The Wine & Weed Symposium is an event crafted from the views and advice of top representatives from both the wine and cannabis industries. To successfully represent the needs of both industries, we’ve obtained guidance from experts and business leaders who will share their unique experiences and outlooks to bring the most relevant and beneficial information to our attendees.
Hezekiah Allen was born at home and raised off the grid in rural Humboldt County. Blending more than a decade as a successful commercial cannabis grower with a background in Politics and Government, Hezekiah now works as the Executive Director of the California Growers Association. Cal Growers is the largest association of cannabis businesses and growers in California. As Executive Director, Allen is a lead expert helping to inform the cannabis policy making process in Sacramento. Under his leadership Cal Growers has successfully advocated for the establishment of an appellation system for cannabis, championed policies to ensure lower fees for smaller farms, sponsored legislation to establish a special license for cottage scale growers and is the state's’ leading voice for the independent farms and businesses that make California cannabis craft.
"There couldn't be more parallels between the two. Cannaculture and viticulture are very similar. From the diversity of varietals and the the “get it done culture” of growers, to the worldwide expanse of cultivation and extensive history and cultural significance, wine and cannabis are a perfect match—tempered by thousands of years of shared and intertwined history.
The earliest evidence of grape vine cultivation and winemaking dates back 7,000 years, while cannabis cultivation and consumption dates back nearly 10,000 years. Both are grown on every continent in the world (except Antarctica) and have been enjoyed by civilizations throughout history the world around.
The two have a long history of being enjoyed together or separately as companions to philosophical discussion and/or general merry-making."
"The human element. Every time I hear cannabis described as the “fastest growing industry in California” I wince for the tens of thousands of small businesses owners and hundreds of thousands of workers that currently feed their families from cannabis. Cannabis is not a growing industry; it is a stable, mature industry. California has been a global leader in this industry for generations. Our challenge is to buck the trends of modern economics—where growth and quantity are valued more quality and community and to establish a culture—similar to the wine industry—where appellations of origin, standards and connoisseur-ship create opportunity for a broad diversity of farms and businesses."
"That everyone in the industry is rich and that new businesses will make mountains of easy money. The “green rush” mentality is speculative, and feverish. It is hurting farmers, business owners, communities and natural resources alike. California needs to put community first in cannabis—otherwise this tremendous opportunity will prove to be a catastrophe for the people and places that have stewarded cannaculture in California through this dark time of prohibition."
I have one healthy parent and one sick parent. My healthy parent is my mom who has suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for 35 years. After trying every pharmaceutical on the market (and a few in trial) nothing helped her. Then she discovered medical cannabis and it changed her life. One eye-dropper full of CBD oil alleviates her pain, helps her sleep better and improves her mood.
On the other hand, my sick parent has battled alcohol addiction all his life. In his later years, he developed acute dementia directly related to years of alcohol use, including cocktails, beer and plenty of wine. As I sat down to write this bio he passed away. Seeing what alcohol took from our family while cannabis has provided so much medical benefit provides a unique perspective.
I’m a person who has made a living in the wine industry as a sommelier, organizer of #ChardonnayDay and #CabernetDay. After working in every facet of the industry I find myself at an interesting crossroads and look forward to presenting a useful viewpoint with one foot in each industry.
"The end consumer is going to have a voice. Cannabis legalization is flourishing in states where consumers care more about what they eat and drink. Here on the west coast (perhaps more than other parts of the country) consumers want organic; they want GMO-free; they want products produced from sustainable farming methods.
You see it in our food supply, you see it in the beer industry and you see it in the wine industry. Cannabis consumers will expect their cannabis is cultivated with the same sustainable practices as other things they put in their bodies."
"I left NIKE in 2003 to move back to my home town of Boulder, Colorado to care for my mom who has Multiple Sclerosis. I had heard weed could help people with M.S. but I was so naive. I started growing cannabis plants thinking all she had to do was smoke it. That wasn’t the case, but it started me on a path of learning about the medical properties associated with cannabis.
Around that same time my wine industry career was just starting. I was applying everything I learned about branding from NIKE to the wine sales space. That led to starting a blog and eventually entering the Murphy Goode Really Goode Job contest in 2009. That brought us out to Northern California.
Along the way I kept learning about medical cannabis, trying to find something that would help my mom. I couldn’t find a really dependable source of information for questions about cannabis. So I started WeedHorn in 2015 to address the need for accurate medical cannabis information. The good news is that ultimately led us to discover a cannabis oil that has saved my mom’s life. It’s all been worth it."
