John Garrison, Mountain High Suckers’ co-founder and CEO, sat down with Genifer Murray of CannabisTech.com to talk about Mountain High Suckers’ history in cannabis and the secret to their success and longevity in the industry. Here are some highlights:
Forming partnerships across industries
Mountain High Suckers has formed partnerships both within and outside of the cannabis community over the years. Together with Groundswell and DJ Logic, they created an exclusive strain, Logic Diesel, and infused it into a sucker to create Logic Pops. Mountain High Suckers teamed up with comedian Josh Blue to create a line of suckers called Josh Blue’s Dream. Their most recent partnership with cyclist Floyd Landis brought them from the sweet to savory realm with a line of THC and CBD-infused sauces and spreads.
Why the 3:1 THC to CBD ratio?
“We came up with that ratio just out of trying not to put too much CBD in because no one knew what CBD was when we started doing this. So we came up with this formula, three-to-one, and over the years we have literally maybe a hundred testimonials of people calling up either crying or with an incredible story that his three-to-one ratio made all the difference in their lives, so we stuck with it and we still have it today.”
Which extraction process does Mountain High Suckers use?
“You get a lot more volume of extract [with butane], and it comes out cleaner. It’s more for smoking…where our stuff is not smokeable, it’s more like a Rick Simpson oil. [With ethanol] we leave some chlorophyll in there. We leave a little bit of wax in there. We try to leave as many cannabinoids as possible instead of stripping it down to where you have nothing left, and then you try to add in all the terpenes back in to come up with your beautiful smell to the product. But for medicinal purposes and all-around health benefits, everything about alcohol extraction is just a better product to have for edibles.”
How have John and Chad maintained a successful company and partnership together?
“I think a lot of it has to do with our background in rock climbing together. We were continuously watching out for each other’s lives. So, you know, when it moved into the business setting, which we had a painting company together, it was similar. We always watched out for each other. We could speak for each other.
We’ve known each other for 24 years, and I think communication is everything. We preach communication to all of our business partners. You don’t communicate, and I’m not going to do business with you. You know, it’s key to every single thing there is.
The other thing is we strive for the same things in our lives. We both are committed to recreation, so we don’t let our edibles company rule our lives. We still get out a lot. We cycle, hike, you know everything that we want to do, and we still manage to put a lot of hours into this business.”
I think the other thing that helps our company is that we’re not invested in by anybody else. It’s our own money, so we don’t have a board. It’s Chad and I at the table. If you want to do business, you talk to Chad and I.”
Where can you buy Mountain High Suckers, and what are your plans for future expansion?
“Right now, we’re in Colorado. We’ve been in Puerto Rico for about a year and a half. We’re signing a deal with Oklahoma, and then we have California on the back burner and New Mexico and Oregon.
“We are talking with some Canadians now and have been for quite a while. No deals go through quickly, and if they do, they probably aren’t a good thing.
Chad’s wife is from Thailand, so they were in Thailand last year, and they went to a cannabis convention. So we’re working on some international stuff.
We have a new CBD company that we just started called Mountain High Select. They’re available around the nation. That’s a CBD, CBG infused sucker.
Chad and I have been doing this for eleven years, so I’m not going to lie, I’m getting a little tired. We’re looking for an exit plan down the road. I think everybody is who has been in it this long. We’re still excited every day to come to work. We love our jobs, and we have great employees. We love what we do.”
What advice would you give someone just starting in the industry?
“Make sure that whatever you’re doing is a very wanted product, whether it’s a media product or it’s a live product, kind of cannabis grow, whatever you do, but don’t jump in without knowing. Get lawyers. One-hundred percent you’ve got to have lawyers.
The other thing is if people approach you and they want to invest, you have to vet them. You have to hang out. You have to go to lunch with them. You have to realize that if you do a deal, then you’re going to be working with them for three to five years. That’s a long time, so you want to be able to have them come over to your house for dinner. You have to really like the people that you work with. Even if there are problems. If you communicate, you can get through everything.”
