Nevada Cannabis Lounges Announced

Nevada cannabis lounges are coming. Cannabis lounges bring legalization to a new level by allowing consenting adults to openly use cannabis socially. Nevada’s Cannabis Compliance Board announced the news in late June. A statement reads: “Today, the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) voted unanimously to approve regulations surrounding the licensing and operation of cannabis consumption […]

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Nevada Regulators Give Final Approval for Cannabis Lounges

Regulators in Nevada on Tuesday gave the final sign-off to cannabis consumption lounges, paving the way for the establishments to perhaps open up by year’s end.

The state’s Cannabis Compliance Board voted on a slate of regulations for the lounges, a crucial regulatory hurdle in a process that has been nearly a year in the making.

According to local news station KLAS, some of the regulations approved by the board on Tuesday “included safety protocols at lounges, training requirements for staff, and location requirements for the lounges,” such as “certain distances from locations such as schools and community facilities.”

It was last August when Nevada lawmakers approved funding that had been requested by the Cannabis Compliance Board to hire staff and provide other support in the regulation of the lounges.

The Nevada Independent reported at the time that a legislative committee “unanimously approved three items that will provide the [Cannabis Compliance Board] with funds to hire more staff, work with the state attorney general’s office to hammer out regulations, and direct cannabis revenue toward education funding.”

Tyler Klimas, the executive director of the Cannabis Compliance Board, told the legislative committee at the time that the additional funding helped put the state on track to have the lounges open “at least the first quarter, or the first half of 2022.”

“Not only to see the lounges open, but then also the first part is where we would start to realize that revenue,” he said at the time.

Tuesday’s vote apparently keeps that timetable in place, with the Las Vegas Sun reporting that the board said the “first state-sanctioned cannabis consumption lounges could potentially open before the end of the year.”

It has been a long time coming for the Cannabis Compliance Board, which noted in a press release on Tuesday that it held 15 public meetings to go over potential regulations for the consumption lounges.

The board also provided details for prospective lounge owners.

“In addition to outlining the licensing and operation of consumption lounges, regulations approved today lay the groundwork for greater inclusion within Nevada’s cannabis industry,” the board said in the press release. “All applicants must submit a diversity plan, summarizing actionable steps and goals for meaningful inclusion. Additionally, half of the independent consumption lounge licenses in the initial round must be awarded to social equity applicants.”

“Prior to an open licensing period, the [Cannabis Compliance Board] plans to roll out tools and resources including worksheets, video tutorials and live webinars in order to ensure interested parties have access to the same information and are able to successfully submit an application,” the release continued. “The CCB expects to open the first licensing round for consumption lounges in the Fall, allowing for the first consumption lounges to open as early as the end of the year.”

Local news outlet KLAS reported that the Cannabis Compliance Board expects “40 to 45 applications for lounges attached to retail shops and 20 independent shops, 10 of which will go to social equity applicants.”

“What we are looking for is the impacts of drug policy on individuals and members of the community. We are looking at poverty level, we are looking at any past convictions of cannabis,” Klimas said, as quoted by KLAS.

Nevada legalized recreational cannabis use for adults back in 2017, but consumption has been confined to the private homes of individuals. That, of course, hasn’t stopped people from toking up in public. As The Street said, “while it is not technically legal to light up a joint while walking the Strip…the aroma in the air suggests that it’s happening quite regularly.”

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Cannabis Consumption Friendly Hotel Coming to Las Vegas

At long last, it’s finally happening. Smoking weed on vacation without fear is finally becoming a thing and it’s coming to Las Vegas! Thanks to a recent change in legislation, businesses can now apply for a commercial cannabis consumption lounge license. After hearing this news, Pro Hospitality Group jumped into action and bought property on […]

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George Harrison Estate and Dad Grass Celebrate Grammy Win and Over 50 Years of ‘All Things Must Pass’

At the 64th annual Grammy Awards ceremony at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 3, the George Harrison Estate accepted a Grammy Award for “Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package” after releasing the All Things Must Pass: 50th Anniversary Edition. The album hit number one last August in the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart, over 20 years after Harrison’s departure from the material world.