"There’s so many people getting into the cannabis industry with dollar signs in their eyes. There’s been enough large dollar amounts thrown around for how big the cannabis industry is going to be. It has fragmented the industry into hundreds of little tribes. I don’t see a ton of collaboration, but more of people being out for themselves trying to jockey for position in the industry.
The cannabis industry was a $5B industry in 2012, and will quickly balloon into a $30B industry by 2020. That kind of growth is not normal. The industry will be twice the size of the NFL which is a $15B business—it took the NFL 50 years to get to where they are.
Another way to say it is imagine if they built New York city over the summer. The cannabis industry is going to be massive, and it’s being built at breakneck speed right in front of our eyes.
Challenges we’re all facing in the cannabis industry is the fact cannabis is still listed as a schedule 1 drug. It’s baffling that with all the anecdotal evidence and success stories of cannabis saving people’s lives that the DEA still says “cannabis isn’t medicine” and that government officials like Jeff Sessions want to push the maximum penalty on people who use cannabis. Cannabis businesses can’t even have a bank account. Can you imagine trying to build a $30B industry when business banking isn’t allowed?
We need to once and for all remove the stigma around this misunderstood plant."
Nicky Blaufarb is a Business Development Officer at Cannacraft Inc., the largest cannabis manufacturer in Northern California. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz, she co-created a successful social media company specializing in commercial creative direction. She went on to strategic business development in several industries including food innovation, technology, the arts, and non-profits before her tenure at Cannacraft. Her myriad of experience and adaptability make her uniquely suited to being a pioneer in the constantly changing cannabis industry.
"Thinking 5 years ahead in the Cannabis world is like dog years, what can be accomplished in that amount time is equivalent to what can be accomplished in decades. We have come so far in the short time Cannabis has been regulated. Perception has changed positively enough to bring Cannabis to a wide stream demographic, but we have a long way to go. As we continue to change and mold the perception of Cannabis through education, community involvement, job growth, business development, brand awareness, philanthropy, collaboration with like minded industries, and more Cannabis can and will be a large part of mainstream retail, medicinal, recreation and luxury markets.
1) We will be able to bank...Good Riddance!
2) Craft Cannabis and Craft Cannabis Products will populate the retail market.
3) 420 Tourism and Events will be mainstream: Collaboration with the wine industry in land use, event space, co-marketing in the luxury market will drive this."
"I predict some pretty complementary collaboration. The wine industry has a strong hold in Sonoma County as well as the whole Emerald Triangle. It benefits the cannabis Industry to honor the wine industry by striving to learn from and grow with it. I believe that we can, by working together, monetize land use more strategically, grow 420 tourism and cannabis friendly wine country event spaces, and create a space in the luxury market for both industries."
"“Gateway Drug.” - Thank you Ronald. Cannabis will not make you a heroin addict. Fact."
George Christie settled in Sonoma County in 1991 where he quickly realized that the wine industry was where he wanted to concentrate his efforts. Since that time, he has been involved in nearly every aspect of the wine industry, from vineyard operations and grower relations to distributor realignments and national marketing campaigns.
In 2006 Christie launched his own marketing company, leveraging his years of industry experience assisting wineries to use both traditional and cutting edge marketing techniques to establish a voice in the sea of winery and wine promotion. An early advocate of video marketing and production, Christie has produced more than 100 marketing videos for wineries such as Domaine Carneros, Wattle Creek and Rodney Strong. Always an active member in the wine community, Christie has also held board positions with the Russian River Wine Road, Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley and the Sonoma County Vintners.
In 2009, along with Elizabeth 'E' Slater, George launched the Wine Industry Network, the Wine Industry's leading business and news resource.
Born and raised on the Sonoma Coast, Sam Edwards can think of no place he would rather be living and working. A former ski instructor and avid backpacker, Sam has experienced the offerings of all corners of California and remains passionate about his roots in beautiful Sonoma County, and leads his companies in sharing that passion with the world by bringing quality products to market for others to enjoy.
In 2010, He graduated from Purdue University with a degree in engineering and returned home to work as a project manager in a civil engineering firm in the heart of wine country. While working alongside the wine industry he learned the legal ins and outs of use permitting as well as appellations. Sam has been organically cultivating in several appellations of Sonoma County and passionately extracting cannabis from those areas since 2011.