Thanks to Genifer Murray and CannabisTech.com for a great conversation. See the full video here:
After predictions that Colorado’s marijuana market was plateauing, the latest numbers for 2019 showed a huge jump in sales growth. Marijuana sales at medical and recreational dispensaries set a new record at $1.75 billion in 2019, according to data released by the Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR).
Colorado’s 2019 numbers saw a surge in cannabis sales, exceeding 2018 by more than $200 million, an increase of 13 percent. The state received more than $302.4 million in tax revenue–used to fund programs like public health and safety, drug education, law enforcement, school construction, and more.
From 2017 to 2018, cannabis sales increased by 2.5 percent. In 2018, the state saw $1.55 billion in cannabis sales, compared to $1.5 billion in 2017.
“To see it turn around in 2019 is a bullish indicator that price compression can’t keep the popularity of legal cannabis down,” said Tom Adams, the managing director at BDS Analytics. Adams told CNN that he attributed the increase in sales to the popularity in non-flower products like edibles, vapes, and concentrates. He said that recent BDS studies showed that the number of adults who reported consuming cannabis in the last six months was increasing, and more people were comfortable buying cannabis products.
“It’s just become a part of people’s lives more and more,” Adams said.
Truman Bradley, the newly appointed executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, told The Denver Post that he attributed the increase in sales to the normalization of cannabis.
“People are moving from the unregulated market to the regulated market,” Bradley said. “As reefer madness goes away, as the stigmatism of cannabis reduces and people come over to the regulated market, I would expect that trend to continue.”
Ten years ago, Smiths Falls in Ontario was a small town in trouble. In the midst of a recession, the main employers in the area, including Canada’s largest Hershey’s chocolate factory, pulled up stakes, taking more than 1,500 jobs with them.
In a community of fewer than 9,000 people, the loss of so many jobs was devastating. Along with their income, people lost their homes and cars, grocery stores closed, and many of the town’s residents chose to move away.
That all changed in 2013, when Tweed Inc. and its parent company, Canopy Growth Corp. moved into Hershey’s old factory. Initially, the medical marijuana company promised the town about 150 jobs.
“And then Justin Trudeau comes along and says, ‘You know, we should think about recreational cannabis.’ And there was a lot of smiles in this building,” said Jordan Sinclair, vice president of communication for Canopy Grown Corp.
When Canada legalized recreational marijuana in October 2018, the company shipped more than a million cannabis orders in four weeks.
Five years after setting up shop, Canopy is the largest pot company in the world and employees more than 3,000 people globally. And Smiths Falls has gone from a virtual ghost town to the unofficial weed capital of Canada.
Carol Lawrence, who was once a tour guide at the Hershey factory, is now a tour guide for the Tweed visitor center.
“If someone had told me five years ago that I’d be standing working at a cannabis factory, I would look at them and say they’re crazy,” said Lawrence, “And look at me now.”
Smiths Falls isn’t the only small town revitalized by marijuana. Trinidad, Durango, and Cortez are three small communities in southern Colorado near the New Mexico border. Like Smiths Falls, the area was experiencing an economic depression, few jobs, and a falling population.
Nick Cordova, a local restaurant and hotel owner in Trinidad, said, “Before marijuana came here, the town was dead. Half the population was gone. Half the town was abandoned. Half the downtown buildings were abandoned and run down. Without weed, half this town wouldn’t be here. Literally.”
Since recreational marijuana sales began in Colorado in 2014, the population of Trinidad has nearly doubled, and these three small towns bring in the most cannabis sales per capita in the state. Last year, Cortez added $250,000 of marijuana taxes to their city budget, while Durango added around $400,000. Trinidad brought in the most tax revenue by far at an estimated $3 million.
Location is a big reason why these towns have thrived from cannabis dollars–a majority of marijuana purchases are made by people who travel from nearby New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Cannabis is bringing new opportunities and revenue to towns that were in desperate need of hope.
