyramid Highway, Richard “Skip” Daly, D-Sparks, escaped without a primary challenger in his bid to hang on to Assembly District 31. He’ll face a general election rematch with Republican Jill Dickman, the Republican who lost the GOP-leaning district to Daly by a mere 38 votes in 2016 — just weeks after Dickman backed a controversial, publicly subsidized deal to build the Las Vegas Raiders’ stadium.

A much more competitive primary shaped up in the Assembly district that covers downtown Reno, where four Democrats filed to seek the open seat left vacant by Assemblywoman Amber Joiner, D-Reno, who declined to run for re-election.

Former Nevada Department of Taxation Director Deonne Contine, perhaps the biggest name among those filers, resigned her job as the state’s chief recreational marijuana regulator to campaign for the post. She’s expected to receive plenty of financial support from the state’s burgeoning pot businesses.

Incumbents filed for re-election in 10 other Western Nevada statehouse contests by the end of Friday’s filing deadline.

Nevada’s primary elections, open to voters registered with both major political parties, are scheduled for June 12. Early voting starts May 26 and ends on June 8.

See a full list of official state, local and federal candidates below:


Read or Share this story: http://www.rgj.com/story/news/politics/2018/03/16/nevada-primary-surprises-bundy-tarkanian-grab-spotlight-election-season-begins/433971002/

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Marapharm Ventures Inc. Announces The Close Of A Tranche Of A Non-Brokered Private Placement Unit Offering

KELOWNA, BC, March 16, 2018 /CNW/ – Marapharm Ventures Inc. (CSE: MDM) (OTCQX: MRPHF) (FSE: 2M0) (“Marapharm” or the “Company”) announces the close of the first tranche of the non-brokered private placement (the “Unit Offering”) of up to 3,000,000 units (“Units”) at CDN $0.865 per Unit to raise gross proceeds of up to $2,595,000.

The first tranche closed today with proceeds totaling $1,339,680. from the sale of 1,548,760 units. Marapharm intends to close the final tranche no later than March 30, 2018.

The Unit will consist of one common share and one common share purchase warrant. Each whole common share purchase warrant (“Purchase Warrants”) will entitle the holder to acquire one common share at $0.87. The Purchase Warrants may be exercised at any time until one year from the closing of the Unit Offering.

The net proceeds raised from the Unit Offering are intended to be used for (i) further development of the Company’s Las Vegas project (ii) further development of the Company’s project in Washington State (iii) and general corporate purposes.

Marapharm will pay cash finder fees of 10% of the gross proceeds raised from subscriptions in the Unit Offering from persons introduced to the Company by certain eligible Finders. Marapharm will also issue non-transferable common share purchase warrants (“Finder’s Warrants”) equal to 10% of the number of Units subscribed for by persons introduced to the Company by eligible Finders. Each Finder’s Warrant will allow the Finder to purchase one additional common share at $0.87 for a period of 14 months from the closing of the Unit Offering.



Marapharm is a publicly traded company investing in the medical and recreational cannabis space, since 2014. Marapharm has rapidly expanded to include having cultivation, production and dispensary locations in the key North American states of Washington, Nevada, and California, and are seeking expansion opportunities worldwide. 


Facebook: facebook.com/marapharm

Twitter: twitter.com/marapharm

Web Program: marapharm.tv


Marapharm trades in Canada, ticker symbol MDM on the CSE, in the United States, ticker symbol MRPHF on the OTCQB, and in Europe, ticker symbol 2Mo on the FSE. Marapharm also trades on other recognized platforms in Europe including Stuttgart, Tradegate, L & S, Quotnx, Dusseldorf, Munich, and Berlin.

Neither the CSE, the FSE nor the OTCQB® has approved nor disapproved the contents of this press release. Neither the CSE, the FSE nor the OTCQB® accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.


Canadian listings (CSE) will remain in good standing as long as they provide the disclosure that is rightly required by regulators and complying with applicable licensing requirements and the regulatory framework enacted by the applicable state in which they operate.

Marapharm owns marijuana licenses in California and Nevada. Marijuana is legal in each state however marijuana remains illegal under US federal law and the approach to enforcement of US federal law against marijuana is subject to change. Shareholders and investors need to be aware that adverse enforcement actions could affect their investments and that Marapharm’s ability to access private and public capital could be affected and or could not be available to support continuing operations. Marapharm’s business is conducted in a manner consistent with state law and is in compliance with licensing requirements.