Sam chose to pursue his passion full time in 2014 and jumped headfirst into the cannabis industry with a focus on intellectual property and brand management. In 2015, He founded the Sonoma Cannabis Company alongside Affinity Brand Management.
Recently Sam formed Cultura Crop Management based on the vineyard management business model in order to ensure proper supply chain management of quality pesticide free cannabis that meets the stringent regulations coming in 2018.
"The timeline of the wine industry moving from grape growers and wineries to estate wineries to experience driven direct to consumer business models that took approximately 70 years in the wine industry will most likely take 10 years in the cannabis industry. This is due to consumers in both markets being experience driven more than product driven when exercising their purchasing power."
"There will be much more collaboration than most anticipate, especially specific to Sonoma County as cannabis will be added to an already robust tourism based economy."
"This is a new era for cannabis and the old stereotypes of stoners and drug dealers is antiquated. The new age cannabis business owner is your typical white collar professional and casual cannabis use, similar to a glass of red wine in the evening, doesn't suddenly make you grow dread locks and be late for work. Cannabis businesses don't suddenly bring crime into your home town, this has been proven by statistics in other states. If any it helps build a more robust economy of fulfilling careers for engineers, accountants, attorneys etc."
Erin Gore is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Garden Society, a cannabis confection company started in early 2016. Originally from Wisconsin, Erin made Sonoma County her home in 2011.
After completing her degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006, Erin began a decade-long career with Henkel, where she managed a global adhesive business valued at nearly $100 million. Her time at Henkel provided a solid foundation in leadership, development, and achieving exceptional financial results.
In 2016, Erin left her corporate career to run Gore Family Vineyards, a boutique winery nestled in Healdsburg, Sonoma County. In addition to producing wine, Erin and her husband Tom have expanded the estate’s products to include olive oil, honey and more than 70 varietals of fruits and vegetables that are sold to restaurants and locals in the community.
Erin’s most-recent enterprise, Garden Society, developed out of her own need to explore non-traditional ways of managing the pain and stress of multiple hip surgeries. She quickly realized the holistic benefits of cannabis as a means of providing a better quality of life without prescription drugs, and in doing so found an opportunity to fill a void in the market with low dose edibles that highlight the renowned food culture of Sonoma County. In 2016, after much of her own research and experimentation, Erin joined with prominent Chef, Kolin Vazzoler, with the goal of creating artisanal confections made with low doses of cannabis that would enrich and help balance women’s lives.
Erin was awarded a Top Business of the Year honor in 2016 and was also given the Most Disruptive Innovation Award in 2014. Currently, she serves on the Board of the Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County as well as the Healdsburg District Hospital Board of Directors. She is also a member of the Sonoma County Growers Alliance and belongs to the Circular Board, The Collaborative Accelerator for Women Entrepreneurs.
"1. A central mission of ours at Garden Society is to foster the social acceptance of cannabis, both medicinally and recreationally. We believe that the stigma has already started to change, and – in partnership with like-minded companies and industry leadership – it will continue to grow through education, positive exposure, and medical research over the next five years.
2. Legalization, along with regulation, will continue its momentum across the country and world.
3. The cannabis market will steady out after a few tumultuous but high growth years through price adjustments, regulation improvements, product innovations, and brand acquisitions."
"I believe the cannabis industry is going to follow the wine industry in the level of differentiation between brands, varietals, innovations, and businesses. There will be products for all types of consumers; from low cost, commoditized products to boutique, appellated products. You will also see consumers become more educated about cannabis, searching for products that help for specific tailored medicinal needs, use certain farming practices, and have high flavor expectations. The cannabis industry will also follow the alcohol industry with the high regulator overhead and taxation model."
"When I set out to build Garden Society, I took a lot of time to learn the intricacies of the industry; finding mentors both in the cannabis industry and in business in general, reading about local and state regulations, and networking with “those who came before me” so to speak. That said, I think the most important piece of advice that I can provide is to make sure you spend time learning the risks, educating yourself on local and state laws, and really understanding the financial difficulties (including Tax laws and banking prohibition). People see high profit margins, but reality is very different due to all the complexities and challenges in the market to operate a legal cannabis business."