To celebrate, Dad Grass today announced a special collaboration of hemp-derived CBD + CBG pre-rolls and accessories, working closely with the George Harrison Estate. The scope of his influence in music is difficult to gauge, as Harrison’s extraordinary talent emerged from the best-selling musical act of all time in certified sales.

“George himself was a mystic blend. A blend of cultures, styles, times—you name it,” Dad Grass’ co-founders Ben Starmer and Joshua Katz told High Times. “He was living proof that certain blends, of the right ingredients and in the proper proportions, do it better. So we set out to craft an all new kind of joint. A mix of Dad Grass CBD flower and Mom Grass CBG flower. CBD for physical harmony and CBG for mental clarity. A peaceful balance of our two favorite and most enlightening cannabinoids, all wrapped up to deliver what we call a ‘heart high’.”

Courtesy of Dad Grass

Starmer and Katz continued, “It might sound cheesy, but it’s our love song to George and his beautiful dualities. Our tribute to him as a catalyst for creativity and connection. A special blend that we hope is worthy of George’s name and legacy.”

To date, no other estate associated with The Beatles has ventured anywhere in the territory of hemp and/or cannabis. It began as a fleeting joke, but snowballed into a blossoming collaboration. 

“Both Dad Grass and the George Harrison Estate like to work with friends who share similar sensibilities, sense of humor, and sense of what the world needs,” they said in a joint statement. “What started as a casual ‘wouldn’t it be classic if…’ conversation amongst friends (mostly around the idea of ‘All Things Must Grass!’) quickly became a ‘we have to do something together’ type thing.”

Dad Grass ‘All Things Must Grass’ Collection

The collection can be purchased online now here and will be available in-store at select retailers across the United States this month. Dad Grass is legal at the federal level thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill—meaning it can be delivered to doorsteps across the country via USPS. Hemp products are regulated much differently, so long as they contain less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis.

Watch a teaser video for the collection now here, created by artist Jess Rotter.

The lead product out of the All Things Must Grass collection is the Special Blend George Harrison Dad Grass Five Pack, a pack of pre-rolls crafted from a mix of CBD- and CBG-rich hemp flower responsibly grown in the U.S. CBD is believed to promote physical harmony and CBG is believed to promote mental clarity.

Many people—myself included—quit smoking tobacco cigarettes with the help of hemp, as nicotine is the main culprit for impulsive cigarette cravings. Smoking a hemp cigarette fulfills the psychological need to smoke something, but the person isn’t getting any nicotine, which is far different in terms of cravings.

Most people are aware of the enormous impact of cannabis in The Beatles’ music, but the band members also did more than the average cannabis advocate. Paying for an expensive full-page ad to run in the London Times on July 24, 1967, Harrison joined The Beatles, manager Brian Epstein, and a few dozen activists to urge lawmakers—insistently—to legalize pot in the U.K. A near-mythical visit from Bob Dylan is often cited as their first experience, but Harrison wrote in a memoir that they’d been exposed to it by a fellow drummer’s older brother in Liverpool.

The collaboration also features merchandise including George Harrison signature rolling papers, a rolling tray, an ashtray, limited edition silk-screened posters, buttons, pins, matches, stickers and a very special edition All Things Must Grass Dad Stash. This version of Dad Grass’ stashing system disguises a pack of Special Blend joints as an All Things Must Pass double cassette box so you can hide your grass in plain sight. For more information on the components of the entire collection, visit here.

Courtesy of Dad Grass

All Things Must Pass Anniversary Edition

While The Beatles were still together but beginning to dissolve, Phil Spector produced All Things Must Pass by George Harrison. It was The Beatles’ best-selling solo album, selling more copies than John Lennon’s Imagine and Paul McCartney and Wings’ Band on the Run combined, according to John Bergstrom of PopMatters. It was certified platinum seven times.

