By Bart Schaneman, Editor
December 5, 2022
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When Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, no other state had launched a legal adult-use market, and there was no road map.
Dave Malone, co-founder and chief creative officer for Denver-based vertically integrated cannabis company Green Dot Labs, likened it to bushwhacking through the wilderness at night.
“We’ve been in the dark with a torch in our left hand and a machete in the right,” he said.
Since then, the market has matured, with some businesses succeeding and many others either shutting down or being gobbled up by bigger fish.
Colorado’s progression as one of the nation’s first adult-use markets offers plenty of lessons to marijuana business executives across the country.
Like marijuana entrepreneurs in other states, Colorado cannabis businesses saw some of their best sales months during the COVID-19 shutdowns in 2020, when people flush with federal stimulus cash had few other places to spend their money.
New cannabis consumers also turned to the plant for stress relief.
But that boom didn’t last.
Market conditions have gotten so bad that calls are increasing among marijuana growers to stop licensing new cultivation businesses in the state.
Another factor adding to the heartburn for Colorado businesses is that, for a few years, the state was the only legal adult-use market in the region.
“It’s been a very tough time in the industry this year,” Malone said. “The market is down from its highs.
“It’s a real meat grinder right now.”
Malone characterizes the aftermath of the pandemic boom as a “hangover” that includes a “sour macro economy with a massively oversupplied cannabis economy.”
A few mistakes
Joe Hodas, chief marketing officer at Boulder-based Wana Brands, has been working with cannabis companies in Colorado since the beginning of the recreational market and was part of the lobbying efforts that helped shaped the regulations.
If he could go back in time and change anything, Hodas said, he would have made the tax rules final so that regulators and lawmakers can’t continue to layer on new state taxes.
“People don’t seem to understand that if we continue to add taxes and make legal cannabis more expensive, consumers will continue to (seek out) the black market,” he said.
Another mistake, according to Hodas, was not focusing on adding social equity elements to the business-licensing structure.
“We didn’t give an opportunity to people of color or those who have suffered at the hands of the war on drugs to appropriately get involved in the industry,” he added.
At the time, Hodas explained, the main effort was simply to get marijuana legalization “over the finish line.”
Alongside Hodas, Dan Pabon was involved in Colorado’s cannabis policymaking in the early days.
Pabon was elected as a Colorado state representative in 2011 and served in the Legislature for eight years.
During that time, he was an original sponsor of the first bill that legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado.
Now he works as general counsel for Denver-based, vertically integrated cannabis company Schwazze.
To Pabon, one measure of success is how many other marijuana markets have come after Colorado’s and how similarly they operate.
“Colorado’s model has been wildly successful,” he said. “And I say that because most of the states that have adopted recreational cannabis into their system have used, if not in whole, in part Colorado’s rules and regulations.”
What Colorado could have improved upon, according to Pabon, was in providing capital and opportunities for entrepreneurs trying to get into the industry.
Early on, he saw a lot of businesses falling prey to predatory lenders and bad business deals.
“A lot of that could have been avoided if the state would have invested more in an entrepreneurial fund,” Pabon added.
Looking ahead, as the market becomes more consolidated and glutted with product – and wholesale prices continue to fall – some cannabis companies have appealed to regulators to enact a licensing moratorium on new permits.
They argue that would help curb market saturation and protect the existing businesses.
“We were always of the mind that this would not be an unlimited-license state forever,” Pabon said.
“When you have overproduction, you have a price pressure in the market, which can cause some operators to divert product into the illicit market.”
That’s why the regulators would be granted the ability to put in the caps, he added.
The ultimate goal of the licensed market has always been to completely eradicate illicit operators.
In the meantime, cannabis companies ramped up production during the boom times of the pandemic, and when prices fell off a cliff this year, people started closing up shop, according to Pabon.
“We’ve heard of some cultivation owners who said, ‘I’ll give you the keys to this place for free, as long as you take over my lease payments,’” he said.
Brian Vicente of Denver-based cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg praised what the market has accomplished over the past decade, including the billions of dollars in tax revenue, tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses.
One sticking point has been trying to figure out the correct amount of canopy or plants that market needs to service demand, he added.
“That’s led to some price depression, which has made it somewhat of a challenging market, particularly the last six months for, for cannabis businesses,” Vicente said.
“We have too much cultivation for the state’s demand. So a moratorium on new grows is worth considering.”
The impact of brands
Several Colorado cannabis companies, including Wana Brands, have perfected their brand in the state and subsequently taken their show on the road, expanding into other state markets.
Brittany Hallett, vice president of marketing at Denver-based Slang Worldwide, which is the parent of the Open vape company, said Colorado has been the perfect proving ground.
“We’ve been able to grow and build a foundation for the brand,” she said.
“It’s been like a springboard to allow us to expand into different product categories and into additional markets over the course of the last 10 years.”
For example, the company recently acquired its longtime partner in Vermont, Ceres Med, and opened a retail store there in October.