There’s a new session of the Colorado General Assembly, and that means a slew of new bills about how cannabis revenue in the state is spent. Here are some of the ways your cannabis tax dollars could be used for good in the year ahead:
HB 1031, introduced by Representative Matt Gray, would allow medical marijuana patients under the age of 18 to have more than one primary caregiver at a time. The bill would make a big difference to families with children who use CBD oil to treat epileptic seizures or other medical conditions. Currently, the law allows only one parent or guardian to administer and purchase medical cannabis.”This is a common-sense idea. The idea that one parent can give their kid medicine and the other can’t is kind of ridiculous,” Gray told Westword.
HB 1096, the “Colorado Right to Rest Act,” would prohibit discrimination based on housing status as well as establishing basic rights for those experiencing homelessness, “including but not limited to the right to rest in public spaces, to shelter themselves from the elements, to eat or accept food in any public space where food is not prohibited, to occupy a legally parked vehicle, and to have a reasonable expectation of privacy of their property.”The bill is sponsored by Representative Jovan Melton and would seek up to $10 million in marijuana tax revenue over three years.
A bill to Expand Medication-Assisted Treatment Pilot Program, SB 001, would continue and expand a bill enacted in 2017 that created a two-year medication-assisted treatment (MAT) pilot program. The 2017 bill is administered by the University of Colorado College of Nursing and expanded access to medication-assisted treatment of opioid dependence to Pueblo and Routt counties. SB 001 would expand the pilot program to include counties in the San Luis Valley and two additional counties. Responsibility for administering the program would shift to the Center for Research into substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery and support strategies.Annual appropriation funds would increase to $5 million for the 2019-’20 and 2020-’21 fiscal years as well as extending the pilot program for an additional two years. The bill is sponsored by Senator Leroy Garcia.
Senator Nancy Todd and Representative Bri Buentello introduced SB 066, a bill that would create a trust fund for high-cost special education “to be used for high-cost special education trust fund grants to public school special education administrative units that have made significant expenditures in providing special education services to a child with a disability.”The bill would have an annual appropriation equal to 2 percent of the amount available for appropriation from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund.
Professional Behavioral Health Services for Schools (SB 010), sponsored by Senator Rhonda Fields, Representative Barbara McLachlan, and Representative Donald Valdez, allows “grant money to be used for behavioral health care services at recipient schools and specifies that grants may also fund behavioral health services contracts with community providers.” SB 010 doesn’t actually request additional funding for grans, but the General Assembly does have the option of appropriating additional funds from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund.The Department of Education would be required to prioritize grant applications based on the school’s need for additional health professionals and would allow school districts to enter into agreements with ” specified groups to implement evidence-based, school-wide behavior supports and strategies to build and support positive school climates, including providing behavioral health services and support; implement strategies to reduce the incidence of suspension and expulsion; and implement alternatives to suspension or expulsion.”
HB 1008 would amend the existing “Building Excellent Schools Today Act” to include grants to support career and technical education in public schools. The bill would include funding to support:
New construction or retrofitting of public school facilities for certain career and technical education programs; and
Equipment necessary for individual student learning and classroom instruction, including equipment that provides access to instructional materials or that is necessary for professional use by a classroom teacher.
Funding for the bill wouldn’t be funded exclusively from marijuana tax dollars. Instead it would come from a combination of State Land Board proceeds, Colorado Lottery spillover funds, and interest accrued in the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund. Matching funds from grant recipients would be required. HB 1008 is sponsored by Senator Nancy Todd, Senator Paul Lundeen, Representative Tracy Kraft-Tharp, and Representative Colin Larson.
Elections are only a few weeks away in the U.S., and a handful of states will be voting on whether to legalize medical or recreational marijuana. In such a contentious political environment, it’s a relief that there’s one thing that brings people together in America: cannabis.
According to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 62% of Americans favor marijuana legalization. Support for the end of cannabis prohibition has been steadily climbing for the last thirty years. Support is double what it was in 2000 when only 31% of people supported legalization.
