Representing a significant shift in the way cannabis products are being normalized, weed vending machines—now capable of labeling and dispensing cannabis products in real time—are the new norm in Colorado.
Boulder, Colorado-based Terrapin has installed its first technology-forward vending machine ACE (Automated Cannabis Experience) at its Aurora Terrapin Care Station location. No need for a budtender or a human being, for that matter. Customers scan to verify their ID and confirm they are old enough, follow the instructions on the screen and pay.
But best of all: you get to watch the weed get bagged and live-labeled through a 38 x 30-inch window on the vending machine—a surreal experience for people coming from more restrictive states.
“Innovative solutions like ACE illustrate the increasingly mainstream nature of the cannabis space,” Terrapin CEO Chris Woods told 9News.
“ACE not only improves sales but also provides unique benefits to consumers, including faster checkouts, expanded education, and the ability to engage in multiple languages. As the cannabis industry evolves, companies must pivot to meet changing consumer preferences and demands. ACE offers a genuinely game-changing way for consumers to purchase cannabis.”
How much product can one machine hold? One ACE vending machine can hold up to 1,152 weed products (depending on the size of the packaging). It’s like its own little dispensary.
The Aurora location will serve as the guinea pig to determine how well the automated vending machine serves customers’ needs.
“We are happy to support innovation in business and appreciate Terrapin for choosing Aurora to implement this impressive equipment,” said Trevor Vaughn, manager of licensing for the city of Aurora. “Our highest priority is public safety and Terrapin acknowledges this with their implementation of this retail option by adding an automated layer of safeguards to human verification to ensure that only those legally allowed to consume cannabis are purchasing those products.”
It took time and effort to get the automated technology to where it is today, Robert Schwarzli, BMC Universal Technologies’ president, said.
Automated Weed Vending Machine Technology
Terrapin first unveiled the new automated machines ACE at MJBizCon 2022, where they teased the vending machine rollout in Aurora.
ACE can be programmed in multiple languages, improving inclusion. It can also improve the sales approach as ACE augments budtenders and frees them to take more time. Advantages include the human-less “triple check” to ensure only verified adults ages 21 and over can purchase cannabis. It also speeds up the transaction, the company says.
Developed in partnership with BMC Universal Technologies, it’s the first fully automated cannabis vending kiosk on the market to fully package, live-label and dispense cannabis products, according to a press release.
“As an established leader in the vending industry, we have the manufacturing design, automation and engineering expertise necessary to design and develop the vending machine of the future,” Robert Schwarzli, BMC Universal Technologies’ president said last November. “ACE is the first vending solution on the market that requires zero human assistance, truly transforming how people shop for cannabis products. While ACE is a first for the cannabis sector, we’ve brought dozens of other one-of-a-kind projects across myriad other industries to life—and are excited about the future of cannabis retail.”
The concept of zero human assistance is controversial–yet it’s what we’re seeing already with Amazon, McDonald’s, Taco Bell’s “Defy” restaurant, and across the board in the retail space.
Terrapin also has plans to roll out additional ACE machines at its Terrapin Care Station locations throughout Colorado. It’s a glimpse of what you might be seeing more of in the future.
What’s one great way to tell if an industry is doing well? More jobs open up, and salaries improve. What’s a great way to know there are problems? When more and more jobs get cut. That’s where we are today, as mass layoffs continue in the cannabis industry, signaling a host of problems, with no solution in sight.
When the industry first started it was a true free-for-all. The predictions for market growth were off-the-charts, and it seemed like every big international company wanted to swoop into newly legalized locations to take advantage of this new reported cash cow of an industry. Everyone wanted in. Lots of people made investments. We all waited with baited breath to see who among us would become the new weed industry millionaires.
Now, we’re a few years in, and the landscape has changed, along with expectations. CBD has faded out into almost nothing, medical markets are getting eclipsed by recreational markets, which themselves are still often eclipsed by black markets. Prices remain high in many places due to insane taxing, and governments have been slow to pick up on this as an issue. Overproduction has (let’s be honest, predictably) come into play, causing prices to plummet in every venue. And the once thriving industry, is now showing its cracks, with sales plummeting in many places.
