Hip-Hop Mogul Jay-Z Invests in Cannabis Retail Platform Flowhub

Cannabis point-of-sale platform Flowhub announced on Tuesday the closing of a $19 million round of strategic funding, including significant participation from venture capital firms Headline and Poseiden as well as a personal investment from entrepreneur and hip-hop billionaire Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter. 

The new round of funding for Flowhub brings the total amount of capital raised for the company to $50 million with a valuation of $200 million, according to a statement from the cannabis dispensary payment transactions processor.

“We are thrilled to announce this capital raise,” said Kyle Sherman, founder and CEO of Flowhub. “Headline is an incredible, Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, Poseidon is a pioneer investor in the cannabis industry, and Jay-Z is a cultural and creative global force no matter the industry he is involved in.”

“I couldn’t think of a better group to be working with as we take this company to the next stage,” Sherman added. “This funding not only underscores the significant value that Flowhub provides to our customers, but also the maturation of the cannabis industry at large. We remain committed to developing innovative products that help our retail customers run better businesses.”

Flowhub processes in excess of $3 billion in cannabis transactions annually, providing more than 1,000 marijuana dispensaries a retail sales platform to serve their customers while maintaining compliance with strict regulations. The company will use the new round of funding to accelerate its expansion into emerging cannabis markets while developing new products for its expanding line of services.

Supporting Cannabis Social Equity

The company also plans to use the new funding to support and grow its social equity program, which was launched by Flowhub in June to invest in communities adversely impacted by the War on Drugs. 

Through the program, eligible social equity cannabis business owners can receive Flowhub’s POS retail management and compliance software for only $4.20 per year, which represents a reduction of 99.97 percent over regular pricing. The discount is available for up to three years at the social equity owner’s first cannabis dispensary business location.

The Flowhub social equity program also provides participating cannabis retailers with the company’s Stash inventory management and Greet customer check-in mobile apps, as well as the View mobile analytics app and free implementation of the technology. 

To date, Flowhub has awarded more than $1 million worth of software products to eligible cannabis entrepreneurs participating in the program. More information about the Flowhub cannabis social equity program is available online.

Software Allows Debit Transactions at Cannabis Dispensaries

Because of the continued illegality of cannabis at the federal level, most banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions do not offer traditional banking services to cannabis businesses, even those operating legally under state law. As a result, most dispensaries are forced to conduct transactions with their customers and suppliers via cash.

“We’re still a cash industry, and it’s 2021,” Sherman told Forbes. “It’s hard to believe when we barely have cards in our pocket anymore with Apple Pay.”

Flowhub’s POS software addresses the cash issue by allowing customers to use their debit cards to make sales transactions at cannabis dispensaries. But instead of being processed as a debit card sale, the transaction is technically an ATM withdrawal.

“It’s not really debit, but it feels like it,” Sherman said.

Jay-Z and Cannabis

Jay-Z’s stake in Flowhub isn’t his first foray into the cannabis industry. In 2019, he became the brand strategist for Caliva, where he developed his signature high-end cannabis brand Monogram. The following year, Caliva, Monogram and Left Coast Ventures were acquired through a SPAC deal that produced the Parent Company, where Jay-Z heads the social equity venture fund.

“When Jay says, ‘I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man,’ it’s true,” said Sherman, recalling a sample of Jay-Z’s well-known lyrics. “He’s got incredible business acumen—he really knows how to surround himself with brilliant people and build great companies.”

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What Are The Most Popular Cannabis Dispensary Products?

I don’t know about you, but me personally, I feel like every time I set foot into a cannabis dispensary (whether it’s a new one or one that I frequent regularly), I’m pleasantly surprised by a wide array of new and innovative products. Me being a stoner, I’m tempted to try them all, but I also don’t want to waste money on a passing fad that won’t produce the desired effects. From traditional flower to unique edibles, and even topicals, capsules, and THC-inhalers… Whar are the top cannabis dispensary products today?

Weed is the best; and what’s particularly fun about today’s industry is the sheer variety of products you can find online or in most dispensaries. In-fact many of the top cannabis dispensary products could be found online, if you know where to look for them. If you would like to learn more about how to find them online, or try out different products make sure to Subscribe to The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter to learn more and for exclusive deals on Delta 8Delta 10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP HHC.