“Nationally, and as you think about cannabis, Colorado has a special place in a lot of people’s hearts,” Hallett said.
“It’s the heartland of where cannabis started, at least in the United States.”
Being from Colorado is a strong notion to lead with from a national perspective, she added, noting it’s “something that we’ve seen good reception of from both consumers and retailers alike.”
Among the companies in the state, Hallett pointed out that, at one point, more than 300 different vape brands were competing in Colorado.
Now the market is less crowded, she said, estimating there are fewer than 100 vape brands in the state.
The price compression that has occurred in the flower market over the decade has also hit the vape sector.
Hallett said a 1-gram terpene distillate cartridge used to sell at retail for $90 before tax, and now it sells for $50-$55.
As for input costs, during the peak of the pandemic buying spree, Hallett said a pound of flower would wholesale for around $1,500. Now it’s down to $400-$500 a pound.
Taking a run at craft cannabis
The downturn hasn’t stopped Malone from targeting one specific area of the cultivation sector, what he calls the “ultra-premium” flower market, also known as craft cultivation.
Despite the flower market being saturated, Green Dot has pumped resources into a high-tech, state-of-the-art indoor grow facility to produce the best flower it can.
Malone said his flower now retails for more than $400 an ounce, which is steep considering entire pounds of lower-grade flower are selling for around that price on the wholesale market.
At the onset of the market, Denver-based vertically integrated company Native Roots was growing flower for quantity to meet demand, said Beth Kotarba, the company’s chief operating officer.
“We started to realize that we’re growing plenty, but maybe our quality is not stacking up to some of the competition,” she said.
“So we took a hard look at that and all of our processes.”
Native Roots started to focus more on growing the type of flower that its budtenders would be proud to recommend.
“Now we have a smaller grow that we’ve been able to utilize to do that and produce a higher level of flower,” Kotarba added.
Another marijuana company that’s been going after the craft market is Denver-based Veritas Fine Cannabis.
Jon Spadafora, partner and head of marketing of the company, said if he could turn back the clock the company would have made improvements to its facility early.
“We should have been more open to technologies that became available and different opportunities that would lower our cost of production as we went along the way,” he said.
Similar to other companies that have focused on their own brands, Spadafora said the smartest thing Veritas did was to brand and package its flower products.
“As a result,” he said, “we were very fortunate that we were able to connect with consumers much earlier than a lot of other companies were.”
Bart Schaneman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date: November 25, 2022
When it comes to agriculture, achieving a robust yield is always one of the main goals. For cannabis, it’s even more crucial. The plant has become the sixth most valuable commercial crop in the country, with an annual wholesale value of $5 billion.
With this in mind, growers are always seeking ways to optimize or boost production. There are plenty of tried and true methods, as well as cutting-edge techniques that can help improve crop health and protect profits.
We spoke with cultivators across the country to discover the ten most useful tips to increase yields.
Automation and environmental controls
Cannabis is a fickle plant. In order to thrive, it must be grown in just the right conditions. Leaning into automation technology can benefit cultivators across the board by ensuring the environment is always perfect for the cultivars within.
Kurt Kinneman, a hemp grower and horticultural engineer at AI Grow, says automation is key to both improving plant health and mitigating issues at the same time.
“Automation can help monitor and control the environment and plant media to provide the optimal growing conditions by using sensors to monitor temperature, humidity, CO2, lights, moisture levels in plant media, and media runoff,” Kinneman said. “Integrated software sends alerts if conditions change, helping to prevent problems before they start.”
Use the right containers
The pot you use for your plants can make or break their life cycle.
Expert cultivators opt for air pots or smart pots. Made from breathable materials, these pots promote the aeration of plant roots. This breathing room equates to healthier and happier plants.
There are many ways to gently manipulate cannabis plants and leaves to maximize their potential. These methods are usually broken down into two categories: low-stress training (LST) and high-stress training (HST).
Low-stress training techniques include tying down plant stems to force even and consistent growth. High-stress training is a bit more dramatic, and may see the colas of plants cut off in a practice called topping, or mainlining, which is a combination of topping and tie-down LST.
“Some genetics may require plant manipulation, whether topping, low-stress training, super cropping, fimming, scrogging, or strategic methods of removing branching to achieve a specific shape or uniformity,” said Burns. “There is no right or wrong way to go about any of these practices, and it all comes down to the cultivar, the setting you are growing in, and what you are attempting to achieve.”
Dial in your nutrients
Cannabis plants need plenty of nutrients to promote growth. Some of the most critical include nitrogen, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. However, it’s important to find a healthy balance to avoid nutrient burn, which can cause big problems for your plants.
For example, high amounts of nitrogen and potassium are needed during the vegetative stage. Once the plants reach the flowering stage, however, the nitrogen needs to be scaled back.
If you see burnt leaf tips, it could be a sign of nutrient burn. Remove any heavily damaged leaves and flush the plants with pH-balanced water to prevent further issues—and reconsider your current fertigation ratios.
Use healthy soil
The type of growing medium you use can also play a big part in how the plant develops. As it turns out, not all dirt is created equal.