Last year the reports started really rolling in about industry closures and layoffs. Smaller names were already having a hard time making it in due to expensive regulation, extreme competition, and extra costs like slotting fees at dispensaries; making it seem like a game for the big dogs only. But even they’re having issues. And now as 2023 gets underway, the mass layoffs continue, both in the US, and around the world.
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Mass layoffs in the cannabis industry – global
Clever Leaves Holdings is a Colombian cannabis company with operations in Portugal. On January 23rd of this year, the company announced restructuring plans that include cutting nearly ¼ of its staff. Clever Leaves is in the medical space, creating pharmaceutical-grade products. This restructuring means winding down all operations in the Portugal location. In fact, the company wants to move everything back home to cut costs, saying:
“By exclusively cultivating and producing our cannabinoid products in Colombia, we aim to leverage our existing cost efficiencies in the country as we ramp our dry flower offering,” said Andres Fajardo, CEO of Clever Leaves. “We believe this transition will allow us to optimize our production infrastructure and drive increased cost savings, positioning us to compete more effectively in the global medicinal cannabis market.”
As of the end of September, the company had $12.1 million in assets in Portugal. The facility included cultivation, post-harvesting, and manufacturing activities; though it sounds like all of this will eventually end. It’s also not the only company operating out of Portugal that wants to cut back. On January 17th, cannabis giant Tilray Brands announced it too was looking to cut about a quarter of its staff. The facility in Cantanhede is also a medical cannabis products facility. Said a Tilray spokesperson to MJBizDaily:
“A total of 49 jobs will be affected in the production, manufacturing, quality, quality control (laboratory), cultivation, supply chain, facilities, warehousing, logistics, procurement, and IT. These changes, which are in line with Tilray’s rightsizing to meet the needs of the current economy and the state of legalization across medical and adult-use cannabis, will take place over the next three months.”
To give an idea why this is happening, consider that in the quarter ending November 30th, 2022, the company posted a $61.6 million net loss. Tilray is a public company and can be found on the NASDAQ and Toronto Stock Exchange under TLRY. Clever Leaves also had huge losses of $37.3 million, in the first three quarters of last year. It only earned $13.2 million in the same time frame. Clever Leaves is publicly traded under CLVR on NASDAQ.
In Canada, Delta 9 announced that it would temporarily lay off 40 people. This is interesting wording as it implies the company does believe it will be able to reverse these layoffs. Realistically, maybe it will, but a stronger reality might be that none of these jobs are coming back for any of these companies. This cut in the company’s Winnipeg facilities accounts for 40% of its staff.
Fellow Canadian company The Flowr Corporation (OTC:FLWPF) a cultivation services enterprise with locations in several countries, made some big changes last year to keep from bankruptcy. It cut employees to the tune of $4 million in savings, accounting for 40% of its workforce. Along with this, it made a deal to sell off its subsidiary Flowr Forests, a 16 acre property for cultivation. This is considered a non-core asset, and makes the company $3.4 million in revenue.
Mass layoffs in the cannabis industry – US
The US might not have federally legal weed, but it is home to the biggest cannabis industries. However, things aren’t doing better within the borders of the US, than they’re doing outside them. One of the big ones to announce major cuts of late? Columbia Care, Inc., which operates in several states, and owns Green Leaf Medical LLC, which is about to make a bunch of people jobless. How many? 73. As of February 28th.
According to the company: “In order to meet the appropriate supply and demand levels of the market, it was necessary for us to reduce the workforce at our cultivation and production facility.” It continued, “We are hopeful that with adult use on the horizon, this facility will be back up to full capacity in the future.” It’s pretty clear this cut is indeed due to a lack of business.
Leaflink, a wholesale tech platform out of New York, is also cutting jobs. Late last year it was reported that 80 employees were sent looking for new work. Much like the other companies to make cuts, the company explained: “Unfortunately, as the cannabis industry continues to face headwinds and the current macroeconomic environment, we needed to take the next step in our evolution to continue supporting the industry.”
Truelieve, a company offering medical cannabis products and services out of Tallahassee Florida, and which operates in many states, also made a similar announcement at the end of last year. Workers were cut from its McKeesport Pennsylvania cultivation facility, numbering approximately 36. This is technically small potatoes considering the company employs in the neighborhood of 8,000, but its also not the first cut. The company laid off workers in three Florida locations: Midway, Monticello, and Quincy, as well.