A Quick Overview of What’s Popular

Point blank, flower remains king when it comes to the most popular cannabis products, included in nearly half of all dispensary transactions. Next in line are edibles (including beverages) and pre-rolled joints, raking in 17% and 11.5% of total sales, respectively. Also popular are concentrates and vape pens.

Additionally, a survey conducted by Headset, a well-known cannabis industry data and market intelligence company, broke it down even further to see what type of flower is most popular. According to their numbers, hybrid flower is the best seller at over 25% of total flower transactions, followed by indica at 11% and sativa flower at 10%. This might come as a surprise to many people considering how heavily most budtenders push the indica strains.

When it came other products, gummies and high-quality chocolates, carbonated beverages, live resin, and various vaping items are seeing a sharp spike in popularity. Of the above listed products, live resin has the highest growth rate, averaging about 29% higher sales every month.

Keeping it Old School with Flower

According to the budtenders I’ve spoken to, they estimate that traditional flower accounts for roughly half of all dispensary sales. And statistically, that number is not far off. Data provided by Headset, indicated that 49% of all dispensary transactions are for the purchase of flower.

That being said, “traditional” flower is not quite so traditional anymore, with quality and overall potency on the constant uprise. Even on the lower end, today’s strains average 16-18 percent THC, but for top-shelf buds that number can soar to over 30 percent. Compare that to an average of 10 percent with high quality flower clocking in about 20 percent just a decade ago, and you can see that despite peoples’ inclination to chose flower, there is a growing demand for higher THC products.

Even when people use other products, like concentrates and edibles, they often buy some flower as well. Additionally, flower products are often the first choice for novice users and good flower deals are proven to help attract new customers to a business.

Eat or Drink Your Cannabis

When looking at both THC-infused food products AND beverages, this sector makes up just under 17% of the overall market. Food product transactions stand at 13.1% and beverage sales account for about 3.7% – totaling 16.8% of a standard dispensary’s sales.

Although dosing isn’t particularly accurate with edible products, they offer many other benefits including discretion and potency. Not to mention the sheer variety of products you can find these days. Sweets like gummies, cakes, cookies, brownies, and chocolates dominate the market, but some stores sell savory treats like chips and popcorn as well.  

Cannabis-infused beverages are also an up-and-coming trend, with many people preferring them over other options because they are easy to consume and often have less sugar and dietary fat than most of the readily available dispensary edibles.

One of the primary reasons that edible products are so popular is because they offer more intense, and longer-lasting effects than smoking or vaping flower. When THC is processed via the digestive system, the body breaks it down and metabolizes it in the liver, producing the cannabinoid metabolite 11-hydroxy-THC (11-OH), which is regarded as being much more potent than regular delta 9 THC. It takes longer for 11-OH to reach the brain, but once it does, the high will be much more intense and can last for a few hours, whereas smoking hits almost immediately but the effects fade after about 1 hour at the most.

Concentrates or “Dab” – Wax, Shatter, Live Resin, and More

Cannabis concentrates, or “dabs” are extracts that contain high levels of certain cannabinoids, typically THC. Popular concentrates include wax, shatter, crumble, sugar, sauce, badder, live resin, and many others. They typically average 70-80% THC content, but some will boast close to 100% purity. Most concentrates are extracted using butane, CO2, hydrocarbons, alcohol, heat, propane, and/or water.

Due to their strength, and the fact that you may need specific, often more complicated devices to consume them, concentrates can be intimidating to some users – especially older or inexperienced users. By late last year, concentrate sales reached $94.8 million and account for just under 30 percent of total dispensary revenue; and that number is on the rise.

Nick Tennant, founder and chief technology officer of Precision Extraction Solutions, a hemp- and marijuana-extraction company based in Detroit, says that concentrates are often a small part of new markets, but they tend grow in popularity over time.

“We tend to see an 80%-20% in favor of flower in early markets,” he said. “As consumers become more seasoned, you see that trend shift. The shift can go all the way to 65% flower versus 35% concentrates as the market evolves.”

Healthier Consumption with Vape Pens

Between vaping and smoking, vaping is without a doubt the healthiest option out of the two. The reason is because you can regulate your device to heat up to whatever the optimal temperature is for the particular product you’re consuming. Regardless of how many benefits there are to using cannabis, inhaling burnt plant matter comes with some risk of side effects, albeit less than cigarette smoke.