Copies of licenses are posted on Marapharm’s website. Marapharm has internal compliance procedures in place and has compliance focused attorneys engaged in jurisdictions to monitor changes in laws for compliance with US federal and state law on an ongoing basis. These law firms inform any necessary changes to our policies and procedures for compliance in Canada and the US.


Certain statements contained in this news release constitute forward looking statements. The use of any of the words “anticipate”, “continue”, “estimate”, “expect”, ‘may”, “will”, “project”, “should”, ‘believe”, and similar expressions are intended to identify forward- looking statements. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated in such forward- looking statements are based on reasonable assumption but no assurance can be given that these expectations will prove to be correct and the forward-looking statements included in this news release should not be unduly relied upon.

SOURCE Marapharm Ventures Inc.

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Nevada’s marijuana supply holds steady, with wholesale prices higher than other rec markets

Nevada’s recreational marijuana supplies are plentiful but not overly abundant, keeping wholesale cannabis prices on the high side compared to other adult-use markets.

Business owners in the Silver State don’t expect wholesale prices to remain steep for much longer, however.

Growers are continuing to build out their cultivation facilities and improve their growing methods, pumping additional supplies into the market.

“Supply is catching up,” said Andrew Jolley, owner of The Source dispensary and retail shop in Las Vegas.

“Prices are dropping.”

But prices aren’t expected to nosedive as they have in other rec markets, including Colorado, Washington state and Oregon.

Looking ahead, the state will need plentiful supplies to meet continued robust consumer demand.

Nevada’s adult-use market has been on a tear since its early start program went into effect last July.

Sales are averaging $1 million a day, driven by the more than 40 million tourists who visit Las Vegas every year.

That’s solid for a nascent market that has yet to reach full production capacity.

Plus, prices in the retail stores haven’t dropped much, with some ounces of flower still selling for $350 or more.

Growers also are commanding a decent price point for high-quality cannabis.

The majority of cannabis in Nevada is grown indoors, though there are a few greenhouse operations.

The state has no outdoor grows, limiting the amount of available production capacity.

On Jan. 1, 2018, the state’s Department of Taxation assessed the average wholesale market price at $2,268 for a pound of flower and $601 for a pound of trim.

Those prices are considerably higher than in other mature recreational markets.

Quality drives price

While those taxation department figures are based on cultivation transactions from April 2017 to October 2017, marijuana business owners in the state say there is a much wider range in prices.

Business owners who spoke with Marijuana Business Daily said pounds of wholesale flower are selling for $1,800-$3,500 depending on quality, including THC content, terpene profile and a strain’s popularity.

The flower Jolley is buying for $1,800 a pound goes on The Source’s value shelf. Higher-priced cannabis goes in the premium section.

“The higher the THC content, the more you can command your price,” said Jerry Velarde, president of EvergreenOrganix, which grows and processes cannabis in Las Vegas.

Average flower, which has roughly 16% THC content and a moderate terpene profile, sells for about $2,300-$2,600 a pound, he said.

“You can be a great cultivator,” Velarde added, “but if you don’t have a quality batch come out, you’re going to be forced to push down toward that $2,500 a pound if you want to sell it.”

Ben Sillitoe, CEO and co-founder of Oasis Cannabis in Las Vegas, said wholesale prices:

  • Increased between July and October.
  • Didn’t drop in October or November.
  • Started to come down in December, when bulk purchasing deals became available.

Steady supply

Nevada’s wholesale cannabis pipeline is sufficient at the moment, and business owners expect it to increase as more cultivation operations develop capacity and improve efficiencies.

In the early days of Nevada’s recreational sales, Sillitoe said, retailers, processors and other businesses who needed wholesale cannabis had to preorder product from growers because of limited supplies.

But that supply situation has since loosened up.

“At this point, there really are no delays in getting inventory,” Sillitoe said.

“Selection isn’t as great as you’d like it to be, but it’s getting better.”

He expects to see supply continue to increase and prices to fall accordingly over the next year.