“It’s a microbe-rich soil,” he said. “The plant and the soil have a symbiotic relationship. Fungi, bacteria, protozoa, and many more organisms within help cannabis thrive. The plant is able to take what it needs when it needs it—this is the magic of living soil.”
Increase light intensity
Lighting is key to boosting cannabis crop yields. Having powerful lights hitting the plant at every angle will ensure they produce the biggest buds possible.
While lights can eat up a good chunk of indoor cultivation budgets, the investment may be more than worth it. The team at Nature’s Heritage recommends LED lights to help promote growth as well as energy efficiency.
“When it comes to increased light intensity, our research has shown positive spikes regarding increased flower production with LEDs,” said Burns. “With a hyper-focus on our LEDs, we have not only seen an increase in yield, but with the overall higher spectral composition of light, we have also seen an enrichment in cannabinoid and terpene content.”
Find the proper pH
Cannabis plants perform best in acidic-leaning soils. The sweet spot for most cultivars is somewhere between 6.0 and 7.0 pH. Too high or too low and the plant roots will struggle to absorb nutrients.
The nutrients used and the contents of the soil determine your pH in cannabis. Levels can be monitored through automated sensors, handheld pH meters, or lab testing.
Crank up the CO2
Cannabis plants require lots of carbon dioxide (CO2). The element is the backbone of photosynthesis, where CO2 is converted to energy. While you do not want to overdo it, adding some additional carbon dioxide to the growing environment may help increase yields.
Boosting CO2 levels in commercial grows can be done through the use of special generators. Compressed CO2 may also be applied via tanks. The element should come from above the plants as the molecules are heavier than oxygen and will sink to the ground. Grow rooms should be properly sealed to increase efficiency and protect workers.
It’s important to note that CO2 is toxic for humans at high levels. This means novice home growers may want to avoid this tip and leave it to the pros.
Track your results
Keeping detailed records of plant life cycles can help cultivators determine if they want to stick with a certain strain or move on to another cultivar. It can also pinpoint problem areas that could produce better results if modified.
Technology providers like AI Grow make crop tracking simple, storing analytics in a database that can be accessed at any time. This information is critical to facility efficiency and should be reviewed regularly.
“We actually have an analytics department—they measure the performance of every strain,” said John Spadafora, president of Colorado-based Veritas Fine Cannabis. “They look at how that strain produces every time that it’s planted, and in which facility and in which room. Once a quarter, we sit down and take a look at how the genetics are performing.”
Time the harvest right—and listen to the plants
When plants are ready for harvest, it’s hard not to jump into action. While the harvest window is typically between two and three weeks, pushing it a tad longer will allow the buds to increase in size considerably.
David German, general manager of Commonwealth Alternative Care in Massachusetts, notes that harvest timing boils down to two things: the plant’s life cycle and the facility’s overall operations.
“Harvesting may be the last step, but harvest timing is also the first step,” German said. “It is a continuous cycle, so as harvest kicks off, we look ahead. It is important to plan genetics ahead and stay on schedule to maximize the facility output.
For Lelehnia DuBois, a legacy cultivator and founder of Humboldt Grace, being in tune with the Earth matters most.
“When we listen to nature well, we can understand how to support our outdoor garden throughout the year,” she said. “For example, the old-timers I grew up with used to look for the wildflower lupin to plant their guerilla grows. The presence of Lupin tells you the soil is high in nitrogen, which boosts plant health.
“Understanding these signs from nature guides you on what amendments are needed, and when you look around, you can see that many of those amendments are provided for you by nature as well.”
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- Source: https://mgmagazine.com/business/growing-horticulture/cultivation-techniques-to-increase-yield/
As the new kid on the block, legal marijuana knew no bounds.
- Annual sales in Colorado grew exponentially since launching in 2014, and peaking at $2.2 billion in 2021.
Yes, but: The party’s over. The industry faces its first real crisis as sales and wholesale prices plummet, a double supply-and-demand crunch that’s leading to significant retail closures and layoffs.
Why it matters: Colorado’s legal cannabis industry has evolved into a major economic player with $13.4 billion in sales, as well about 900 retail businesses and 40,000 employees, government figures show.
- Moreover, it contributed $2.3 billion in state tax revenue through September. Much of that went to education, as originally intended, but the dollars now support affordable housing, substance abuse and treatment, law enforcement and agriculture, too.
State of pot: Medical and recreational retail cannabis sales hit new highs amid the pandemic with consumers spending more time at home and receiving federal fiscal stimulus checks.
- The combined sales broke records at $226.4 million in July 2020.
Now, the broader rebalancing of consumer spending and time, as well as rising prices on everyday goods are snuffing the highs.
- Marijuana retail sales in Colorado were down 22% in June, compared to the prior year, and the wholesale price of cannabis flower fell to an all-time low, down 46% to $709 a pound. The record price came in January 2015 at $2,007.
