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Customer Story: Kia Ora Kannabis Leads the Retail Revolution in Thunder Bay

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Kia Ora Kannabis Kingston - DJ and Matt

When DJ O’Connors and Matt Harrison opened Kia Ora Kannabis in Thunder Bay Ontario, they knew that being ordinary was not an option. To guarantee their success in the dispensary business, they would need to create a unique brand and an unforgettable customer experience. And that’s exactly what they’ve done.

By focusing on the key fundamentals of a successful retail business, and putting the right systems in place, they’ve grown to be the biggest retail success story in Thunder Bay. Now they’re willing to share what they’ve learned to help others who are new to the game. 

Teaming Up With the Right Tech Partner

“We had researched a few other POS providers, but didn’t feel they were the best fit to represent our brand,” DJ says, reflecting on the search for the right technology partners.

The two owners trace their fast track to success back to a free industry seminar hosted by Cova Software in February 2019. They felt the Cova team were the perfect partners to provide not only the tech, but the knowledge, experience and support needed for a successful retail launch. 

Cova wasn’t just selling a product. They genuinely wanted to help retailers who wanted to get into the business, and share best practices and what should be considered to be successful, says DJ.

“That seminar covered everything on how to be successful,” adds Matt. 

The Cova seminar coached retails how to provide the best customer experience possible by leveraging  industry-leading POS technology, as well as teaching crucial business concepts such as how to design, build and market a retail store. 

One of the key concepts was branding, and how to tell a unique story through environment and experience. The two entrepreneurs used these important fundamentals to craft their unique brand concept – and thus Kia Ora was born. 

Creating a Unique Brand Experience

Kia Ora Kannabis Kingston

‘Kia Ora’ means many things in the Maori language – drawing from DJ’s New Zealand roots. It can mean ‘welcome’, ‘hello’ or ‘good health’. The two founders wanted their dispensary to be a living embodiment of these concepts, with a welcoming atmosphere that would put visitors at ease, especially those new to the retail Cannabis experience.

Inspired by design ideas from the Cova seminar, they took the concept of adding a calming water feature and ran the extra mile with it. Not only did they create a Koi pond with 12-inch fish (that customers can’t stop talking about), but they hand-built the entire store to capture the essence of the great outdoors.

True to their unique brand, a ceremonial haka dance ceremony ushered in the grand opening of Kia Ora, the first locally-owned cannabis retail store in Thunder Bay. Now, less than a year later, business is booming, even among challenging times and fierce competition.

…But the journey wasn’t always so easy.

Following the Cova Roadmap to Success

“Building the store before having the license was a very risky investment,” DJ recalls. The owners began with no guarantees that they would even get a license to sell cannabis. Following the guidance of their partners at Cova, Matt and DJ decided to open and start operating Kia Ora as soon as possible. 

They survived off of accessory sales for an entire year, because they knew how important it was to build brand recognition and to get their processes down by mastering the POS system.   

The first days, weeks and months of a new dispensary can be chaotic. POS downtime or compliance violations could deal a catastrophic blow to a new business. DJ and Matt were already industry pros by the time they received their license to sell cannabis in June 2020. 

Cova POS was worth every dollar and cent,” DJ says. “We used Cova to run and sell accessories first. When we switched over to cannabis sales, we were golden. We had all our ducks in a row. We knew we could handle high volume without worrying about the system crashing.

“We knew all the reporting would work,” adds Matt. “We already knew everybody on the Cova team, and who to talk to if we needed support.”

Powerful Data Enables Better & Faster Transactions

Cova’s backend puts valuable information at the fingertips of retail owners. It’s easy to make quick decisions and optimize the business on-the-fly.

“Cova’s dashboard and reporting allows us to easily look at how much we’re selling, average transaction cost, and how much one budtender is selling versus another,” Matt explains. “We can see it in real-time. By 5:00pm we pretty much know what sales are going to be for the day.”

With these powerful analytics, owners can make real-time decisions about staffing, product selection, customer experience and more – making sure operations are smooth and they’re always hitting their targets.

Retail sales can be exhausting, especially in the early days of a new store. The visibility and control of Cova POS allows owners to monitor their stores from anywhere. They can even take well-deserved time off without losing operational insights. DJ was able to watch live from Cuba as Kia Ora broke a new sales record! 