And when you consider that today, you can vape concentrate, oil, AND raw flower, it’s no surprise that vape pens are one of the most popular dispensary products on the market, accounting for about 8.2% of all industry transactions. You can get a very basic vape pen for standard carts for under $20 at most dispensaries or headshops, but some of the more specialized, brand-nape options can run up to well over $150.

Pre-Rolled Joints for Convenience           

Although this is technically a flower product, pre-rolls deserve their own category because of how much growth this particular item is experiencing. A lot of people, even many of my own friends, prefer pre-rolled joints because they’re discreet, convenient, disposable, and moderately inexpensive. For example, my local dispensaries sell packs of 14 prerolls, each one weighing 1 gram, for $50-55, which is roughly the same price as a quarter of raw flower but with much less work if you’re a regular joint smoker.

Despite popular belief that dispensaries use their low-quality shake in the pre-rolled joints, that’s actually not true. Prerolls are usually made with the same cannabis that they sell in flower form. The product that I referenced above, comes from the Pacific Stone brand, who also sells a variety of flower strains.

In total, the sale of pre-rolled joints in general grew 59% last year, from $704 million in 2019 to $1.12 billion in 2020. The sale of multipack prerolls grew by 69.4 percent while single joints only saw an 18.1% boost. By comparison, the entire cannabis market which has seen substantial growth, has only increased by 54.2% during the same time period.

Let’s Take a Look at Profit Margins

All these products are experiencing significant growth, but when it comes to actual profitability, some products have much higher margins than others. What’s interesting is that profit margins don’t always correlate with product popularity. They are simply a measure of how much net profit a product brings in after expenses.

Flower, which is the most popular product in all dispensaries, has the lowest profit margin at 53.5%. Shake and trim also has low margins. The least popular product in the industry, capsules, have the highest profit margin of 58.0%. When it comes to finding that perfect middle ground, vape pens are both popular and carry high profit margins. Edibles and prerolls also have relatively high margins. You can see there is a trend with convenience products, and these tend to have high margins and sell quickly.

According to Priconomics Data Studio, flower products are less profitable from the retailers’ perspective. “That’s why they are probably glad, if not encouraging, the rising popularity of alternatives. People are increasingly likely to leave a dispensary with baked goods, candies, gum, and vapor pens. This may hint at a shift in marijuana habits. Or these alternative products may just be the dispensary equivalent of impulse buys at the cash register.”

Cannabis Dispensary Products – Final Thoughts

Most of the available data examines the cannabis industry as a whole, but it’s important to look at the sales statistics and profitability of individual products – one, because it gives a good idea where the consumer side of the industry is headed (hint, convenience products are on the rise), and two, because it offers some sort of guidance for new dispensary owners.

What are your favorite dispensary products? I’m personally a fan of raw flower and concentrates, but I love a nice, infused preroll occasionally as well. Let us know your go-to items in the comment section below. And thank you for stopping by CBD TESTERS, your hub for all things cannabis-related. Remember to subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one and exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles and other products.

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NBA Icon Chris Webber Unveils Detroit Cannabis Facility

NBA Hall of Famer and entrepreneur Chris Webber on Tuesday broke ground on Players Only Holdings, a $50 million cannabis production and training facility in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. Once completed, the new facility sitting on nine acres near the Detroit River is expected to create hundreds of jobs over the next three years.

Co-founded by Webber with fellow entrepreneur Lavetta Willis, Players Only is a Black-owned business focused on cannabis cultivation, real estate development, brand partnerships and creative content development and management. The 180,000 square foot Players Only facility, dubbed the Webber Wellness Compound, will include a 60,000-square-foot cannabis cultivation operation, an 8,000-square-foot cannabis dispensary and a private consumption lounge. 

At Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony, Webber announced the creation of a distribution partnership for Players Only branded products with Gage Growth Corp., a leading, Michigan-licensed cannabis operator headed by CEO Fabian Monaco.

“This will be the shining jewel of Michigan. Everything great in Michigan starts in Detroit, and I am excited to collaborate with Gage to bring our premium line of Players Only products to this community,” former Detroit Piston star Webber said in a statement from Players Only. “Gage is the HOF of cannabis operations. With Fabian Monaco as a teammate, this relationship is a winner on every level.”

Courtesy of Players Only Holdings

Cookies U Comes To Michigan

Webber also took the opportunity to reveal the Detroit expansion of cannabis training program Cookies U, founded by rapper and cannabis mogul Berner in partnership with The WebberWildWillis Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on uplifting and enriching Black and Brown communities negatively impacted by the War on Drugs. In a statement, Berner characterized the state of Michigan as “one of the most important markets in the cannabis industry.”

