Meet the Artist Behind Our Psychedelic-Inspired Veritas Cannabis T-Shirts and Apparel

Strain-inspired all-seeing eyes? Triangle OG pyramids with a ’90s vibe? It’s all in a day’s work for Veritas Art Director Sarah Egener.

The tradition of cannabis-inspired art goes back almost as far as the plant itself and is a notable counterculture hallmark.

Before there were any legal adult-use markets in America, a unique graphic on a dime bag was one of the only ways to establish a “brand” and cultivate a customer base. In San Francisco, for example, Meridy Volz gained notoriety for her Sticky Fingers business selling weed brownies thanks in part to the hand-designed lunch bags that protected each order.

Simultaneously, a number of music acts with an open affinity for cannabis all came to prominence in the 1960s and ’70s. The result was a generation of band logos—the Grateful Dead being the most obvious—coming to informally serve as visual synonyms for marijuana and those who enjoy it.

Sarah Egener, Art Director at Veritas, credits this legacy of bold, often-psychedelic aesthetics as a major inspiration for her own work.

Available in the Veritas shop, Egener’s designs include a shirt featuring psychedelic eyes inspired by the five effects-based Veritas strain categories and a Triangle OG-inspired sweatshirt decked out in pop-art pyramids and Day-Glo colors.

“When we tie in art,” Egener says, “it makes us bigger than just selling weed. We’re also piquing the interest of all of these other individuals who are perhaps not really smokers but love, say, Icelantic Skiing.”

In celebration of our psychedelic-inspired apparel, including Veritas Cannabis T-shirts, Egener joined us for a chill Q&A sesh to share her ideas, her career journey and how her designs come together.

How long have you been making art?

I’ve always been into art, since I was a little kid. Art class was always my favorite. My parents took me to a lot of museums and there was always a passion there, so I gained an appreciation. Today, I’m inspired by a lot of different things. The consumption of cannabis while I work definitely helps!

When did you know you wanted to work in the cannabis field?

Right out of college I tried environmental consulting, which was cool but not creative enough for me. From there I got involved with an agency and worked with lots of different clients and brands across the board, including a few cannabis brand projects. That was how I first dipped my toe in. Veritas is my first full-time cannabis job, but I’ve been a consumer since I moved to Colorado in 2012.

How do you approach the art you’ve made for Veritas?

First and foremost, one of our priorities is to be about more than cannabis. I don’t like too much of a stoner stigma, at least in an obvious way. I want it to be more psychedelic, so if you’re high or smoking, you can enjoy seeing the colors pop without the imagery directly having to be about being a stoner.

The Veritas name has also really grown as far as becoming a regular part of people’s households and conversations. There are a ton of brands in Colorado that just slap a bunch of pot leaves on their packaging, but they’re putting themselves in a box. By contrast, Veritas is a cannabis brand for anybody, be it connoisseurs who love their premium bud or smokers who’ve never thought of themselves as a smoker before. We like to say we’re for everyone.

Did you draw on any specific inspiration for these psychedelic-inspired designs?

There’s not any sense of “do this” or “do that,” so I went with a ’90s Saved by the Bell vibe for the Triangle OG Crewneck. I directed it toward that because we didn’t have a retro thing in our merch catalog, so I wanted to run with it. All of my designs look different. No two things look the same.

What about the Psychedelic Eyes Veritas Cannabis T-shirt?

The Psychedelic Eyes T-shirt is one that I really, really like. It’s different yet not too crazy, and still stylish, simple and modern-looking. It’s a look we like to put out there and it is one of my favorites.

And then we have the Veritas mountain leather patch, which is a totally different aesthetic!

That one was a play on a “Support Your Local Grower” design, so I did what I could with a leather patch and gave it a very Patagonia vibe.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

Our 1/8th labels are a classic and such an accomplishment. The Triangle OG design is another favorite. Merchandise and packaging are my favorite things to work on.

What’s your favorite Veritas strain and why?The new Apple Fritter we just dropped might be my favorite. Scooby Snax is probably my classic pick but Apple Fritter gave me a really nice, relaxed high that didn’t leave me couchlocked. It was a great way to decompress after work without falling asleep. Also, the smell is insane! I really like the nose on the Apple Fritter.

Election Drug Policy Outcomes

We all know how crazy and stressful this year has been. I think something we can all agree on is being able to enjoy television again without the hundreds of political ads getting thrown in your face every minute of the day. Through all the craziness, we are happy to share some positives that have come out of all this!


