Experts from both industries will provide an overview of the cannabis industry as well as topics ranging from what is legal to regulations surrounding licensing, hospitality, growing and other topics of interest specific to the central coast.
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."
Rachel Boakye-Donkor joined CannaCraft Inc., the largest cannabis manufacturer in Northern California in January of 2017. Prior to graduating from Sonoma State University, Rachel interned at CannaCraft and worked her way up to becoming the Government Relations Manager. Rachel lead CannaCraft through state temporary cannabis licensing and is preparing to take the company through state annual cannabis licensing. Rachel is also on the compliance team for CannaCraft, ensuring the company is within local, state, and federal compliance with all regulations. Being freshly out of college with big dreams, Rachel hopes to continue growing at CannaCraft and making an impact in the cannabis industry.
Hilary V. Bricken is a partner at Harris Bricken in its Los Angeles office. Licensed to practice law in California, Washington, and Florida, she is one of the premier cannabis business and regulatory attorneys in the United States. As chair of Harris Bricken’s Regulated Substances practice group, which includes the Canna Law Group, she helps cannabis companies of all sizes with their cannabis related legal issues.
In 2013, based on her work in the marijuana industry, The Puget Sound Business Journal named Ms. Bricken one of seven Dealmakers of the Year. From 2014 through 2017, she was named a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine. Also in 2015, the Puget Sound Business Journal named Hilary to its Top 40 Under 40 list for business and leadership, and in 2017 the American Bar Association named Hilary a Top 40 Under 40 “On the Rise” attorney in the United States. Hilary also authors a weekly column for Above the Law that features content on marijuana policy and regulation, and Hilary is a regular contributor to and editor of her firm’s Canna Law Blog.
Avis Bulbulyan is the Chief Executive Officer of SIVA Enterprises, a full-service cannabis business development and consulting firm that provides turn-key management, venture opportunities, product and brand development, insurance, and licensing to entrepreneurs across the United States.
In his role, Avis oversees corporate direction, business development and strategy, facilitating company activity in consulting, alliances and channels, marketing, investments and operations across the full vertical. Avis leads a high-caliber team who collectively provides clients with the highest level of support from ideation and concept, through execution. SIVA Enterprises was recently recognized by Expertise.com as one of the top 18 consulting firms in 2017 in Los Angeles, representing the only cannabis business out of 800 firms, respectively.
Avis was recently appointed by The Department of Consumer Affairs as one of the members of California state’s new Cannabis Advisory Committee under the Bureau of Cannabis Control. Avis also serves as the President of the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force, an association in Los Angeles working with the local city officials and community on the development of the city ordinances within Los Angeles.
In California, Avis assists local municipalities on the development of local ordinances and their respective administration of the application process. He also participates in town halls to educate applicants on the process and how to transition into the regulated, licensed market.
Avis is currently working with the California Insurance Commissioner on educating the insurance carriers, the industry and public on the need for insurance to be available for cannabis businesses so they are not limited to surplus lines and limited coverages.
As one of the industry’s leading cannabis business and regulatory compliance authorities, Avis is a highly sought-after speaker and a valued expert resource for many municipalities and state agencies, as well as national news sources and publications.
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.
Zack Crafton grew up on the east coast, just outside Washington DC. After a few years as a national security consultant (including stints in the Pentagon and Whitehouse), he moved to Atlanta GA where he ran operations for McMaster-Carr. While in Atlanta, Zack earned his MBA and began his journey as an entrepreneur founding a variety of for-profit and non-profit companies. After 6 years of great barbecue and fun accents, he left the south to join his brother in wine country – Napa CA. Zack consulted for a few high-profile wineries before joining a little-known wine startup, NakedWines. For 3 years Zack ran the operations for NakedWines serving as Global Operations Director and ultimately Vice President of Operations. He left in mid-2017 to apply his direct to consumer and luxury agriculture skill set to the cannabis industry. He now serves as CEO and Founder of BigMoonSky.com along with two other former NakedWines execs. When not sitting in meetings, he sips a cold beer while on the advisory board of Bay Area beer startup Hopsy. When not drinking beer, Zack checks on his private wine venture – a California Tannat.