NBA
Courtesy of Players Only Holdings

“Detroit is the first city we opened a flagship store in, outside of California. I have to salute Chris Webber, Jason Wild and Lavetta Willis for supporting our vision to build out Cookies U in Humboldt California and extending the program to Detroit, which happens to be Chris’s hometown,” said Berner, co-founder and CEO of Cookies. “Michigan has always been an advanced and educated market, and we couldn’t be more excited to offer underrepresented people an opportunity to learn the industry from seed to sale.”

Cookies U is a hands-on, fee-free training program that will recruit students from underserved communities and prepare them for jobs in the cannabis industry, including access to a GED program with a financial literacy component. In addition to the educational curriculum, a job-placement program will help graduates find employment in Michigan’s booming legal cannabis market.

“This Detroit training and operations facility is only the first step in bringing tangible opportunities to the people of this city—one that means so much to me—while eliminating barriers to an industry with unlimited economic potential,” Webber said. 

“We will create, foster and provide a cannabis ecosystem that celebrates diversity, creates jobs and benefits this community—focusing intensely on those who are being left behind. As social equity programs struggle in many states, we are here to support legacy operators who created the foundation for this industry so that they are included in future iterations of it while we wait on the politics to catch up.”

Construction on the first phase of the Webber Wellness Compound is expected to begin this fall, with work slated to wrap up by March 2022. A $125 million second phase, which as of yet has no announced timeline, will expand the cultivation area by 80,000 square feet.

“This is my biggest priority in life,” Webber said. “I’ve seen who (Willis) and I have helped across the country and the lives that have been disrupted by cannabis. Hopefully, we can do a little bit of repairing. Hopefully, we can help the city.”

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City of Denver Releases Annual Report on Local Cannabis Industry

Officials in the city of Denver released its annual cannabis industry report, which covers a wealth of information about most recent data and its comparison to previous years.

A report called “The Denver Collaborative Approach,” conducted by the city of Denver, Colorado, was released on September 20. This report has been consistently published every year since 2015, one year after recreational legalization was implemented. The report covers a wide variety of industry facts and figures, including cannabis taxes, sales and revenue, noteworthy accomplishments and more.

“As legalization spreads across the United States, Denver remains squarely in focus. More than ever, the city is looked at to provide guidance on how it effectively implemented and continues to manage the first-of-its-kind sales and commercialization of voter-approved retail marijuana,” the report states in its introduction. 

It continues to recap the fluid efforts of the Denver Office of Marijuana Policy and how it is constantly at work to ensure that the city’s cannabis industry remains compliant. “Denver continues its collaborative approach to marijuana management, remaining nimble and flexible to keep pace with the sustained growth of sales and innovation in the marijuana industry, while remaining in constant communication with the industry and residents to ensure balance among many competing interests.”

In January 2014, Denver was home to 731 medical cannabis business licenses and 270 retail licenses. As of January 2021, the number of licenses is much more balanced, sitting at 441 and 476 respectively (although January 2020 showed similar results).

The report’s sales data only reflects sales that were collected in 2020. Between 2019 and 2020, recreational cannabis sales increased by 18 percent, and medical cannabis sales increased by 31 percent. For the entirety of the state of Colorado during the same timeframe, recreational cannabis sales increased by 25 percent, with medical sales expanding at a rate of 31 percent.

Unsurprisingly, 32.6 percent of the state’s recreational cannabis sales came from the city and county of Denver. This exhibits a consistent decrease in sales from Denver, which suggests that cities outside of Denver have continued to grow and expand. As a whole, combined Colorado retail and medical cannabis sales is recorded at $715 million during 2020 (a 21 percent increase from 2019).

So far in 2021, $24.6 million of the city’s cannabis revenue was granted toward “affordable housing and homelessness services, youth violence prevention, STAR program pilot implementation, leases and other one-time equipment costs.”

The report spotlights some of the city’s accomplishments between 2014-2020, which includes donating money toward various community services, such as free after-school and summer programs for children and the establishment of a recreation center in 2018. The report also notes what other changes it seeks to implement. First, the city intends to examine how it can further assist local cannabis businesses on a financial, technical and business support level. It also aims to “provide social equity applicants licensing exclusivity for most licenses for the next six years and the exclusive ability to conduct deliveries for the next three years.” 

