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Friday, April 1, 2016

Do I need a safe for my Marijuana business?


Do you need a safe? If you are not insuring your products for theft then the insurance company does not require an 800lb safe with a one hour fire rated bolted to the ground. The underwriters came upon this size after studying years of robberies of Cannabis stores. A safe’s job is to slow down the bad guys. Are all safe’s created equal? Here is a quick educational video. https://youtu.be/ltK-bDbADa8 . Just because a safe’s door looks big, doesn’t mean it keeps your products safer. There are a lot out there that have skinny metal and sheetrock.

In Washington State, I talk with Dave Giussi about quality safes. He is the owner of Graffunder Safe and Vault and understands the industry. I would not feel comfortable with $500,000 worth of concentrates being stored overnight behind just sheet metal in a locking file cabinet. Contact Dave if you want good protection for your products.

Here is why a safe is bolted to the ground: https://youtu.be/B8ViUdd-2LM

Another box store safe: https://youtu.be/BjHnklj6PAs


Friday, March 4, 2016

Products Liablity & Marijuana Insurance

Products Liability is a huge question for a business owner in today’s market. Yes, it is expensive however with the average cost of defense running at $500,000, it becomes smart money. Recalls and lawsuits are expensive. Yes, there are cases that are cheaper and plenty that are more expensive. As you are thinking of protecting your investment, think of how many product recalls occur in the US on a weekly basis. Did you know that there are websites dedicated to this? Most of us have received at least one notice in the mail concerning our cars. Why would we think that a fast moving industry such as the marijuana industry would be different?

If you are a dispensary or a retail store then you should consider adding it to your store’s insurance package. When there is a suit, everyone possible gets named and it usually takes a lawyer, money and time to get untangled from a lawsuit. Our first run in with this was the Mirth Soda in three of the legal stores in Washington State. Who do you think would be named in a lawsuit if a bottle exploded in a customer’s hands?

If you sell Vape Pens and do not have Product’s liability then you are in a risky situation. The batteries can catch fire and the US Department of Transportation has limited them on flights in the US. There have been instances where Vape Pens have exploded. Be a Captain of Industry and know every step of production underneath your operation. By understanding where your products come from and how they are insured/treated only promotes your long term success.

Grower and processors, the first chance that you can cover your products, cover them. The Marijuana industry came out of the shadows with little regulation and oversight. Do you follow good manufacturing procedures? When was the last time you checked the chemical list for banned substances? Is your equipment being cleaned between runs of different growers or are you blending products? Being careful also includes being careful about what you bring in to your product stream.

There have been policies that I have refused to sell because of clauses against Cannabis/Marijuana’s product liability. A client buying a product has an expecation of the product being safe and if they find out otherwise then you are looking down the wrong end of a lawsuit. You never know who is going to try to take a short cut below you on your product stream and you don’t know how someone is going to use your product when you sell it. If you want to protect your business then you have product liability.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Mini Marijuana Pumpkin Pie Recipe

It’s Thanksgiving and you have smoked your turkey and now it is time to get baked with your four closest buds. What better way to do it than with a tiny pie? This recipe makes four mini pumpkin pies and remembers, you can always adjust the amount of cannabis you put in according to your tolerance level.

Ingredients:
Crust
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Filling:
1 can (14 or 15 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 can (14 ounces) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 gram finely ground hash or kief
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger

Crust:
Treat them like you are Dexter, chop the butter and the shortening in to small chunks and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
While the butter is getting cold, toss in the sugar, flour, and salt in a food processor and blend everything together.
Add in the cold butter/shortening mix and pulse until everything is looks like a bunch of crumbs.
Take the mixture out of the food processor and put in to a large mixing bowl.
Add in the ice water and mix together with your hands until it balls up and is a little wet.
Pat the dough in to a disk and wrap it with plastic wrap, carefully setting it in the fridge for about 20 minutes before removing it and rolling. Cut the dough into quarters.
Take a quarter and place it on a piece of wax paper and sprinkle it with flour. Cover it with another piece of wax paper and use a rolling pin to roll the dough in to a circle to form your mini pie crust.
Put your rolled crust in to a pie pan and press the edges in firmly to make your pie forms correctly. Place the crusts in the freezer to harden while you now make the crust.
PRO TIP: If you don’t have tiny pie tins then use a muffin pan! Multi-tasker is good.
The Filling:
Take a large mixing bowl and beat the eggs with a mixer until they’re frothy.
Add in the pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, hash/kief, vanilla, cloves, sweetened condensed milk, and ginger.
Beat everything until it’s well combined.
Pour the mixture in to the prepared crusts that you have ready and bake them for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. (Small pies make for quicker baking).
Check their centers with a toothpick and if they come away clean, the pies are ready. If not, continue to check them at 5 minute intervals until the toothpick comes out clean.

Share and enjoy.

If you ever want to help out with funding a scholarship program then check out the Apple Century.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Affordable Health is here.: Health Insurance Washington 2016

Affordable Health is here.: Health Insurance Washington 2016: The first week of open enrollment has been exciting. We have had some new customers and some old. When we first started and I looked at t...



I didn't know that there are over 180 total plans that the exchange was offering. Even when I narrow it down to county, I am often sorting through 72 health insurance plans. Do not be over whelmed grab a broker. There is no charge to using one and they are trained and can advise how plans function. The smartest people that I know use advisors all the time.





Monday, October 26, 2015

Can my kids get poisened from Halloween candy?

Happy Halloween!! As a dad and a professional in the Cannabis Insurance Industry, I get a flood of scary things about the creepy neighbor down the street poisoning my 9 year old. Last year it was from the newly licensed Recreational Marijuana Stores in Washington and Colorado. It appears to have dropped off the social media darling list for now but I think that the week is just starting.

We have Police Department.
We have Forbes.
Snopes talks about it.
Wikipedia talks about it.

Let’s skip beyond the obvious that Edibles can be expensive or who would think of doing that to a kid doing Trick-Or-Treating. How many kids have been poisoned over the years from Halloween?

I am going to go with a Professional, Joel Best, a sociologist at the University of Delaware who specializes in candy tampering legends. Best looked into all the newspapers published between 1958 to 1983 and found fewer than 90 instances that might have qualified for actual candy tampering. Of those, he found five child deaths initially thought to be caused by homicidal strangers but none were investigated. For example, one was a child eating uncle’s heroin stash. A child is more likely to be injured by being struck by a car than finding candy laced by strangers.

So when Halloween rolls around have fun. Send the kids Trick-or-Treating making sure that they can see and be seen. Check the candy for anything damaged. Have fun because the odds are favor that you will get sicker from all the sugar than anything drug laced. Don’t believe the hype and have fun. If you want to talk about insuring a Cannabis business then give me a call.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

How do I start a Marijuana Business?

These days it seems like everyone is trying to find out how to start a marijuana business. Some call it a ‘Green Rush’ others just smart business. After all of these years working around the industry, I have developed some tips:

1. Walk away from the $9,000 lawyers and talk to an assortment of experts. One of the best is the 420college. They have classes in a bunch of states and assemble some of the best people that I have met in the industry. It is also at the most reasonable prices with the ability to come back.
2. Select a specialized accountant. The 280E is no joke. Find someone that will work with you and not just take information from you. Al Capone was snagged for taxes don’t be that person.
3. Select an insurance expert. Find someone that is current in the industry. You shop for experts, let your experts shop for products. They can even start advising you on underwriting pitfalls such as protecting your marijuana in a particular size of safe so that it can be insured.
4. Select a legal expert. Find someone that understands the laws. For example in Oregon there are some areas that will not allow a marijuana business.
5. Join an association and find out what associations your experts are in. Not only do some associations you get benefits, you also can meet other professionals and educate yourself. In Washington, I recommend checking out Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics as they are a good mix of benefits, lobbying and networking.
6. Build a business plan and understand product flow, people flow and cash flow. Do not bank on product selling itself and that bad things won’t happen to you. I have seen dispensaries shut down for Robberies and wind wiping out crops.