“We’re seeing significant expansion from the wholesale side from a lot of different suppliers,” Sillitoe said.

“Projects are coming online. Construction is underway.”

Jolley agrees there is enough supply currently and he expects wholesale prices to trend downward.

“I don’t know of anyone who’s running out of product now,” he said. “Versus last summer when we made the switch to recreational.”

But eventually there might be too much of a good thing for growers.

“I think there’s actually going to be too much supply within the year,” Jolley said.

High trim prices

Cannabis trim specifically intended to be made into oil is ranging from $400 to $700 a pound, depending on quality, according to business owners.

Shane Terry – CEO of Taproot Holdings, a vertically integrated cultivation, production and distribution company in Las Vegas – said trim cost as much as $1,800 a pound in December but has since slid.

He’s seen pounds of flower that failed laboratory testing with THC content as low as 5% still sell for $700 a pound for processing into cannabis oil.

“We’re seeing incredibly high prices from people who are sending us product that’s failed for mold or microbials,” Terry said.

Flower that fails testing is commonly sold to processors to be converted into oil, because the extraction process is believed to remove the impurities.

The failed tests stemmed from cultivators having to deal with humidity issues during the winter months, Velarde said.

“You’ve had a lot of guys who have struggled and have had a lot of failed flower,” he added.

He admitted that the robust trim prices have taxed the processing side of his business.

“It’s very, very high,” he said. “It’s been a challenge, that’s for sure.”

That’s also been the experience of Brandon Rexroad, founder and CEO of Shango, a vertically integrated recreational cannabis company with operations in Las Vegas and Oregon.

He’s heard of people buying cannabis to be processed into oil for as much as $2,000.

“It’s hugely expensive,” he said. “I don’t know how these people are doing it.”

Rexroad explained that processors will pay top dollar to try to establish their brands in a highly competitive extraction market.

“They’re willing to pay it just to get product on these shelves even if they’re not making money at that price point,” he added.

No dip in retail price

Retail prices have remained consistent since the start of recreational sales, according to business owners.

Prices are ranging from $250 to $350 an ounce for flower at most retail stores.

When the state began recreational MJ sales in July, wholesale prices increased in relation to the medical prices, according to Sillitoe.

But he didn’t raise his retail prices accordingly to maintain market share.

“We ate that cost for our customers,” Sillitoe added.

Velarde of EvergreenOrganix concurred that prices have generally stayed the same since the rollout of adult-use sales.

Rexroad emphasized that Nevada’s tourist trade will continue to bolster the market.

“People always seem to strive for the best when they come to Vegas, whether it’s a bottle of liquor or weed,” he said, “and that’s really where our focus is.”

Bart Schaneman can be reached at [email protected]

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SBA Nevada tours rural towns, offers support to Fallon businesses

Rural Nevada’s small business scene is thriving.

To further enhance management and opportunities for owners and employers, Nevada’s chapter of the Small Business Administration is offering local businesses tools and support to preserve services within their communities.

Almost 50 local business owners, including City of Fallon and Churchill County officials, gathered at Stockman’s Casino on Wednesday to meet Nevada Administration Director Joseph Amato. The event was hosted by the Churchill Economic Development Authority.

Amato hails from New York and is a former business leader with more than 30 years of experience.

When he was appointed to director, he had five states to choose from.

“From an entrepreneurial standpoint, there are pieces in Nevada that could grow exponentially,” he said. “It could benefit residents and it could grow with the support services we could provide.”

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As director, Amato collaborates with statewide agencies to create more opportunities for small businesses and provide more training in management.

“I’m here to try to make a difference, but I can’t do it without your help,” he said. “I want every business owner, commissioner, politician, and banker to understand that we’re going to do whatever it takes to help you help small business.”

According to a report conducted by CEDA, the authority helped start 13 businesses in Churchill County and create 120 jobs during the course of 12 months.

Amato is collaborating with state government organizations, such as USDA Nevada State Director Philip Cowee, to help bring new prospects to rural businesses with the state and communities, one of the first steps to making a difference, he said.

“The state of Nevada is very lucky to have Amato in this role,” Cowee said. “I think the point is for small businesses to have access to the capital. For me, it’s about getting out to those in rural Nevada and help make a difference with our products or grants.”