Fast Transactions Help Improve Customer Experience

Kia Ora Kannabis, Kingston ON - Powered by Cova POS

People spend more when they’re having a good time,” Matt says. Customer experience is everything. We don’t sell weed; people can get that anywhere. People come back for the customer experience. We leverage the Cova technology to make a better experience for our customers.

Cova software is quick and easy to implement. New budtenders can be trained and ready to go on the simple and intuitive interface in a matter of minutes. Before long, using the POS becomes second nature and effortless.

Instead of fumbling around with a clunky interface, employees can focus their time and energy into doing what really matters – providing an amazing customer experience.

Other POS systems run into frequent delays and lengthy transaction times. Cova is lightning fast, making purchasing cannabis and accessories a breeze.

It’s no wonder that Kia Ora is the highest rated retail cannabis store in Thunder Bay, with over one-hundred 5-star reviews. Kia Ora has also started to pursue new opportunities for growth, beyond the walls of their physical store. 

Cannabis Delivery Made Easy Through a Cova Preferred Partner

“We’ve already sold over $80,000 worth of product on Dutchie in the last month,” Matt reveals.

Cova easily integrates with other software and services, including dispensary delivery services that can add a new line of revenue to a retail business. By integrating with trusted sites such as Dutchie, a new brand can enjoy an instant boost of credibility and reach new audiences who may not have otherwise found their physical location.

With all this sales volume, Kia Ora needs to make sure they are always operating above-board and following regulations, which they trust Cova to help them do.   

A Trusted Name in Compliance

“When we had our inspection, they asked what our point of sale company was. We said ‘Cova’, and that was the end of the discussion,” says DJ.

As an industry-leader in POS systems, Cova reporting is known and trusted by regulatory agencies. Cova provides the training and systems to make sure that retail owners stay compliant. Owners can rest assured they can easily provide the necessary reports, at the touch of a button, whenever required.

By making sure they have their bases covered, in terms of compliance, Kia Ora is set up for long-term success. 

Looking Toward The Future

“We knew we didn’t want to just open one store, we wanted multiple stores,” Matt and DJ confess.

Due to the resounding success in Thunder Bay, the owners of Kia Ora didn’t wait long to make that vision a reality. Their second store is already under construction, and is highly anticipated to break new records upon opening.

What has allowed them to grow so quickly and build a strong brand reputation that keeps customers coming back to Kia Ora? It’s all in the customer experience. 

If you’ve got a retail vision, Cova’s got the versatile tech you need to automate compliance, improve efficiency, and free up your time to focus more on the experience you want to deliver.

LET'S TALK

Source: https://www.covasoftware.com/blog/customer-story-kia-ora-kannabis-leads-the-retail-revolution-in-thunder-bay

Cannabis

Cannabis and the 2020 Election

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Next month, five states will be voting on seven ballot measures to legalize cannabis. A variety of proposals, including constitutional amendments, statutory initiatives, and alternative measures, could establish new medical cannabis markets in two states and expand legalization to include adult use legalization in four states. Three of these proposals would enshrine cannabis possession and consumption within state constitutions.

This article will explore the proposals themselves as well as the short-term implications of legalization on existing license holders and the industry.

2020 cannabis ballot measures policy focus

State-by-State Review

Arizona

Arizona voters have another opportunity to legalize cannabis next month, after narrowly defeating adult use legislation four years ago. In recent years, the Copper State’s medical cannabis market has seen significant MSO expansion, and new mandatory testing requirements launch at the beginning of November.

There are roughly 150 medical cannabis licenses in the state currently — all of which would receive priority status in the application process for adult use licensing. Additionally, diversity applicants and applicants in areas currently lacking cannabis retail access would be fast-tracked applicants.

Prop. 207 does include local control and opt-out provisions, and a new 16% tax would direct revenue to a variety of funds, while retail operators would be able to launch delivery services as soon as 2023.

Mississippi

Mississippi could become the 34th state to legalize cannabis for medical use, but two competing measures are creating complications on the ballot. A citizen-driven campaign led to the placement of Initiative 65, while the legislature responded with Alternative Initiative 65A.