"Oh my goodness, yes! Many. Like wine, you’re starting to see a lot of premiumization around the packaging. People are starting to move away from brown paper bags and you’re starting to see things that are a little more appealing to the eye. Things are a little more informative about the product.
We’re also being taxed like crazy, so a lot of similarities there too. The cannabis taxes are pretty high. The regulatory stuff has a lot of overlap. It’s modeled after the alcohol industry."
"Our team primarily comes out of the wine industry and there was a reason we chose cannabis and a reason why I went and hired out of the wine industry. When you interview someone who is an operations director and they’re used to shipping jeans or clothing and then you talk to someone who does the same thing somewhere in the wine industry, it’s very different. It’s a very different job with the regulatory requirements.
I think there is there’s a lot of overlap in the market for the two products and there is opportunity for folks who are very adept at farming and at selling a luxury agriculture product like wine, that can easily parlay those skills in selling another luxury agriculture product like cannabis."
"There are going to be some difficulties and some turmoil in the California cannabis industry over the next 18, 24 months. I think what you’ll see, after that, is a set of solid companies offering great products to consumers and also understanding that it’s very important to operate in a business-friendly way, with folks who we share resources with.
I don’t think the cannabis industry is going to overtake the wine industry, by any stretch of the imagination. I own a wine brand as well... and I wholeheartedly believe that wine, especially great wine, is going to continue to be a really strong industry in this country, and globally. That being said, I think both the cannabis industry and the wine industry can absolutely live in harmony.""
Sean Donahoe owns and operates Operative Campaigns LLC, which provides Strategic Guidance, Business Development, and Governmental Relations services to private clients and the general public. After a career in international relations and political campaigns, in 2012 he turned his skills to organizing in the cannabis industry, beginning with labor and patients rights projects and then moving on to help guide cannabis industry trade associations. After co-founding the California Cannabis Industry Association, he moved on in 2014 to form a consulting firm where he currently uses his background in political consulting and issue advocacy to assist clients in their navigation of state and local politics. Sean has also contributed his time as a Local Politics Adviser to the California Growers Association, as Vice Chair of the Brownie Mary Democrats of California, as a commissioner to the City of Oakland’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, and as a mentor at the Gateway startup accelerator in Oakland. He received a BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz and a MSc in Government from the London School of Economics.
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."
Pamela Hadfield is a tech entrepreneur and co-founder of HelloMD, the largest online community of health and wellness cannabis consumers. After treating her debilitating migraines with cannabis successfully, Pamela launched HelloMD, initially as a telehealth service designed to connect medical cannabis patients with doctors from the privacy of their own homes. After finding immediate success in the market, HelloMD expanded to include community, educational content as well as product sales. As a leading female executive and spokesperson for one the fastest growing industries in the world, Pamela has been featured in publications including Forbes, The New York Times, Elle, Rolling Stone, ADR, Cannabis Now, Harper’s Bazaar, LA Weekly, Marie Claire, and TechCrunch.
Matt Kettmann is the senior editor of The Santa Barbara Independent, where he's worked since 1999, and a contributing editor for Wine Enthusiast, where he's covered the Central Coast and Southern California since 2014. He reviews more than 150 wines per month, and frequently speaks publicly about wines, winemakers, and vineyards of his regions.
He's also written on wine, the environment, travel, and many other topics for the New York Times, Time Magazine, Smithsonian, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. His career as a journalist has taken him across the world, from the post-war zones of Nagorno-Karabakh and Northern Uganda to the slums of Mumbai, jungles of Belize, rainforests of Bolivia, and oak woodlands of central France.
He's been following the modern marijuana movement since a high school student in the early 1990s, and penned major stories on the fight for legalization in The Santa Barbara Independent a decade later. Indeed, the story that drew him into becoming a news reporter 18 years ago was about the Santa Barbara City Council's grappling with how to accommodate cannabis purveyors, a struggle that continues to this day.