Ms. Lencho is co-founder of Supernova Women, an organization for women of color in the cannabis industry that has been affecting change by providing free education and training programs to communities of color throughout the nation regarding national, state, and local policies and business opportunities in the legal cannabis industry. A graduate of Stanford Law School and Stanford University (J.D. and B.A., respectively), Ms. Lencho provides regulatory, compliance and intellectual property guidance to California's cannabis industry. She is formerly the Mayor's appointee to the Oakland Cannabis Regulatory Commission. Ms. Lencho currently serves on the board of the California Growers Association. Ms. Lencho is a frequent editorial contributor to coverage of the industry by Black Enterprise, The Establishment, Vice, and Politico. Her forays into making marijuana law and policy accessible to the masses can be read on multimedia platform The KindLand.
"I think the parallel that I'm excited to see develop as we move to regulate is the focus on the small batch cultivator and their capacity to transition to a statewide regulated market (and eventually an international market). The development of regulations (and exceptions to the 3-tier regime) parallels some of the lessons learned from small batch winemakers in California and elsewhere who fought and advocated for exceptions to the traditional 3-tier system to allow consumers access to wine that would otherwise never make it to market given economies of scale and margins."
"I started studying the cannabis industry as a law student in a class taught by the now general counsel of the Wine Institute. My first gig in cannabis was working on license applications for the state of Maryland's medical cannabis process as a lead writer and client liaison for an Oakland-based consulting firm."
"Local licensing and the fees associated with that process will make or break folks' businesses. Some jurisdictions see the industry as a boon, while others are passing bans in places that have always had a medical industry cultivating or manufacturing. I believe regulators on the state and local level will have to strike a balance between meeting their obligations to provide protections for the public while at the same time incentivizing transition from the illicit market."
As a California native, Tawnie has been active in organic and sustainable agriculture including cannabis farming for over 15 years. Her commitment to the environment and to providing cannabis operators pathways to success in a regulated market inspired the founding of the Sonoma County Growers Alliance in 2015 representing the business and policy needs of the entire cannabis supply chain.
A large part of Tawnie's contribution to the industry is realized in the work she has committed to as an active advocate for sensible policy. This work includes her roles as the board chair for the California Growers Association, board chair of SCGA, advisory board member of the Sonoma County Cannabis Advisory Group, and an advisory board member of the Wine and Weed Symposium.
Tawnie has dedicated the past three years to support local and state regulators in developing effective policy through industry education and advocacy. She is an active presenter across a wide array of conferences and industry groups from cannabis conferences, chambers of commerce, Sustainable North Bay to the Farm Bureau, National Appraisal Institute, city and county agencies and many more.
Today her primary work is focused on advancing the professional landscape of successful cannabis businesses as a managing partner in Canna Code Compliance. In California, through collaborative efforts with local, regional and statewide organizations, from economic development to preserving natural resources, Tawnie's commitment to responsible holistic growth is representative of the principal values at the core of this burgeoning industry.
"The craft farmer will still be producing the highest quality product on the market.
There will be an outcry for exportation options over state lines by 2019 to provide economic viability for the thousands of licensed producers.
Dispensary models as we know them today will be mostly obsolete by 2022."
"The groundswell of industries and individuals whose imaginations have been sparked by the cannabis industry. It seems like everyone has an angle on how they can participate in this newly regulated industry. Some days (especially at events) it makes my head spin a little to see the vast impact cannabis has on local to national economies."
"For over 50 years there has been a well-funded prohibition campaign that successfully drilled fear propaganda into multiple generations.
There are negative side effects with over consumption or abuse of any substance from cannabis to sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. However, the physical side effects of over-consumption in the latter are much higher and even deadly.
The biggest misconception I see today is the lingering fear that cannabis is this gateway drug that impacts lives similar to heroine. This is simply not true, in fact, more people are reclaiming their lives from addictions to doctor prescribed opioids by discovering the natural pain reducing effects of cannabis."
Claudio Miranda is a seasoned entrepreneur and C-level executive with 20 years of experience in marketing, consumer branding, multi-channel retailing, and sustainable enterprise. He was formerly the co-founder and CMO of two industry-leading natural product brands – Organic Bouquet and Organic Style – and later became a marketing consultant for the cannabis, gourmet foods and wine industries. He currently oversees the Guild family of cannabis brands, which includes a vertically-integrated dispensary in San Jose; a 3-acre cannabis nursery in Monterey County; and an award-winning concentrates brand that specializes in high potency, terpene-rich extracts. Claudio is a graduate of UC Berkeley; has served as Professor of Marketing at the Dominican University Green MBA Program; and currently serves as a startup advisor at Gateway—California’s first venture-backed cannabis incubator.