Amato and SBA’s new Senior Area Manager Rachel Dahl both moved their offices from Reno to Carson City to work closer with the state.

“I want us to work with the state business and industry program every day,” Amato said. “We’re forging relationships that bring a better service to our small businesses and those who want to be in business.”

Amato said a major concern is that not many local businesses know about what SBA offers. Amato said he toured 277 businesses in Nevada and discovered less than 18 percent know SBA exists.

When Amato met with city managers in Hawthorne on Monday, they discussed the Interstate 11 project; officials said they didn’t have enough childcare for those workers traveling in remote areas. There’s a lack of transportation from outlying areas to get to Hawthorne Army Depot, the town’s largest employer.

Although a private enterprise could help, Amato said he would assist in finding a solution.

“Eighty percent of the driving force behind this country businesswise is from small businesses,” he said.

Amato said banks in Nevada also could do better, such as using more product.

He said SBA Nevada’s top lender achieved 103 loans for local businesses in the state over the course of 12 months, about $24 million, which is not much.

The administration has two main programs, a Loan Guarantee Program and 504 Program for local businesses to consider.

“That’s not a lot at all,” Amato said. “Other competitive states have done more. But you have a lot of statewide banks here that are trying to do better.”

Those in attendance who work with loans found takeaways from Amato’s speech.

“We need to promote small businesses in Fallon,” said Jane Capurro, production manager of Prime Lending, a home loan company. “I have people that call me about small business loans and now, I know what I can do.”

As Nevada is becoming the tech pioneer land of opportunity, Amato said he’s spoken to small businesses in California cities; there are seven businesses that are interested in moving to Nevada, he said.

“Their district director doesn’t mind because they know I’m telling the truth,” he said. “We have a better regulatory environment, a better tax environment, and opportunities for growth are endless here.”

Besides gaming and mining, Amato said one of the most appealing industries drawing businesses to Nevada is medical and recreational marijuana; two Canadian pharmaceutical companies recently moved to Las Vegas for the opportunities, instead of Colorado, California, and other legalized states.

Amato’s last message to the public before leaving Fallon is to spread the word.

“We’re getting the word out together,” he said. “I’m going to do everything in my capacity to bring small businesses to the next level. We are not relevant unless you use us.”

Amato visited Hawthorne and Minden earlier this week, and was headed to Winnemucca on Thursday.

After the meeting, Churchill Economic Development Authority Executive Director Nathan Strong awarded Dahl a Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Green Crack, Blue Dream, Gorilla Glue: The problem of pricing pot

NEW YORK (Reuters) – In 2014, as Jonathan Rubin and Ian Laird considered investing in the booming U.S. cannabis industry, they hit a problem: How to value pot starts-ups with little verified data on the price of the weed itself?

FILE PHOTO: Employees prepare recreational marijuana orders for customers at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California, U.S., January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

While a smoker may know the going retail price for “Strawberry Diesel” or “Buddha’s Sister”, the sector’s wholesale tier still operates much like a black market because of ongoing federal prohibition, despite legalizations in 30 U.S. states and Washington D.C. since the 1990s.

That left Rubin and Laird puzzled on the investment value of a dispensary, a weed farm or a factory making pot-infused candy. The problem spawned a different investment: The founding of New Leaf Data Services LLC, a Stamford, Conn.-based wholesale price data service that fields reporters to take on the steep challenge of cataloguing going rates.

Started three years ago, New Leaf now publishes weekly benchmark spot prices and forecasts on wholesale indoor-, outdoor-, and greenhouse-grown marijuana for 17 regions with legalization laws.

New Leaf makes money from about 350 pot proprietors and other subscribers who buy reports and custom analytics. It has raised money from investors who want exposure to the cannabis sector without the risk of breaking federal law.

The model is roughly based on S&P Global Platts, a firm where Rubin once worked that researches and publishes wholesale prices for crude oil, fuel and other commodities such as metals or agricultural crops.

The task is much harder for pot, and New Leaf’s experience stalking prices sheds light on the murky trade of what might be the fastest-growing U.S. commodity, sold legally and illegally for untold billions of dollars.