He also co-founded the New Noise Music Festival, which ran for nearly a decade in Santa Barbara, and is on the board of Notes for Notes, which builds recording studios for youth in cities across the country. He's a fifth generation Californian originally from San Jose, and a graduate of UCSB.
"I see great potential for partnering on tourism. Many wine drinkers (and certainly winemakers) are also fans of cannabis, and there is a symbiotic connection between the two industries when it comes to an appreciation of site-specific agriculture, a love for the outdoors, and an affinity for fine food. In that regard, I see little competition, only good times. "
"Already, there is competition between the two industries for raw land and processing space. I don't see that dying down anytime soon, but I hope that there is some relationship built soon before the two sides become enemies. So I think competition is going to rule at first. But in a couple years, as things settle down and the speculation of cannabis grasps reality, I see a lot of collaboration occurring, from cooperative farming (cannabis can help pay down vineyard costs, for instance) to tourism partnerships."
"That it's a bunch of hippies in the woods growing weed. For better and perhaps worse, it's becoming a cutthroat commodity market, full of suits with MBAs rather than dudes with dreads. "
"Tourism and food pairings. Both wine and cannabis are great relaxation items, perfect for vacations, and they are also both intimately tied to food; one stokes the appetite and makes things taste better, and the other stokes the appetite and makes things taste better."
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 Ostrowitz, Esq. is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of CannaRegs. She is an attorney and entrepreneur specializing in cannabis regulations and has developed a comprehensive database of federal, state, and local cannabis laws. Prior to conceiving and co-founding CannaRegs, Amanda worked as a bank examiner at the Denver Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, where her practice focused on regulatory compliance in the consumer lending and banking industries. Amanda is an east coast native who moved to Colorado in 2004 to attend Colorado College where she earned a B.A. in Economics. She later received her Juris Doctor from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. In September of 2014 Amanda conceived Cannaregs which launched in June of 2015. CannaRegs now has over 150 companies subscribed to their platform which consist of marijuana businesses, law firms, consulting companies, local governments, lobbyists, real estate professionals, and ancillary service providers.
"The impending tax crisis on our hands, especially in California, along with the high cost of compliance, and of course banking."
"Creating jobs for 15 people!"
"I’ve seen it all its hard to be surprised by much! but what still surprises me every day is how fast things are moving despite all the uphill battles we face."
"Tourism - they go hand and hand, same regions, both grow in the same geographically locations, weed and wine tours, and pairings. Opportunities for wine companies to use their existing strong brands to sell cannabis (i.e. Bogle Petite Sour Kush or La Crema Diesel)!"
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."
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)."
Karli began her career in the wine industry at a boutique PR agency in Napa, learning the ropes of pitching and building media relationships while also expanding her wine education. Building her repertoire in food and wine, both professionally and personally, she quickly began exploring other aspects brand and event marketing in those fields. As her career progressed she moved to Constellation Brands, the world’s leading wine company, where she learned firsthand the importance of partnerships and cross-brand collaboration to become a top-tier marketer. Through thoughtful storytelling, pitching and partnerships, Karli landed media coverage for brands on the Today Show, and in national publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Wine Spectator and Food & Wine magazine.
During her time at Constellation, Karli helped launch a wine brand that, at the time, she didn’t know would eventually shift her career from wine to cannabis – which is where her Garden Society story begins. A former wine industry peer, Erin Gore founded Garden Society, a cannabis company focused on women’s wellness, in 2016 and shortly thereafter asked Karli to join the team to lead their marketing and communication efforts. Together and with their third partner, Matthew Bartlett, they have quickly built a well-recognized luxury cannabis brand that has garnered the interest of the Today Show, CNBC, Marie Claire, Los Angeles Times, Forbes and many more.
As she loved telling the story of wine - from vine to glass – she is even more so passionate and personally touched in telling the Garden Society story, from seed to delectable confection. As a working mom and wife to a cancer survivor, she knows the positive wellness impact low-dose edible cannabis can have on the mind, body and soul.