While the cut was blamed on “Trulieve’s $2.1 billion acquisition of Arizona-based multistate operator Harvest Health & Recreation in 2021,” it also came on the heels of the company posting a quarterly loss of $115 million.
Yet another Florida company, Springbig, a technology company for weed-specific marketing software, cut 23% of its workforce (37 employees) late last year. The company is trying hard to turn a profit amid an industry that seems harder and harder to turn a profit in. These cuts were meant to save $200,000 in the short term, and 21% in the first three quarters of 2023.
Springbig had just merged with Tuatara Capital Acquisition, in order to get on NASDAQ; trading under SBIG. The company’s shares have plummeted from $4.50 last June, to 82 cents at the end of 2022. Prior to the drop it had reported $24 million in yearly revenue, with a $275 million valuation, as per Green Market Report.
If you’re a big reader of cannabis news, then the publication Leafly is likely familiar to you. Well, even Leafly Holdings is having problems. In October of last year, it was reported that the cannabis resource and marketplace, would cut 56 jobs, or 21% of its staff. Leafly, traded under LFLY on NASDAQ, is looking to save approximately $16 million a year, saying, “These reductions will help preserve our ability to respond to opportunities as this industry continues to mature and expand, and allow us to more effectively manage our capital.”
Previously mentioned layoffs in the cannabis industry
This is unfortunately not the first time I’ve reported on cannabis industry layoffs. Last year made one thing very clear: the market is not as sound as many wanted to believe; and the overall market predictions in place, are falling short of reality.
Some of the big layoffs already reported on, include Weedmaps, which cut about 25% of its staff; Curaleaf Holdings, which just got rid of 220 employees; Akerna, which released 1/3 of its staff, or 59 workers; Dutchie, which removed 8% of its workforce, amounting to 67 jobs lost; Canopy Growth which sold all its retail locations, and cut 245 jobs last year; and Aurora Cannabis which cut 12% of its workforce as a part of corporate restructuring to save money.
With the biggest names in cannabis faltering, it brings up the question of who can survive. More companies to let employees go recently, include California’s Eaze, which laid off around 25 employees last year; Lume, a cannabis company out of Michigan closed four out of 30 of its stores; and Nature AZ Medicine, an Arizona medical cannabis company, cut up to 100 employees as a result of medical sales falling.
There’s nothing saying that 2023 won’t turn into a banner year for cannabis sales, and there’s nothing saying that all of these companies won’t recoup their losses, or hire back the numbers they lost. But right now, things aren’t looking fantastic for cannabis industry growth, and these layoffs are a good indication that more bad news might be coming.
Will the cannabis industry rebound? Or are these mass layoffs an indication that the weed industry has hit a wall? And maybe most important to ask, if it can be saved, what kind of changes are necessary in order to facilitate this?
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The city of Aurora, Colorado hosted a grand opening on Tuesday for its brand new 77,000-square foot, nearly $42 million recreational facility that was funded entirely by tax revenue generated from legal marijuana sales.
Known as the “Southeast Recreation Center and Fieldhouse,” the facility boasts a slew of amenities, according to local news station KDVR: “A 23,000-square-foot fieldhouse with temperature controlled indoor environment; A full-sized field with professional-grade turf; An 8,000-square-foot multiuse gymnasium [that] will be able to accommodate one main basketball court, two cross basketball courts, two volleyball courts or three pickleball courts; A 1/9-mile long track elevated above the fitness area and gymnasium; A 7,600-square-foot fitness area with state-of-the-art equipment, including: A functional fitness area; An outdoor fitness space; A fitness studio; A large community room; [and a] natatorium, which in turn is comprised of: A 125,000-gallon swimming pool with a maximum depth of seven feet; A spa pool with water jets; A leisure pool that includes a 25-yard, four-lane lap pool, a lazy river, and a 20-foot-tall waterslide.”
The city broke ground on the facility in early 2021, and it is the second new recreational facility to open in Aurora in the last four years.
The other rec center, which opened in 2019, was also funded by taxes from marijuana sales, according to KDVR. The news outlet Westworld reported that the Aurora City Council in 2020 “approved increasing the city’s sales tax on recreational marijuana from 7.75 percent to 8.75 percent, with the additional revenues going to fund youth violence prevention projects.”