Cannabis firms still deal almost exclusively in cash to avoid a paper trail or because they have almost no access to banks and financial services. Because it’s illegal to transport the drug across state lines, prices and available products vary widely in different regions based on whether a state has both medical and recreational markets and the number of licensed dispensaries and producers.

Last week, spot prices for flower in Alaska were $5,496 per lb, while prices in Colorado and Oregon fell to historic lows of $1,008 and $1,166, respectively, according to New Leaf.

(For a graphic on state marijuana laws and price differences, see: tmsnrt.rs/2AFalvZ )

Legal pot prices are also impacted by supply and demand fluctuations in the illegal market, and the spread between the two can vary.

In California, regulated market prices are more than $1,000 per lb, whereas prices for illegal weed can be as low as $500 per lb, estimated Scott Davies, a California cultivator. Legal market marijuana tends to be more expensive because supplies are more restricted and because it is taxed.

“Consider each state to be a different country when it comes to their laws, amount of licenses issued, what the qualifying conditions are for entry into their medical program, as well as what the political climate and current illicit market looks like,” said Nic Easley, one of New Leaf’s market consultants.

Easley, a disabled veteran of the U.S. Air Force, said he moved to Colorado in 2006 to use cannabis to ease the pain of injuries. He’s one of New Leaf’s team of a dozen price experts who chase down their market data and intelligence through a network of commercial players and cannabis industry groups, such as the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association (ORCA). The data suppliers agree to submit weekly prices anonymously and, in exchange, get discounted subscriptions or other services.


A multi-billion dollar cannabis industry has developed despite federal prohibition, but many executives, farmers and employees are still wary of federal prosecution.

FILE PHOTO: A billboard advertising marijuana in advance of the upcoming legalization of recreational marijuana in San Francisco, California, U.S., December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Christie/File Photo

Davies, a farmer in Humboldt County, California – a region renowned for its premium cannabis – said growers have historically done and still do handshake deals with counterparts vouched for by shared acquaintances. Davies sells directly to dispensaries, essentially relying on the rumor mill to set prices.

“It’s all been word-of-mouth, through people we know and trust who are established players,” he said.

But the market in California – which recently legalized recreational use – is evolving rapidly and becoming more like a traditional industry, with buyers and sellers now sometimes meeting at industry events, Davies said.

Market transparency has seen a boost from heightened regulations as authorities in states like Oregon rolled out legal recreational markets, said Casey Houlihan, head of ORCA.

Under the new rules in that state, dispensaries must purchase cannabis from registered producers, who are required to track their sales and report them to the government. Previously, dispensaries could buy more liberally through a medical marijuana program.

The data New Leaf collects is still fairly rough, and the marijuana market has nothing like national benchmark prices or futures contracts common to other legal commodities trades. There’s no real way for businesses to hedge, and price-setting remains largely guesswork, said Josh Richman, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Franklin BioScience, which grows cannabis and manufactures branded products, such as mints, in Colorado, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

FILE PHOTO: Different strains of marijuana are seen for sale at Harborside, one of California’s largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage/File Photo

“There isn’t something where I can sell long or short,” he said.

GRAPHIC: U.S. legalization legislation and regional pot prices – tmsnrt.rs/2AFalvZ


The retail market is somewhat more transparent, and a pricing service called BDS Analytics runs an online database of more than 140,000 types of pot and pot products. BDS sells pricing and popularity data to retail shop owners.

Roy Bingham, who co-founded BDS Analytics in 2015, is a veteran of the finance and consultancy industries.

“We knew this data is really invaluable for the retail business,” Bingham said. “There are people in this industry who have been in supply chains at Walmart, GNC and other mainstream operations.”

His firm collects point-of-sales data from retailers and lists the details for products such as “Blue Dream” and “Green Crack”.

Joseph Hopkins, co-owner of a dispensary called The Greener Side in Eugene, Oregon, uses the data to deal with suppliers.

“When vendors come in and say they have x, y, z products, I can go back and look at whatever the going rate is for that product,” he said.

Still, the metrics are imperfect. State regulators increasingly perform quality tests to ensure safety, but no one checks to make sure that what someone is selling as “Green Crack” really matches weed branded under the same name elsewhere.