Initiative 65 establishes a medical cannabis program similar to the program structure of many other states; with clearly defined qualifying conditions, possession limits, taxes, registration fees, and a regulator — the state health department. The alternative includes no definitions and only allows smokable cannabis products for terminally ill patients, leaving a highly restrictive market requiring enabling legislation.

Previous bills have been proposed, but never brought to a vote — leaving some skeptical that anything at all may come of Initiative 65A.

Montana

Montana’s existing medical cannabis program relies on a system of caregivers who cultivate cannabis and make manufactured products, including edibles and concentrates. Additionally, there is a limited number of licensed dispensaries throughout the state. Legalization would be a major evolution for Montana, which has seen multiple ballot initiatives and legislative interventions in recent years.

Two measures have been placed: one constitutional amendment to set the age of 21 as the minimum buying age and a measure to establish a commercial adult use market. While no early sales provisions are included, Montana companies would be the only businesses able to start sales for the first year after legalization.

New Jersey

New Jersey voters may make history, legalizing the adult use of cannabis and triggering a race among Mid-Atlantic states to implement sales first. While all of New Jersey’s neighbors have existing medical cannabis programs, none have taken steps to expand further. In recent years, numerous regional state legislatures have attempted to legalize, and Public Question 1 may tip the scales for an entire region with over 50 million residents.

The text of the amendment is brief, but it establishes a definition for ‘cannabis’ while permitting possession, use, and industry operations for adults ages 21 and up. The existing Cannabis Regulatory Commission would be tasked with regulating the industry, but the state legislature must first come to an agreement and pass enabling legislation.

Currently, New Jersey’s medical market includes roughly fifteen licenses, including cultivation and manufacturing, as well as a limited number of dispensaries. The next phase for cannabis in NJ is uncharted territory for now: it is unclear if existing licenses will be given the first opportunity to serve the general public.

Given licensing delays and a slow rollout in Illinois, lawsuits and delays could be in New Jersey’s future — with some analysts suggesting a four-year timeline from amendment passage to full implementation. This may be good news for MSOs, including Columbia Care, Verano, and Acreage Holdings, among others.

South Dakota

South Dakota has long been unfriendly to cannabis in all forms and has some of the nation’s strictest marijuana possession penalties. While other non-medical states have at least given a nod to low-THC medical hemp programs, the Mount Rushmore state hadn’t established any kind of hemp or cannabis program at all until the legislature passed industrial hemp legalization this past spring.

Now, the state could make history as the first to legalize cannabis for medical and adult use purposes at the same time. Two proposals are on the ballot: an initiated measure to launch a medical cannabis program, and a constitutional amendment to fully legalize cannabis, with provisions including adult use, a medical program, and expanded hemp legalization.

Medical use is enshrined in both proposals, while the constitutional amendment would prevent the legislature from any type of statutory tampering to limit a retail market. The constitutional amendment would establish a commercial market for both adult use and medical purposes. Medical use would include home cultivation. As there is no cannabis market in the state at this time, no businesses would be able to take advantage of “early sales” provisions, as seen in other states.

Analysis

Previously, medical cannabis programs and commercial licensing schemes predated adult use legalization, and the majority of these proposals came into existence by way of the ballot. In most of the earliest states to fully legalize, this was the case: Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, and Nevada all had some form of voter-approved medical cannabis legislation first.

Implementation of adult-use legalization has, however, varied across the states. In these proposals, Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey have existing medical cannabis infrastructures, but the implementation of adult use will likely lead to program changes.

Some legalization measures have allowed for existing medical dispensaries to launch sales to adults during a period of late-stage rulemaking. These businesses have operated under modified compliance rules, with track-and-trace requirements and varying tax rates until legalization rules are completed.

After Oregon voters approved legalization in 2014, the state’s medical market rapidly expanded with early sales on the horizon. At one point, there were more medical dispensaries in the state than Starbucks or McDonald’s locations. That number later dropped as businesses converted their licenses over.

For some of the states with legalization on the ballot this year, the transition out of medical will pose challenges: product shortages, long customer lines, new tax rates, uncertainty over product offerings, and testing requirements on top of an already difficult pandemic business environment.

