Consumer and industry notes from around the Commonwealth.
State and change
While many cannabis consumers are sadly (though also understandably) uninterested in the mechanics and politics behind the scenes of their favorite dispensary, for industry people, the biggest news of late is that Cannabis Control Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan announced she will step down from her seat on April 30. Gov. Baker appointed her to a four-year term starting in September 2017.
“I want to express my sincere thanks to Governor Baker for the opportunity to serve as the public health appointee to the Commission,” Flanagan said in a release. “My motivation for accepting his appointment, and my primary goal throughout my term, has been to ensure the public health of Massachusetts residents remained a priority as the Commonwealth regulated legal cannabis. I believe my contributions have kept that focus front and center as the Commission has drafted and updated its regulations over the past three and a half years.”
Naturally, speculation began right away about where Flanagan would land in the private sector, and within days of her departure announcement we found out. She’ll be joining the team at Vicente Sederberg LLC, where she’ll be the new director of regulatory policy for the firm which has cannabis clients across the United States.
As occasional Dig contributor Grant Smith noted on his blog, grantsmithellis.com, “With Flanagan’s departure, Chairman Steven Hoffman is the only remaining member of the Agency’s original 5 Commissioners.” By the way, if you care about the granular stuff you should be reading Grant’s blog regularly. He points out things like how, “It is beyond telling that nearly 50% of corporate medical operators were able to convert their license priority into an operational adult use location while, at the same time, that number is below even 5% for equity priory status converting into an operational adult use location.” And he summarizes critical developments from tedious meetings thusly:
The Executive Director has announced that the Third Cohort of the Social Equity program will soon be open for applications. … The applications for that third cohort, it was announced, will open in June of 2021. The Commission also noted that they had worked with UMass Boston, and will do outreach to other universities, to provide pro-bono resources in some form to those social equity program participants [and] announced a connector app that they hope to build to, strangely … help program participants find jobs (rather than ownership opportunities).
Equity in Boston?
Remember the last mayor? That Walsh guy? Yeah, he thought that cannabis was a gateway drug.
But not Mayor Kim Janey, who last week announced a “new capacity building program [that] will support equity in the cannabis industry.” More from the city’s Office of Economic Development (OED):
Mayor Kim Janey announced that the City of Boston this week released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to provide technical assistance support to certified cannabis equity applicants. This $675,000 investment over three years is designed to expand economic and entrepreneurial opportunity and capacity. Completed proposals will be accepted monthly on a rolling basis, on the first day of each month, for a three year period, beginning on April 1, 2021 and ending March 31, 2024. The first deadline will be May 1, 2021. Proposals can be submitted electronically via the City of Boston Supplier Portal.
“Today we are taking a major step forward in lifting up local entrepreneurs with diverse ownership from communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs,” said Mayor Kim Janey. “We want to ensure that business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry have the tools they need to grow and thrive in Boston.”
As part of this ordinance, the [OED] will oversee the Cannabis Technical Assistance Program to assist any eligible certified cannabis equity applicants. This designation is based on the majority of an applicant’s business ownership and gives preference to people who reside in areas impacted hardest by the war on drugs, Boston residents, people of color, and people with low incomes, among others. Based on this criteria, the City will maintain an equal or greater number of equity applicant licensees to licensees that do not qualify as equity applicants. The Office of Economic Development has also hired a full-time Cannabis Industry Manager to work directly with cannabis applicants to guide equity applicants through the certification process and to match their needs with experienced TA providers.
“Cannabis is a fast-growing industry, and Boston is committed to ensuring that equity applicants in our city can access the resources they need to launch a successful business,” said Midori Morikawa, Interim Chief of Economic Development. “Boston is the first city in the United States to formally prioritize diverse applicants who are looking to participate in this emerging industry. With this new RFP, the Boston Cannabis Equity Program will support equity applicants with critical technical assistance across business operations, workforce development, legal compliance, and other best practices to assist diverse cannabis businesses throughout the city.”