What they’re saying: What makes it most difficult is seeing supply increase but demand fall. “You’re getting squished from both sides, both walls are coming in at the same time,” Andrew Livingston, an economist at Vicente Sederberg, one of the nation’s top cannabis firms, tells Axios Denver.
What to watch: Jon Spadafora, president of Veritas Fine Cannabis, wondered aloud whether the industry believed its own hype too much. Veritas closed a cultivation facility in June and laid off 33 people, a quarter of its employees.
- “We went from an environment where growth was all we ever knew,” he told us. Now, he’s predicting “substantial downsizing across the industry in Colorado.”
The other side: Joe Hodas at Wana Brands, a leading cannabis edibles company, tells us he’s optimistic that sales will soon plateau and eventually rebound.
- “To build a healthy industry, you have to cull the herd, you have to get rid of the sick players that quite can’t keep up and that allows the stronger players to continue to grow,” he said.
THOMAS MITCHELL NOVEMBER 2, 2022 7:07AM
Smoking a deep bowl after a long day is a desirable self-treatment, but every once in a while the high makes me regret what I wished for. Occasionally, the weed is too good at its job.
You know the scenario: The bong on the coffee table is packed, and the munchies and entertainment are already in motion. The only thing left to bring it all together is a nice, fat rip. Five minutes after you’re done coughing, everything seems to be going well. But then your peripherals start tightening up, and the eyes get heavy. Sitting up feels tiresome, and walking to grab more food or turn off the bathroom light is simply too strenuous. The soft, euphoric descent into the relaxation you planned for has turned into a plummet into sleep. In other words, you crashed.
It’s not like I wasn’t expecting a stiff punch to the gonads when I bought Sherb Crasher, a child of Sunset Sherbet and Wedding Cake. A clear example of the new school, the buds are dense, frosty and not there to fuck around — but so is every strain that Wedding Cake bears, and it’s not like Sunset Sherbet was a pushover, either. I bought Sherb Crasher so that I could melt away a random bad Tuesday in front of the TV and fall asleep early. Only instead of an early bedtime, I was given the red-light treatment in Men in Black.
Every time I smoke Sherb Crasher, I forget how to be a human being and am content with being a rock instead. Not Dwayne Johnson, but a sedentary object with no thoughts or feelings. Thinking is too exhausting, and the trip to the kitchen may as well be five miles. All signs point to Sherb Crasher being highly effective for physical highs and the medical needs that come with them, but this one puts me in the ground too deep, and too soon.
Looks: Straight out of a sci-fi movie, Sherb Crasher’s buds are bright green with intermittent purple spots, dense and fuzzy to the point of prickliness. A classic tropical tree warning if I’ve ever seen one, and a clear indicator that your stoned plans may not go according to plan.
Smell: Sherb Crasher smells surprisingly minty given its genetics, with noticeable hints of lemon, roses and a fruit cocktail medley that goes anywhere from berries to peaches.
Flavor: A mixture of citrus, menthol and (sometimes) berries, Sherb Crasher reminds me of a skunky, fruity tea with a heavy lemon wedge. It starts out sour, ends earthy and floral, and remains dry throughout.
Effects: Some users report a blip of energy after smoking Sherb Crasher, but the mental disorientation is too strong for any real action to be taken. I go straight to comatose, and can do little more than change positions on the couch. Even if you don’t feel the physical relaxation immediately, it’s best to keep Sherb Crasher for when minimal thoughts and movement are required.
Where to find it: 1136 Yuma, Altitude the Dispensary, Colorado Harvest Company, Elements, Emerald Fields, Helping Hands Herbals, the Herbal Cure, Higher Grade, Kaya Cannabis, Lightshade, Magnolia Road Cannabis Co., Nature’s Kiss, Oasis Cannabis Superstores, Pig ’n’ Whistle, Rocky Road, Solace Meds, the Stone and Twin Peaks Dispensary have been spotted with Sherb Crasher, but there’s a good chance you can find it elsewhere.
Veritas Fine Cannabis is responsible for most, if not all, of the wholesale Sherb Crasher in Denver, while Higher Grade grows an in-house version with the same genetics. The two cuts are very similar and represent the strain well, but Higher Grade’s unbranded version is the better deal. Harmony Extracts, Kush Masters and Olio extract Sherb Crasher, too, with several live options available.
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Jonathan Spadafora knew that April 20, 2022, the cannabis high holy day, when used for Colorado’s marijuana retailers, failed to wind up. Across the state, dispensary sales fell nearly 25 percent compared to 4/20 a year ago. But it wasn’t until last May, when demand continued to decline, that Spadafora, president of Veritas Fine Cannabis, realized the industry was in a free fall.
Two years after legalization, the first time since the sale of licensed recreational weed began in Colorado in 2014, Centennial State’s cannabis sector is experiencing a prolonged recession. Mid-2022 saw sales decline for the fourth consecutive quarter, a nearly reversal of record-setting revenues the industry saw in the early days of the pandemic. (The medical and retail sectors have experienced roughly similar slowdowns.) In response to declining demand, dispensaries that had stockpiled for 4/20 found themselves stuck with excess inventory and fewer purchase orders to producers such as Veritas. Turns out, which flower and pre-rolled additions to stores across the state. Large companies are also struggling; The chains Buddy Boy and Tweedleaf closed seven stores each during the summer.
