Despite the many historical and political similarities, there is very little discussion regarding the ties between the LGBTQ movement and the fight to legalize cannabis in the US. Many of the most prominent, gay-rights activists also played pivotal roles in raising awareness about cannabis-related issues.
“The genesis of the cannabis movement, gay people served at the heart of it,” said Michael Koehn, 75, of San Francisco, an activist who has been heavily active in both LGBTQ and cannabis issues since he was diagnosed with HIV in 1985. However, while both battles have drawn many parallels over the years, it seems the burgeoning cannabis market is becoming increasingly mainstream and turning its back on the LGBTQ community.
It’s Pride Month and in our opinion, the best way to celebrate is by raising awareness about past and current issues, as well as shed light on the many contributions of the LGBTQ community to the cannabis industry. To learn more about activism and other cannabis-related issues, and for exclusive deals on flowers and other products, make sure to subscribe to the CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter
Golden State Beginnings
The connection between the LGBTQ movement and cannabis legalization goes back decades, and, like many other major industry developments, has roots in California. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana 25 years ago, but according to David Goldman (Koehn’s husband), “If it hadn’t been for activity among gay folks, we wouldn’t have had medical cannabis on the ballot in 1996.”
Key activists in the gay community were campaigning for cannabis rights since the late 1970s, when positive HIV cases began to rise but treatment and research efforts were at a standstill. When AIDS starting spreading like wildfire through the gay community, suffering patients demanded medical cannabis to treat the anorexia, wasting syndrome, and other symptoms associated with both the disease and the few prescription medications that existed at the time.
In response, the federal government’s Public Health Service quickly closed the one legal source of supply in the country, which was coming from University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, the only program to be awarded a government grant to grow and study medical cannabis. This disgusting display of ignorance and lack of compassion sparked a grassroots movement that united two “countercultures” and would eventually become a widespread political movement around the world.
LGBTQ activists had a huge hand in helping pass a number of major pieces of cannabis legislation in the state, starting in 1978 when San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in the entire nation, became a major political supporter of Proposition W. It was the first proposition that essentially decriminalized the possession, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana within city limits, and the first bill of its kind to pass in the US, although it was eventually overturned.
Even Proposition 215, the first bill ever to fully legalize medical marijuana use, was co-written by Dennis Peron, a gay man, Vietnam Air Force veteran, and well-known pot dealer who lost his significant other to AIDS. After getting arrested in his home for providing marijuana to his dying lover, Peron put all his efforts into helping pass Proposition P in 1991, which allowed San Francisco-area doctors to ‘recommend’ medical marijuana to patients as they saw fit.
Then in 1994 – Peron along activist Mary Jane Rathbun (Brownie Mary), and other industry advocates – opened the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club, which was essentially the first medical cannabis dispensary in the state. A couple years later, Peron was co-writing Proposition 215, which passed with a 55.6% vote and officially legalized medical cannabis use in the Golden State.
A Nationwide Movement
“Cannabis and queers have always shared in the fight for respect and legal recognition, which inherently links the two communities,” explains Sophie St. Thomas, a queer sex and cannabis writer, and author of Finding Your Higher Self: Your Guide to Cannabis for Self Care.
The fight for both LGBTQ rights and cannabis legalization continues to this day, now spanning across multiple industries, political parties, and countries. The movement is no longer alternative or unconventional, and advocates can be found in many different fields and walks of life. They include A-list celebrities, major politicians, healthcare workers, media personalities, big-time investors and entrepreneurs, and more.
A perfect example is Colorado Governor Jared Polis, the country’s first openly gay Governor and a fervent defender of cannabis reform. He also supports the use of therapeutic psychedelics and is expected to soon sign a bill that would decriminalize psilocybin in the state of Colorado.
“I personally know hundreds of LGBTQ industry members, from CEOs to budtenders, who believe in the plant as much as they believe in who they are,” stated Kyle Porter, president of CMW Media and a member of the community himself. “Without exact statistics, I can confidently say that LGBTQ people have been an integral part of this cause, whether publicly or not, and continue to be leaders and advocates striving for destigmatization and legalization.”
Two other notable names include writer and media personality Dan Savage, a marijuana-themed movie festival called SPLIFF, that bills itself as “a film festival made by the stoned for the stoned.” Fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race will know the name Laganja Estranja, who is known for her intense choreography and, of course, her unwavering love for cannabis. Aside from her performances, Laganja’s social media is largely focused on cannabis awareness, education, and activism.
“It’s still an LGBT issue because it’s still not accessible to everybody everywhere,” Paul Scott, a longtime marijuana and HIV activist and current president of the Los Angeles Black Gay Pride Association. “HIV/AIDS is still high in black populations in the South. And they can’t get pot. They still have to break laws. So absolutely it is.”
Misconceptions, Underrepresentation, and Exclusion
While cannabis and LGBTQ issues are both very politicized and interconnected in many ways, it seems the cannabis community is turning its back on LGBTQ business owners and consumers. According to a compelling article by Leafly’s Rob Csernyik, “as cannabis companies find their footings in a now-legitimate industry, in a sector still dominated by stereotypes and stoner tropes, the industry often overlooks LGBTQ representation.”
This sentiment is echoed by numerous other cannabis industry writers, including Tessa Love who made a similar point in a 2017 article for Slate. “Homophobia [in the cannabis industry] is even more of a slap in the face to the gay community,” Tessa comments. “Given the fact that the legalization movement rode on the coattails of the gay rights movement.”
Kyle Porter also made some interesting comments on this topic, stating that LGBTQ still face a lot of “resistance” in today’s cannabis industry. “The cannabis industry is currently white male-driven with many big corporate players entering the space daily. As with any major corporate environment, it can be difficult for gay leaders to be themselves while still earning the respect of potential clients and investors, who are predominantly straight. While this should not deter LGBTQ individuals from entering the space, it presents an extra obstacle to overcome in establishing one’s self or business in the industry.”
Amber Senter, co-founder and executive director of Supernova Women, a group of women of color in the cannabis industry, and who is queer herself, says she hopes that legalization will increase LGBTQ cannabusiness ownership, but worries that may not be a realistic outlook. “When cannabis started out, it was for people who weren’t seen as normal in society,” Senter, who’s queer, says. “So in the beginning, you had a lot of obviously LGBT people. Now with everything moving toward being corporate, they’re pushing everyone who was in it before out. There will be more opportunities overall, so there will be more opportunities for LGBT people. But at the same time, the culture is not the same.”
Others are more optimistic, and believe that the cannabis industry is progressive and welcoming to all, especially compared to other industries. Josh Crossney, CEO of the Cannabis Science Conference, said in a Forbes interview that, “The cannabis industry is the most accepting and inclusive professional community that I have ever been a part of.” At the same time, he made sure to emphasize that inclusion and representation are NOT the same thing.