"Wine and cannabis have a lot of similarities when it comes to the culture of enthusiasts and connoisseurship. Both can be studied and appreciated on numerous parallel levels — provenance, varietals, terroir, farming & production practices, producers, sensory analysis, etc. And as cannabis becomes more widely legalized and mainstream we’re seeing the emergence of tourism, hospitality, and the marriage with gastronomy (in terms of multi-course pairings with food — and wine!). This is a key intersection point where the industry can leverage its established wine appreciation framework to educate their customers on how to develop a more profound understanding and appreciation of cannabis — one that transcends the common stereotypes of weed being useful solely to get high. Wine professionals have a unique opportunity in this regard given that they already possess the educational tools and marketing approach to unlock the rich dimensions that cannabis connoisseurship has to offer. "
"Don’t fall prey to the allure of big bucks. As cannabis becomes increasingly regulated and commodified the profit margins will become very thin and hard to sustain at small scale. Moreover, the market is quickly getting saturated with 1000s of emerging brands. The fight for shelf space is well underway and unsuspecting entrepreneurs are learning the hard way that you either have to out compete through "race to the bottom" pricing — which is only sustainable at large scale — or through marketing and brand/product differentiation. The days of “grow it and they will come” are quickly coming to an end in cannabis. So the best advice is to make an amazing product that your customers will love. Don’t do it for the money or market opportunity; do it out of passion, hard work, dedication, and respect for the plant. This in the end is what makes a great wine, and the same holds true for cannabis."
"The most common misconception is one that has been perpetuated by our government since the early 1900s — that cannabis has no positive social benefit or medical utility and must be prohibited and criminalized, thereby creating the cultural misconception that cannabis is for social deviants. This negative social stigma and institutional bias has created a black market subculture that has insulated and suppressed the industry. We’re now at a unique moment in history when cannabis is being normalized and publicly accepted by millions of people from all walks life, which is the direct result of legal reform and breakthroughs in medical research. This presents a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to capitalize on the transition from a black market lifestyle niche to mainstream usage. And this again is where wine professionals possess the marketing tools and expertise to help usher in a new age of cannabis."
Amanda Reiman is the Head of Community Relations for Flow Kana, a branded cannabis distribution company that works with small farmers in the Emerald Triangle and the Secretary of the International Cannabis Farmer’s Association, a non-profit that advocates for research and policies that favor sun grown cannabis cultivation through traditional farming methods.
After receiving her PhD from UC Berkeley, Dr. Reiman was the Director of Research and Patient Services at Berkeley Patients Group, one of the oldest dispensaries in the country, and the Manager of Marijuana Law and Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance, a national non-profit that was engaged in the drafting and campaigns of legalization initiatives across the country and abroad. She also taught courses on substance abuse treatment and drug policy at UC Berkeley for 10 years.
Dr. Reiman is an internationally recognized cannabis expert and public health researcher. Dubbed “The Brain” by Elle.com, she is a leader the field of cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs and has presented her research all over the world. Also an expert in cannabis policy on the local, national and international level, Dr. Reiman was the first Chairwoman of the Berkeley Medical Cannabis Commission and also sat on the Oakland Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
"Cannabis and wine are both about the enjoyment of a plant and a connection to nature. Consumers are eager for information about growing techniques and value both wine making and cannabis farming as a craft. Anyone can make wine/grow cannabis, but only a select few can call it their craft."
"Definitely coming into compliance with all of the new local and state regulations. This industry has always existed, but since it was underground, participants developed of culture of not keeping records and staying in the shadows. Being a business owner in CA in ANY industry requires a level of transparency that the cannabis industry has been conditioned to stay away from. Add on top of that a lack of access to banking and business loans, and its like pushing a person who is just learning to swim off the boat with one hand tied behind their back. But if years of heavy handed law enforcement couldn't sink the industry, neither can complicated regulations. We will rise to the occasion."
"Collaboration. The similarities in the consumer and the experience they seek with the product holds great promise for cross promotion. While the regulations will keep the products and company ownership separate, the messaging about mindful consumption and consideration for where the product comes from is very much in line. Research on cannabis cultivation environments will lead to appellation designation and perhaps this opportunity could be extended to the wine industry as well."