This is a business like any other with thousands of people wanting to make money. Many of which will not set themselves apart by doing the hard work and learning everything that they can. It is not for everybody. Good luck, I look forward to seeing you out there.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Lloyds and Marijuana Insurance

I get questions about Lloyds and Insuring the Cannabis Industry on a regular basis. It can be from a new client in Colorado to an old one in Washington asking about renewals. (The two questions that I have had this week).

There are actually quite a few articles on the subject talking about how horrible this event is however I have found the experience refreshingly old school. I tend to refer people to industry Articles about Lloyds leaving the business.

Today was the first time that I got a hard copy letter from the carrier stating the end of Lloyd’s and Marijuana Insurance. Check it out:

It had little effect for my clients because the previous February, I switched over to Hannover as a primary carrier. I work with multiple companies. It is an ongoing process to see what company can do for different categories of clients. I have literally told client’s if they find a company that is better than the one I am using then let me know as I am more than happy to add on to my offering.

Insurance has always been about the customer. Picking good insurance involves picking a good broker.

Monday, August 17, 2015

We will fire no weed before it's time.

This weekend was Hempfest in Seattle. 24 years of the Marijuana community coming together and having a huge party. There are bands on stage. There has been Bong-A-Thons. Celebrities show up like Tommy Chong and Woody Harrelson. Then why was I 180 miles east?

I was in for a Man –I-juana weekend. It was a week ends of firsts and of high danger. This was not a Kumbaya love fest where everyone holds hands. This was a joint smoking, beer swilling, everyone grabs a shovel to save the Farm weekend. I got in late Friday evening when one of my clients called about Chelan being fired and what was his coverages. From that we developed a plan.

We were going to talk in the morning and evaluate the situation, get power running and the farm up and running. The farm survived the night as it raged on one mountain side. The sheriff ordered an Evacuation level three (everyone out because of danger) and at one point told them that ‘they wanted that pot farm to burn to the ground.’

When I showed up the entrance to the valley was blocked and the sheriff was not letting anyone in. By checking the map, I saw that there were other entrances that got to where I needed to be so I found a secondary route into the valley. I got to drive over some power lines and headed to the farm.

I had my first introduction to the team and the first silver bullet for the night. There was ash raining down in the air as we checked the electrical lines for the greenhouses. Since everything was 110 plugs, it was a matter of running electrical cords with a generator. I had a 135 watt solar panel with an 800 watt inverter attached to the deep cycle battery. I need a better battery pack and possibly a stronger inverter. It was weird that with so much going on there was no cell services so my wife wouldn’t get my call until I hitched a ride into town.

Before diner a woodpile flared up across the way and so we grabbed shovels and went for it. A couple of the neighbors showed up with an Orchard sprayer and shovels. The neighbors were amazed that an Insurance guy would be out in the smoke with everyone and they gripped that they couldn’t get coverage for their cherries. There was a good dirt road to act as a barrier and the first appearance of the fire department. We hung out and found out that they weren’t going to do anything major until structures were threatened. This means that crops and livestock were not on the list to be saved and for the most part we were on our own.

We retreated for the food and to watch the hillside slowly burn. Booze, burgers and joints were passed around as we talked under the glow of the wildfire until one by one the majority crawled into a bed. There were rockslides, burning logs and bleating goats to wake everyone on a regular basis. Every couple of hours a spot light from the road would shine up at the fires. We would all say to each other, ’Yup that’s a fire,’ to highlight the ridiculous attitude of the officials. A few of the guys stood watch throughout the night. We knew if it hit the hay field then we could lose everything in a firestorm.

I rolled out of bed around 5:30 as the fire was to the first hay field. The fire department finally made an appearance with an engine. After a coffee run and what seemed like hours of debate. They finally let the farmer disk the field and the fire to burn itself out. We retreated again for food and work as the fire department watched the situation from a comfortable distance.

