A closeup of mariuana flowers grown in a commercial Denver cultivation facility. (Denver Post file)

Cannabis industry insiders dish on the eve of 4/20

The Cannabist spoke with people from a wide spectrum of companies serving the legal marijuana industry, to get their take on where the industry stands

As cannabis legalization becomes more entrenched in Colorado and across the West, April remains a critical and special time for those involved with cannabis businesses.

Industry events are a prime place to see what’s new in cannabis products and entrepreneurial ideas, which were showcased at The Cannabist’s private 4/20 Week Launch Party on Friday afternoon in downtown Denver and Sensi Magazine‘s 4/20 Kickoff Party later that evening.

Both happenings had plenty of industry insiders and numerous networking opportunities.

The Cannabist took some time Friday to shout with some of the vendors taking part in the Sensi festivities – from lawyers to extracts makers to execs in ancillary businesses – and got their opinion on where the legal cannabis industry is going:

Joshua Hindi, owner of Dabble extracts
Joshua Hindi, owner of Colorado concentrates business Dabble Extracts. (Bruce Kennedy, The Cannabist)

Joshua Hindi – owner of Dabble Extracts, Colorado Springs

What do you think is the current state of the cannabis industry?

We’re definitely having our challenges but I’ve been a part of this industry for last 10 to 12 years and it’s definitely growing, and we’ve already had challenges in front of us previously. To have originally have been started by a group of radical hippies that wanted to see a medicine gifted, to turn into a corporate industry, has been a huge development process and a challenge overall to deal with. There’s always worries; there’s always the possibility of something negative happening. But for the most part … I think we’ve already started a movement.

A year from now, at the next 4/20 celebrations, where do you expect things will be?

I definitely think we’ll have progressed in a huge standpoint. We’ve developed ‘rec’, we’ll have more states coming online, it’s going to be a very interesting thing to see.

What brought you here?

This is an awesome chance to connect with the end consumer. … A lot of people are asking us questions: about cannabis and what exactly it does and what we do.

Marijuana attorneys Elizabeth Thomas and Christine Salamon of the Maceau law firm. (Bruce Kennedy, The Cannabist)

Elizabeth Thomas and Christine Salamon – Attorneys with Maceau Law, Colorado Springs

What do you think about the current state of the cannabis industry?

Thomas – Just seeing how it’s growing and exploding, it’s obviously a business. … We always want to help out small businesses to large businesses, and it was just the right path to go. So we’re still kind of expanding in it.

Salamon – It now involves even family law cases. It used to be you had a parent who was smoking marijuana that would be the justification for taking away their children, and that no longer is the issue – or is it? With those cases they’re trying to figure that out, now that it’s become legalized.

What brought you here?

Thomas – We’re here to get our name out there, but also to network and talk to people, if they need representation. I’ve learned a lot tonight, just talking to people. We do do cannabis law; we’re a full-service firm. So we do everything from helping out with corporate stuff down to the users. So anything that would have to do with the business, whether you’re a distributor or someone that got pulled over. We do represent several grow houses throughout the state.

A year from now, at the next 4/20 celebrations, where do you expect things will be?

Thomas – I think legally in Colorado there may be some more definition. I’m hoping that things will be more clear-cut and not changing non-stop, that people will have a better idea. But again, who knows? Because every time I say that, I turn around and something’s changed.

Salamon – It’s a catch-up moment because the laws are behind, and not really recognizing all the different areas that it impacts once it’s legalized. And so everybody’s playing catch-up; trying to figure out how to make it work.

Alex LeMaster, representative for Vapor Slide
Alex LeMaster, representative for Vapor Slide. (Bruce Kennedy, The Cannabist)

Alex LeMaster – maker of dugouts and glass smoking pieces, working at the Sensi event for Vapor Slide

What do you think about the current state of the cannabis industry?

I think it’s great, I think it’s accelerating. I think more states are open to the industry being allowed and available to people. I think the biggest thing is that it’s (becoming) decriminalized. I don’t think people should be jailed for a plant, and the more information and knowledge that’s out there will increase that availability and this is the exact way to do it.

What brought you here?

I think the biggest thing is to increase knowledge for the product, and about decriminalization (efforts) of the product. And I think events like this do exactly that. They invite the public to really experience all the different products, all the different innovations that are going into this industry, and meet the people who are in it, and realize that we’re not just a bunch of stoner losers; we’re actually working really hard, moving the industry forward.

A year from now, at the next 4/20 celebrations, where do you expect things will be?

Hopefully there will be more 4/20 gatherings in more states and more open consumption, and more availability to learn about the product.

John Garrison, co-owner of edibles business Mountain High Suckers
John Garrison, co-owner of edibles business Mountain High Suckers. (Bruce Kennedy, The Cannabist)

John Garrison – one of the owners of Mountain High Suckers, Denver

What do you think about the current state of the cannabis industry?

I’m very optimistic. I think with all the problems that they’re having politically right now, I don’t think they have the time to chase the cannabis consumers that are doing it the right way.

A year from now, at the next 4/20 celebrations, where do you expect things will be?

You know, that’s a very tough question right now. I think that they’re going to be trying to deal with this CBD cannabinoid itself and try to regulate that, more than anything else it seems like in Colorado right now. Nationwide, I think it’s going to keep growing.

Tod Bergler of ancillary cannabis business Compliant Packaging
Tod Bergler, sales and account manager for ancillary cannabis business Compliant Packaging. (Bruce Kennedy, The Cannabist)

Tod Bergler – sales and account manager for Compliant Packaging, Commerce City

What do you think about the current state of the cannabis industry?

Honestly I think the state of the industry is really strong right now. I’m not going to listen to anybody that says anything about Washington (politics) or anything; I don’t think there’s anything they can do about it. And in the last year I’ve seen a lot more of actual professionalism in our industry, which is something that has been lacking for a very long time.

What I mean by professionalism is somebody that communicates in a timely fashion; that understands what your services are, is willing to work with you and alongside you to help grow your business and theirs.

A year from now, at the next 4/20 celebrations, where do you expect things will be?

I expect the industry by next year to have grown by at least a third. We’re going to see a lot more people coming online with much finer quality products. I’ve seen quite a few companies in the last six months come online with edible products, teas, infused honeys, infused creamers. I mean, the state of the industry and the science that we’re getting to right now is unprecedented, and it’s doing nothing but accelerating at a fever pitch right now.

Marie Peel of cannabis business High End Transportation in Aurora
Marie Peel, chief green officer of High End Transportation. (Bruce Kennedy, The Cannabist)

Marie Peel – chief green officer for High End Transportation, Aurora

What brought you here?

Coming to an event like Sensi night or anything close to it is great, because you see all the business. Not just growing but ancillary businesses. And you get to see the other side of education and consuming, so I really love it.

What do you think about the current state of the cannabis industry?

We’re transportation, so we hear everything. We hear the growers’ problems, the trimmers’ problems, just the businesses’ problems. And I think that it’s evolving. I think a lot of professionals are coming back in here, and they’re bringing their talents to the community. And it’s making the cannabis community more reputable; definitely taking away the taboo of just being a stoner.

A year from now, at the next 4/20 celebrations, where do you expect things will be?

My concern is that there are going to be lot of people coming out here just not with integrity and dignity, representing the cannabis community just for money. So I really hope that the community stays strong with people who are really trying to push the agenda of education and safe consumption, instead of just trying to get money.

Vendors work in booths at the Sensi Magazine party at event venue City Hall in Denver on Friday, April 14, 2017. (Bruce Kennedy, The Cannabist)