“We are excited to open our newest recreation center and fieldhouse,” Brooke Bell, the director of the Aurora Parks, Recreation and Open Space, said in a press release from the city earlier this month. “After an extensive community engagement process, the feedback received guided the creation of this exceptional facility; we look forward to the community enjoying the space they helped envision for years to come.”
In the press release, the city said that the Southeast Recreation Center is located “near several neighborhoods and the Aurora Reservoir,” and that “the center is a regional destination boasting the first indoor fieldhouse within the city in addition to a variety of other amenities and breathtaking views of the Colorado mountains.”
The construction of the two recreational facilities in Aurora serve as “proof of concept” for advocates who helped Colorado become one of the first two states to legalize recreational cannabis a little more than a decade ago when voters there approved Amendment 64.
Supporters of marijuana legalization have long contended that a regulated cannabis retail market could be an economic boon for state and local governments.
“Colorado did what no one had done before,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said at an event in October commemorating the 10th anniversary of the state’s legalization measure, as quoted by theDenver Gazette. “With voter [approval] of Amendment 64, we made history and therefore it is fitting that we are celebrating today 10 years here at History Colorado.”
Polis, a Democrat, has worked to strengthen the marijuana law. Last summer, he signed an executive order “to ensure that no Coloradan is subject to penalization for the possession, cultivation, or use of marijuana as this substance is legal in Colorado as a result of Amendment 64,” his office announced at the time.
“The exclusion of people from the workforce because of marijuana-related activities that are lawful in Colorado, but still criminally penalized in other states, hinders our residents, economy and our State. No one who lawfully consumes, possesses, cultivates or processes marijuana pursuant to Colorado law should be subject to professional sanctions or denied a professional license in Colorado. This includes individuals who consume, possess, cultivate or process marijuana in another state in a manner that would be legal under Colorado law,” Polis said in a statement.
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Canada’s cannabis cartel is here. And they’ve always been here – big LPs like Canopy and Aurora. They’re just being patient, playing the waiting game. It may appear as if Canada has a robust craft cannabis sector. After all, there are over 800 licensed producers in this large but thinly populated country. And consumers prefer […]
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Aurora Cannabis officially shipped out its first shipment of “free” dried cannabis flower to be given to a select number of patients in France.
A subsidiary of Aurora Cannabis Inc., Aurora Germany GmbH, partnered with Ethypharm to deliver the first shipment of cannabis medicine to France to be used in the country’s medical cannabis pilot program. Both Aurora and Ethypharm were chosen by the National Agency for Safety Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) to deliver dried flower for use by French patients.
Both companies signed an agreement to work with the ANSM in October 2020. In the agreement, Aurora confirmed it would deliver medical cannabis from the company’s largest European facility, Aurora Nordic. Ethypharm is in charge of distribution of the dried flower throughout France. According to the program, companies will participate knowing that the product they send would be “free of charge.”
According to Aurora’s Chief Executive Officer, Miguel Martin, this is a great honor for the company. “The first prescriptions of dried medical cannabis as part of the French pilot program are a significant step toward providing access to patients and will support the destigmatization of medical cannabis in France,” Martin said in a press statement.
The statement continued, “This accomplishment is another example of Aurora’s leadership in global cannabis, with a proven track record of supporting the advancement of international medical cannabis markets alongside government bodies. By demonstrating a deep commitment to compliance and focus on product quality, we won three of the nine available tenders. If successful, this pilot program could lead to one of the largest regulated medical cannabis markets in Europe.”
Ethypharm’s Chief Commercial Operations Officer, Jean Monin, declared his honor in the company being chosen to assist French medical cannabis patients. “Combining our pharmaceutical skills is, in our view, the right approach to build trust and confidence in medical cannabis for the long term in France,” said Monin. “We want to be a driving force to support patients suffering from chronic pain when there is no other therapeutic option than medical cannabis. With our deep expertise in disorders of the central nervous system and an expertise in highly regulated medicines, we are well prepared to collaborate with the health authorities and physicians.”
There are three types of dried flower being shipped to France currently: Aurora 20/1 XPE (high-THC), Aurora 8/8 XPE (balanced amount of THC and CBD) and Aurora 1/12 XPE (high-CBD). The flower will be consumed using a vaporizer from STORZ & BICKEL.