“A growing majority of Americans are ready to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition and move on,” Steve Hawkins, executive director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a press release. “They see states regulating marijuana for medical and adult use, and they recognize it is a much more effective approach. Laws that treat cannabis consumers like criminals and disproportionately impact communities of color are steadily losing popularity across the U.S.”
Demographically, there were differences in who was likely to favor legalization. 74% of Millennials think marijuana use should be legal, while the majority of Gen Xers (63%) and Baby Boomers (54%) agree. The Silent Generation (those born between 1928 and 1945) are the least supportive of cannabis legalization at 39%.
Demographics opposed to legalization include white evangelical Protestants (52% opposed, 43% support) and Hispanics (50% opposed, 48% support).
There are also partisan differences in backing for marijuana legalization. While 69% of Democrats say marijuana should be legal, Republicans are more split. 45% of Republicans are in favor of legalization, while 51% are opposed.
75% of independents who lean toward Democrats favor legalization, and independents who lean Republican support legalization at a higher rate than Republicans, with 59% supporting legal cannabis.
However, the big takeaway from the survey is how broad the support is for cannabis legalization. Despite differences in race, education, gender, and religious identification, there is widespread approval of cannabis.
Voters in Michigan and North Dakota will vote on legalizing adult-use cannabis, while voters in Missouri and Utah will vote on whether to legalize medical marijuana.
New data released by the Nevada Department of Taxation shows that the state made just over a half-billion dollars in its first year of adult-use cannabis sales.
The combined sales of medical, recreational, and cannabis-related products amounted to $529.9 in sales and netted the state $69.8 million in tax revenue–140 percent more than what the state expected to bring in.
Recreational cannabis sales totaled $424.9 million, generating $42.5 million in tax revenue during the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Before Nevada began adult-use cannabis sales last year, the state anticipated $265 million in recreational sales.
For comparison, Colorado sold $303 million worth of cannabis during its first full year of recreational sales. Washington sold $259 million, and Oregon sole $241 million.
Bill Anderson, executive director of the Nevada Department of Taxation, said in a press release that the cannabis industry “has not only exceeded revenue expectations, but proven to be a largely successful one from a regulatory standpoint.”
“We have not experienced any major hiccups or compliance issues,” he added. “As we move into fiscal year 2019, we expect to see continued growth in the industry by way of additional businesses opening up, and we expect revenues to continue to be strong.”
Adult-use cannabis sales began July 1, 2017, after voters approved Question 2 legalizing recreational marijuana in 2016.
There are 64 medical marijuana dispensaries in Nevada, and 61 of those dispensaries are also licensed to sell recreational marijuana. Nevada has authorized a maximum of 136 dispensaries.
Despite the huge sales numbers, State Senator Tick Segerblom thinks the numbers would be even higher if the state legalized consumption lounges. Currently, cannabis use is banned at casinos and other public venues, leaving tourists with few places to consume.
“You can’t encourage people to come to Nevada to buy marijuana, but tell them they can’t use it or take it home,” he said. “I think the hypocrisy is killing us.”
North Dakotans will vote on whether to legalize adult-use cannabis this November after pro-marijuana activists collected enough signatures to include the ballot measure in this year’s mid-term elections.
If voters approve the initiative, adults 21 and older will be able to possess and grow an unlimited amount of cannabis, no restrictions. The proposal would allow the implementation of a distribution and sales program for legal cannabis, and there would be a provision allowing for marijuana convictions to be expunged.
“This model is 100-percent plug-and-play. The cities, if they want to, can put zoning regs on it. But this is workable, implementable and executable from day one. That’s the biggest strength of this bill, in my opinion. It’s a true free-market, laissez-faire bill,” David Owen, chairman of Legalize ND, told Cannabis Business Times.
The petition to legalize recreational marijuana collected over 15,000 valid signatures, well over the required 13,452 signatures required to get the measure on November’s ballot.
NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri told Forbes, “We applaud the hard work and dedication from the campaign and countless volunteers on the ground in North Dakota who went door to door and out into their communities to gather the signatures required to put this on the ballot in November.
“Marijuana legalization is no longer a regional or partisan issue. Well over 60% of all Americans support ending our nation’s failed prohibition, and I expect North Dakota voters to send shockwaves across the country this fall when they join the growing contingent of states who have chosen the sensible path of legalization and regulation over prohibition and incarceration.”
North Dakota legalized medical marijuana in 2016 with 64% in support, but the state has been slow to implement the program. After two years of waiting, the North Dakota Department of Health plans to begin medical sales by the end of 2018 or early 2019.
The Colorado marijuana industry continues to be a competitive and thriving market nearly five years after adult-use sales began. A new report commissioned by the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division conducted by the Marijuana Policy Group and the Leeds School of Business covers a wide range of topics, including trends in supply and demand, consumption, pricing, and market consolidation.
Trends in Consumption
Colorado’s legal marijuana market bought 665,134 pounds of cannabis in 2017, equating to over $1.5 billion in total earnings.
Flower still makes up the majority of cannabis sold in Colorado, but the demand for concentrates and edibles is increasing. In 2017, there were 301.7 metric tons of cannabis sold in the state. Flower made up 61.8% of sales, followed by concentrates at 27.3%. Trim accounted for 5.9%, and infused edibles and non-infused edibles accounting for 4.9% and 0.3%.
Consumption trends varied in tourist areas. Overall, edibles accounted for 13% of the adult-use market, but in tourist locations edibles accounted for nearly 25%.
Falling Prices, Increasing Potency
While cannabis prices have wildly fluctuated and hit record lows in other legal states, cannabis pricing is Colorado has decreased at a more steady pace. Flower prices have “declined slowly,” while the price of a standard serving of THC has “declined more rapidly.”
From the Report:
“The average cost of a 57.1 mg serving of inhaled THC from adult use flower has decreased 50.8 percent, from $3.68 in 2014 to $1.81 in 2017. A serving of THC from medical flower cost an average of $1.11 in 2017, down 40.0 percent from the 2014 average of $1.79. In both cases, the rate of decline in price-per serving outpaced the price-per-gram declines, due to a combination of falling flower prices and slightly increasing potency from 2014 through 2017.”
The numbers for concentrates showed a more dramatic decrease in price.
“The average price of a serving of THC from adult use concentrates fell 61.7 percent, from $4.70 in 2014 to $1.80 in 2017, while a serving from medical concentrates fell 57.0 percent, from $3.28 in 2014 to $1.41 in 2017. Once again, the price per serving of concentrated THC fell significantly faster than the per gram price of concentrates due to the increase in average potency from 2014 to 2017, coupled with a steady decline in concentrate prices.”
Flower potency has remained relatively stable since 2014, but the average potency of marijuana concentrates has increased. In 2014, the average potency of concentrates was 56.6%; in 2017, the average potency is 68.6%, a 21.2% increase.
Market Consolidation and Competitiveness
Cannabis used to only be available on the black market, but as legalization becomes more common across the country, there’s a real worry about the industry being dominated by a few corporate companies. Instead of a large number of small businesses competing in the marketplace, consolidation can lead to a few, big-money companies that grow, manufacture, and distribute marijuana to an entire state or multiple states.
However, the study found that while there’s some consolidation in Colorado, the marketplace is still competitive. The market in Colorado isn’t highly concentrated, which means that there’s still room for small businesses to thrive.
The MED study found that in Colorado, the largest 10 operators accounted for 26.6 percent of total market sales in 2015, 25.4 percent of total market sales in 2016, and 23.1 percent of total market sales in 2017.
The study also found that competition, rather than tourism demand, was a more decisive factor in cannabis pricing. The report showed that marijuana prices were highest in parts of the state with the fewest legal dispensaries. For example, the average price per gram of flower sold for adult use was $4.82; in Summit County, which draws thousands of tourists to its ski resorts every year, the average price per gram of flower was $7.17.