“I do feel that the LGBTQ community is underrepresented,” he added. “There is an opportunity for further inclusion and representation in the cannabis space.” This seems like a fair and accurate way to sum it up. We’re on the right track, but we could do better.
We Need More Than Just “Rainbow Shit”
According to the 2015 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, sexual minority adults are more than twice as likely to use cannabis products when compared to heterosexual adults. Nearly 31% of LGBTQ adults reported using cannabis regularly, compared to roughly 13% of heterosexual adults. Although initially the reason for the medical marijuana push was AIDS-related, today, it has to do with mental health.
Rates of depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, homelessness, addiction, insomnia, and other stress-related disorders are much higher among the LGBTQ community, due to marginalization, oppression, harassment, and assault.
Almost a third of sexual minority adults (30.7%) reported using marijuana in the past year, compared to 12.9 percent of heterosexual adults. These higher rates of marijuana use coexist with the higher rates of depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, homelessness, and physical pain that LGBTQ people experience due to marginalization and oppression.
However, despite these statistics, LGBTQ consumers are feeling equally ignored by cannabis companies. A survey conducted by Grindr’s and Brand Innovators, a market-research firm, asked 4,100 participants how they viewed companies that advertise to the LGBTQ community. In total, only 15.6% reported feeling “very positively” towards companies that do these ad campaigns ONLY during pride month.
For cannabis companies that advertise “regularly or continually” to the LGBTQ communities, that support rose to 40 percent. As legalization numbers continue to rise, the LGBTQ niche should garner even more advertiser attention. One obvious issue here, is there will inevitably be many companies that don’t actually support gay rights and will just slap a rainbow on some of their products trying to cash in on the movement.
“It’s one thing to co-opt rainbows,” says Daniel Saynt, founder of the NSFW Creative, a media brand that specializes in cannabis and sexual-wellness content. “It’s another to put your money where it matters. If a brand is giving back to a cause, it makes for a more authentic collaboration and helps further LGBTQ support outside of Pride month.”
St. Thomas agrees, noting that brands should “work directly with the queer community all year round, give to LGBTQ+ charities, and not just sell rainbow shit.”
Although it remains infrequently discussed, the connection between LGBTQ rights and cannabis reform is undeniable. “Cannabis wouldn’t be legal without the work of queer AIDS activists, so we’re going to have to see more than rainbows.” Sophie St. Thomas says. “Besides, many queer folks are too stylish to want to walk around with a rainbow vape pen anyways, it’s hard to match with an outfit.”
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Best Vegan Cannabis Recipes and the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
Although the connection between food and health is quite complex and significant, the medical community and mainstream media still places very little emphasis on the importance of a natural diet. Roughly 160 million people in the US suffer from hypertension, heart disease, and/or diabetes, and most primary care physicians would rather prescribe them a cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs (many of which carry the risk of dangerous side effects) when the answer to their health problems could be as simple as changing what they eat.
Enter the world of plant-based diets. Every year, a growing number of people are cutting out meat, excess sugar, sodium, and products with preservatives and artificial ingredients in exchange for better health and longevity. Some people are becoming vegetarian, some vegan, some full-time, some part-time, but regardless, the interest in these types of diets is on the rise.
A vegan diet is comprised of only plant-based foods. People who choose to follow this diet avoid all animal products including meat, dairy, eggs, and sometimes even honey. Some people go vegan for health reasons, while others make it a lifestyle choice. Many vegans choose this way of life citing animal welfare, environmental benefits, and sustainability.
A large number of vegans also avoid cosmetics, clothing, and other products that contain both animal DNA as well as artificial ingredients. The urge to go all-natural can spill over into many other areas of life, especially medicinal practices. In addition to changing diets, many health-conscious individuals are looking at natural alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs as well. Note that most western medications DO contain animal products, or at the very least, extensive testing on animals was conducted in order to get that product on the market.
Research suggests that the number of cannabis users who are vegan is significantly higher than vegans in the general population, indicating that pot users are among the growing number of people seeking healthier options in all areas of life.
Food is the best, and there are a million interesting edibles on the market for cannabis! Whether you like your cannabis edibles sweet, or salty, (or vegan), there’s something for everyone. Some are higher in CBD, some in THC, and some are made with delta-8 THC, the alternate form of THC on the market, which produces slightly less psychoactive effect, and a more energetic, clear-headed high. No matter how you like to consume cannabis, there are plenty of options, so make sure to subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter, your source for all the most up-to-date cannabis information, as well as access to exclusive deals on flowers and other products.
The Rise of Veganism
Numerous studies and surveys report that around 3% of the people in the United States are fully vegan, and an additional 5% are vegetarian. Worldwide, an estimated 79 million people are following plant-based diets. Because plant-based diets are rich in nutrients, and low in saturated fats and preservatives, they are ideal for preventing many diet-related, preventable chronic diseases.
Data from numerous other sources indicates that this rise has been particularly large over the last couple years, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, a report from the Plant-Based Foods Association found that sales of vegan and vegetarian foods increased by 90% overall during the pandemic, and specifically, plant-based meat products saw a 148% rise. Another report from HappyCow, an online resource for vegans, found that during the pandemic, more vegan and vegetarian restaurants opened than closed. It’s one of the few industries that thrive while many others shuttered.
Although the root causes of the shift are related to health and environmental concerns, it seems that social media is playing a substantial role in fueling the flame of curiosity. A number of popular celebrities have been following a vegan diet for years including Billie Eilish, Woody Harrelson, Zac Efron, Natalie Portman, and Miley Cyrus, just to name a few. On Instagram, #vegan has more than 90 million posts and the vegan groups on Facebook have hundreds of thousands of followers.
Giles Quick, director at market researcher Kantar Worldpanel, said: “The vegan market has changed fundamentally in the last six or seven years – it’s now for everyone. “Social media has brought it to the forefront of customer’s minds, and the mainstream. It’s not seen any more as a choice for life, but as a choice for one meal, one moment, for one or two days a week.” Flexitarianism, part-time vegetarianism or veganism, is becoming increasingly popular.
Grocery store chains and fast food restaurants around the world are starting to take notice. In the US, a popular brand of easy frozen products that are completely plant-based, Morningstar Farms, makes a variety of plant-based burger patties, “chicken” patties, meatless meatballs, and more. And a range of fast-food companies, including McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, and Carl’s Jr. are providing vegan/vegetarian options to their customers.
Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that roughly 40 percent of annual deaths are preventable, and a leading cause of what’s driving the high number of deaths is a poor diet. Nutritional diseases include some obvious deficiencies or excesses (ie vitamin deficiency and excess of saturated fats), obesity, and eating disorders, as well as chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. There are also a number of other disorders, like allergies, that aren’t necessarily caused by food, but do respond to dietary treatments.