When the French government announced this effort on October 7, 2020, it referred to the program as an “experiment.” The initial decree noted that the program would last for “a period of two years from the prescription to the first patient and no later than March 31, 2021,” and will serve up to 3,000 patients.
Nadine Attal, a pain specialist who works at the Ambroise-Paré hospital in Paris, France and is one of the committee members who will oversee the experiment. “There is a group of patients who respond very, very, very well to this product, particularly those who have chronic pain that is resistant to everything else,” she told Radio France Internationale in an interview.
Attal also mentioned that this effort isn’t a scientific trial and there won’t be a placebo given to some patients. Rather, this is a way for researchers to analyze the “real-life use” of cannabis as a medicine. “We will learn more about the kinds of patients who respond, and we’ll be able to identify side effects, like vertigo, drowsiness, fatigue,” she described.
Aurora Cannabis is one of six companies participating in France’s medical cannabis program. This includes Australian companies Althea and Little Green Pharma, Canadian company Tilray, Israel-based Panaxia and Emmac Life Sciences from the UK. The participating companies are all foreign because cannabis flower that contains THC over 0.2 percent is illegal in France.
Denver, Colorado-based dispensary Strawberry Fields and the Doobba delivery service announced pot deliveries will be open to the public today, August 23. The companies completed their first six legal pot deliveries on August 19 during a soft launch test round.
Strawberry Fields is Denver’s first dispensary that received a permit for delivery, while Doobba was Denver’s first delivery service to receive a license, and several other companies are in the process of nearing operation.
In order for a dispensary to offer delivery, it is required to either qualify under a social equity designation intended to benefit communities negatively impacted by the War on Drugs, or partner with a social equity delivery company—Doobba, in this case. Strawberry Fields chose the latter route, partnering with Doobba to meet the city’s requirements.
Per city code, dispensaries cannot operate delivery themselves; instead, they must go through third party transporter businesses. The city has issued four transporter licenses, according to Denver city data.
Doobba’s owners, the husband-and-wife team Ari and Karina Cohen—plan on expanding into more dispensaries in the future. Ari qualified for social equity status because he has previously been arrested for cannabis “lifetimes ago.” The company was close to an agreement to deliver for L’Eagle, according to Doobba co-founder Ari, and is in talks with other companies such as Seed & Smith.
“We are thrilled to be able to deliver cannabis to customers in Denver and Aurora,” Doobba co-founder and CEO Karina Cohen told High Times. “It’s a first step in helping Doobba in ending cannabis prohibition. Customers who live in Denver and Aurora can also sign up for unlimited delivery membership on doobba.com”
Both of the Cohens have a long history of working in the cannabis industry, and together, they are excited to take on these new challenges.
How Cannabis Delivery Works
Ordering cannabis delivery works in a similar manner to ordering food or alcohol delivered to your door. Think DoorDash for weed. Customers go to the Doobba or Strawberry Fields websites, or they can go through one of several online dispensary menu services, such as I Heart Jane, for delivery. They then choose a time frame for the delivery and receive updates via text message about their order’s progress.
Doobba is currently giving customers a two-hour time frame for deliveries.
Denver allows people ages 21 and older to order cannabis for delivery between the hours of 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Deliveries can cross into other jurisdictions that also allow delivery, such as nearby in Aurora.
Currently only five other dispensaries are permitted for delivery in Denver: Cookies, Denver Kush Club, Diego Pellicer, L’Eagle and Star Buds. But Strawberry Fields and dooba are the first to become operational, as none of the others launched delivery services yet. A small number of stores and transporter services are currently awaiting approval from the city.
It appears as though several other companies are positioning to get involved in cannabis delivery as well. “Most people still don’t know this is available,” Cohen toldWestword. “Like anything that’s new, normally it would take a year for everyone in Denver to realize they can do this. We’re going to try our darnedest to get to that point within three months.” Delivery sales are poised to become a convenient way to order cannabis in the area.
Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB)(NYSE:ACB) will be conducting a reverse stock split, effective May 11th, 2020, and CLN is here to let you know what that means, and what to expect. The price will go up, and there will be fewer shares When Aurora’s shareholders check their accounts on the morning of May 11th, they’ll have […]
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