After we got generators up and running for the green house fans, it was pretty clear that the action was done and my smoky butt should go home. After a day and a half, I felt like I rubbed myself with cheap grocery store bacon. We learned some good lessons.

1. Don’t expect the police to be friendly despite doing a legal business.
2. Do expect the power to go out.
3. Do build a way to defend property against fire and a team that will fight.
4. Do look at insurance coverages for property to give you options.

Man –I-juana is a the can do spirit of the entrepreneur that will fight to build an industry. Will stand and deliver when others run from the fight. You may never see any of the guys that I say on a main stage celibrating, they are too busy with the hard work of fighting fires with shovels.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Having your business survive a Wildfire.

I started fielding calls last night for the latest round of Wildfires in Eastern Washington. With high winds, draught conditions and lightning strikes it made for a long night. Some of the best growers in the state are in remote areas that property coverage when possible is costly. With the trends of the last couple of years, the price of fire insurance for property will continue to rise. Insurance is to get you able to rebuild. Yes, it can be costly however do you want to start from zero or do you want to have money to rebuild?

One of the first things that I talk about is defendable space. Clearing brush and barren roads help reduce the chances of fire jumping. There are plants that resist wildfire better than others. Remember it is only a reduction. Keep sprinklers running to reduce flare ups on your outdoor crops. Last night was a grim reminder no barrier is 100% effective as we had fire jump the Columbia River. At almost a mile across, residents consider it one of the best barriers for fire and it failed. If you are ordered to evacuate then get out.

The major issue for remote location is power. You cannot run your fans or your pumps with no power. Some of my guys favor small generators but quite a few are on solar. I am taking out my Teardrop trailer today. It has a 135 Watt panel on top and with an inverter; I can run a large portion of a client’s farm. The lack of power left large portions of last year vulnerable during last year’s season.

Lastly, if your crops get hit by the fire retardant, rinse off as soon as possible or else your plants’ leaves will burn. It can stain paint and discolor metal. Don’t let pets drink from puddles.

Good luck out there and stay safe.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Myth: Marijuana Insurance is not consumer friendly....

You can shop for Insurance for your Marijuana Business, however the approach is different. Most people are used to getting insurance for their home or auto. There is an Independent Agents, Farmers, All State, Progressive, etc… on every corner and if you go to the internet more choices. You can have a dozen different quotes from five companies in under an hour. What happens when all those different choices have only three Companies to choose from?

You create Jam and not in a tasty, good way. It wastes your valuable time as a business owner and it can cost you money. If you want to minimize your efforts and maximize your results for insurance then this is how you do it:

You shop for the broker. Yes, you want to apply some old school methods and build a relationship. By spending five minutes with three or four different brokers, you can save you self a lot of headache and your business a lot money. Here are some questions to ask:

1. How well do you support the Cannabis Industry? Are they a member of a trade association? (Look for someone that invests into your industry instead of extracting from it.)
2. Is this a normal product line? Does the agency have people dedicated to it or do they do one or two policies a year? (You are looking for someone that has current knowledge of the industry.)
3. How many companies do you work with? Are they directly connected to a whole sale insurance company or do they go through multiple brokers? (Insurance companies can add fees pay attention to the quotes as fees must be spelled out what dollars is going where).
4. Do they bring anything else to the table? Can they help with Health Insurance or insuring your transportation vehicles? Do they know Finance Companies? (A broker that has successfully worked the Marijuana Industry will have valuable contacts and resources that can improve your business.)
5. Do you have discounts? (Yes, there are a few of us that have discounts available).
Yes, I do get quick requests of ‘send me an app’ or how much for ‘$1 million in liability’. If you want a inexpensive policy that covers what you think it covers then spend the five minutes and talk with your Broker. Ask your current broker a few of those questions. You are a business owner, shop for a broker throughout the year.

You can always make the change in the quoting process or that 30 day renewal time. The broker of record letter looks like the following.









































It is no big deal to get the policy that you want for your Marijuana business, at a good price. Just go a little old school and shop the broker not the policy. If you send a request to my website, I do ask questions.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Washington, Oregon, Colorado and California; what do they have in Common?