According to a survey of more than 1,000 adults, almost 50% of people who expressed interest in going plant-based, were doing so for health-related reasons. Weight management was high on the list, as well as the need for more energy, reducing mucus, and improved sleep, all of which can benefit from a healthier diet.
Vegans and vegetarians also typically consume less calories than people on a standard Western diet, meaning they have a lower body mass index and are less likely to become overweight or obese. In the United States, roughly 72% of adults 18 and older are overweight, and 41% are obese. Additionally, almost 20% of children ages 2-17 are overweight or obese. Obesity doubles a person’s mortality risk, and a significant contributor to numerous chronic health conditions.
A large scale study completed in 2019 found that consuming less animal products and bumping up your vegetable intake was directly linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and death. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), saturated fats raise cholesterol which greatly increases a person’s risk of heart attack, stroke, and other heart-related diseases. Meat, cheese, and butter are leading sources of saturated fat in our diets. Plant-based foods are also a leading source of dietary fiber, another factor that contributes to better heart health.
Eating plant-based has also been credited for lowering a person’s risk of cancer by around 15 percent. There are a couple reasons for this. First, a lot of the meat we consume is carcinogenic itself, like deli meat and a large portion of red meat. Second, plants are high in fiber, vitamins, and other beneficial phytochemicals that are known to protect against cancers. The International Agency for Research on Cancer claims that meat-heavy diets have primarily been linked to colorectal, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
And finally, one of the largest studies on vegan diets found that eating plant-based can greatly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, a chronic disease that effects how the body regulates sugar and which can lead to severe complications if left untreated. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 is preventable and treatable, despite the fact that nearly 32 million Americans suffer from this disease.
Veganism and Cannabis
Although research in this area is sorely lacking, the bit of data we do have shows that more cannabis users are following a plant-based diet than the general population. A study conducted by industry research firm, Brightfield group, in California, the world’s largest cannabis market, found that both vegans and vegetarians are more likely to be frequent cannabis users.
Roughly 3 percent of American adults identify as vegan, whereas 6 percent of cannabis users are vegan and 8 percent are vegetarian. This implies that cannabis users are growing increasingly aware of, and concerned about, what they consume and how it impacts their health and the environment.
This applies to food, hygiene products, and medicine – which includes cannabis quality. Market data found that 40 percent U.S. cannabis users (both medical and recreational) would pay more for organic flower strains and other products. Companies that grow organically, provide certificates of analysis and/or safety testing, and provide gluten-free, non-GMO, all-natural options are dominating the industry.
Vegan Cannabis Butter, Cooking Oil, and Cannamilk
Before we get to the actual recipes, we need to start with the basics. All of the recipes I am providing you here contain either cannabutter, cannabis cooking oil, or cannamilk. Of course, for this article, we will be doing vegan versions of our favorite cannabis infusions.
- 7-10 grams of cannabis flowers
- 2 cups of plant-based milk (soy, almond, coconut, cashew, or whatever your preference is)
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Weed grinder
- Large saucepan
- Fine mesh strainer
- Jug with lid
- Cooking thermometer
- Preheat the oven to 220°F.
- Grind up the cannabis buds using a weed grinder or scissors. You want the pieces to be small and equal sized for proper decarboxylation.
- Line a baking sheet or pan with parchment paper scatter your ground cannabis in a single layer.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes to decarb (to learn more about the importance of decarboxylation, click here).
- Toss the cooked cannabis flower in a large saucepan, add the vegan milk and whisk everything together. Cook until temperature reaches 220°F.
- Adjust your heat source accordingly to maintain temperature (this is VERY important), continue stirring occasionally for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, remove the saucepan from the burner and allow the infusion to cool.
- Once cooled, put your fine mesh strainer over the jug, and use it to strain the cannamilk. Most of the plant matter should get filtered out during this process. You can run it through the mesh a second or even third time if needed.
- Put the lid on the jug and make sure it’s properly sealed, and store your cannamilk in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Cannabis cooking oil
- 7 grams cannabis decarbed
- 1 lb. cooking oil such as coconut, olive, avocado, canola
- Fine mesh strainer
- Large saucepan
- Large bowl
- To decarb flower, read above
- In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over low heat until thoroughly warmed.
- Add the decarbed cannabis to the oil. Stir to mix.
- Continue to cook over low heat for 3 hours. Stir occasionally. Do not allow the oil to get too hot, it should not boil or simmer.
- Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth and place it over a large, heat-safe boil. Carefully pour the oil through the cheesecloth, allowing any excess oil to strain through.
- Allow the oil to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container for storage.
- 3 1/2 grams decarboxylated cannabis flower
- 2 cups vegan butter
- 2 Mason jars
- Large pot
- To decarb flower, see above
- Place the cannabis in a mason jar and add vegan butter, leave at least 1-inch of room at the top. Tightly close the lid and place the jar in a large pot. Fill with water, ensuring the water level does not exceed the top of the jar and lid (the water level only needs to be above the butter level). Heat on high until simmering, then drop thes heat to a low simmer for 3-4 hours.
- Carefully remove the jar from the water and let cool enough to handle. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth into the second mason jar. Let cool completely and store in the refrigerator.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Dessert
Now then, it’s time to share with you a few of my all-time favorite vegan recipes that I’ve collected over the years. Whether cannabis infused or not, these vegan recipes are incredible, and you have options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert. All of these recipes are 100% plant based and use only natural, healthy ingredients.
Vegan cannabis chia seed pudding
- 1 cup of vegan cannamilk
- 1 cup of unsweetened plant-based milke (almond, soy, coconut milk, or similar)
- ½ cup of chia seeds
- 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
- Fruits and other toppings (optional)
- In a large bowl, mix together your cannamilk, unsweetened non-dairy milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
- Place the mix into mason jars or other airtight containers.
- Shake the container well or stir before placing it in the fridge covered. If it is convenient, stir the mix every 1-2 hours, at least for the first one or two times. It will take around 6 hours for the mix to be ready, and it can store for 5-6 days in your fridge.
- Serve your chia seed pudding either by itself or with some additional fruits or other toppings. Some ideas include berries, bananas, or whatever your favorite fruit is, granola, honey, nuts, granola, coconut flakes, etc.
Infused butternut squash quinoa salad
FOR THE BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD:
- 1/2 small red onion, diced
- 1 small 2-pound butternut squash peeled and cut into ¾ inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons cannabis-infused oil
- 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup reduced-sugar dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (or pecans, walnuts, or similar)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or parsley
- Arugula, spinach, or other mixed greens
FOR THE DRESSING:
- 3 tablespoons cannabis-infused oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the red onion in a small bowl and cover with water. Set aside. (This preserves the onion’s flavor but with less intensity)
- Place the butternut squash in the center of a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat, then spread the squash into a single layer.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the squash is baking, bring the broth (or water) and quinoa to a boil in a medium pan. If you are using water, add ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let stand with the lid on for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, then transfer to a large serving bowl.