On August 6, 2021, the George Harrison estate announced the All Things Must Pass 50th Anniversary Edition, available in a variety of formats. Crafted by the Harrison family, All Things Must Pass was remixed from the original tapes for the 50th anniversary release. Executive produced by his son Dhani Harrison, produced by David Zonshine, and mixed by triple Grammy Award-winning engineer Paul Hicks (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, John Lennon).

“[…] Bringing greater sonic clarity to this record was always one of my father’s wishes and it was something we were working on together right up until he passed in 2001,” Dhani Harrison said last August. “Now, 20 years later, with the help of new technology and the extensive work of Paul Hicks we have realized this wish and present to you this very special 50th Anniversary release of perhaps his greatest work of art. Every wish will be fulfilled.”

One way you can celebrate the Grammy Award win and continuation of the 50th anniversary is with Dad Grass’ unique collaboration.

dadgrass.com

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Weed-Friendly Hotel Coming to Las Vegas

Last week, Las Vegas-based commercial real estate and development company the Siegel Group announced that it had completed the sale of the Artisan Hotel Boutique to Pro Hospitality Group for $11.9 million.

Alex Rizk, the owner of Phoenix-based Pro Hospitality Group, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he is planning a $3 million renovation of the 64-room hotel on Sahara Boulevard at Interstate 15 near the Las Vegas Strip. He said that when the regulations are in place at the state and local level, he will make the Artisan a “cannabis-friendly” destination for tourists to the city.

“This is a lifestyle, boutique hotel,” Rizk said.

The Siegel Group acquired the Artisan Hotel in 2009, “transforming the location into one of the most well-known and visited boutique hotels in Las Vegas,” the company said in a statement about the sale.

“The hotel gained a loyal following among locals, tourists, and boutique enthusiasts who were drawn to the location’s eclectic design and hip, intimate atmosphere,” the company wrote. “The unique hotel contained a bar-lounge with a popular after-hours scene, a restaurant, wedding chapel, and one of the few topless pools in town.”

Cannabis Consumption Lounges Authorized Last Year

Last year, Nevada lawmakers passed legislation that gave the state Cannabis Compliance Board the authority to regulate lounges that allow the onsite consumption of weed products. The board is currently in the process of drafting regulations and local governments will have the authority to enact tighter measures. Officials from Clark County, home to Las Vegas, announced in January that they were keeping track of efforts to regulate cannabis consumption lounges at the state level.

Under the 2016 ballot measure that legalized recreational pot in Nevada, the consumption of cannabis products was only legally permitted in private residences. The legalization of regulated cannabis consumption lounges was intended to give visitors a place to enjoy the benefits of the state’s cannabis reform.

As a state senator in 2017, Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom led the first effort in the state legislature to legalize cannabis consumption lounges. Last year, he characterized lounges as a “game changer” for the state’s hospitality businesses.

“Consumption lounges are so perfect for our tourism industry,” Segerblom told the Review-Journal. “The sooner we get out there, the more we’ll be looked upon as a marijuana-friendly city and state.”

New Owner Has Cannabis-Friendly Hotel in Phoenix

Pro Hospitality Group already operates a cannabis-friendly hotel, the Clarendon Hotel and Spa, in its home city of Phoenix, Arizona. The hotel’s website informs potential guests that the property features “cannabis-friendly rooms and amenities” that allow “vaping, dabbing, flower, etc.” The Clarendon also boasts a cannabis consumption lounge that is open to both hotel guests and the general public.

“Since we are currently a split-use hotel with cannabis and non-smoking rooms, we do ask that any smoking take place in your cannabis-friendly room and not in the public areas of the hotel,” the website notes. “Vapes and smokeless products can be used in outdoor public areas, not including the restaurant.”

The Clarendon also notes that it is “working on a cannabis shuttle service to take hotel guests from the hotel to a local dispensary and back again,” according to the website.