Overall, legalization measures promise to bring a significant impact to consumers and patients in Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. It’s hard to quantify the short-term improvements to consumers and industry operators, as passage of these initiatives will set off a flurry of legislative and regulatory discussion over the holidays and into the spring. Existing licensees and hopeful applicants should keep an eye for new opportunities: public comment periods, application deadlines, and new sales opportunities on the horizon.

Source: https://cannabiz.media/cannabis-and-the-2020-election/

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Cuomo advisor predicts New York will legalize pot in April

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s advisor on marijuana policy said this week the Empire State could legalize weed in April of next year with a bill that would serve as a model for other states looking to allow recreational pot in the United States.

Axel Bernabe, assistant counselor to Governor Cuomo, was a guest on the Under The Canopy series, recently launched by Canopy Growth, where he discussed cannabis legalization efforts in New York. According to Bernabe, a bill to legalize marijuana will be introduced through the state budget in January again, while he expects legalization to take effect by April. 

As New Jersey appears ready to legalize marijuana this November, Bernabe said the Cuomo administration has been watching its neighbor “closely.”

“We’re watching New Jersey closely. We’ve always been confident that we’d get to this before New Jersey, so if they pass the referendum they still have to have an agreement between the governor and the Senate over there,” he said.

“If New Jersey can beat us to it, they’ll get a gold star but I still think we’re gonna set the model for this,” Bernabe added, referring to the bill’s social equity provisions, among other things. 

During the interview, Bernabe also said that New York has been monitoring how legalization has been unfolding in Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts, but has also consulted with states on the West Coast, where the legal pot industry is larger and more developed. 

Regarding hemp, Cuomo’s advisor said the state will release its guidelines and regulations for CBD consumer products early next year as well.

“Those products are already out there, so there’s no sense in pretending they’re not,” Bernabe explained. 

For this reason, the governor and his team have been working on guidelines, which will include maximum dose per serving labeling and warnings about potential THC content in various hemp-derived products. New York has copied a lot of Florida’s hemp regulations while crafting its own policies, Bernabe stated, before telling Canopy Growth’s David Culver that the administration is currently putting the finishing touches to the guidelines. 

Although Governor Cuomo promised his state would legalize weed soon, marijuana legalization was left out of the New York state budget for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which hit the state particularly badly earlier this year.

Cuomo previously proposed working in conjunction with the neighboring states of New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania on coordinating a recreational marijuana system for the region. 

Source: https://greencamp.com/cuomo-advisor-predicts-new-york-will-legalize-pot-in-april/

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PURA Concludes Farmersville Meetings – Deal Imminent

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Dallas, TX – October 20, 2020 – OTC PR WIRE — Puration, Inc. (OTC PINK: PURA) today announced that CEO Brian Shibley concluded a key meeting yesterday essential to finalizing the acquisition of 72-acre property in Farmersville, Texas central to the company’s recently announced Farmersville Brands strategy.  “The acquisition is imminent. Look for an announcement very soon,” said Mr. Shibley.

PURA has scheduled the release of a comprehensive update this Friday, October 23, 2020, to provide the latest information on progress with the Farmersville Brand strategy. The Friday update this Friday will include the latest on the company’s planned dividend of PAO Group, Inc. (OTC PINK: PAOG) stock in conjunction with PURA’s sale of its cannabis cultivation business to PAOG.

For more information on Puration, visit http://www.purationinc.com

Disclaimer/Safe Harbor:

This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Securities Litigation Reform Act. The statements reflect the Company’s current views with respect to future events that involve risks and uncertainties. Among others, these risks include the expectation that any of the companies mentioned herein will achieve significant sales, the failure to meet schedule or performance requirements of the companies’ contracts, the companies’ liquidity position, the companies’ ability to obtain new contracts, the emergence of competitors with greater financial resources and the impact of competitive pricing. In the light of these uncertainties, the forward-looking events referred to in this release might not occur. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Contact:
Puration, Inc.
Brian Shibley,
info@aciconglomerated.com
(800) 861-1350

Source: https://otcprwire.com/pura-concludes-farmersville-meetings-deal-imminent/

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