- In a small bowl or large measuring cup (or a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid), combine the dressing ingredients: olive oil, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Drizzle enough of the dressing over the warm quinoa to moisten it, then stir to combine.
- Scrape the roasted butternut squash and any pan juices into the bowl with the quinoa. Add the cranberries, seeds/nuts, and thyme/parsley. Drain the red onion then add it to the bowl. Toss to combine, adding dressing as desired.
- Serve at room temperature over mixed greens
Vegan cannabis alfredo
- 12 ounces fettuccine or pasta of choice, for serving
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 3 tablespoons cannabis-infused cooking oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk, cashew/soy/coconut also fine
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning (to taste)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain, then add it back to the pot and cover until the sauce is done.
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Pour the hot water over the cashews and let soak for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil (or water) in a small pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, until fragrant and the onion is translucent.
- Drain the cashews and discard the soaking water. Add them to a blender along with onions/garlic, unsweetened almond milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt. Blend until very smooth.
- Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir. If the noodles are still hot, you may not need to cook it any more. If you want, heat the pasta with the alfredo sauce on low heat until warm. Serve immediately.
Vegan Canna-Banana Pudding
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 1/4 cup cannamilk
- Sweetener of choice, such as 1 tbsp pure maple syrup, honey, agave, or sugar.
- 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- optional 1/8 tsp turmeric for color
- optional 1 tbsp vegan butter or coconut butter, for richer taste (and you can even do cannabutter for a double dose)
- In a small pot over medium heat, combine banana, sweetener, optional ingredients, and 1 cup of the milk of choice.
- Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup milk with the cornstarch.
- Once banana mixture is warm, whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
- Cook on low heat, whisking occasionally, until thick.
- Turn off heat and stir in vanilla. Serve hot or cold with vegan wafers.
Veganism, and even vegetarianism, is not for everyone. However, if you happen to be suffering from any number of chronic illness, many of which are diet-related, then you might be able to benefit from reducing your intake of animal products. Use the above recipes to get an idea of how delicious vegan food can be, most people I serve these dishes to can’t even tell that they are vegan – and to top it off, they’re all loaded with potent cannabinoids and tasty cannabis terpenes. Game over… it doesn’t get much better than that.
Thank you for stopping by CBD TESTERS, your hub for all things cannabis-related. We hope you enjoyed this article on vegan trends in the cannabis industry. Remember to subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one and exclusive deals on flowers, edibles, and other products.
Delta-8 THC Threatens Legal Cannabis Industry
Let’s be honest, the cannabis market is becoming a cut-throat one, with everyone looking to make a buck, a range of low-level and possibly dangerous products on the market, and a rush by local governments to save revenue by outlawing what they can’t regulate. This brings up the question of whether a hemp-derived THC like delta-8 threatens the revenue of the legal cannabis industry, and explains why recreational states are quickly banning it.
Delta-8 THC runs the gamut from accusations that it threatens the legal industry, to governments like Texas which recently failed to fully criminalize it. What’s all the fuss about? Well, this alternate form of THC gives a milder psychoactive high, doesn’t create the anxiety that delta-9 can, and leaves users with more energy and less couch locking. There are very good reasons why delta-8 is liked by so many, and we have an array of great Delta-8 THC deals that can get you started with this new form of THC.
What is hemp-derived THC?
In short, THC and CBD are the two more prevalent cannabinoids in a cannabis plant. Some plants, which we use the term ‘marijuana’ for as a differentiator, have more than .3% of THCA in the plant, whereas the term ‘hemp’ implies cannabis with less than .3% THCA, and a higher amount of CBDA. The reason I use the terms ‘THCA’ and ‘CBDA’, instead of ‘THC’ and ‘CBD’, is because THCA and CBDA are the precursor acids that are found in cannabis flowers, and the actual compounds for which these measurements are made in fresh and dry plants. THC and CBD occur only after decarboxylation. Even the term ‘THC’ really isn’t a good one, as that merely stands for ‘tetrahydrocannabinols’, and the THC of interest is specifically delta-9.
It is much easier to extract THCA from marijuana plants since there’s way more of it there. In hemp plants, it only exists in small amounts, but CBDA exists in larger amounts. This CBDA can be converted into CBD, and then into delta-9 by way of a solvent and some processing. Realistically, this is not the issue, though. The issue, is that it can also be used to source delta-8 THC.
Delta-8 THC is also naturally occurring, like delta-9, and is produced through the oxidation of delta-9 when it comes into contact with oxygen. This happens at an extremely low rate, however, so in order to produce enough to be used in products, human processing help is needed. This has caused an argument as to whether delta-8 should be considered a synthetic, and bound to laws related to THC synthetics.
The delta-8 legality issue
What should be pointed out about delta-8, is that while there is still talk of a federal loophole, and while it seemed briefly like this might be the case, it never was the case at all. Even if it had been, the US government ended all discussion of its federal legal status by officially adding it to the DEA’s Controlled Substances list, as an alternate name for ‘tetrahydrocannabinols’, along with delta-9, for regulation under DEA criminal code 7370. This wasn’t totally necessary in my opinion, as , even without considering it synthetic (which is indeed debatable), its still an analogue of delta-9, and therefore illegal due to the Federal Analogue Act.
Cannacurio Podcast Episode 36 with Kevin Hart of Green Check Verified | Cannabiz Media
In the latest episode of the Cannacurio Podcast from Cannabiz Media, I speak with Kevin Hart, CEO and Founder of Green Check Verified, a leading provider of cannabis banking solutions and expert advisory services for financial institutions.
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Cannacurio Podcast Episode 36 Transcript
Ed Keating: This is the Cannacurio podcast by Cannabiz Media, your source for cannabis and hemp license news directly from the data vault. So welcome to the podcast powered by Cannabiz Media. I’m your host, Ed Keating. On today’s show we are joined by Kevin Hart, CEO and founder of Green Check Verified, a SaaS solution that helps financial institutions serve the legal cannabis industry. Kevin, welcome to the show.
Kevin Hart: Thanks, Ed. Always a pleasure to talk to you.
Ed Keating: Yeah, same here, same here. Kevin and I go sort of way back. Our companies both started around the same time, around like 2015, I think, is when we kicked off at Cannabiz Media. That’s about the same time for Green Check, correct?
Kevin Hart: Yeah, it is. That’s when we started looking at this problem.
Ed Keating: Awesome.
Kevin Hart: I remember our early meetings.
Ed Keating: Yeah, indeed, indeed. And the fact that we actually both happen to be based in Connecticut, which is not all that rare. There are actually a number of cannabis service providers here in the state, even though it has few license holders. Although we’ll talk more about that later, because that’s about to change.
So Kevin, although I know you, I’d love for you to share your background. How did you come into the cannabis industry, and what did you do before?