Passed initiative to legalize marijauna. Voters rejected a similar legal cannabis proposal in 2016. Arizona passed an initiative to legalize medical cannabis in November 2010. After Nov. 30, 2020, Arizonians will legally be allowed to use, possess and cultivate cannabis. Regulators can issue licenses starting January 2021.

New Jersey 

Approved a referendum to legalize marijuana, which is expected to to cause a domino-effect across the East Coast. Gov. Phil Murphy has been an active supporter of the measure saying he believes it will be a revenue-generator and will add to social justice. The constitutional amendment will go into effect Jan.1, 2021.


Approved an activist led initiative to legalize medical marijuana and establish a medical marijuana program. The Mississippi Department of Health will be responsible for developing program regulations by July 1, 2021 and patient medical cards will be issued the following month.


Approved measure to legalize marijuana and establish a system of marijuana sales and production for adults 21 and older. Adults can use, psssess and cultivate cannabis starting Jan. 1, 2021. Regulators may begin to accept license applications that same day.

South Dakota

Approved separate initiatives to legalize marijauna and medical cannabis. Under the recreational measure, those 21 and older can possess and distribute up to one ounce of marijuana. Legalization will become the law on July 1, 2021. The Department of Revenue is required to develop licensing regulations by April 1, 2022.


Approved a first of its kind in U.S. initiative to decriminalize all drugs and expand substance misuse treatment. This measure will remove criminal penalties for low-level drug possession. 

Oregon also approved an initiative to legalize psilocybin mushroom therapy. Regulators will be responsible for issuing licenses for the manufacturing, testing and administering of psychedelics by Jan. 2, 2023.

Washington D.C

Approved an initiative to decriminalize psychedelics. The measure will go into effect after a 30-day review period by Congress, where the initiative could be blocked, as was done with the voter-approved medical cannabis initiative 

How Growers Can Execute a Branding Deal

Written by: Bart Schaneman

National cannabis brands are common in several sectors including infused products, vape pens and retail. But the industry has not seen many national flower brands.

For one thing, flower can’t be transported across state lines, so it can’t reach consumers in other markets. Additionally, growers often pride themselves on creating flower with characteristics specific to their location.

When each state’s cannabis market is insular, it’s difficult to establish a national reputation. But at least one marijuana producer has taken steps to achieve this.

Cookies, a cannabis company from California’s Bay Area, has established itself as a recognizable flower brand in several states, including Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada and Washington, among other markets.

Colorado Connection

Denver marijuana producer Veritas Fine Cannabis entered a licensing deal with Cookies last fall to sell Cookies-branded flower in 50 Colorado retail stores. Cookies Colorado products launched statewide in May 2020.

Jon Spadafora, partner and head of sales and marketing at Veritas, told Marijuana Business Magazine that initially Veritas wasn’t sure growing flower under the Cookies brand would be a good fit.

Cookies was founded by Gilbert Milam Jr., a rapper who goes by the name Berner. Spadafora said he worried the rapper’s name was supposed to sell the product by itself.

“We were concerned it was just another celebrity-driven brand,” Spadafora said. Meanwhile, he believed Colorado’s cannabis consumers were too discerning to pay a premium if the cannabis wasn’t of high quality.

But when Spadafora and a few members of the Veritas team took a trip to see Cookies’ commercial grow in Los Angeles, his opinion changed.

“We were struck by, one, how clean and beautiful the space was,” Spadafora said.

He also noticed the staff’s passion, “that twinkle in the growers’ eyes,” and could tell the cultivators on the Cookies team loved to grow cannabis.

“That’s important,” Spadafora said. “Everybody cares, and they care because everyone loves the end product.”

The team visited another Cookies facility in Northern California—and after that, Spadafora knew the two companies’ values aligned.

Two-way Street

The vetting process went the other way, too. Tori Cole, vice president of marketing for Cookies, said the company was looking for “like-minded partners” and found one in Veritas.

Even though Cookies has a range of other products including vapes and cannabis-infused items, the company has always been focused on growing different strains, she said.

When looking for an out-of-state cultivator, the company was seeking a partner that “understands the phenomenon of Cookies.” They wanted to work with growers who had the same attention to detail and the ability to work in a collaborative environment.