Spadafora believes that several factors have contributed to the tailspin of cannabis. To start, the pandemic boom was a bubble driven by the fact that people were stuck at home – and often bored or stressed. “People weren’t in the office,” Spadafora says. “They were at home and had the ability to roll a joint and do their emails all day.” Then there were stimulus checks, which helped fund Noss’s run with total sales hitting an annual peak of $2.2 billion in 2021. Fast-forward to today, and people are worried about inflation, Spadafora notes. In addition, nine more states have legalized recreational weed during the past two years, making a dent in Colorado’s cannabis tourism trade, says Truman Bradley of Denver-based Marijuana Industry Group, a cannabis trade association. New Mexico’s market entry in 2021 has been particularly painful, with cannabis sales down 40 to 50 percent in Colorado’s southern border towns.
Graph Illustration by Sean Parsons
Veritas, one of the state’s larger marijuana growers, couldn’t cope with a downturn without size: In June, the company decided to close one of its three farming facilities and lay off 33 staff members—its employees. about a quarter of the number. “It’s hard because it wasn’t the people who were making the mistakes,” Spadafora says. “I think one thing we’ve learned is that Colorado isn’t a $2.2 billion market. It’s probably a $1.8 or $1.7 or $1.6 billion market.” Producers and sellers alike have to expect the market to collapse before their companies go up in smoke.
This article was originally published on 5280 November 2022.
‘Veritas Fine Cannabis’ has begun using QR codes on its packaging following the increased popularity of the feature over the course of the pandemic. Prior to 2020, Veritas believed that QR codes were a dying trend since scanning them required additional third-party applications. However, social distancing measures resulted in increased acceptance of QR codes and it put pressure on phone developers to integrate QR code scanners into camera applications.
Now, Veritas Fine Cannabis equips each of its cannabis products with a QR code. When scanned, the link opens to a product catalog that provides important information on the cannabis product. This includes the type of strain, the possible outcomes, the potential side-effects, the recommended dosage, and more. Veritas strives for trust and transparency, and it believes that providing an extensive amount of information through a QR code is one way to show consumers that it prioritizes them and their experiences.
Image Credit: Veritas
By DALLAS HELTZELL | For BizWest Media/Prairie Mountain Publishing
PUBLISHED: October 20, 2022 at 6:29 p.m. | UPDATED: October 20, 2022 at 10:50 p.m.
Oskar Blues Fooderies has announced a new leadership team for its restaurants in Longmont and Lyons.
Michael Gleason, who started his career in hospitality in the French Quarter of New Orleans and spent the past decade growing the Barcelona and Bartaco restaurant brands, has been named operating partner by founder and owner Dale Katechis. Since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Katechis has worked to update the restaurants: Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids and Solids in Longmont and Oskar Blues Grill and Brew in Lyons.
Katechis told BizWest that he had been “on the hunt for someone of Mike’s caliber” and that Dave Query of the Big Red F restaurant group suggested Gleason, who had taken the Bartaco brand from six to 23 units.
“Aside from his experience in growing a multi-unit brand, he has an interest in the combination of really understanding cost control but balanced with the culture of the staff and creating an environment for them where they want to be there,” Katechis said. “If they want to be there, then the customers will feed off of that. It’s something real, not forced.
“I never forced our managers to hit a number,” he said. “I wanted the experience to be high and to reap the rewards of that. Then the pandemic hit, and we were trying to make money with fewer customers and less staff.”
The slower pace gave Katechis a chance to invest in remodeling the restaurants and restructuring their menus. “We started cleaning the places out,” he said. “We’d been in Lyons almost 25 years and 10 in Longmont.
The locations in Colorado Springs and on Market Street in Denver didn’t need as much restructuring, he said, other than trying to find staff.
“We’ve right-sized the business,” Katechis said. “We don’t have any immediate growth plans for new units. We have to create some staff before we can start thinking about growth. We’re having some luck with that. Once I’ve got people on the bench who are chomping for opportunity, then let’s grow. But the next 12 months will be just stabilizing the business, training and growing our internal labor pool.”
A challenge, he said, will be trying to keep prices from rising too much despite the fact that pay for servers, bartenders and kitchen staff is averaging 30% higher than before the pandemic, simply because of the shortage of workers.
“Keeping it real has always been at the core of what Oskar Blues is all about, and I’m enjoying returning to my roots as a restaurateur,” said Katechis. “We’ve learned a ton over the past 25 years, and we are excited to bring Oskar Blues Fooderies back and better than ever before.”
The Longmont location has a recently renovated patio this year and has restored the backyard train to full functionality. The restaurant in Lyons will continue to bring in local music acts for Fridays and Saturdays on its patio, which features local art and kid-friendly activities.