Kevin Hart: Sure. So I’m a nerd by trade. I started out in late seventies as an assembler, a COBOL programmer. I then went to work for an enterprise software companies, global customer bases. My propeller got old bent and rusted through the years, but I’m still technically dangerous.
What led me to the cannabis industry is the iPads in the airports that you see across the US. I did that project when I was running the largest independent Apple dealer in the world. It was a company called Tekserve in New York City.
You wouldn’t think there’d be applicability to that, but I was approached to build a point of sale system based upon the iPads in the airports, because back in 2015, when you went to dispensary, you did not know what was available. You did not know it was available. You did not know the different modalities and the entourage effect and things like that.
And so I was flying around the country, meeting with cannabis businesses, including places like Harborside. They were the [inaudible 00:02:15] back then. Go to the source if you really want to learn what’s going on. They were actually on their third point of sale at that point in time. But the more I worked with them and the more I understood their operations, and I like to understand the complexity of the problem in totality before you build a technology, I kept hearing about the banking challenge.
I shelved the whole point of sale thing and said, “Okay, that’s where I want to try to figure out how do we solve that complex problem? How do you take two highly regulated industries that would love to work together, cannabis and then banking and financial and business services, and how do you connect them together?” And that became the data business process puzzle we sat up out to solve.
Ed Keating: Interesting, because as you probably know, Cannabiz Media for three years running has done our point of sale market share report where we called every dispensary in the United States and ask what point of sale are you using? I think last year we did something like 14,000 phone calls outbound to try and get information.
And I think at the end of the day, we found there were at least 80 point of sale software vendors. So it’s a pretty crowded space, and the top five have like 80% of the share and everybody else is scrounging around with a couple of installs. So it sounds like you made the right choice to pivot toward the money as opposed-
Kevin Hart: It serves me well once in a while.
Ed Keating: Indeed, indeed.
Kevin Hart: Experience. Experience.
Ed Keating: So in terms of like the software and the product, I come from like a legal compliance software background, worked on a lot of sort of processes where you’re trying to help automate things that can be done frequently, that have high risks and that because of the repeatability you want to have good research and whatnot.
So I looked at this and it looked like there’s kind of like an interviewer intake. You run it against the knowledge base that you’re probably always updating. And then you’re producing some sort of artifact. I mean, that’s sort of the model I had my head, but I’m not sure if that’s the model for you in terms of the intake, research, and artifact. Could you sort of walk us through what the big pieces are of Green Check Verified?
Kevin Hart: Sure. And you know, that’s a parallel, but we actually have a slightly different take on it as you could imagine. So the first thing that we knew that we had to do is we had to be able to work within the banking system, not around it. The banks, financial institutions, were never going to look at this industry if they ever thought there was any snip of anything that was wrong. So that became our stake in the ground.
And then what we did is I applied the supply chain of commerce thinking over the supply chain of product. Okay? So people talk about point of sale. We were just talking about that and seed to sale. Every one of those touch points has a commerce aspect to it, which is where the banks really are concerned. How does that money?
I have a lot of background in supply chain. So as you started looking at where those touch points are and base points, how does a financial institution know they’re letting good money in and keeping the bad money out? You have to be able to provide the proof points. You just can’t say, “The state gave me a license. Here’s my duffel bag full of cash. Here’s a spreadsheet that says what I did.”
No. They need a little bit more than that. And so we look at account identification, account enablement, and account onboarding, how does an FI know who this business is. There’s a lot of rules and regulations about beneficial ownership. Do they have a valid lease that? Do they know what that looks like?
You know what these things are, but the FIs need to learn what that looks like in the cannabis space. And so account identification, there’s that one aspect, but then it comes down to the money, right? It always comes down to the money.
Ed Keating: Always does.
Kevin Hart: Always comes down to the money. And so what we developed is a compliance rules engine that looks at the inventory, the sales, and the financial performance of a business at the detailed transaction level. We run it through our patent pending compliance rules engine that says that this transaction was to a valid person for a valid product at the right point in time, up against the rules and regulations, either in a medical only, or adult mixed use state, because those things change depending on the product potency, et cetera, as you know, and it passed all the other rules and regulations at that exact point in time.
Therefore it gets the green check. Hence the name. It’s verified, and that money can enter the US banking system. The financial institution and the examiners can look at that with confidence and understand the ethicacy of it, and then all the reporting associated with it.
Ed Keating: So interesting. I mean, one thought that just popped in my head as you were speaking was, as you’re checking against that knowledge base, which is a key component of most of the products I’ve worked on the last 20 years, that knowledge base in the middle. Is part of that knowledge base sort of the tax rates and things like that? Like was the proper tax applied because we’re in Denver as opposed to Connecticut? Does that come into play yet, or is that a future part of Green Check Verified?
Kevin Hart: That would be a future part, because right now we’re attacking access to financial and business services. So the bank wants to know that you’re paying your taxes. You’re not delinquent. Your business isn’t going to be seized.
But for them to be able to take, again, the commerce aspect of your operation and create those depository accounts and all the other services they want to offer you, they want to know that the money that you’re presenting for deposit matters. And then the rest follows later.
Early on we were looking at the tax as a method to work with the states, but the states started looking at seed to sale, et cetera. So just like we weren’t trying to solve point of sale problems, we aren’t going to try to solve the tax problems.
Ed Keating: Yeah. Yeah. Early days for me was working for one of the largest compliance tax publishers in the country. It’s a fascinating, messy, messy area, but certainly one word. Because you’re at that transaction level, there’s probably a lot of interesting data there. So certainly things to think for further on, perhaps.
Kevin Hart: Oh yeah. Mm-hmm.
Ed Keating: So dialing back into how long you’ve been in business and building this technology, I’m curious, as a guy who’s been at this for a while, how much pivoting have you guys had to do, and how has the space changed? Because we’ve certainly had to make changes to Cannabiz Media a lot. I don’t feel totally whipsawed, but it’s definitely been a dynamic five years. Has that been true for you as well?
Kevin Hart: In some regards 100%. I mean, working within the banking system, never around it, that has been a core. Earlier on, I had this idea of how we could actually become a bank and move money to the Marshall Islands through Malta, et cetera. We almost bought a bank in Malta. I wish we had.
Ed Keating: As one does.
Kevin Hart: Oh, gosh. Because this was pre crypto. You and I would not be talking if I had bought that bank in Malta back then. But anyways. There were a couple of other things that we thought that we really had to identify the individual in terms of a KYC.
But for the banks, it’s know your customer’s customer, know your customer’s business that matters more. So we kept some of those tenets, but we realized that the challenge for us was, and for everybody is, the rules and regulations are constantly changing. I mean, it’s almost daily, right? We’re going to talk about Connecticut, but boom, just like that.