The data show variations in demand for various brand among regions. For example, Blue Dream has reigned as the most popular strain for flower in Colorado and Washington since 2014. But in Oregon, tokers favor a strain known as GG – formerly “Gorilla Glue,” until its purveyors got sued by the makers of the actual glue by the same name.

Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Simon Webb and Brian Thevenot

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Mines maintain strict marijuana policies | Mining

As Nevada government grapples with how to manage the legalization of marijuana, northeastern Nevada’s major mining companies maintain a hard stance on alcohol and drug use policies for employees.

“Newmont has taken a zero tolerance position on marijuana use in the workplace,” Newmont Mining Corp. said in a statement. “Employees who test positive will be terminated.”

Nevada voters legalized the use of recreational marijuana effective Jan. 1, 2017, and medical marijuana in 2001. The state’s first medical marijuana establishments became operational in 2015.

Over the past three years, marijuana positivity in safety- sensitive and general U.S. workforces increased, according to a May 2017 Quest Diagnostics report that analyzed millions of workforce drug test results. In urine tests of the safety- sensitive workforce, marijuana positivity increased nearly 10 percent — 0.71 percent in 2015 versus 0.78 percent in 2016, the report shows.

Local governments can regulate cannabis businesses in their jurisdictions, and Elko’s elected officials have approved ordinances that prohibit marijuana establishments. In past years, Elko County prohibited recreational and medical marijuana establishments in unincorporated areas, and the City of Elko approved an ordinance Feb. 13 that bans recreational and medical marijuana businesses in the city.

“We are a mining community, and we depend on the mines for jobs, for tax revenue base, and we do not want to do something by implementing recreational marijuana and/or medical marijuana,” said city councilman Reece Keener during a Jan. 9 city council meeting. “Marijuana use is not compatible with the mining-sector employment.”

In response, councilman John Patrick Rice said that “the mines are fully capable of managing it themselves.”

Mining companies consistently adhere to policies that prohibit the use of substances — including marijuana — that could endanger employees and others at worksites where risks are present. Jobs in the industry rank among the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s top 10 most dangerous professions.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 states that an employer must “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees,” according to Section 5 of the act.

“Barrick’s intent is to provide a safe, healthy, productive and respectful work environment for all its employees, contractors, and visitors,” Barrick Gold Corp. said in a statement. “Our drug and alcohol policy was written with these priorities in mind and in accordance with current laws. We continue to monitor the issue but do not foresee a change to our policy at this time.”

The Mine Safety and Health Administration provides guidance about drug and alcohol use at mines through the Code of Federal Regulations. The administration states in 30 CFR 56/57.20001 that “intoxicating beverages and narcotics shall not be permitted or used in or around mines. Persons under the influence of alcohol or narcotics shall not be permitted on the job.”

Although cannabis is not considered a narcotic, federal law still classifies marijuana a controlled substance. The Drug Enforcement Administration categorizes cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, defined as “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the DEA. Marijuana extract is also listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.

Perhaps in response to the state law change, mining companies’ policies seem stricter now than ever, said Virginia Babiuk, spokeswoman for A1 Alcohol & Drug Collections in Elko.

“In mining, they still adhere to a very strict standard,” she said. “They follow, as well as we follow, the federal regulations.”

A1 has served Elko for eight years, plus 10 more under a previous name. The locally owned and operated company provides drug and alcohol testing for businesses, including mining companies.

“It’s still a safety concern because they don’t want to jeopardize safety-sensitive issues,” Babiuk said. “It is still not [federally] legal. Every company has their own policies about what to do with it if it showed up. The policies are strict.”

Through A1, marijuana normally is identified via urine analysis in a lab, Babiuk said. Some forms of marijuana can stay in a person’s system for days or weeks, depending on metabolism rates and frequency of use.

“Every test we take goes to a certified lab,” Babiuk said, explaining that the company follows U.S. Department of Transportation standards and every technician is certified. “That’s why we have the clients we do. They want to be safe.”

Barrick and Nemont conduct pre-employment screenings and random testing, and administer tests based on reasonable suspicion and after safety incidents or accidents, the companies stated. Barrick also requires its contractors and vendors to have drug and alcohol testing procedures for their employees.

“Employees and contractors found to be in violation of Barrick’s drug and alcohol policy face disciplinary action up to and including termination,” Barrick stated.