“I fell in love with hospitality on Bourbon Street, and I have a real passion for blues guitar and Cajun food,” Gleason said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to join the Oskar Blues Fooderies team, which has a menu with authentic Cajun influence and such enthusiasm for providing a space for the community to come together over live music.”
Katechis founded the original Oskar Blues restaurant in Lyons in 1997 and then grew the brewery by the same name. Since then, he has become a serial entrepreneur, playing an active role in strategic growth and development as a board member and adviser for Longmont-based nonprofit Can’d Aid as well as several Colorado-based companies, including Veritas Fine Cannabis, Weller CBD Beverages, and Wander + Ivy Wines.
In January, CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective LLC, a nationwide collective of independent craft beer companies including Oskar Blues Brewery, was sold to Monster Beverage Corp. (Nasdaq: MNST) for $330 million in cash. Following that sale, the restaurants in Longmont, Lyons, Denver and Colorado Springs remain under independent ownership by Katechis.
This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news organization, and is published under a license agreement. © 2022 BizWest Media LLC.
Many of us have brands we trust. These brands are forming relationships with their consumers based on high-quality goods that cause the same effects each time around.
Let’s face it, we all have a favorite strain. Maybe you have a favorite strain but prefer purchasing it from one specific brand. After all, different brands may grow the same strain, but they use different cultivation processes that make their product stand out from the rest.
It’s essential for consumers to find a brand they can trust. We all deserve a product and strain that’s best suited for our personal situation with effects that are consistent, reliable, and expected.
Colorado consumers have made it clear that Veritas Fine Cannabis not only has their backs, but is the most trusted and reliable brand in the state. When you want consistent effects and potent flower with distinct terpene profiles, there’s only one place to experience that.
About Veritas Fine Cannabis
In Roman mythology, veritas means truth or the goddess of truth. Veritas Fine Cannabis brand takes pride in showcasing the true nature of high-quality, rigorously-grown cannabis.
The Colorado-based brand acknowledges that most consumers use the plant for a reason. That’s why Veritas stops at nothing until each consumer leaves with a strain or product best suited for their situation.
There are a few reasons why Veritas Fine Cannabis has won over the hearts of many Coloradan consumers. For one thing, the entire seed-to-sale process is completed by hand, from the cultivation site to packaging; the staff at Veritas handle each good with the utmost TLC.
The result is the freshest, cleanest, and most premium cannabis experience not just in Colorado but in the United States.
Terpenes Are The Name Of The Game
What makes Veritas’ flower so good? The brand is heavily focused on terpenes. These are organic compounds found in cannabis, fruits, vegetables, and other plants that promote distinct aromas.
That said, Veritas understands that terpenes aren’t just responsible for making a strain smell so delicious. Terpenes also promote the entourage effect and work with other cannabinoids and compounds to help the user reach a desired and well-rounded experience.
Veritas works around the clock to understand the role of different terpenes found in each of its strains, all of which are cultivated with a maximized terpene profile.
Veritas has a few different categories for its strains, including the following:
- Garcia Hand-Picked (As in Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead, strains curated by the Garcia family)
With such care, attention to detail, and commitment to high-quality flower, Veritas Fine Cannabis is happy to relieve you of your hunt for weed that works. Not just weed that promotes distinct effects but effects that you need for your preferred experience.
For more information about Veritas Fine Cannabis, visit its website at veritascannabis.com.
In the early months of 2022, Dale Katechis found himself out of a job and wondering what to do. He was a pioneer in the canning of craft beers who had maxed out his credit cards to launch Oskar Blues Brewery and built Dale’s Pale Ale into
From the Denver Business Journal: https://www.bizjournals.com/denver/news/2022/10/06/dale-katechis-oskar-blues-founder-sale-restaurants.html
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ED SEALOVER | DENVER BUSINESS JOURNAL
Dale Katechis hoists a pint at his Oskar Blues Grill & Brew location in Lower Downtown Denver on Oct. 5, 2022. An iconic national brand, but that trajectory changed this year. Monster Beverage Corp. (NYSE: MNST) purchased Oskar Blues and its multibrewery CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective for $330 million in January from private-equity firm Fireman Capital Partners and the owners of the breweries that were part of the company. Twenty-five years after opening his original blues-music-themed Cajun restaurant in Lyons and 23 years after getting the idea to add a beer-making operation there, Katechis severed himself from CANarchy.
But because he had sold the restaurant division of Oskar Blues to his wife, Christi, in 2004 when the business moved from brewpub status to a manufacturing brewery, the former high school sweethearts with four kids retained control over the four eateries under the OB moniker. After a break from everything, the entrepreneur decided to dive back in, this time going back to his roots as a restaurateur. “Now that I’m out of the beer business completely, I needed something to do,” Katechis said on Wednesday, sitting on the front porch of his Oskar Blues Grill & Brew in Lower Downtown and sipping a beer as industry leaders gathered inside before the now 40-year-old Great American Beer Festival. “I could only do so much Sudoku at home without my wife telling me, ‘OK, you need to get out of the house.’ And this is what started us.”