And so how does that compliance rules engine and then the number of point of sale systems that are out there that are varied, and the fact that they’re changing those things, how do you ingest that data and keep the compliance rules engine, and keep that banking relationship going? That’s what matters. And so we spent a lot of time thinking about how to make it work. And then we wrote the system. We didn’t write the system and then try to back our way into thinking current.
Ed Keating: Right. Yeah. You don’t want to sort of beat it into submission.
Kevin Hart: No. No, no, no.
Ed Keating: Now in looking out at some of the stakeholders that you have to deal with, not all financial institutions are created equally. So, who’s willing to bank in this industry. Is it just credit unions? Are true banks that maybe aren’t federally insured, are they able to play in this space, or is it hard to find partners out there?
Kevin Hart: Well, it’s easier to find partners than it used to be. Okay? That definitely has changed. I think the current administration, or the belief that the current administration is going to make this easier, and that SAFE Banking Act is going to pass at some point in time… We can talk about what that looks like later… But more financial institutions are in.
We have five publicly traded banks in our portfolio. We have a $40 million credit union. It’s the same software. It’s the same opportunity, because they’ve seen the opportunity of these cannabis businesses, the demand is there. Back to supply and demand, right? The demand is there.
The supply for these financial institutions has to be available for the cannabis businesses, but it also has to be done at a reasonable rate. Okay? And then it also has to be able to scale so that the financial institutions have an incentive to, one, start a program, but also maintain that program.
Ed Keating: Yeah. No, that makes a lot of sense. That makes a lot of sense now in terms of finding these institutions and others to work with. I always like to ask on a podcast, what’s your go to market strategy? Do you pick one state at a time and try and get all the stakeholders? Or one financial institution at a time, one MSO at a time? How do you figure that out, Kevin? I’m sure it’s a complex equation.
Kevin Hart: Well, we have over 4,000 clients to date. We cover every state, but one. Alaska. Okay? Right now. We have financial institutions that will cover any state, and by the end of June, we’ll have over a thousand CRBs actually on the platform.
Ed Keating: And CRB is a cannabis related business, right?
Kevin Hart: Right. Dispensary, grower, manufacturer, supplier, cultivator, any level one plant touching business. Shout out to Steve Kemmerling. He gets mad if you don’t give him that recognition. So any level one plant touching business actually can bank on the Green Check platform because of the compliance rules engine.
So when we look at it, there are people that raise their hand. So obviously we want to answer those phone calls. There are states where there are more market opportunities than not. In the early adopter states of California, Oregon, Washington, candidly, we didn’t even try to go after them in the beginning, because there were a lot of people that had manual programs.
I’ve heard this more times than not. All they want to be able to do is get through an exam. I don’t want to ace my exam, which was kind of a head-scratcher for me from a banking perspective. But we look at markets that are emerging and/or have that opportunity. And yet, we end up in all those other markets as a result. So we’re pretty prescriptive in our outbound approach, and we’re very receptive on the inbound approach.
Ed Keating: Yeah. Now, in terms of stakeholders, you’ve touched on this a little bit, but I’m just curious, almost like from a strategy standpoint. Who are the stakeholders that need to make you successful? Because in having seen you speak a number of times at conferences, I think you referenced regulators, license holders, financial institutions, Green Check Verified, like who else is at the table, or needs to be in order for this whole process to work because it touches a lot of people?
Kevin Hart: Well, certainly within the financial institution itself, there’s three key sets of stakeholders. So the way we refer to it is that you have to convince compliance that they can do this. So “can” the operative word. But then you also have to be able to demonstrate and show to the board and the C-suite why they would do this. And then ultimately when those three things are aligned in that triangle of influence, then you get to the how, which is Green Check. Green Check enables all of that.
So that’s the approach. And when we’re talking to any of those constituencies and your ideal client profile, so standard technology sales approach there in that regard, what you really want to make sure is that they’re talking to and are armed to talk to the people that they need to talk to.
So how does the compliance team convince the C-suite or enable the C-suite to be able to have those four conversations? How do they both enable that? How do you go to your examiner? How do you talk to your insurance provider? How do you talk to your corresponding bank that says you’re going to get into this?
Nobody likes a surprise, but when you create that opportunity and that ecosystem of shared information and documented approach that has gone through your audits and exam cycles, people start to become more comfortable. So there is a bit of a flywheel effect.
Ed Keating: Interesting. Yeah. That’s a good analogy. Just jumping ahead a bit, in terms of like strategy point of differentiation, how do you segment the market? I think as we’ve been looking at license holders and the companies that own them for the last five years, we have some views in our head. There are MSOs, there are SSOs, et cetera, but how do you break apart who’s most likely a client as you look across the industry?
Kevin Hart: That’s up to our FI partners, candidly, because we enable all that. So we have some FI partners that only want to talk to MSOs, or we’ll only talk to somebody who’s a $250 million plus annual run rate business. They’re not interested in the other market segments for their own reasons. Okay? And they testify that.
We have other folks, again, if it’s a $40 million credit union, how many clients can they actually take on before their concentration ratios start to become a challenge for them? And they always have to look at their exit and liquidity strategy. So that’s why we built all of this information into the platform so that you can actually monitor your program. So this is where I will get on a soap box. I promise it will be fast and you can edit this out.
People talk about cannabis banking. That sentence is backwards. This is about banking cannabis. Okay? And it’s not just flipping the words around. Okay? The verb is banking. Okay? Cannabis is the noun and the industry that you’re going to bank. You have to be able to run an entire banking program. You can’t just look at it in pieces and slices of information. It all has to be available to you in one umbrella. All the information. All the decision points. All the accents. And then the audit trail of what you did all has to be available to you. That’s how banks run for any other business, right? This is so highly regulated that it requires even that extra level of information.
Ed Keating: Yeah, it’s interesting. Because typically with anything, a piecemeal approach is not the best way to do it. You really need to have a strategic or environmental understanding of what’s happening there. So I like how you change that phrase and how people need to think about the industry.
So sort of part and parcel with that, let’s talk about how our two companies work together. Your firm uses Cannabiz Media, and I’m curious how that helps you and how your team utilizes the Cannabiz Media licensing database to hopefully achieve some of your goals.
Kevin Hart: Well, it’s interesting. You were talking about earlier how that information that you have, and when we first met each other. I remember that meeting very well in our conference room down in Science Park. We kind of both looked at each other at the end and go, “I think you’re onto something, but I’m not sure I see it.” Right? And we kind of constantly keep running into each other.
And I have to say, I’ve said this even outside this podcast, I love how your company has evolved and what it does. I think hands down you present that data the best, and the reason why, where we really enjoy it and why it’s relevant. And I’ll let a trade secret out here and watch how fast other people copy this. You can not go to a banker and say the cannabis industry is $50 billion, okay?