Second, it wants to continue a focus on clearing cannabis-related convictions with its Turn Over a New Leaf Program, which was first put into effect in 2019. So far, the program has received 583 applications, and 94 convictions were labeled as “eligible” for expungement.

“Under the leadership of Mayor Hancock, the city has adopted a collaborative model to manage marijuana, which includes multiple agencies working together to preserve, protect and enhance Denver’s excellent quality of life. This work is grounded in the city’s priorities of marijuana management, including robust regulation, strict enforcement, effective education and equitable access to the industry.”

The report’s last section goes into great detail about the city’s law enforcement data, including details about black market sales and common offenses. The Denver Police Department collected 3,098 pounds of illegal cannabis in 2020. Local police report that cannabis-related offenses account for less than one percent of all crime in the city of Denver, with a total of 435 in 2020 (out of the city’s total offenses across the board, which sits at 73,322).

“The Denver Collaborative Approach” report is a valuable source of information regarding the city’s cannabis industry, and it’s a positive example of a city embracing all aspects of cannabis within its borders.

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Ohio to More than Double Number of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

A regulatory panel in Ohio gave the green light on Tuesday to plans that would more than double the number of medical cannabis dispensaries in the state.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy voted “to start the process of awarding an additional 73 licenses,” per the Cincinnati Enquirer. There are currently 58 licensed dispensaries in the Buckeye State, with the Enquirer noting that nine of which “are owned and operated by someone who identifies as African American, Native American, Hispanic, Latino or Asian.”

The Enquirer reported that equity provisions “weren’t discussed during the meeting or mentioned in the request for applications approved Tuesday,” and that a spokesperson for the Ohio Board of Pharmacy said that the board “is still reviewing how it can encourage equity within the state law and rules.”

According to the paper, licenses for cultivation and dispensaries “were awarded in 2017 and 2018 under state law that required 15 percent of all marijuana licenses go to businesses owned by a member of one of those ‘economically disadvantaged’ groups,” but that requirement was later “struck down by court and won’t be in place for this second application round for 73 new licenses that begins this month.”

For now, more details regarding the application process are set to be released next week. The application period will run in November, and the licenses will likely be awarded early next year. 

Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016 when lawmakers in the state passed a bill authorizing the treatment. The state’s first dispensaries opened three years later, as it continues to tweak and expand the law.

In June, the Ohio State Medical Board added Huntington’s disease, terminal disease and spasticity to the list of qualifying conditions, although it also rejected the addition of autism spectrum disorder, restless leg syndrome, panic disorder with agoraphobia and spasms.

That same month, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program issued new rules over the use of Delta-8 THC, which included a new requirement licensee notification of “the use of Delta-8 THC must include a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that describes the process and methods with which Delta-8 THC will be used in compliance” with the state’s existing laws. 

The panel also issued requirements that the “total THC content—combination of Delta-9 THC and any other THC isomer or analog—of the manufactured product shall not exceed 70 percent,” a notable stipulation given hemp-derived Delta-8’s similarities to marijuana. In that same vein, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control program required that Delta-8 THC “must be fully incorporated on the package and label for patient awareness,” and that abbreviations “such as ‘Delta-8’ or ‘D8,’” are not allowed.

But while the state’s medical marijuana law continues to evolve, efforts to legalize recreational pot use have been slow to get off the ground. 

In July, a pair of Ohio lawmakers introduced what was said to be the first bill to legalize and regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana in the state’s history.

The bill, introduced by Democratic state House Reps. Casey Weinstein and Terrence Upchurch, would make it legal for adults aged 21 and older to “buy and possess up to five ounces of marijuana at a time and grow up to 12 mature plants for personal use.”

“We’re seeing there are dramatic economic benefits, there are medical benefits and there’s a strong criminal justice avenue here so we can focus law enforcement on violent crime,” Weinstein said after the bill was introduced. “Ohio is at the point where we’re going to be behind if we don’t act now. I hope this provides the spark that we need to elevate the conversation and get this legislation moving.”

The state’s Republican governor, Mike Dewine, has previously voiced opposition to legalizing marijuana.