“There’s a lot of sharing between teams,” Cole said. But it really comes down to how good the growers are. Reputation often precedes the introduction for cultivation companies, Cole said, adding, “It’s a small industry.”

Beyond vetting the reputation of potential partners, Cookies will also visit grow sites to determine if companies’ existing cultivation practices fit their ethos, paying attention to details such as irrigation systems and lighting.

Once the product starts to hit store shelves, the Cookies team monitors what consumers say on social media and how they’re voting with their dollars, Cole added. Cookies fans have been known to line up around the block when the company announces product drops.

Ongoing Partnership

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the quality-control arm of Cookies’ sales team would travel to check on its partners’ operations. Now, Zoom fills that function, and Berner will often participate in the video calls and ask to see the flower up close.

“It’s a pretty entrenched process on both sides, and everyone is talking to each other,” Cole said.

Spadafora agreed, adding that
the Veritas grow team and Cookies cultivators were “geeking out over humidity,” for instance.

Spadafora said Veritas has allocated about 15% of its production to growing for Cookies, with the intention of ramping up to about 40%.

The deal the companies entered stipulates that Veritas will grow for Cookies for a set amount of time (the companies declined to disclose exactly how long) and then the partnership will be reevaluated.

More to Come

Spadafora said that although Veritas had already established itself as a premium flower brand—one reason he believes Cookies wanted to work with his company—the cross-branding opportunities also bring a lot of value.

The Cookies name is featured the most prominently on the brand’s Colorado-grown products, but it also notes that the cannabis inside was grown by Veritas. That’s important in a more mature market, where the consumer wants to know where cannabis originates, Spadafora said.

“Cookies has done a great job giving Veritas credit,” he said.

In the end, Spadafora said the relationship between the two businesses seems to be a good fit that goes beyond making money.

“This isn’t just putting your name on something and collecting a check,” he added.


Help a Weed Grower Choose New Strains — by Smoking Them


Veritas Fine Cannabis wants to give consumers a peek inside its grow through a new series of marijuana phenotypes.Veritas Fine Cannabis wants to give consumers a peek inside its grow through a new series of marijuana phenotypes. Scott Lentz

What if we told you that all marijuana strains that share a name are not actually one and the same?

This isn’t really a secret in the worlds of marijuana and botany, where the same plant seeds can produce different phenotypes or varying traits that result from genetics interacting with a surrounding environment. But the trials of choosing phenotypes, or “pheno hunts,” are usually private, unknown to the public.

Most cultivations avoid ever-changing marijuana characteristics by cloning a favorite strain to achieve more consistency, but those growing and breeding new cultivars typically start from seed, assign numbers for the strain phenotypes, and then choose their favorite to be grown commercially and possibly cloned for future harvests. So, for example, if a breeder had three phenotypes of Purple Kush, they’d be labeled Purple Kush #1, Purple Kush #2 and Purple Kush #3. Occasionally breeders will leave the pheno number attached to the name to signify differences from the original strain, like Gorilla Glue #4 or Northern Lights #5.

Some local dispensaries, such as KrystaLeaves and Den-Rec, sell numerous phenotypes of the same strain, offering five or six versions of their favorite cuts for their customers to try. Now Veritas Fine Cannabis, a branded wholesale cultivation, is taking a more formal approach, enlisting you, the consumer, as a middleman to help pick one of three phenotypes for future statewide strain drops.

“When we work in the garden, there’s a real disconnect between the decisions we make, our opinions and our preferences and what the general public might do,” explains Veritas grower Andrew Mahon. “Pheno hunts usually come down to what those guys in the grow decide, so the intent here is to open up that process.”

As part of the new Veritas Pheno Hunt series, a limited number of boxes that feature a gram of three different phenotypes of a strain (and a grinder, lighter and joint papers) will be available to curious consumers. The guinea pigs try them, then vote for their favorite phenotype online, with the winning cut becoming a regular in Veritas’s more widely available rotation of strains.

Mahon thinks that many consumers could have different flavor preferences from those of growers, who tend to lean toward more classic cannabis attributes of Kush strains, which carry more earthy, skunky flavors. Meanwhile, new or novice users flock toward strains that taste more like fruits or pastries than weed.

“Within a given strain, we don’t know which flavors the public would want in terms of potency and effect,” he says. “In general, those who I work with have a little more of an experienced palate and tend to go more old-school — more of the Kushy flavors, [but] it always surprises me how popular some of the fruity flavors are with people.”