Tom Rodrigues has been an artist since his childhood. He started at 14 working in Stained Glass in his hometown of Los Gatos California at Hogan Studios. He soon branched off on his own and moved to Marin County in the early 70’s to continue his art glass at Rodrigues Studio in San Rafael. He was hired as the designer and production Manager at Skywalker Ranch creating the stained glass that adorns the buildings there. Along with over 4 decades working in Stained Glass, Tom began his fine art expressions in acrylic and oil paintings where he showed his work from New York to San Francisco. Tom has one of his paintings from The Legends at The Stick series in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown New York. He also has created some of the most iconic wine labels from Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and Mendocino Counties wineries. Far Niente, Nickel and Nickel, Dolce, En Route, Bella Union, Hamel Family, Gemstone, Manzanita Creek, Artevino, and Maple Creek just to name a few. Tom moved to Mendocino County in 2001 and purchased a ranch and small production winery in Yorkville of the Anderson Valley. He teamed up with Kerry Damsky to teach him winemaking chemistry. Maple Creek Winery / Artevino Wines produce award winning Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot and Bordeaux blends. Tom sits on two boards in Mendocino County MWI (Mendocino Winegrowers Inc) and the MCIA (Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association) representing the two most popular agricultural products here in Mendocino County.
"Three things I can predict might happen in the cannabis industry in the next 5 years are similar to what happened in the wine industry when "Two Buck Chuck" hit the market. The bulk industry hit bottom, wine prices lowered, inventory went up. Then after a couple of years, folks came to miss the quality they once enjoyed and started seeking out quality wines and visiting the tasting rooms of wineries they were not familiar with, and the bulk market built back up again."
"My advice is to focus on the medicine in cannabis, I truly believe it is the future of this industry for world wide appreciation and growth in healthy alternatives in medicine."
"Being on the wine board in Mendocino County (MWI) there are still many wineries who do not want to touch this. Although there are a number of us who enjoy cannabis and are making infused wines with cannabis for personal use. If the FEDs can move cannabis off schedule 1 then the future is wide open for collaboration, I don’t really see a competition other than a Cannabis and Wine competition."
Alicia founded HerbaBuena in 2015 to help define a new standard for the cannabis industry, and a trusted product source for consumers looking for the same purity, quality and sophistication in their cannabis products as they’ve come to expect in their organic food and fine wine. HerbaBuena is a culmination of all that’s come before including her upbringing on an organic farm, her master’s degree in Environmental Science, and a 15-year career in Napa Valley’s wine industry, during which time she consulted with dozens of ultra-premium wine brands and a handful of 100-point winemakers.
"I founded HerbaBuena to help redefine and elevate the dialog and culture around cannabis, and to help establish a new standard for quality - as defined by purity - and the consumer experience.
Just one example of how we’ve done this is releasing the state’s first-ever Demeter-certified cannabis. Demeter is a trusted agricultural designation that ensures purity and quality, and is especially important for cannabis given that as an industry we’re unable to use the federal USDA organic designation.
As an industry I believe we now have both an opportunity and a duty to do better than those which have come before us. Cannabis has the power to heal, and help us realign our values and expectations around medicine and nourishment as a whole.
As a company we’re growing a trusted consumer brand defined by purity, quality and therapeutic benefit – to promote health for people and the planet."
"I’m blessed to have a foot planted firmly in both wine and cannabis, and am incredibly excited about the opportunities for collaboration between the two. Both wine and cannabis are highly prized and highly regulated agricultural products which, in their highest form, have the ability to elevate the human experience. The opportunities for collaboration, in everything from the consumer experience, to shared expertise from things as far reaching as compliance and cultivation, are significant."
"The biggest misconception is the idea that cannabis (and hemp for that matter), should never have been made illegal. The fact that we’ve pushed this extraordinary therapeutic healing plant into the shadows, and that the federal government has mislabeled it has a harmful drug, is the reason we face every misconception about this plant and the positive impact it can have in nearly every segment of our modern life."
Rebecca Stamey-White is a legal advocate, advisor and strategist focusing her practice on the laws related to the sale, distribution and marketing of alcoholic beverages and medical cannabis. She is a partner with Hinman & Carmichael LLP, a nationally-recognized boutique law firm representing the alcoholic beverage, hospitality and medical cannabis industries and their service providers. Rebecca provides licensing, distribution, compliance and trade practice business advice for regulated industries and defends clients in state agency protest and accusation hearings and federal alcohol investigations. She has a special interest in crafting legally-compliant advertising, social media, promotions and events and advising unlicensed third party providers serving regulated industries.
