The most common New Year’s resolutions rarely change. Get healthier – eat better, get more sleep, exercise, lose weight. Save money or get out of debt. Learn a new skill or hobby. Quit drinking or smoking.
And, yes, quitting smoking cannabis might show up a on a few lists … although, that also might indicate an intention to explore other methods of consumption (tinctures, edibles, etc.).
Who knows? Some people in Washington might even want to add, “Try cannabis” to their resolution 2019 list! As the public grows more accustomed to its decriminalized status, more people are starting to explore this world for fun, for potential medical benefits or both.
More cannabis and strong sales are two items on the resolution list of local farmers, processors and retailers. Evercannabis spoke with a few industry representatives to see what they’ve learned in 2018 and what they’re looking forward to.
Grow Op Farms
The past year was quite productive for Grow Op Farms. Along with launching two new products, Flav Edibles and Pax Era Pods, it added another 50 employees, bringing the companywide total to approximately 500.
While 2018 brought some difficulties regarding a new interpretation of a LCB rule concerning candied edibles, Grow Op is planning to collaborate with other producers in an effort to save the edible market from potential product loss in the future.
“In 2019, we hope for continued growth,” said chief operating officer Katrina McKinley, adding that the company is launching a new skin car/non-solvent extracts line called Six/Fifths.
“I’m very excited about this line of skin products including balms, lotions and lip care products,” McKinley said. “We have been working hard to perfect our formula and I’m very pleased with the product we have produced!”
For cannabis aficionados always on the lookout for the newest thing, budtender and marketing specialist Sam Amador thinks that Royals Cannabis on North Division should be your first stop.
Maintaining its reputation of bringing “the best, most exclusive product that Spokane has to offer, at the best at every price range” is at the top of Royals Cannabis resolution list.
“There are people who are always on the hunt for new products,” he said. “Rest assured you’ll find something here.”
One product he says you won’t find anywhere else in Spokane is Artisan Canna Cigars. These handmade, high-end cannabis cigars out of California cost $100, and are only available at three retailers in Washington; the other two are in Seattle.
While staying on the forefront of new products, Royals Cannabis is also committed to maintaining its high standards, carefully vetting potential products for quality.
Across the industry, Amador hopes to see continued growth across the board.
“We love to see other growers and retailers succeed,” he said. “The industry is a huge melting pot, there’s a lot of love and positivity. I’m happy to see others grow, as well as continued success for us.”
Changes are on the horizon at Toker Friendly, but manger Jennifer Hill can’t reveal too much just yet.
“We continue to roll with the punches of a changing industry, and focus on keeping an inventory that will meet the needs of our customers,” she said at their Airway Heights location.
Since opening in August 2016, Hill has observed that customers appreciate that their location is “off the beaten path,” giving customers a bit more privacy when they come to shop.
An industry-wide challenge Hill anticipates in 2019 is the new rules regarding the sale of cannabis infused candies. Hill hopes to add edible options that will satisfy Toker Friendly customers while remaining compliant with the legal requirements, suggesting that they’ll begin to carry more baked and savory items.
“We want to have as big a selection of items as possible, especially a variety of CBD items,” Hill said.
Along with continued industry growth, across the board and for Toker Friendly individually, Hill hopes that some of the competitiveness between various cannabis retailers will calm down.
“We’ve lost some of the community aspect of the industry,” she said. “We want to be able to talk to other stores, to share our experiences.” If there was more dialogue between those in the business, Hill thinks there might not be as much animosity.
“We send our customers to other stores if we don’t have something they want. We’ll say, ‘Hey, check these guys out,’ and hope other stores will recommend us as well.”
Washington CannaBusiness Association
“This year is going to be a pivotal year” for the cannabis industry, said WACA Executive Director and Lobbyist Vicki Christophersen.
On a Dec. 5 media conference call regarding the upcoming legislative agenda for the trade association of cannabis producers, processors and retailers, Christophersen called the association’s agenda “aggressive and ambitious” because these are issues its members “feel strongly about.”
WACA is focusing on five key policy priorities in 2019:
• Compliance reform to model the cannabis industry on the systems in place at Labor and Industries
• Clarifying what is/is not a medical claim to allow explanatory labeling in products
• Allowing out-of-state investment
• Aligning cannabis penalty system with alcohol industry standards
• Reversing rules about limited merchandising and sale of certain non-THC products in licensed retail stores.
Christophersen said multiple lawmakers representing both sides of the aisle have agreed to sponsor bills proposing these changes.
“We are currently gathering signatures, and hope to have these bills pre-filed before the session,” she said. The Washington State Legislature will convene for its Regular Session Jan. 14.
Christophersen also spoke about the latest update to the current candied edibles issue, which “threw the industry into chaos” in October and resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of dollars in sales among WACA members.
After discussing the new rules with LCB Director Rick Garza, Christophersen explained, “There will be more clarity on what is allowed in terms of shapes and colors, but no particular product or type of product will be banned, as it was previously stated.” She said the LCB will not be looking at what a product is, but what it looks like.
The confusion about candied edibles, Christopherson said, is relevant to WACA’s focus on compliance reform, hoping to see more collaboration between the LCB and licensees in the future.
“It’s been a learning experience for us all,” she said.
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