Lab tests detect tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the psychoactive chemical in cannabis. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is another chemical found in marijuana that has antipsychotic effects, according to the National Library of Medicine. THC and CBD can be found in medical marijuana.

Employers, including mining companies, are allowed to restrict medical marijuana in the workplace, according to the Nevada Revised Statutes.

NRS Chapter 453A.800 states that an employer is not required to allow the medical use of marijuana in the workplace. The statute also does not require an employer to modify the working conditions of a person who uses medical marijuana.

The law does, however, state that an employer “must attempt to make reasonable accommodations for the medical needs of an employee who engages in the medical use of marijuana if the employee holds a valid registry identification card,” provided that the accommodations do not “pose a threat of harm or danger to persons or property or impose an undue hardship on the employer,” or “prohibit the employee from fulfilling any and all of his or her job responsibilities.”

The law of the state might change, but the law of the land in the mining industry remains the same.

“Newmont does not foresee changes, however, Newmont continuously reviews employment policies to ensure compliance with all State and Federal laws,” Newmont said.

“Every company has their own policies about what to do with it if it showed up. The policies are strict.” Virginia Babiuk, A1 Alcohol & Drug Collections

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Is THC Lube the Future of Sex Products?

The explosive popularity of the legalized, recreational-cannabis industry has created new demand for marijuana-focused consumer products. Among the latest weed innovations to hit the market? Sex lubricants.

A new collection of men’s lubricant called Jack, from cannabis startup Altitude Products, just announced its release of the first delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) lube on the market. With its tongue-in-cheek branding, the line’s first product is called “Knob Polish” and uses THC oil derived from the marijuana plant to elevate its users’ intimate experience with therapeutic properties.

Jack was founded by a team of cannabis professionals who infused cannabis oil with a water-based personal lubricant to create the company’s latest intimate product. It promises to be “the future of sex products” without the mosh pit smell.

“It won’t make your man larger, thicker or more charming, but you won’t care…,” the company’s website states. “Use a drop or a handful to achieve optimal elevated lubrication and polish away!”

It’s safe to say Knob Polish isn’t your typical drugstore lubricant. At $10 per 2-ounce bottle, it’s definitely a premium product when it comes to the ever-innovating sex toy category.

Krista Whitley, Founder and CEO of Las Vegas-based Altitude, tells Inverse she started the company in late 2015 amid the push to legalize cannabis in Nevada. The company launched with its marijuana-themed The Weekend Box, a subscription box of curated items from the cannabis industry’s most well-known brands. Eventually, Altitude added other subscription products, Whitley says, “with the Jack lube being the latest.”

Knob Polish is Jack’s first lubricant product.

You may be wondering: Why add cannabis oil to an intimate product like lube? The answer is its healing properties.

“What THC does is act as an anti-inflammatory,” Whitley says, “Our research shows that 30 percent of women experience pain during intercourse, so CBD helps reduce that inflammation.”

She also refers to THC as “Nature’s baby aspirin,” as it’s been touted to be good for everything from hair growth and skin healing to overall pain relief.

The cannabis entrepreneur says she started the company herself because she was “determined to bring products and design techniques to cannabis and eventually lube products.”

While Jack is mainly marketed as a men’s lubricant line — hence the phallic name “Knob Polish” — the product is meant to be inclusive, with “men, women, non-binary and everyone in between” being encouraged to use it, the company’s site says. Whitley also notes that Altitude boasts a large LGBTQ-identifying customer base, currently making up 30 percent of its consumers.

The lubricant is also a simple way to introduce customers to cannabis products, Whitley says. The company’s main mission is to provide a “positive first regulated cannabis experience” for customers to help grow and unify cannabis industry’s new frontier.

“It’s a really easy way to incorporate new sex toy technology into cannabis enthusiasts’ lives,” Whitley says. “Perhaps they’re not ready to dive into futuristic sex toys like robots or dolls, but a CBD-based wellness product is a good place to start.”

If you liked this article, check out this video: “This Is What Heartbreak Does To Your Brain”

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The Challenges of Cannabis Lawyering in Nevada

Melissa Waite

Nevada’s recreational marijuana market is less than a year old, but sales and tax revenues are soaring beyond early projections. Melissa Waite, a partner at Jolley Urga Woodbury Holthus & Rose in Las Vegas, is part of the flourishing green rush in the Silver State.