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Sioux Falls, South Dakota Sets Cap on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

The city council in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Tuesday night approved a proposal that will set a cap on the number of dispensaries, while also setting the cost of a license at $50,000. That fee, according to the Argus Leader, was half the $100,000 that had been requested by City Hall, but there is a chance the licenses could go much higher on the secondary market after the city council allowed them to be transferable.

According to the Argus Leader, Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken was opposed to the provision allowing licenses to be transferred is concerned “that allowing them to be sold on the secondary market will give them an artificial value, just like has happened with liquor licenses” in South Dakota.

As the Argus Leader explained, “a new liquor license from the city goes for about $200,000, but a state-set cap on the number of them the city can sell has driven the price they go for on the secondary market up to $300,000 or higher.”

There were also apparently objections from members of the public to the five-dispensary cap imposed by the city council. Local television station KELO reported that the council also voted to require dispensaries “to be 500 feet from parks, daycares, churches, attached dwellings and detached dwellings” as well as “more than 1,000 feet from schools.”

Sioux Falls is Implementing the Will of State Voters

South Dakota voters approved a ballot initiative last year legalizing medical marijuana in the state. The voters also passed a constitutional amendment that appeared on the same ballot that legalized recreational pot use for adults, but that was challenged in court and ultimately ruled unconstitutional by a circuit judge in February. Supporters of the recreational marijuana amendment challenged that ruling, and it is now being considered by the South Dakota Supreme Court.

South Dakota’s medical marijuana law officially took effect on July 1, although the state has said that sales likely will not begin until July 1, 2022. But the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe on the eastern edge of the state opened a dispensary that first week. The dispensary, located on the tribe’s reservation a little less than an hour from Sioux Falls, was inundated with customers after its opening in July.

“The grand opening of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s Native Nations Dispensary went very well, and customers have flooded the dispensary all day,” Flandreau Santee Sioux Attorney General Seth Pearman told Native News Online. “The Tribe is confident that the regulatory structure it put in place will create a safe product that will benefit customers.”

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s office has said that South Dakota highway patrol officers will not honor tribal-issued medical cannabis cards if they are issued to non-tribal members.

Noem, a possible 2024 Republican presidential candidate who has been staunchly opposed to the state legalizing recreational marijuana, has appeared in PSAs airing in the state in which she explains how South Dakota intends to implement the new medical marijuana law.

“In 2020, the voters of South Dakota spoke up and approved medical cannabis,” Noem says in the ad. “One of my jobs as governor is to make sure the will of the people and all constitutional laws are enforced. The medical cannabis program is on schedule, and we’re working to implement a responsible program that follows the direction given by the voters.”

“Other states have made mistakes that we do not want to repeat,” she adds.

Last week, a South Dakota legislative subcommittee recommended a ban on home cultivation for medical marijuana patients.

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5 Basic Tips If You’re New to Cannabis

It’s important to have some sort of clue about what direction to go in when heading into unfamiliar territory, whether it’s first-timers getting their kicks in Washington or Colorado or folks who haven’t had the opportunity to indulge in their favorite plant for quite awhile.

Whatever the circumstance, it’s clear from a few recent reports that there is a load of new and returning users who aren’t educated about some basic ways to keep themselves and others from having overwhelming and unpleasant experiences. Whatever experience level is your starting point, it will be valuable to go forward into the relatively unknown equipped with a little knowledge.

Do Some Research

Before smoking, ingesting or applying any sort of cannabis-infused goods, find out about what type of experience to expect from each different product. Look into the characteristics and contrasts between sativa and indica strains, read up on dabbing and wax and find out about how canna-oil and canna-butter work in the body. Being intellectually prepared will make a difference in how enjoyable the physical effects will be once they start to kick in. Remember: this is supposed to feel good.

Test the Waters

Because the hormonal and chemical makeup of every body is different, taking the time to really figure out what works and what doesn’t work will make a tremendous difference in how an experience will carry out. For some people, smoking produces a more enjoyable effect than eating edibles or vice versa. It’s a good idea to give any new marijuana experience a test run in private — kind of like trying out a test patch before dying hair — before going all the way in and possibly regretting it later in public.

Ask Questions

If a dispensary carries a product of interest, there’s never any harm in asking questions to make sure there’s absolute clarity about an item before it’s purchased. It’s important to double check about recommended dosage amounts when it comes to edibles that may not be clearly marked and follow the instructions. The staff can be an excellent resource during any transaction. It might also be helpful to ask them if they have some anecdotal advice.