The first hunt will feature phenotypes of LA Kush Cake, a hybrid of Kush Mints and Wedding Cake. Future Pheno Hunts will feature Tart Pops, a potent mix of Skunk, Tangie, Zkittles and Purple Punch, with Mahon keeping his eye on more classic varieties as well, to see if consumers will come back around to older, more original strains. However, it’s all about jumping in at the right time.

“I think the industry gets bored and is constantly looking for something new,” Mahon says. “Can these strains survive that lull when people stop being interested in it? With that in mind, I’m actively trying to chase down some old-school genetics. There’s a market for things that people haven’t seen in a long time: Island Sweet Skunk, Acapulco Gold, Durban Poison.”

The first Veritas Pheno Hunt collections will be available Thursday, September 10, and carry a suggested retail price of $55; dispensaries carrying the boxes can be found on the Veritas website and Instagram account.


Season 2, Episode 3: Veritas Fine Cannabis with Mike Leibowitz & Jon Spadafora

From:  Stoned Appetit

Veritas Fine Cannabis Co-Founder Mike Liebowitz and Marketing Manager John Spatafora (sp) join me on the podcast to talk about their Luxury Cannabis operation. We talk about how Veritas got started, how they’ve grown their brand, company, and what they have planned for the future. Why they were voted a top cannabis grower in Colorado, how they got involved with the Cookies Enterprise out of California, and what the dumbest name for a strain of weed is. In addition to the biz conversation, we also talk deadly hypotheticals and weird porn scenarios with cartoon characters… Absolutely great group of cats working in their cannafamily with 150+ passionate people who care for cannabis and their company, as I saw first hand. It really was a hilarious and informative episode.. If you like the episode, please hit that subscribe button and throw us a review (don’t be shy to make it 5 stars).

Listen to “Season 2, Episode 3: Veritas Fine Cannabis with Mike Leibowitz & Jon Spadafora” on Spreaker.


Terp Talk – Terpenes 101

Welcome to ‘Terp Talk’ where we will be sharing an inside look at what we do here at Veritas Fine Cannabis and what we look for in order to grow the highest quality cannabis. We will share educational tips, techniques and stories from our experienced growers and geek out on the history and evolution of cannabis. 

This week, we want to discuss the importance of terpenes. Terpenes play a significant role in the way we experience cannabis. Cannabis plants are known to produce well over 100 different terpenes, although only a few are commonly found in strains. When you crack open that jar, that distinct aroma that fills the room is due to terpenes within the oils secreted in the trichomes of the plant. As great as this smell is, these aromatic terpenes actually have an evolutionary function within the plant.

These heavy oils developed over time provide a form of defense for the plant by warding off herbivores, attracting predatory insects that feed on the plant’s ‘enemies’ and attract pollinators. Content and concentration differs between location on plant, growth, light, heat, & moisture. Cannabis isn’t the only place we find terpenes. They’re also produced by various herbs, fruits, and plants. Some animals also utilize terpenes (such as the Swallowtail Caterpillar, which stockpiles terpenes from host plants and uses them as a foul-smelling defense against predators) (Source: 

We are now in the age of the cannabis connoisseur. Pallets have evolved and growers are learning more and more about the properties of the cannabis plant and how to improve their craft. Understanding what truly provides the aroma, effect and taste of different strains will help you have a more enjoyable cannabis experience.

Our goal is to elevate your cannabis experience by providing you with the tools and knowledge to shop based on the desired effect or taste you’re looking for.‍ Understanding the various components, such as terpenes, of cannabis will take your cannabis experiences to new heights. Next time you shop, ask about the terpene profiles and don’t focus too much on the THC percentage.  


Cookies and Veritas: Bringing a Brand to a New Market

Written by: Owen MacMillan

As cannabis brands expand, partnerships with trusted cultivators is crucial to ensure product consistency in new markets and keeping up with customer demand.

Cookies, the cannabis brand founded by Bay Area rapper and entrepreneur Berner, recently entered a cultivation partnership with Veritas Fine Cannabis, a cannabis cultivator based in Denver. Veritas is the exclusive grower of Cookies cannabis strains in Colorado for at least the next three years, according to a deal signed in October 2019. Cookies products launched in Colorado in July.

Jon Spadafora, head of marketing and sales at Veritas, said expanding can be risky for a company if it doesn’t ensure it is picking responsible partners.