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Although he owns restaurants in Lyons, Longmont and Colorado Springs as well, Katechis particularly wanted to understand what was happening in LoDo, which got hit hard as the pandemic drove workers out of downtown and was suffering from the same labor shortages as the rest of the industry. So, he rented a place within walking distance of the bar and restaurant and poured himself into 16-hour days there for three months, sometimes mopping the floors first thing in the morning and sometimes working a shift in the kitchen if a worker failed to show.
He wants to transform Oskar Blues Grill & Brew, at 1624 Market St., from a sometimes-overlooked part of the greater Oskar Blues family into a center of the craft-beer scene in Denver. Oskar Blues beers, appropriately, still take up a dozen or so of the draft lines at the Cajun restaurant with a downstairs music venue, but that leaves roughly 35 more draft lines that Katechis intends to fill with products from other craft-beer makers. With the restaurant back on its post-pandemic feet, he plans to hold more events showing off the small and local breweries that have been where he once was in their efforts to grow into something bigger. And he’ll do it, as he always has, with a beer in one hand and maybe a spatula or maybe a bar rag in the other. With the restaurant is humming once again, and now it’s one of the many activities Katechis is juggling in his life after Oskar Blues. But he’s relaxed — as he always has been — and happy and looking forward to new challenges, even if they may seem less daunting
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than growing from scratch and operating what became the seventh-largest craft brewery in America. “It is very weird. It is bittersweet,” he said of not having ownership in a brewery that’s occupied roughly half his life. “I’ve probably spent more time with Oskar Blues than I have with my children. And it was like a child to me. I’m still proud of what has happened there.”
Just three years into its run as a brewpub, Katechis got the idea of canning Dale’s Pale Ale at a time when the craft sector eschewed the vessels because of their longtime association with the light beers that dominated the American drinking scene in the second half of the 20 century. Fellow brewers laughed at him at first. Then they realized he was right about the increased sustainability and protection against beer-ruining light that cans provided, and now almost every member of the industry has ditched bottles for cans.
In the 20 years after that fateful decision, Katechis built a brand that not only was the first Colorado craft brewery to be sold in all 50 states but that had started buying other craft breweries that were in financial trouble and in danger of being gobbled up by an international company. His equity partners then found what they considered the ideal buyer CANarchy — a pioneer in the energy- drink space that was looking to take its first steps into alcoholic beverages.
While many people wondered how Katechis felt handing his company over to such a big corporation — he didn’t comment when the sale was announced — he said Wednesday that he is very
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happy with who is guiding Oskar Blues’ future. He liked the history of Monster, the team that was running it and their goals to let the CANarchy brands grow on their own. He said he continues to have a good relationship with them now that his Oskar Blues-branded restaurants are buying Oskar Blues beers from Monster to serve. “I don’t know if there are too many better marketers in the world, and they had a desire to be in the space,” he said. “And they still kind of operate in a sense like a small company. You can still talk to both owners.”
In addition to being a restaurateur, Katechis is now an investor. He’s bought into Bootstrap Brewing of Longmont, which keeps his hand in the industry, even if he is more of a silent partner to owners Steve and Leslie Kaczeus as they grow their distribution-focused brewery. But he’s also invested in Veritas Fine Cannabis, as he’s always been fascinated by an entire industry that is trying to break new ground. He’s invested in Ursa Major Technologies, a Berthoud-based company that prints 3D rocket engines, because his father was an aerospace engineer. And he’s bought into Denver’s Wander + Ivy winery, in tribute to his father’s long-time efforts to make his own vino. “Growing up, every closet in our house had a five-gallon carboy in it,” Katechis remembered. “That was my first experience with fermentation.”
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Katechis, one of the most influential craft-beer makers of all time, is an entrepreneur again. And he’s excited. “It’s been fun to be a big part of this space for as long as we have,” he said. “I just wonder what the next 25 years holds for me.”
Denver Business Journal
THOMAS MITCHELL OCTOBER 3, 2022 10:36AM
As wholesale marijuana prices reach record lows, a group of Colorado growers has requested that the state stop issuing cultivation licenses.
Medical marijuana sales have experienced their lowest recorded monthly totals five times so far in 2022, and the price per pound of all commercial marijuana reached a record low last month, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue. The drop in prices has led to a steady decline in recreational sales for over a year, DOR data shows, with inflation and reduced marijuana tourism both cited as contributing factors by marijuana business owners.
However, the biggest contributor to tanking weed prices is an oversupply of product, according to a coalition of thirty Colorado marijuana growers and dispensary ownership groups.
“For the first time since legalization was implemented, marijuana sales and the revenue generated from marijuana taxes will be substantially lower than the previous calendar year,” reads a September 15 memo to the state from the coalition. “The problem is further exacerbated by the country’s broader economic situation, with record-high inflation driving down sales of consumer goods. Despite a decrease in demand, the supply of marijuana continues to increase, with new licenses being issued and additional cultivation capacity being authorized to current licensees.”