I think that I am done expanding for the season. After years of working in Washington State and having countless requests, I added Oregon, California and Colorado. If you are in another state, talk to me as it costs several hundred dollars and time to add a state. I don’t want to be adding fees and I like keeping the client’s costs low.

The Marijuana Industry and the Insurance Industry has a fascinating relationship. Insurance rates are built on history and known information whereas Marijuana and the Cannabis Industry is new and rapidly changing not everything is known.

For example back in May, Tom Bolt wrote to the U.S. Syndicates that Lloyds of London will no longer support insuring marijuana operations. Like an old security blanket, tossed in the corner by a growing child we had different companies to work with.

For our agency, it was no big deal as our whole sale company shifted carriers back in February to a product that the clients are enjoying. As retail insurance professional, I work maintain professional relationships with different whole sale companies to find products that suit my client’s needs. It is like going to your favorite restaurant, the specials change from Shrimp Salad to a New York Steak.

There are times that a whole sale company will reject part or a whole application due to risk. One of the more common rejections is covering property because of high fire risk. Be honest, not every company covers every risk and by hiding something when a claim arises, an insurance company could deny payment.

There are a few other agencies that work in the marijuana industry to various degrees. Some agents may be working with a whole sale broker that is going through another whole sale broker which adds fees. Some maybe doing one or two policies a year and not know what a BHO process or how Products Liability Coverage can impact your Vape Line that you are carrying.

The old rule of shop the agent and not the policy holds true. If you assume that Insurance is all the same and run out and attempt to get several different quotes to educate yourself on price then you are creating unnecessary problems. By shopping for price, you are pulling a slot machine lever hopping to match up a policy, good coverages with a good agent. Don’t gamble on you and your business’s future and check us out today.


Friday, July 24, 2015

California Marijuana Insurance


I have been running Insurebud for a few years now and have had a few requests to expand coverages into other states by friends in the Cannabis Industry. I got in this business to help out a few friends in the Seattle area and get them some inexpensive insurance to cover their dispensaries. With out advertising, I recieve a couple of requests a year that I have had to say no as I focused on Washington State.

We have two rules about insurance.

1. It has to be affordable.
2. It has to be usable.

This changed about a week ago, I had a professional call me with a large enough operation in California, that I can afford to expand. When you are a small business, everything takes time and money. If you don't spend money then you spend time. Effective 07/23/2015 Insure Bud is open for business in California.

I am looking forward to finally being able to bring information to the 420 College in California. George Boyadjian has been a huge influence in gathering professional people and teaching about this industry that it would be awesome to see him on his home turf. If you haven't attended one of his events then you are missing some of the best training that I have ever encountered for the Marijuana Industry.

If you are expecting me to use a Lloyds of London policy then think again as we moved from using them last February. In May there was a memo from a Lloyds executive stating that they were going to stop writing new policies for the Cannabis Industry and renew on a case by case basis. To build an industry, I only use products that support the industry. In six months the client responses have been 100% positive.

I have picked a rockstar of whole sale insurance company that is continually improving the product. I have secured a premium loan company that is providing good rates so the entire premium does not have to be paid up front. I have also found little things along the way such as Packaging companies, Point of Sales Debit Cards and other secondary industries that can improve your access point and your products. If you are profitable then my job is well done.

Monday, July 13, 2015

I have been asked what about Lloyds of London, too many times during the last week. Here is some clarity:

1. Yes, in May 2015, Tom Bolt wrote to the U.S Syndicates that it will no longer write for the Cannabis Industry. He is the Director of Performance Management so when he wrote: “Any policies of this type that are currently in force should not be renewed and no new business should be written. Existing quotes issued before today should be notified to your Syndicate Underwriting Performance account executive who will consider on a case by case basis whether the quote may be honoured,” it should be taken seriously.