Rebecca is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, law schools and continuing legal education programs on the latest legal issues in the alcoholic beverage and cannabis industries. She is an active member of many of the alcohol beverage industry organizations, including the Wine Institute, the Rhone Rangers, the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers, the California Music & Culture Association, the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators and the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA). In the cannabis space, Rebecca is an active member of Women Grow, a professional network of female cannabis entrepreneurs, and the National Cannabis Bar Association. During ski season, she volunteers as a national ski patroller at Northstar California Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe.
Prior to Hinman & Carmichael, Rebecca was an associate in the San Francisco litigation group of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where she worked on post-Granholm litigation involving constitutional challenges to state alcohol regulatory statutes and provided regulatory advice to California wine industry businesses. Rebecca received her Bachelor of Arts degree in History & International Studies from Northwestern University and her juris doctor from Northwestern University School of Law.
"I'll focus on the California market, since the industry at large is at various stages of development in different states and California is the biggest and most established market, with the biggest power to affect the industry at large. First, I think the players are going to change dramatically in California. As the new laws and regulations are written, there are huge opportunities for companies that are well-capitalized, with the capacity to handle the increasing costs of compliance. The laws have also largely done away with some of the residency requirements (although many local communities still have them), meaning that players from other states may have an easier time setting up shop in California than previously anticipated and could have a huge advantage if they've been successful elsewhere. But that means many of the local mom and pop cannabis collectives that have made up this industry for so many years may lose their business advantages and be forced out of the market unless they collaborate and pool resources with others in the market and really brand their local California roots.
Second, I expect delivery models to take on the traditional dispensary models. The combination of the California laws permitting dispensaries to operate without having a storefront open to the public, California being home to the tech industry, and consumers moving more to home delivery over shopping at brick and mortar retailers means we will likely see a lot more delivery-only dispensaries, and other mobile-based customer acquisition models.
Third, I hope the next phase of legislation will follow the Colorado example to start opening up social use consumption of cannabis so that we will see more clubs, restaurants and social spaces able to be licensed (even if it means businesses may choose cannabis licensing instead of alcohol licensing if the two can't be combined), which will help with cannabis tourism and give consumers the ability to learn about new products and try them."
"The wine industry has always had great stories to tell, and so does the cannabis industry. Both are agricultural products that have terroir and varietals/strains, each with unique properties and flavors. There are compelling stories to share with consumers about the cultivation of grapes and cannabis flower. There's also, therefore, a huge benefit for both industries to bring consumers to the winery or the grow to be able to build brand loyalty by seeing the production process and the lifestyle up close and selling through direct to consumer models."
"It's hard to know where to start because there are so many challenges, more so than the alcohol industry dealt with at the end of Prohibition, because there had been a system in place before to improve on. Really, the biggest challenge is education and awareness about the new system, so that the industry members understand how regulation works and the regulators figure out how to encourage buy-in from the industry to make it a successful transition from the black market. The problem with the "regulate it like alcohol" campaigns is that very few in the cannabis industry understand how regulated alcohol actually is, so there's a certain shock value upon discovering how many regulatory hoops alcohol licensees must jump through. The wine industry in California has done a great job balancing the need of regulation to protect the public, to create confidence in the product integrity and to collect taxes and fees to support the system, while also permitting business models for smaller players. The cannabis regulators are attempting to do all these things, but have the advantage of using technology in the regulations, i.e. track and trace, advanced product testing and even an online licensing portal (all things that could benefit the alcohol industry as well)."
Aaron Smith is co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, the largest trade association representing legal cannabis businesses in the U.S and the only one working to advance the industry on a national level.
Prior to launching NCIA, Aaron distinguished himself as a public advocate for marijuana policy reform — first under the auspices of a California-based medical cannabis advocacy group, Safe Access Now in 2005, and then as the California state policy director for the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project until founding NCIA in 2010. Aaron has successfully built coalitions with elected officials on both sides of the aisle in order to advance marijuana law reform legislation. Aaron’s opinion pieces have appeared in major newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times, and he has been a frequent commentator on national television news networks. Originally from California, Aaron is currently based in Denver.
"The parallels are numerous, to be honest, and they have a lot of potential to help the cannabis industry chart its future.