Before Nevada legalized medical marijuana sales in 2014, Jolley Urga was already serving clients from highly regulated industries, including gaming, liquor licensing and transportation. Adding cannabis clients, Waite said, “was a natural transition.” Today the firm represents cultivators, producers, dispensaries and testing labs.

Waite recently spoke with The Recorder about what she’s seeing in Nevada’s booming market and developing regulations.

The Recorder: What’s the state of things in Nevada? All the headlines say marijuana sales and tax revenues are way above projections.

Waite: It’s been a pretty wild ride and the last seven months have been no exception. Generally there’s a lot of things Nevada does really well, and at the top of that list are just a number of highly regulated industries. So I think our leaders, our legislators, our regulatory agencies have really just been aggressive when they needed to be and cautious when they needed to be. They just have a good system in place with top operators and kind of balancing those business interests with the public health and safety interests.

As a result I think the initial early start period, which was the period from July 1 to the end of December, and now through this time in March has just been hugely successful without any major missteps or huge challenges that really detract from the momentum we’ve been gaining.

How easy or difficult is it for you and your clients to work within Nevada’s regulatory scheme?

Nevada is tough on its operators and demands a high level of compliance. The flip side of that is the operators in this market are pretty top-notch. So the clients we work with really appreciate the regulatory scheme, and I think they’re interested in being successful but only within the constraints of Nevada law.

For the most part, the regulatory interactions are positive and overall I think operators are pleased with the way it’s gone.

Have things subsided at all since the adult-use regulations went into effect?

We haven’t seen much of a lull at all. In 2017 we went from licensing those early-start retail operators and operating under temporary regulations to now [in late February] having our permanent regulations go through the final adoption process and take effect.

We’re anticipating another application period to open in 2018, so I think existing licensees and new applicants are all anxiously positioning themselves for that next round of licensing, which includes things like raising capital and securing new locations and doing some of that initial land use evaluation.

What is the biggest issue on your plate right now?

I think the single greatest challenge is helping clients cope with the constant changes and uncertainty that”s created by this changing legal landscape. Whether it’s the federal enforcement or compliance with the new permanent regulations that were just recently adopted, I think one theme that has remained consistent: Something is always changing.

And that’s a challenge for any business to cope with. A lot of our clients in other industries have a relatively settled scheme to operate under, and marijuana businesses don’t have that luxury.

How do you keep on top of all that change?

I find myself constantly skimming whatever our local jurisdictions are doing here. There have been a tremendous number of groups appointed by the governor and committees assembled and our Nevada Department of Taxation, the authority that regulates this body, has had a number of meetings to solicit input. So we’re just constantly listening to that input, to those changes and evaluating how things are evolving.

Are lawyers from out of state coming to Nevada, attracted by the work? How difficult would that be?

I think with some areas of law that’s easier than others. As with any specialization I think there’s something to be said about understanding the nuances of state law and particularly local law here. And that’s certainly not something that can be accomplished overnight, just based on the sheer volume of state and local regulations that we have in Nevada.

There are many aspects of operation, at least initially, that center around local government decisions. Here in Southern Nevada, not quite to the same extent as California experiences, but we have five jurisdictions just within the city of Las Vegas that all operate with their own sets of regulations and their own requirements. At some point, knowing the value of when to seek advice from a local attorney, a local lobbyist or land use consultant could really make all the difference.

What advice would you give attorneys interested in serving the Nevada cannabis industry?

I’ve seen quite an increase in the number of CLE opportunities for this area of law. So my recommendation would certainly be to seek out the Nevada-specific options just to understand the background and the overlay under which Nevada operates and also how to recognize those pitfalls and when to recognize when you need some local advice on a specific issue that might come up.

For those considering this industry, at the core these marijuana establishments are just like other businesses. They need employment law advice. They need litigation counsel. They have disputes with other owners or third parties or they have an insurance issue. They need tax advice. They need contract advice. With all of those regulated industries there are some things that counsel would certainly be qualified to advise their clients on but there are those nuances that I would encourage attorneys considering this area of law to just really educate themselves on those specific pitfalls that could pop up.

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