2. In February 2015, Insurebud began transitioning its new and renewal customers to new carriers. The new carriers are higher rated. There is a wide selection of coverages. When I compared pricing directly, the new carriers were saving the clients hundreds of dollars. The response time has been better with one quote taking a two hour turnaround time when I needed a rush.

3. When shopping for your marijuana insurance for your business. You want to look for a couple of things:
a. Is your agent knowledgeable with the product line? A poorly written application can cost you money.
b. Are they adding on fees? If they are going through multiple brokerages then there are multiple fees. Yes, there are some policies that my agency takes home $80.
c. Do they offer discounts? Some agencies offer discounts and are resources to your business.
d. Are they a part time player or are they serious? The same person that does your auto policy might not be the best for your Cannabis policy. A change in law or even how an insurance policy can cost time and money to your business, an agent is another resource about your industry.

4. With Lloyd’s leaving the business, there have been fears that there will be an increase in cost. I have not found those fears to be justified. I would rather have one good carrier than ten lousy ones. There are probably 2000 policies in the United States so your common carriers such as Allstate, State Farm, etc. will probably never have a policy for the marijuana industry. They don’t want the fund an insurance pool nor do they want the risk associated with a Schedule 1 Drug.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What about Initiative 1372


Initiative 1372 is a good step to stabilize the situation short term. For better or worse Recreational Cannabis and Medical Marijuana are married in the eyes of the public. The two things to get government on your side:

1. Public safety.
2. Taxes in their direction.

Neither of those things happened with the medical system but did occur with the recreational side. Since '98 Medical Marijuana operated under the illusion of hands off system which restricted its growth. It was a free market system, growing an illegal product using any methods necessary and paying questionable taxes and licensing. It was to the point where some access points were advertising on the streets that it was tax free. For unity to occur, it is going to require people to work together. We got this far by looking at the standard, seeing that it wasn’t enough and changing the laws. It has required a lot of people giving up something to get this far. Most have forgotten that I-692 was funded by businessmen George Soros, John Sperling, and Peter Lewis using the California based organization Americans for Medical Rights.

The medical side can gain a lot by working together. There have been L&I cases where insurance companies were required by the courts to cover a patient’s medical marijuana. If we want this ability more widespread then it will require regulation on the medical marijuana side. If we want more doctors prescribing it then it will require a change in scheduling so their insurance covers it. We also need for more access points to adopt practices of medical clinics. Yes, this does mean some added costs.

The recreational side worries about lost revenue but it can make long term market gains with access to supplying medical patients. There have been estimates that it is only penetrating 3% to 5% of the market and to make gains it has to absorb from medical or the black market. With the change in laws, most law enforcement has reduced marijuana arrests which have helped the black market. Black market goods support neither medical nor recreational.

The listed sponsors of I 1372 are:

Jared Allaway, James Barber Sr, Mathew S Ramsey, Gina Garcia, Grandma Cat Jeter, Jeremy Kaufman, Frey Allyn, Dana Greetham, Stephanie Viskovich, Steven Crites, Matt Harrison, Adam Assenberg, Savhanna Carter-phipps, Hugh H. Newmark, Savhanna "Batgirl" Carter-Phipps, Joe Corcoran, Kristen Adamson, Trisha Johnson, George Foley, John Novak, David Hansen

The two systems can work for medical and recreational however there has to be some give and take. Right now the majority of us are trapped between new money and old timers that don’t want to budge. Right now we need to work on passing the 1372 however do not discount working with long term groups such as CCSE.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Death sucks but it doesn't have to kill dreams.


All deaths are premature.

I just had my first I502 grower pass away. It really sucked. There were no instuctions for what to strains to plant etc. Now the team has to deal with the grief and knowledge loss that this key member brought to their team. Despite this they have to move forward because of the dreams and the financal commitments that brought them this far. My advise is not changed: Get a plan and a life insurance policy.

If you have a team working on your operation then look at everyone. If they had to leave would you be able to keep going and produce your dreams? Would you struggle or would it look radically different? Can you deal with the emotional loss alongside the financal loss?