Diversify

Smoking joints, blunts or out of a glass pipe are probably the most common ways of getting high, but they’re not the end-all and be-all of cannabis culture. There are a number of ways to enjoy cannabis that are becoming more popular and accessible. Vaporizing and dabbing are other ways to get a potent high thanks to a variety of discrete, portable devices popping up all over the market.

Be Picky

Sticking to reputable, trusted dispensaries that provide fresh, lab-tested cannabis must be a top priority. If the pot doesn’t seem fresh, if there is little to no consistency when it comes to packaging and labeling or if the dispensary staff isn’t forthcoming with helpful information when asked, it’s time to move on to greener pastures.

Don’t Push the Limits

It’s important to be aware of what strains and how much cannabis allows for a content and satisfying experience. The golden rule here is to start small and be patient. If it’s been more than a decade since the last puff, don’t try to inhale an entire blunt on the first go-round. Just take a moment to think about the process going on in the body when cannabis is consumed. Trying to take a good buzz over the edge won’t heighten the experience, it’ll just require a lot of snacks and a long, long nap. Keep it moderate and it won’t be hard to stay awake to actually enjoy the high.

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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12 Coffeeshops With the Best Weed in Amsterdam

Greetings from Amsterdam, home of the world-famous coffeeshop scene! Though the last decade has been marked by tremendous international progress for cannabis legalization, there is still no city quite like ours when it comes to embracing the plant and its culture.

There are currently 169 coffeeshops licensed to sell cannabis in Amsterdam. Most have ample lounges where you can pull up a chair, roll a joint and share a smoke with friends… or make some new ones. Of course, not all coffeeshops have the same quality of cannabis, and it takes an understanding of the local scene to figure out how to find the best connoisseur bud during your next visit.

In recent years, Amsterdam’s coffeeshops have been under political pressure as the local government has tried to modernize the city. The area south of the central train station is being redeveloped into a “grand entrance,” and in the process, the new high-end hotels, restaurants and shops have forced dozens of coffeeshops to close. While this is absolutely a setback, the coffeeshop scene remains vibrant in other parts of town. As long as you are over 18 years old, all visitors are welcome in the shops and there are still plenty to go around.

Something else that has not changed in recent years is the cannabis supply chain in Amsterdam. It may be legal for coffeeshops to sell cannabis, but it remains illegal for the same shops to buy the inventory. We call this the “backdoor problem.” Cannabis is legal leaving the front door, but illegal entering the back.

Because cultivators must do their work in secret, coffeeshops looking to secure inventory with guaranteed quality can face challenges. Some shops work very hard to lock in top growers and cement a reputation for connoisseur product. Others are just lucky to keep any inventory at all. This is why the quality can vary so much from one shop to the next — it is all about who is supplying the cannabis. When you spend as much time in Amsterdam as I have, you gain a perspective on this that few visitors are able to. These are our picks for the coffeeshops with the best cannabis in Amsterdam right now. 

Boerejongens

The name of this shop translates as “Farmer Boys” in English, speaking to this shop’s focus on the craft of cultivation. Boerejongens’ cannabis stock is grown from Amsterdam Genetics seeds. This is a well-known breeder in regional competitions, and it has numerous awards to its name. It tends to develop a lot of contemporary hybrid strains from America’s West Coast, including some solid Kush varieties, known for pungency and potency. There are actually two Boerejongens and a third partner shop called Bij and, in recent years, all three have earned a reputation for stocking a wide variety of very top-shelf flower.

The Plug

If you’ve been to Barcelona, you might be familiar with The Plug. This is a popular cannabis social club in that city that is well-known for quality product. The owner has apparently long harbored a love for Amsterdam and dreamed of owning a coffeeshop here. Recently, he got the chance by striking a deal to buy the former Utopia Coffeeshop location. Though The Plug in Amsterdam is very new, only coming on the scene in 2018, this shop appears to be making true on its promise to bring top-shelf product to Amsterdam. We’ve been extremely happy with the flower inventory here, which features many high-potency strains, often with contemporary American genetics. If things keep up, The Plug coffeeshop is going to be a strong player in Amsterdam.

1e Hulp

1e Hulp (“First Aid” in English) is a favorite shop for many locals and visitors alike. It is much more low-key than some of the other “high profile” coffeeshops in Amsterdam. It doesn’t advertise all that much (Amsterdam laws make this difficult), nor does it own souvenir shops or smoke-friendly eateries. However, 1e Hulp has a reputation for high-quality cannabis, one it appears to have earned primarily through years of hard work. Most people learn about 1e Hulp, first and foremost, through word of mouth, and that speaks to something. We’re regular visitors here ourselves and can’t recall being disappointed.