The report shows how far the regulated market has come in Colorado. In 2014, only 65% of consumption came from the regulated market. In 2017, the regulated market was more than able to meet both resident and visitor demand for cannabis.
“This report gives me comfort that the licensed, regulated commercial marketplace is working well and is part of the state’s continuous effort to monitor a comprehensive marijuana regulatory framework, improve transparency and use data to inform the public about Colorado’s marketplace,” said Mike Hartman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue in a press release.
The United Kingdom has softened its stance on medical marijuana, and by this autumn, cannabis-derived medication will be available by prescription.
The surprise announcement by the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, comes after two severely epileptic children were denied cannabis oil to treat their seizures. Public outcry prompted Javid to announce a formal review of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug last month.
“Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory. That is why we launched a review and set up an expert panel to advise on licence applications in exceptional circumstances.
Following advice from two sets of independent advisers, I have taken the decision to reschedule cannabis-derived medicinal products – meaning they will be available on prescription. This will help patients with an exceptional clinical need but is in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use,” Javid said in a news release.
The review, led by the UK’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, concluded that cannabis has therapeutic value. The Department of Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will define what qualifies as a “cannabis-derived medicinal product.” Approved cannabis products will be covered by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
Until last week’s announcement, the UK had no legal medical marijuana program, despite being the world’s largest exporter and producer of cannabis-based medicines. Only approved cannabis-derived medication will be reclassified as Schedule 2 drugs.
Professor Mike Barnes, a physician who petitioned the government to allow cannabis oil use on behalf of his patient, Alfie Dingley, told The Guardian that he hopes the rules around medical marijuana won’t be “too restrictive.”
“I hope medical cannabis will be available very soon to help the many tens of thousands of people who benefit from the medicine but are currently deemed criminals,” he said. “I hope the government will not make the regulations too restrictive but sensibly open up the way to make good quality, safe cannabis available on prescription,” he said.
Legalizing cannabis-derived medicines poises the UK to become one of the biggest marijuana markets in Europe. Prohibition Partners estimates that by 2028 the medical marijuana market in the UK will be worth 8.8 billion euros ($10.2 billion).
Data compiled by MarijuanaBusiness Daily shows just how much participation in medical marijuana programs has declined in states that also have recreational cannabis markets. Colorado, Oregon, and Nevada have seen their medical marijuana markets undergo dramatic changes over the past few years, and the future of MMJ is anything but certain.
Of the three states, Colorado has fared the best. Since adult-use sales began in January 2014, patient counts have fallen 22 percent. And from 2014 to 2016, annual sales for medical cannabis actually increased each year before falling for the first time in 2017. So far in 2018, the downward trend has continued. Revenue fell 21 percent year-over-year to $165.8 million.
“Since April of 2017, we have observed negative year-over-year comps for medical marijuana sales. These results underscore our view that the overall Colorado marijuana market is at or near maturity and further substantiates our industry thesis that a rec market is disruptive to medical sales,” Green Wave Advisors founder and managing partner Matt Karnes told Benzinga.
In Nevada, MMJ patient counts are declining an average of 5 percent per month. Since recreational cannabis launched in October 2017, patient counts in the state have decreased 32 percent. In June, patient enrollment fell below 17,000 for the first time since March 2016.
Oregon has seen the steepest decline in their medical marijuana program. Since adult-use sales began in October 2015, patient counts have declined 42 percent. The number of registered medical marijuana patients was at an all-time high in October 2015, with 78,045 patients. In 2018, only 45,000 patients are registered under the medical marijuana program.
In addition to falling patient numbers, there are changing demographics in the patient base. In Colorado, the average age of a medical marijuana patient has increased from 41 in January 2014 to 44 as of June 2018. 22 percent of patients in Nevada are older than 65, up from 19 percent of patients in October 2017. The average age of patients in Oregon is up 6 percent from October 2015, with 19.4 percent of patients 65 or older.