“It was important for Cookies to find someone driven by quality,” Spadafora said. “As you expand one of the biggest concerns you have is maintaining the quality that got you where you are, as you start talking about gardens that you don’t have control over.”

For Cookies’ part, the company had no concerns that Veritas would be an unreliable partner.

“Veritas is one of the kind of gold standard partners and operators, especially in Colorado,” Tori Cole, VP of marketing at Cookies, said. “They have some fire products. When we saw some photos and videos, and saw the test results, we said, ‘Oh my God, this is exactly what our flower should look like.’”

Veritas is producing 12 strains from Cookies genetic library.

Extensive communication between the companies was crucial to the process of becoming partners, with dozens of phone calls and Cookies sending representatives to tour Veritas’ facility. Feedback and open lines of communication are crucial when one company is trusting another with its genetic library and with creating the products it will put its label on.

Cole talked about entrusting the company’s strains to another company and said that Berner is very passionate about what he puts his name on. Spadafora keeps Berner updated on how the product is coming along, sharing pictures, lab tests and reviews daily to make sure the final product is as it should be. Cookies products first started to be sold in Colorado in May, and are now sold in about 50 dispensaries.“Every grower is very different,” she said. “What we try to do is standardize it so the Gary Payton you smoke in Colorado would be the same Gary Payton experience that you would have in California.”

Gary Payton, named after the NBA all-star who licensed his name to the company, is one of Cookies’ most popular and highly reviewed strains. Cole said learning to grow a new strain is complicated, and that the key to doing it the right way is keeping communication open at every step.

“[Growing a new strain] is like a new relationship, like meeting a new person,” she said. “You have to be introduced to them, learn who they are, what they like, what they don’t like. So, it is always an ongoing conversation that we have with our partners.”

Collaboration expands beyond the interview and production process, as the companies’ marketing departments make joint pushes to advertise new products as they drop.

“We are working in conjunction with the Cookies team in California to make sure that if they are marketing a new strain as it hits the shelf, they probably have that same strain hitting the shelves in multiple states,” Spadafora said. “If you have got Berner rapping about [the strain] and the Cookies team is pushing it hard on the corporate side, it certainly makes our job a lot easier to get a customer to understand and care about it.”

Both Veritas and Cookies repeated that the partnership between them is based on a shared passion and goals, rather than just profit.

“We look to have partners that share the vision of bringing good cannabis to sophisticated connoisseurs, which Colorado is filled with,” Cole said, adding that Cookies has plans to open one of its Cookies branded dispensaries there in the future. “That is why we chose Veritas, and also just what we look for when we choose any partnership.”


Cannabis company offers $25,000 reward for robbery suspected to be an inside job

Written by: Angela Stelmakowich

Nothing is certain yet, but the owners of the Veritas Fine Cannabis cultivation site in Denver believe a robbery late last week could have involved someone who used to work for the company or was very familiar with its operations.

Having cultivated in the Denver community since it became legal to do so, the company is offering a US$25,000 reward for “any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of these criminals” seen on security footage.

“Let’s catch them before they do it again,” notes a Facebook post, which provides an email address for anyone with information.

Veritas Fine Cannabis supplies strains for Cookies, the brand of rapper and pot entrepreneur Berner, and has a licensing deal with Veritas in Colorado, according to Westword. “I don’t know if it was ‘inside’ in terms of being a current employee, but one of the individuals seen on the video knows the place well, where to go and what to do,” co-owner Mike Leibowitz told the publication.

“We have witnessed and heard stories from many colleagues about break-ins and robberies, some so severe that they toppled businesses completely,” the company notes in the Facebook post. “We can, unfortunately, now say that we understand how it feels to be a victim of this type of crime.”

Leibowitz told Westword that the theft appeared to be “very coordinated, so it tells us someone knew the spot well. That just stings. Money comes and money goes, but the idea that the person who did this is potentially still working for us really hurts,” he added.

Everyone at Veritas Fine Cannabis is back to work, the company reports. “We’re growing, harvesting, trimming and packaging everything by hand and look forward to getting back to normal.”


Burglary at Veritas, Cookies Marijuana Growing Operation


Burglars hit a Denver cultivation that supplies two popular marijuana brands late last week, according to the operation’s owners, who are offering a reward for information that helps catch the culprits.