There’s no context for them. Okay? You can’t go to a bank, and I say, Toledo, Ohio, because I like Toledo. You can’t go to a banker in Toledo, Ohio and say, it’s whatever the number is for Ohio. It’s a $3 billion industry. There’s no context to that. You have to get it to what’s the context for them.
And for us to be able to use your information, your technology, to identify what that market’s really like, that helps us identify those FIs that we should talk to. And it helps them understand what that business is, because they know these cannabis businesses, as they drove by a dispensary or they heard there’s a cultivator over here.
But there’s still that perception versus reality that’s out there. And the information that you guys have is just so exceptional. It helps us keep our thinking clear.
Ed Keating: That’s great. I know there’s one CEO I’ve interviewed on the podcast before and he said the way he used it as a C-level executive is when the board calls and says, “I’ve got questions,” he says, “I’ve got answers. Because I’ve got Cannabiz Media, I can say how many cultivators are here in this valley of California or whatnot.” So that’s great to hear.
And I think you’re right about the context piece, because when I talk to people about Connecticut, like, “Oh, well, there’s some cannabis licenses here.” One, we know how many there are. But the interesting thing for me is how many hemp licenses there are in Connecticut. It vastly outstrips the number of cannabis licenses. Most people don’t know that because it doesn’t get the play, but it’s information that is available.
So I was going to ask you, from a hemp or CBD space, does that come into play at all for your financial institutions? Is that an issue for them, or because it’s kind of federally legalized it’s no longer a hurdle for those businesses?
Kevin Hart: It does come into play because a lot of folks still think that’s a toe in the water. And then what we actually show them is that you can in a more compliant fashion and easier actually bank a marijuana business than you can a hemp business, because of the information that’s available. And it’s information that you can extract.
Within the CBD and hemp space, there’s a lot of gray area there, right? Is it [inaudible 00:21:51], is it not? Who’s saying it is? Who isn’t? In the marijuana space, I mean, these are controlled products and you have a lot more information. And so we’ve had people approach us to say, “Oh, I never want to do marijuana. I want to talk about this.” We walk them through it. And they’re like, “Oh, I never want to do hemp or CBD. Let me get into the marijuana space.” We have mixed-use customers, but-
Ed Keating: It’s like are you a highly regulated business? So, for example, probably about a year or so ago that Florida licensed or allowed to be licensed, anybody who wanted to sell CBD. We added like 5,000 records to our database. And all they really asked people to do is check a box if you’re going to sell CBD. And as I looked at the data and analyzed it, it was sort of who you’d expect. It was every grocery chain, every gas station chain, every convenience store.
And why Kevin? Well, because they already deal in heavily regulated products, like gasoline, lottery tickets, tobacco, maybe fireworks, whatever. But all that stuff, they already have a whole compliance scheme for dealing with this. CBD, check that box too. Okay. Next. And it made sense.
Whereas I think other states just aren’t quite sure how to regulate that or if they want to dip their toe in. So interesting, because I think we’re going to see more of these products coming down the pike and seeing them in our local stores here in Connecticut and whatnot. Cumberland farms I’m sure will be selling CBD.
Kevin Hart: Right across the street. Right across the street, yeah. So the most fascinating thing about this, Ed, to me is, okay, so here you have the federal government, marijuana is illegal, and then you have all these states actually creating these programs. Okay? And very well-defined programs. Now you talk about hemp, CBD, and let’s flip the script. The federal government now said, “Go ahead and do what you want.” Okay. Farm Bill and everything else, you can go do this. And then the states are like, “Hold on, hold on. I don’t know what to do.”
Ed Keating: Yeah. Right. And some of them-
Kevin Hart: They’re from the same plant.
Ed Keating: And some of them have advocated license creation to the feds. Like, yeah, we’re not going to issue licenses in the state, the feds can do it. So yeah, it’s definitely made for a messy situation. So it’ll be curious. I mean, as this industry moves in fits and starts, it’s a challenge for all the, all the stakeholders.
So thinking of that, we’ve got expanding markets, we’ve got New Jersey, New York, Arizona. So the question I have for you, Kevin, is when a new state comes on or is about to come on, what does that mean for you? Do you immediately start reaching out to the financial institutions that serve New Jersey or do you have to wait for something else to happen, like licenses to be issued? What is that timeline like when a state goes legal or is about to become legal?
Kevin Hart: There isn’t a state that has a program or is about to have a program that we already don’t have a physical presence in, because this is about being prepared and this is about understanding why you may do that. You don’t have to wait for the laws to pass. You have to be ready to act upon what those laws look like. And in any of those states, right, there are startup businesses, there are startup costs. Start identifying those. Start establishing those financial relationships.
So we go into every state and we create outbound marketing, and we educate them about what the market was expected to look like. Here are the things that you should be thinking about and are you interested? And this helps identify the forward-thinking financial institutions in those states that want to be ready.
Ed Keating: So are you guys sort of, if you will, like the financial ambassadors, like perhaps the first people will knock on their door that says, “Listen, we’re in 40 states already. You guys are next. Listen to what we have to say.” How does that happen?
Kevin Hart: Yeah. That’s exactly what we do. And we reach out to them. Again, everybody else is going to start doing it now, but you know, that’s fine.
Ed Keating: Yeah. Yeah. Well, it makes sense. I mean, as these states come on and obviously there’s lots of others in the industry that try and guess market size or future market size, which is always a-
Kevin Hart: Do your homework. Just do your homework. Use Cannabiz Media. The information is available.
Ed Keating: It truly, it absolutely is. It absolutely is. So speaking of homework and home state, Connecticut. I just got the email from Governor Lamont a couple hours ago that he’s going to sign it once it makes it to his desk, which could be a matter of hours, maybe tomorrow. I’m sure, like me, you’ve read all 300 pages of the regulations.
Kevin Hart: We actually have.
Ed Keating: Of course you did. Of course you did. You have to.
Kevin Hart: The guy who wrote the Connecticut program originally, the medical program, works at Green Check.
Ed Keating: I met him at your offices,
Kevin Hart: John Gadea. Trust me. He’s read it.
Ed Keating: Yeah, yeah. That’s great. So what’s your take? I mean, it’s full of all sorts of compliance stuff, some interesting license stuff, social equity pieces. I mean, there’s a lot there.
Kevin Hart: There’s too much. Okay? 300 pages, right? 300 pages of legislation translates into how many pages of rules and regulation? I don’t know how you unpack all that and actually make it implementable. And I’m super happy that they put a lot of the social equity clauses in there. Way past due and that needs to happen.
But I think, in Connecticut, the land of steady habits, one of our steady habits is over-complicating things, unfortunately. And I think with 300 pages we might’ve gone a little too far and over complicated.
The other thing I think, the unfortunate thing, that I think is going to happen is it’s going to get jammed up in the courts. I think you’re going to see some lawsuits come out just based upon the fee structure that they’re looking to put on existing businesses. To charge an existing dispensary a million dollars to create an adult license, or $3 million for the growers, there’s no other fee structure like that anywhere.