Applicants and licensees seeking to be certified pursuant to the Ordinance are reviewed and certified by the Office of Economic Development, in collaboration with the Boston Cannabis Board and other appropriate city departments when applicable. Once selected, the Office of Economic Development shall facilitate the initial engagement with the contractor. In each case, the contractor will be expected to work directly with the cannabis equity applicant.
More info at boston.gov/boston-cannabis-board.
Chemdog’s Mass Smash Hits
The news broke in the cannabis community a few months ago that Greg “Chemdog” Krzanowski, the originator of classic cannabis strains including Chemdog 91, was tapped to become the director of cultivation for Canna Provisions Group in Western Mass. For diehards, this was like learning that Michael Jordan was coming to coach hoops in your hometown—if basketball had been outlawed, and its top performer had been underground for generations.
“This is one of the most important events for our company in that we will have control over our supply, and we are thrilled to start selling Chemdog strains under the brand Smash Hits this week,” Canna Provisions CEO Meg Sanders said about the products yielded. “We couldn’t be prouder and more excited about the strains and products we’ll be exclusively selling for those cannabis enthusiasts looking for the absolute best genetics available in the market.”
There’s a whole backstory and product breakdown at cannaprovisionsgroup.com. Be sure to check for availability, as these delights are poised to spur a Heady Topper-style surge.
Holistic Industries bills itself as the “largest private multi-state cannabis operator in the US,” so it’s no surprise to see them rocking with some of the biggest icons in play, namely the family of passed Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia. You’ve heard about this through the grapevine, so here are the details straight from the source:
[April 17 was] the East Coast debut of Garcia Hand Picked, a collection of cannabis products and merchandise created in partnership with The Garcia Family to honor the legacy of Jerry Garcia. Garcia Hand Picked was initially launched in California in November 2020 and will be one of the first celebrity cannabis brands available in select dispensaries in Massachusetts this month with plans to expand to Maryland in May 2021 and additional markets later this year.
“My dad would have loved to see the broad legalization and normalization of cannabis today. It gives people better options for medication, entertainment, and so many other things, which is one of the reasons we wanted to create cannabis that would honor the legacy of Jerry Garcia, delight the fans and benefit humanity,” said Trixie Garcia, Jerry Garcia’s daughter and spokesperson for the Garcia Family. “We believe cannabis is a preferred choice than both alcohol for pleasure and opiates for chronic pain. We want more people to have a better option as we push toward national legalization.”
Those close to Jerry have said he rarely smoked weed by himself, it was more of a social interaction; “a joint became a bridge between him and those around him.” Holistic and The Garcia Family put an emphasis on pre-roll packs for a special experience – eco-friendly packaging made from recycled paper, matches and a custom glass tip with Jerry’s handprint.
Garcia Hand Picked strains available in products at launch in April in Massachusetts include Tropicanna Haze (Sativa), Shiskaberry Mango (Indica) and Limefire Skunk (Hybrid), among others. It was important for this brand to have a variety of form factors to be inclusive and accessible for different types of consumers while also maintaining authenticity.
Garcia Hand Picked is available at Liberty dispensaries in Mass. More info at garciahandpicked.com.
It’s 2021, so why the hell wouldn’t sports leagues team up with cannabis companies? Sounds about right to us. Here’s the word from the Massachusetts Pirates, the Bay State’s delegates to the Indoor Football League (IFL) who play home games at the DCU Center in Worcester:
The Massachusetts Pirates have announced its first partnership with an adult-use sale and medical cannabis dispensary. According to terms of the deal, Resinate will be the presenting sponsor of the Massachusetts Pirates official website and social media studio, as well as being the presenting sponsor of the official post-game party located at the Boardroom in Worcester following all Pirates home games. Resinate and the Pirates will also co-host five co-branded community service events, centered around 21+ initiatives, per calendar year, for the length of the partnership.
“We are very excited,” Resinate Founder and CEO Peter DeCaro said. “Cannabis may provide these athletes with a natural alternative to the use of opioids for pain relief. Cannabis use may also help the body and mind recover from the physical and mental demands of performing at such a high level. Also, Worcester is our home and we are proud to partner with the Mass Pirates in serving our community at a time when we people need it the most.”
More info at resonate.com.