Veritas Fine Cannabis co-owner Mike Leibowitz has experienced his fair share of break-ins during a decade in the legal marijuana industry, where commercial growing operations are a popular target during the off-hours. But the incident on July 10 stings the worst, he says.

“A lot of these people probably get jobs within the industry and case joints, no pun intended. But they do that — and I think our particular job was from an inside influence,” Leibowitz explains. “I don’t know if it was ‘inside’ in terms of being a current employee, but one of the individuals seen on the video knows the place well, where to go and what to do.”

Inside jobs by employees and temporary staffers is an ugly truth in the marijuana industry, Leibowitz adds,  though he’s seen a bloopers reel of theft attempts by obvious outsiders, too.

“You have the temporary staffing companies, electricians and plumbers, couriers literally collecting cash; you can’t prejudice yourself against anyone who’s going there to do a job,” he says. “But it was very coordinated, so it tells us someone knew the spot well. That just stings. Money comes and money goes, but the idea that the person who did this is potentially still working for us really hurts.”

The burglarized cultivation grows strains for Cookies, a popular marijuana brand from the Bay Area that has a licensing deal with Veritas in Colorado. Sold for as much as $70 for 3.5 grams, Cookies products have been highly sought after since debuting in Colorado just over two months ago, and were also taken from the grow, according to Veritas.

Burglary at Veritas, Cookies Marijuana Growing Operation (4)

The Denver Police Department is investigating the theft, and Veritas also plans to hire a private investigator. But the company isn’t depending on either of those probes to nab the thief. On its Instagram page, Veritas is offering $25,000 to anyone who provides “information that leads to the arrest and conviction” of the two individuals seen on security footage; tips can be sent to

Filing an insurance claim over a stolen-weed incident would’ve been unthinkable for Leibowitz as little as five years ago, but he’s filing one now. There’s property damage to cover, and both marijuana and cash were stolen from the Veritas grow warehouse, he says, though he declines to say how much.

There was a string of armed robberies at Denver-area dispensaries from late 2019 through January, and while the people responsible for those now seem to be lying low, in June the DPD sent a notice to local businesses, warning about a rise in crime at dispensaries and marijuana grows. The department suggested adding security measures; it also offered extra patrols in the neighborhood if the businesses desired them.


Commercial Marijuana Growers Learning How to Brand Themselves


Veritas is one of several wholesale cannabis producers with a growing profile.
Veritas is one of several wholesale cannabis producers with a growing profile. / Scott Lentz

Veritas is one of several wholesale cannabis producers with a growing profile. Scott Lentz

After years of operating under the radar, Colorado’s commercial marijuana growers are now growing their own brands and profiles. Although dispensaries are no longer required to grow the majority of weed that they sell, customers continue to seek out homegrown products, and many owners are happy to oblige. Veritas Fine Cannabis, one of Colorado’s first early wholesale growers to successfully brand itself for quality buds, is a prime example of this shift.

Already respected for its acumen in the grow, Veritas extended its dank footprint by agreeing to a deal with Cookies, which calls for the Veritas growing staff to cultivate the Bay Area breeder’s famous genetics for Colorado dispensaries. Quick popularity can also bring backlash, however, and Cookies caught it for high prices.

To learn more about the business behind buds, we caught up with Veritas co-founder Mike Leibowitz.

Westword: Wholesale growers didn’t demand as much attention three years ago. Now we have Veritas, 710, 14er, Snaxland and more garnering real followings, waiting for strain drops. When and how do you think that changed?

Mike Leibowitz: Consumer tastes have grown more refined as Colorado’s cannabis market matured, which establishes the demand for premium brands like Veritas and Cookies. Selling pre-packaged flower, branded and on display just like well-known edibles, has allowed us and other brands to establish brand loyalty for carefully cultivated flower products, and that is something that was unheard of early on in this industry.

Years ago, flower was just looked at as a generic commodity, and wholesale growers were primarily utilized as a white-label flower source for dispensaries. But it’s not like we’re growing corn or wheat here. It took years for dispensaries to educate consumers on why they should be seeking quality over quantity. Thanks to the success and popularity of brands like Cookies, the market has grown for luxury flower, and dispensaries can no longer get away with selling mediocre white-label products.