If the answer is yes then make a plan and get a life insurance policy to make sure that the dream moves forward. It doesn’t have to be fancy or a huge amount just enough to move your team forward. If you need a quote then ask me or my partner. If you are running a partnership or have shares then consider buy/sell agreements with the insurance policy in place to cash the estate out immediately.These are how you can retain wealth through the worst situation.

Cannabis is not plutonium. Life insurance is a serious tool for serious business. If you are looking at building your dreams then put a couple of dollars down to make sure that your friends and family can get there with out you.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Legal Issues

My father was a character (he taught himself to drive by taking cars for a 'test drive' off a sales lot and gave me a unique set of rules growing up. Rule 1. Don't get caught. Rule 2. Run real fast. Rule 3. Have a good lawyer. Rebelling is a good thing. Because of my father's example, I became a very, honest individual. I do keep in the back of my mind a collection of 'Good Lawyers'. They are useful. It seems like the Jerk factory is working overtime and not enough people want to settle disagreements like adults. The best one that I have encountered in Washington State for the Cannabis Industry would be Benjamin Schuster.
I met Benjamin Schuster with the Washington Cannabis Institute. He knows law and doesn't hide behind perception, behind organizations. This is the person that I do my best to call when I have time available in Seattle because he has a great brain for this. He is one of the best people to know in the industry. You can reach Ben at 206-818-0564 or ben@nwcannabislaw.com.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Get it Dry and move it out

I have done everything from sun drying on screens to thousands of feet of industrial dryers. As a kid on my grandparents strawberry farm, we took screens and saw horses and dried berries. As an adult, I dried hundreds of thousands of pounds of apples commercially. Dehydrating consumables has been around since the dawn of time. Time can be money and if you have more things than to watch buds dry then I want you to look at dehydration.

Artificial dehydration is easy as everything is uniform. It literally works like this: Hot air + time = moisture loss through a membrane. Hot air holds more moisture than cold air. If you go too fast then risk shocking the membrane. (It's like searing a steak). The nonconformity of organic material makes it challenging and brings artistry to science. You put in controls and adjustments and that compensates for the seemingly random nature of vegetation.

The secret to stopping bacteria and mildew is moisture control. Living Cannabis plants have about 80% water. Fungi likes product with more than 15% moisture. If it is below 10% then it is brittle and can break apart. (Depending on what you are doing this low moisture level may be desired!)The sweet spot is between 10% and 15%. You want this moisture level uniform throughout the product.

Most are afraid of oven drying because it can lead to harsh product. (Remember that seared steak I was talking about?) Even grey mold dies if plants are carefully and quickly dried. Oven-cured pot rots less than air or sweat-cured crops. The risk is oxidizing the THC and reducing its potential. I am not going to tell you all of the secrets. The recommendations that I have seen is keep it below 200 Fahrenheit and no longer than 10 minutes under heat.

When you start adding checks to the moisture level, you will see some things happen. You will find out that it does not dry in a uniform manner. There will be plateaus where your pot keeps the same moisture for a long time and valleys where it dries quickly. A hot product will speed up extraction of moisture while increased airflow will pull it from the outside. There are limits to drying product.

Just like growing, controlling the environment, you control the quality of your product. What happens to your process if it is raining or temperature is below freezing? Are you checking the moisture content of the air? How are you maintaining the moisture level? By asking and answering questions, you create a process for excellent finished product.

There is even machines like the CannTrol Vulcan 50 which is designed to go into a 1300 square foot room and dry 50 lbs of weed in 7 to 10 business days. If you have $20K extra and quality smokable product in about a 1/3 of the time then this is an option.

If you have product that is hanging around for weeks in drafty warehouse then you are not making money and you are just exposing yourself to risk. Look at improving your drying process.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Halloween Edition

As a dad with an eight year old, I have the time of my life with Halloween. We dress up in costumes, carve pumpkins, trick or treat. We love the holiday. It is a tradition. Heck, even my parents met on a Halloween. I was wondering how legalized marijuana was going to effect this holiday.