Green House

Seriously… did we even need to list these guys? Green House is simply legendary for its focus on cannabis genetics. The vast majority of shops and breeders in this world are content crossbreeding common strains, trying to develop new tastes and potencies. We love that work, don’t get us wrong. However, the team at Green House is on a whole different level. They travel the globe looking for landrace strains, which are original, unique cannabis lineages. I can’t think of another coffeeshop in Amsterdam that is as dedicated to cannabis genetics. They even have their own seed line, the Green House Seed Company.

Voyagers

This is essentially a take-and-go shop, though there is some limited seating here. It resides at the north end of the city center and sees a lot of foot traffic from people coming into the city. But the popularity of this shop is unquestionably due to one thing: cannabis quality. Voyagers works with some solid breeders on its strains. The selection isn’t enormous, so you should expect to find maybe six to 10 strains on the menu. However, the quality tends to be really on-point here. You’ll have a hard time picking. Voyagers has become a first-stop shop for many a cannabis connoisseur visiting the city.

Grey Area

You can’t make a best weed list without including this shop. Like Voyagers, Grey Area isn’t much to speak of with regard to size, seating or amenities. There are a few chairs, some stools and a few corners to squeeze into if you want. Otherwise, this place is a take-and-go. Its reputation for weed, however, is nothing short of legendary. This shop is owned by Americans and made a name for itself by specializing in selling American eighths, complete in traditional non-zip sandwich bags. It offered absolutely outstanding weed at very fair prices. It has evolved a bit over the years, so you’ll find regular gram baggies. The pricing isn’t as reasonable as it once was but, the inventory here has remained just as top-notch.

Coffeeshop Amsterdam

Coffeeshop Amsterdam has earned its place on this list. The establishment sits in a prime location on Haarlemmerstraat, a trendy street well-known for its coffeeshops. New management in recent years has completely revamped the place. The interior is now clean, modern and a bit funky. They have been working closely with strong breeders to improve the menu. This shop has always stood out for its roomy interior and chill vibe. Lately, it’s been getting noticed for its more upscale ambiance and product, too. This is one of the better coffeeshops in Amsterdam overall, and for sure a great place to find top-shelf flower.

Mr. K & Co.

This coffeeshop is another local favorite. Mr. K & Co. is currently working with Devil’s Harvest and Lady Sativa Genetics for their flower stock. The quality has been pretty outstanding. While it does carry an old-school variety or two (think Thai or White Widow), this shop is really known for contemporary strains (like Gorilla Glue or Kosher Kush). The management tries to stock rare strains when they can, so the inventory isn’t all “same same” when you walk in here. You can always expect to see an unusual item or two on the menu.

De Kade

People that live in Amsterdam, no doubt, have an advantage over visitors when it comes to sniffing out quality. Locals are less distracted by the flash and eventually find the shops that serve the best quality or value. De Kade screams of this… and is for sure another locals’ favorite shop. At present, it seems to be working with an awesome grower. It has a good mix of strains as well, including some stand-out contemporary varieties.

Easy Times

This shop is another one with a really impressive menu. Again, there are a lot of contemporary strains here. Easy Times has some of the best Kosher Kush we’ve ever smoked, in fact! And that is one of the favorites strains among our staff, so when we find it, we usually grab it. If you see this on the menu, we highly recommend at least giving it a sniff before you choose. Can you say pungent?!

Het Ballonnetje

This is another iconic Amsterdam shop, with a long presence in this city. Het Ballonnetje recently caught the public’s attention when actor Samuel L. Jackson was photographed visiting the coffeeshop, though of course, this major celebrity appearance did not influence our rankings. In recent years, we’ve noticed that the management has really been focusing on their cannabis inventory and putting out some great flower in particular.

Bagheera

A shop with two Cannabis Cup wins already this year for flower closes out our Best Weed list. Bagheera is new on our radar, but certainly a shop we are keeping an eye on now. The inventory here has been remarkably high-quality as of late, and we’ve not been disappointed with anything we’ve purchased. We suspect you won’t be either.

TELL US, do you have a favorite Amsterdam coffeeshop?

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