I believe that the demand for these luxury products is also rooted in the growing social media influence brands have on Instagram, and being able to turn that hype into word-of-mouth advertising. People tell their friends about this amazing, exotic strain they saw on an influencer’s feed. Now that friend is following the brand and looking for a dispensary that is getting the next product drop. There has always been a segment of cannabis consumers looking for unique products, and now that segment has grown so much that dispensaries are catering specifically to that crowd.

So many strains come and go over the years, and few actually stick around. Why is that?

Strains come and go based on a combination of consumer demand and growers’ interest. To stay relevant as a brand, you have to always have something different and unique to offer. When a cultivator can introduce an exotic strain in limited supply, that’s an ideal situation to build hype and demand for new strains.

From a cultivator’s standpoint, cannabis provides so much terpene-loaded territory to explore. At Veritas, we have a vast library of genetics and we really do thrive off experimenting with different phenotypes and developing new cultivars. There will always be classic consumer favorites, which we have mastered, but we believe we are at our best as cultivators when we are taking strains in new directions.

How much have commercially desirable cannabis flavors developed over the years? I don’t remember doughy, cakey or even garlic flavors being so popular in 2015.

The number of consumers looking for desirable cannabis flavors is growing every year, and the fact that people are lining up for craft cannabis is proof. At Veritas, we were excited to bring in luxury flower brand Cookies to the Colorado market, and it’s a testament to the brand’s reputation that we’re consistently selling out our product drops for these coveted, uniquely flavored strains. There’s only so much Cookies to go around.

Inside the Veritas cultivation.
Inside the Veritas cultivation. / Scott Lentz

We look at the driving force of this consumer behavior as a result of the generational changes in cannabis purchasing decisions. It’s often easy to forget, but we are coming up on a generation of adults in Colorado that have only purchased cannabis from dispensaries. With that comes a different level of product knowledge and more educated consumer preferences. Older consumers were used to buying cannabis under the table and having very limited options, so they are not going to have the same motivations, like making terpene-driven purchasing decisions. Younger generations are also more brand-conscious and looking for unique experiences.

Cannabis prices are increasing again at the dispensary. Do you think cannabis will ever reach a point of consistent price points, like a $10 six-pack?

As the cannabis business becomes more normalized over time, I think yes, we will have consistent price points. However, the current market is still so reactive that it will be some time before we get to that. The coronavirus really affected the forecasts for this year’s market. It wasn’t particularly bad for business, but it played a big role in supply and demand. Currently, our market in Colorado is kind of dry; however, six weeks ago it wasn’t. That is the instability the pandemic caused to the supply chain. Purchases are being driven by outside factors like stay-at-home orders or Denver momentarily deciding to close dispensaries. Some dispensaries may keep prices consistent to establish their store’s reputation, but you won’t see harmonious pricing across the board any time soon.

Speaking of prices, I saw an eighth of Cookies Pancake for sale for $70 yesterday. What are your thoughts on that? Would you ever pay that much for an eighth of weed?

If you are hunting for boutique cannabis, the price is 100 percent worth it. For a special occasion, you might splurge on $100 champagne instead of $20 sparkling wine. You are paying for a higher-quality product, and you will, in fact, get what you pay for. If you want to experience Cookies, it’s understood that you’re not buying a mass-produced, low-tier eighth with a high price tag. You’re paying for a unique, painstakingly cultivated cannabis strain. The demand for Cookies is through the roof right now.

The pricing backlash comes from the old-school mindset of buying the most you can for the least amount of cash. With Cookies or the Veritas suite of flower, less is more, and our quality is bar none. It’s time to start thinking about cannabis like any other consumer good. The more cannabis can be accepted as something normal and not vilified, the more the market will be normalized. Thinking about cannabis in the same light as other mainstream retail products will lead us to appropriately valuing quality.

What are some of your favorite strains right now? Any new cultivars we should be looking for this summer or fall?

I am in love with all of the Cookies strains, but I think, so far, Cake Mix and Project 4510 are at the top of my list. All Cookies strains are a hot commodity right now and hard to get, but they are unique and well worth it. From Veritas, our Granola Funk and Scooby Snax are my go-to strains. Also, at Higher Grade dispensaries (I’m a co-owner), we have some in-house crosses that have been really interesting, like Birthday Dawg (Birthday Cake x Stardawg) and our new Koko Puffs (Kimbo Kush x Triple OG) strain, which is coated with crystals. Fruit strains always pick up in popularity during the summer, so be on the lookout for those. At the end of the day, there are so many great strains to choose from right now, my advice would be to try something new.


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