I started looking around. How many poisoning in the last 50 or so years? The truth in the matter is that the odds of encountering doped candy from a stranger is close to winning the lottery twice, the same day. Until 2000, there hadn't been a single case of a stranger tampering with candy and getting a child sick. It just doesn't happen. The one that sparks the biggest fear was from an insurance fraud case in 1974.

Edibles from a 502 Retailer have labeling guidelines. They will look something like the cookie to the left with the dosage and information clearly marked. What are the odds that someone is going to slip your kid a $40 cookie when spending $7 for a bag of little Snickers bars to hand out seems like a lot. If you want to take a look at the requirements then look at 314-55-105. It is a pretty ugly base and doesn't look like your typical Halloween candy.

So go out have fun this holiday. Halloween is one of the safest holidays out there (be watchful of traffic). Legal Marijuana will have little impact on Halloween except for fear driven posts. Here a video to share:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Croptober Fest!!! Oct 25


Did you go to Hempfest? How about Cannabis Cup? Who wants a event closer to home? The 25th is fast approaching. In what you save in gas, you can meet some of the people that are changing the Cannabis Industry here in Washington State. Yes, there are both Medical and Recreational businesses here so it is an excellent networking resource.


Cause M is a great group. I have been trading information with them for a few months and got to meet them for the first time at the Spokane CCSE mixer. I have attended a few of their meetings on Wednesday nights and you really never know who is going to pop in with some ground breaking information. Last weeks meeting, we worked on selecting what was important for this next legislative session.

The location for Croptober is:

Yakima Valley Hop & Brew Supply
702 N 1st Ave
Yakima, WA 98902

Tickets: Saturday, October 25, 2014 from 12:30 PM to 11:30 PM (PDT)
Don't Bogart this info, share and get involved.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why I hate the excise tax on 502 and why you should too.

It drives revenue to the state and this is a great thing. A lot of money to the state, Spokane Review estimates $25,000,000 by next July. As I became involved with the industry and found more professionals, I could see some serious problems that are not thought out. Some people have leapt without understanding a How do excise taxes impact the business owner with a sole proprietor or LLC Corporation? Where is it going to be spent?

1. The Excise Tax is part of your gross receipts. It is not written off so you pay more for your insurance policy. I had a client come to me yesterday with a story of another agent telling him to exclude the excise tax from his gross receipt. The simplest way is the amount of money to get product out the door is your gross receipt.
2. The business owner has to list the tax with the IRS as profit. That’s right say hello to higher income taxes to the Feds. The comfort is that when you retire, you will enjoy the higher contribution that you made if Social Security is still around.
3. Say goodbye to reduced Health Insurance Premiums if you are planning on using the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) on the individual level. The figures are based on your income level so if you have a modest production that you are paying $100,000 in taxes and squeezed out $15,000 in personal income instead of no cost health insurance then you are paying the full amount. Since the Health Insurance is in a transition figuring out premium levels for the next couple of years this could mean thousands if you are an older citizen or have a large family. Your staff can get some great benefits for low cost however whoever is taking the tax burden will be paying higher premiums for their health insurance.

I have known several successful entrepreneurs in the medical marijuana industry stay away from Recreational for some of those three reasons. You can find me at CCSE, Cause M and other organizations for the industry talking about how to improve your Cannabis business. I spend money and time to help hire lobbyist to get the laws written to improve our industry.

My biggest beef is that 50% of the funds go to a program that ended in 2013 and the legislatures are fighting over which special interest receives the funds. It is Cannabis money and It needs to be put to a good use. If this isn’t a reason for rewriting laws then I don’t know what is.

If the excise tax stays in place then the Recreational Cannabis Industry will struggle with profits. If it moves to a pass through tax then at least the business owners have some tools for the profitability of their business that other industries have the luxury to use. Get involved with professionals in the Industry. Time is running out and a lot of work has to be done to create functional laws. Help keep the dream alive by owning your business.

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