There are 798 active recreational marijuana growing licenses in Colorado, according to the MED, up from 716 at the beginning of 2021. During that same span, the average price per pound of marijuana flower has fallen nearly 62 percent, while annual dispensary sales are currently on pace to come up about 20 percent short of the $2.2 billion sold in 2021. As prices and sales continue falling, dispensaries and growers have had to lay off staff; some have shut down altogether.
Colorado’s marijuana regulations enable a tier system for growers, with cultivations allowed to grow a certain number of plants based on the amount of marijuana they sell the previous year. According to Stan Zislis, co-owner of dispensary chain Silver Stem Fine Cannabis, this tier system set up the wholesale market for an inevitable retraction.
“COVID threw a lifeline to the marijuana industry, but once that was over, the marijuana industry in Colorado has been in a free fall,” Zislis said during a MED rulemaking hearing September 30.
Silver Stem and 29 other marijuana producers, extractors and retailers sent a request to the MED proposing a moratorium on marijuana cultivation licenses for two years, according to a MED memo. The moratorium would make an exception for social equity licensees and allow licensed medical growing operations to apply for recreational growing permits. If current growing operations want to grow more plants than their production tiers allow, the coalition would like growers to provide “proof” such as vendor contracts, promise of sale notes or projected inventory data,
“Local jurisdictions such as Denver have already enacted a moratorium on new licenses for non-social equity applicants. A moratorium at the state level would complement those efforts. By stabilizing the supply chain, the state would be able to further pathways of success for small- and medium-sized marijuana companies,” the coalition’s memo reads.
The coalition includes Äkta Creations, Astronomic, Bonsai Cultivation, C8 Brands, Cannabis Insurance Business, CB1 Logistics, Colorado Harvest Company, Dutch Botanicals, Emj’s, Hava Gardens, High Q, Higher Grade, Humble Farms, L’Eagle, Lightshade, Lit Cannabis, Locol Love, NUHI, Olio, Revel Cultivars, Rocky Road Aurora, Silver Stem Fine Cannabis, Smokey’s Cannabis Co, Strawberry Fields Cannabis, the Health Center, the Lodge Cannabis, Three Rivers Dispensary, Treez, Veritas Fine Cannabis and Yeti Farms, according to the memo’s letterhead.
In a separate memo sent September 13, the coalition also asked the MED to implement a holiday on the state’s 15 percent excise tax currently placed on wholesale marijuana.
“As the marijuana market and the country’s overall economic outlook fluctuate, Colorado licensees cannot be expected to continue paying a tax that is widely viewed as fundamentally unfair. We are, therefore, proposing a tax holiday from the retail marijuana excise tax for all retail marijuana cultivation businesses until the issues outlined above are resolved,” the memo to the MED reads. “Suspension of the retail excise tax will allow state and industry stakeholders to collaborate on next steps without continuing to levy an unfair and impractical tax against struggling businesses.”
During the September 30 MED hearing, executive director Dominique Mendiola was skeptical that the MED had the authority to implement a licensing moratorium or tax holiday on marijuana, and suggested that marijuana business owners pursue those efforts through the Colorado Legislature.
Marijuana attorney Brian Vicente co-wrote Colorado’s recreational marijuana legalization legislation in 2012 before expanding his law firm, Vicente Sederberg, into one of the largest marijuana-specific law firms in the country. Nearly ten years after recreational pot laws were implemented in Colorado, Vicente says he believes it’s time that marijuana business owners and state regulators have a “robust discussion” about a licensing moratorium or cap on marijuana growing operations, but adds that there are “certainly two sides” to the discussion.
“There’s definitely an SOS out on growers in Colorado,” he says. “Many of them have been doing this for a decade and are used to a certain level of wholesale prices, so this is affecting everyone’s bottom lime. I’m not sure if a moratorium is the most embraced option, but we’ve heard an SOS for all growers, and we need to consider all options.”
Vicente argues against an excise tax holiday, however, given the revenue the tax collects for the state. Through the first eight months of 2022, Colorado marijuana excise tax brought in nearly $6.6 million a month on average, according to tax data from the DOR.
“I’d hate to see that line of revenue go away, so I think any sort of tax holiday or abatement would have to be talked about at length. The question is: Is it worth the tradeoff?” Vicente notes. “Are we willing to give up providing this legitimizing tax revenue to the state for business owners and consumers to save a couple bucks?”
Vicente expects both topics to continue playing out during industry discussions, and will likely be on the radar of state lawmakers in 2023. In the meantime, however, he believes that Colorado’s state government should do more to empower marijuana growers during their first sustained down period.
“Governor Polis could do more to lobby on this issue, and he could do more to support Colorado [marijuana] farmers by really codifying the issue of whether federal legalization shifts, farmers can export this crop to other states,” he says. “I think it’s inevitable that we’re going to have federal legalization. We’ve shown, in a very powerful way, that cannabis is an excellent crop for Colorado. In some ways, we’re growing too much of it. If we can export Colorado cannabis to other states, it seems like a great move.”