Both wine and cannabis are agricultural products at their core, with a tremendous amount depending on the ways they are grown and the environments they are grown in. This means there are abundant opportunities and challenges related to resource efficiency, production consistency, and sustainability. Innovation in one industry could very likely benefit the other, so it’s great to open these channels of communication between the two.
Wine and cannabis are also both products with potential audiences that span the spectrum from price-sensitive budget buyer to extremely sophisticated connoisseur. There’s room in the cannabis industry for large-scale producers and boutique players, just as there is in the wine industry. The key is for companies in each industry to identify the audiences they are most suited to serve and design their businesses, products, and marketing accordingly. "
"First, discard any notion that working in this industry is a license to print money. Despite what many people think, succeeding in the cannabis industry is far from an easy prospect. Aside from all the challenges any entrepreneur or small business owner faces, cannabis professionals deal with extraordinary additional hurdles in the forms of complicated and ever-changing regulations, banking and financial barriers due to marijuana’s federal legal status, and excessive federal taxation, just to name a few. (As an aside, NCIA is working diligently to resolve the banking and tax issues at the federal level, and ultimately we will succeed. But until then, they are a reality that cannabis professionals must face.)
Second, know why you want to be in the industry. If you think you want to cultivate cannabis, you’d better be sure you like commercial agriculture. If you think you want to run a dispensary, you need to be sure you enjoy the retail environment. Just because your job is related to marijuana doesn’t mean the day-to-day work is so different from other industries. (And if you’re in it for the money, there are a lot easier ways to go about that, as I already mentioned.) The best cannabis entrepreneurs are the ones with a true passion for the plant and for the ways that plant can make people’s lives better. Combine that passion with a willingness to work harder than other people and commit yourself to the small details, and you’ll be on the right track."
"Despite all the incredible progress the cannabis industry and the cannabis advocacy movement have made in the last several years, so many old cliches and stereotypes remain. People are still shocked that cannabis business events aren’t full of “long hairs” in tie-dye, or that cannabis professionals are smart, driven, and ambitious. Compared to the U.S. Attorney General’s absurd claim that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” some of these generalizations are relatively harmless. But it still all adds up to the idea that the industry is not to be taken seriously.
Another frustrating misconception is that our customers are just “stoners.” The reality is that a huge and growing segment of our market is made up of people who use cannabis as a therapeutic product. Some of them are patients who reap significant benefits from marijuana’s medical properties. Others are not explicitly medical consumers, but are using cannabis products to relieve stress, get better sleep, or ease chronic pain without resorting to prescription drugs.
Finally, it’s disappointing to see stories and messages about the cannabis industry that focus exclusively on how much money is at stake. There’s nothing wrong with turning a profit, and obviously we want the industry to thrive economically. But the true story of the cannabis industry is one built on a foundation of advocacy, compassion, and social responsibility. As a brand new industry, we have the opportunity to build something we can be proud of for a long time to come. So many of our current industry leaders have made that commitment to social justice and activism. It’s our job to pass those ethics and values on to the many newcomers in the industry so that we don’t lose that unique spirit as we grow."
Tony Westfall has a long track record of success in the wine industry and beyond. He has developed Good Company Wines (GCW) and its related entities into a profitable multi-million dollar business from scratch. Along the way, he has completed four acquisitions of related businesses and developed relationships around the world with wineries and grape growers. In addition, he has built a unique concept of private label businesses, buying established brands and opportunistically taking these brands to market as 'owned brands' concepts.
In addition to GCW, he has a long track record of success across a variety of industries including CPG, Technology and Software, Medical devices, Insurance as well as various hospitality related endeavors.
His latest venture is Pasa Verde which is a fully integrated manufacturer of high quality non volatile CO2 manufactured cannabis oil. The company was founded in March 2017.
"1.Price of flower will drop perhaps as low as $600-$700/pound.
2.Oil will be 50% of the market versus flower after 5 years.
3.Trump could actually turn out to be a blessing for smaller cannabis entrepreneurs. "
"Sorting out local versus state versus national and figuring out to mesh proposed regulations so that they don’t kill the industry before it gets started. Gross receipts taxes, etc..."
"That everybody is a stoner. Cannabis is nature's medicine and in 10 years, I believe you will see a revolution in all sorts of medicines, but not only that, watch out for hemp derived materials such as plastics. If I had $250 million lying around, I would start a hemp plastics company."