Ed Keating: It’s a good point. I mean, as we were talking about in preparation for today’s broadcast, we were just looking at other states. Because back in 2017, Cannabiz Media wrote a book called the Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide where we looked at all the states and all the rules and regs and how they were different. It was kind of a by-product of building the database.
One of the things that we looked at was fee structure, tax structure, and whatnot. You know, just simply what does it cost to get a license in Oklahoma? $2,500. What’s it cost to renew a license? $2,500. Okay. And we’re at a million dollars to get a license.
Or Arizona, which has a rather robust program. It’s been around for years. They decided to issue adult licenses. Now they gave the ability to the med license holders to get an adult license. So that was kind of a built-in easy to implement program. $25,000 was the fee. And they all did it within the first month. And many did it within the first 72 hours. Like, “Hey, that’s an easy deal. $25,000 and I double the value of my license. Sure.”
So, yeah, I agree. Those are some pretty big fees. The only other state that’s coming up with fees like that, that I’ve seen lately, is our neighbor, Rhode Island. They have some pretty ridiculous fees as well. So I don’t know what that’s going to do since so many of our MSOs own a lot of these licenses.
Kevin Hart: But there’s still our independence here in Connecticut. If you look at 280 and everything else, I mean, quick math. You’d probably have to sell $5 million worth of product to generate a million dollars in income to just pay the fee. And you’re still not making any money still. So how long is it going to take to sell five million. You’ve got to pay the million and then you’re still chasing your profitability.
Does it enhance the value of your business? 100%. But are you going to put that much money out and bet on the [inaudible 00:30:15], especially when a dispensary, what did they say? For every 25,000 people in population versus 2,500 for a liquor store? You know, you’re adding a lot of competition nearby.
Ed Keating: Right, right. Although I remember currently looking at the state of New York. It’s like one dispensary for every 500,000 people because they weigh undered that one. So yeah, it’s definitely going to have, as you said, a lot of lawsuits. I mean, it follows a cycle where, yay, you got passed. Yay celebration. Now it’s going to be 18 to 24 months before anything happens because of the lawsuits and all the other stuff that’s going to happen. And they’re going to have to take those 300 pages of rules and regs and figure out where to go next.
But let’s take it to another level, looking at the federal level. So for all the years I’ve been in the industry, there’s been talk about banking and tax reform for the cannabis industry. What’s your take on that? And what impact would that have on Green Check Verified if suddenly things got closer toward federal regulation? Does that impact your business at all? Is it a boost? Is it a hindrance? Is it, who knows?
Kevin Hart: It’s gas on an open flame. It’s a gigantic boost. I really firmly believed this, and we talk to a lot of people, so it’s not just me free time thinking. We’re at the BSA low bar today for this industry. As more and more states come online and as more mixed programs, medical and adults, I mean, those lines are being blurred. You know, the federal government is never going to just simply green light this industry.
The cannabis domestic market, and you know these numbers way better than I, Ed. But domestic cannabis sales, legal, illegal, et cetera, combined is about a hundred billion dollars a year. Right? So right now, today, we’re talking about $20, $25 billion that are going to dispensaries or licensed cultivation. $75 billion in commerce is still going on. The Treasury Department under no circumstances is ever going to go, “Green light. Let it into the banking system.” Not going to happen.
So SAFE Banking Act, for all its language, there’s a few things. Okay? It says you will be able to bank compliant cannabis businesses without fear of prosecution. It’s not a period at the end of that sentence. Okay? The comma says, provided you’re following all the rules and regulations. So Washington can’t help themselves. There will be more rules and regulations.
We touched on the Treasury Department. They’re not going to just green light all the illicit money coming through. The BSA is at the low bar it is today, and I firmly believe too, because you’re looking at decriminalization of the plant, the product, et cetera, et cetera, not talking about expungement or any of those other things. What you’re going to see in the very near future in a corollary is interstate commerce. Now it’s going to get even more complicated for source and use of product, supply chain of commerce, supply chain of product.
And I firmly believe in the next five years, you’re going to see international cannabis commerce. There’s a reason why all that product comes from Mexico. Perfect grow climate, et cetera. We have million square foot growth facilities here in Connecticut. Cost per pound versus tons that you’re going to get out of Mexico, and so the costs.
So there’s just a lot of variables are going to come. And I think the folks in Washington are going to take that longer term view and say, “Okay, how do we not create these problems? How do we put the control points in so that they don’t become problems?” So again, with the compliance rules engine at its core, I think it puts Green Check in an exceptional position.
Ed Keating: Yeah. No, I agree. And with the international piece, that is quite interesting because we already see that happening now with Canada doing some exporting. But how long will that business last? Because in Europe, there are a lot of places that have really great grow environments that could become sort of like the green bread basket, I’ve heard it described, of Europe and supply all the continent.
Like in Portugal, Spain, et cetera, places where they can grow wine and other things just like California, why not do that here instead of shipping stuff across from Canada as a liquid or biomass from Columbia? I mean, that just is complicated and expensive.
So, well, it’s certainly been a dynamic five years and a dynamic interview today, Kevin. So I want to thank you for joining us. This has been great. I look forward to seeing you hopefully at a conference in person before too long. We’ve already sent our salespeople out to a couple of them so far in the past couple of weeks.
Kevin Hart: Are you going to be in Vegas in August?
Ed Keating: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Kevin Hart: I will be there. We’ll get together in person.
Ed Keating: Excellent. Excellent.
Kevin Hart: It’s odd we’ll have to go to Vegas when we’re only probably 30 miles apart here.
Ed Keating: Yeah, I know. Right. True. True. True. So, well, thank you. I’m your host, Ed Keating. Stay tuned for more updates from the data vault.
Does CBD Make You Hungry? What Science Has to Say About CBD and Appetite
As researchers continue to learn more about CBD and its relationship with appetite and metabolism, some studies involving rats have indicated that CBD may contribute to weight loss.
White fat is the common fat that’s used to store energy and provide a cushion to our organs. But, too much white fat can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease and obesity.
In this particular study, CBD promoted the conversion of white fat to brown fat in rats. This is usually an indicator of weight loss in humans, as brown fat breaks down glucose and fat molecules.
Though these studies are promising, there still isn’t enough evidence to firmly suggest that CBD can be used as an effective weight loss supplement, as we know that CBD can also indirectly stimulate your appetite.
So, while we aren’t completely clear on how CBD affects hunger and weight loss, we are certain that it can be used as a part of a healthy diet.
Curious about CBD as a weight loss supplement? Speak to one of the experts at Hail Mary Jane about which products offer the most benefits for your needs.
We’ve been researching and testing CBD products for years, and we’re happy to share our experiences with you!
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