POV: Cannabis at a Glance: From NY to CA

Washington

Branding Cannabis

Washington’s cannabis market is about creative branding, innovation and options—lots of them. With our cap in retail licenses and fierce competition for shelf space; suppliers must go beyond maximizing quality, and really speak to customers. Combined with relaxed marketing restrictions, (we can still call our strains Girl Scout Cookies and Bubblegum), we remain the wild west of cannabis branding.

Joshua Besecker, purchaser at Satori Bellingham points out, “For many of these companies, It’s not just a brand—it’s multiple brands, where they’re pushing different product lines, each with their own messaging.” This may create option overload, but that’s not a bad problem to have.

Will Kersten, Freelance Writer | Bellingham, WA

Oregon

Crafting the Plant

On opening day for recreational marijuana, Colorado had 24 stores, Washington had 4, and Oregon had 250. That selection of stores spurred an 11 million dollar opening week – more than Colorado and Washington combined. Oregonians pride ourselves on being prepared.

My Washington friends are forced to buy pre-packaged flower. While in Oregon, I can show you a large jar that holds our supply, so you get a full smell. I can even go hunting around for that perfect nug you saw hanging out in the middle—just for you!

Finally, Oregon has what the kids call, “That Fire”. During the most recent Dope Cup, officials at the Trichome Institute (based in Denver) said that on the whole Oregon cannabis was on another level compared to the rest of the country. I trust the experts on this one.

Matt Criscione, Budtender | Portland, OR

Florida

Culture of Fear

The cannabis culture in Florida is based on fear. Until recently, possession over 20 grams was a felony. Punishable with a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000. This hasn’t fostered trust.

When a dealer would be busted, finger pointing was sure to follow. The State would punish the end user and push them to “roll over” on their dealer. There is also no “safe way” to buy cannabis and this leads a lot of users to rougher neighborhoods and increased prices.

Florida has a two-tiered system when it comes to quality; high-end ($20-$30 a gram) to low-end (25$ a quarter). This creates two classes of dealers. You would have your “Heady” dealer and your “One stop shop” dealer. The Heady being pretty trustworthy, but the other being less so. It will be a relief to see this era of fear lifted.

Robert Wasmund, Political Freelance Writer | Orlando, FL

New York

Convenience is Everything 

Being a weed smoker in NYC is the best it’s ever been. This goes for quality, availability, when and where you get it and where you can smoke or eat it. If you want it in NYC, it’s within 40 minutes. Hands down.

The edible game is killing it! It’s like Martha Stewart and Willy Wonka had a cook book and THC was the very last ingredient added to all of the recipes. Vape pens and cartridges have changed the game too. I recently had buddies in town for a show. I sent a text to my weed guy and he set me up with a vape pen with two different cartridges. This stuff is so specific to vibe and feel, it’s perfect for NYC. The vape pens are super transportable—very convenient.

My buddies and I were able to enjoy the weed pen at our seats in Madison Square Garden. I didn’t really mind if security had questions about the pens because there are so many people vaping these days. Like I said before, send a text and about 40 minutes is all it takes. We had the best time having that at our fingertips.

In NYC, the more convenient the better. The variety is expanding every day. Easy to transport and store; sign us up.

John Boyd, Small Business Owner | Brooklyn, NY

Colorado

Innovation and Normalization

If I had to choose one word to summarize the Colorado marijuana market, it would be innovation. While states such as California and Oregon have laid much of the groundwork, the recreational legalization of Colorado is what really launched the marijuana industry forward.

Colorado has redefined the standards of a consumer-based market; making marijuana much more approachable for the not-so-experienced cannabis user.

From sustainable growing methods, to gourmet edibles and premium concentrates, Colorado continues to raise the bar when it comes to quality. I truly believe this state has laid the foundation for the future of cannabis, and is the reason that so many states have recently passed legalization.

Mel Joy, Freelance Writer | Denver, Colorado

California

Fields of Green

Twenty years have passed since Proposition 215 went into effect, which deemed California as the first state to legalize medical marijuana. This last year, the Golden State voted on Proposition 64, setting the tone for the rest of the country.

Adults still need a doctor recommendation to purchase marijuana from a dispensary; however, it is now legal to use, share and grow cannabis on your own property in the state of California. 2017 is a bit of a grey-area year, until Prop 64 truly solidifies by the beginning of 2018.

Some economists are predicting that the new laws will potentially generate enough tax revenue to thrust California from the sixth largest global economy to the fifth. As California continues to expand its roots as the marijuana motherland, the rest of the country is looking to its progressive platform as a blueprint for the national temperature to change regarding cannabis.

Michigan

Policy vs. The People

Michigan, as it revealed in the 2016 election, is a gaping chasm of ideals. Recent events pertaining to marijuana access showcased the deep, deep differences between Michiganders and their representatives

On June 1, 2016, advocates filed a petition with 350,000 signatures (100,000 more than what is required), putting access to recreational marijuana on the ballot in 2016. On June 17, 2016, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill that lessened the amount of time a petition can gather signatures from four years to 180 days. With that move, he made the petition invalid, after it had been submitted. No vote was established for the election.

Advocates are pushing for a 2018 vote for recreational use, but plenty of hurdles stand in their way. It’s a long, lonely road to freedom in Michigan.

Idaho

The Land of No Herb

Obtaining herb has always been a hassle in Idaho. You either have to bug a friend to obtain it for you, or get involved with a potentially sketchy person you don’t know.

Since it has become legal in other states surrounding Idaho, I wouldn’t say its easier to get, but you have a variety of avenues to procure the desired product. I suffer from anxiety, ADHD, and depression. It’s the only medicine that gives me little to no side effects and I can almost immediately feel the relief after taking it.  I am unable to move out of Idaho, so I’m just waiting patiently for Idaho to embrace this misinterpreted, wonderful plant to become available to help with my mental health conditions.

Wayne, Graphic Designer | Boise, ID

Since starting in high school, I’ve gone through various stages of consumption. From daily smoker to casual smoker to maybe a couple times a month. One thing that’s stayed relatively the same is the amount of risk and effort it takes to get weed in a non-legal state. You have to “know a guy,” trust them enough to contact them, be on their schedule, meet up and pay them. It’s rarely easy and usually feels a bit sketch.

Now that almost all of Idaho’s boarding states have some level of legal cannabis, it does seem a little easier to come by. This is good because as I get older, I’m running out of friends in the food service industry.

It’s still more effort than it needs to be, but it’s nice to not be so reliant on “the guy” you know. The risk is still there but it definitely feels less sketchy. Like all those who partake, I just wish there wasn’t a penalty for harmlessly enjoying something that just makes me happy. Maybe one day Idaho will get on board.

Mark, Videographer | Boise, ID

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