The property opened its first cannabis-friendly rooms in July, followed by the rest of the west wing of the hotel for a total of 16 guest rooms that welcome the consumption of cannabis products. The Clarendon is also accepting reservations for a limited number of rooms on the cannabis-friendly lodging booking site Bud and Breakfast.

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American Steel

Before you ask, the answer is “yes.”

Cullen Raichart is aware his company’s name—GreenBroz—doesn’t sound particularly professional, and he’s entertained the idea of changing it plenty of times over the course of the brand’s decade-long existence. But instead of calling themselves Green Logistics Solutions Inc. or another combo of ambiguous, stuffy names, the CEO says he and his team of five engineers let their products speak for themselves.

The GreenBroz Rise-N-Sort system can process 360 pounds of cannabis per hour.

“So much of this business is word of mouth,” says the 53-year-old Las Vegas-based entrepreneur. “We’re in 39 countries and are well-established in both the US and Canada; so, I’d say we’ve done pretty well so far.”

“Pretty well” is an understatement, considering the company’s modest beginnings. Founded in Raichart’s hometown of San Diego in 2012, GreenBroz started as a grow house operation in his garage with a few friends, hence the casual-sounding name. But nobody’s questioning the corporate moniker now. The company operates a 50,000 square-foot warehouse in the northeast Vegas Valley next to the famed speedway that holds multiple NASCAR events each year.

The speedway is an appropriate neighbor considering how fast the company is expanding. According to Raichart, his business currently has 50 employees working across the country and made more than $14 million last year. He says his company has grown at least 20 percent every year since he left the duty-heavy California for Nevada back in 2019, a tax-friendly new home compared to its expensive neighboring state.

GreenBroz’ exponential growth is impressive even by industry standards, especially because the business hasn’t sold out to one of the mega-corporations known for swiping up dispensaries and cannabis firms by the dozens in recent years. And the man in charge says it’s all thanks to a unique technology that he’s fought tooth-and-nail to patent. 

The blades in action.

Some context is important here. Blades in popular commercial trimming machines usually take one of two shapes: octagon or square. Which means many cannabis buds end up crunched into the shape of a golf ball or a pinecone. In 2012, Raichart realized that the industry needed a more efficient and accurate trimmer than what was already widely available. More states were legalizing weed, and the industry standards of hand-trimming and subpar machine trimmers wouldn’t be enough to keep up with demand.

So, he gave up growing (“I wasn’t really good at it anyway”) and spent six months researching and developing his first prototype. Before long, the GreenBroz Alchemist was born. Featuring a pair of nonconcentric arc-shaped blades made from US steel, the Alchemist used almost entirely domestic-made components. Raichart secured a patent for the product, and business took off from there.

Kevin Bower joined the brand’s team as a mechanical engineer in 2016 and has played an integral part in improving the Alchemist into the company’s current portfolio of five combined trimmers and trichome extractors. Besides their accuracy, the machines are known to move among the fastest of any available trimmers in the industry—cutting anywhere from 50 to 100 pounds of buds per hour. By means of comparison, it’d take dozens of people to hand-trim the same quantity in an hour.

“It’s really cool just being on the cutting edge of the industry,” Bower says. “We’re literally changing the way cannabis companies operate. If we create a machine a certain way, we’re basically going to dictate how that process is done. That’s what I like about it the most.”

Raichart spent five years in the US Navy serving as an avionics technician in the early 1990s. A self-admitted “bad student” in high school, he called the structure and discipline he learned during his time in the military “invaluable.” When hiring, he says he looks for people with military experience because he feels he can count on them. That trust is especially important in a heavily regulated industry such as cannabis where even the smallest procedural and technical errors can carry huge consequences.

At just 28 years old, Bower, who isn’t a military veteran, is the most senior mechanical engineer on the company’s team. He joined the staff in 2016, just weeks after receiving a degree at the University of California, Davis. For his part, Bower describes his job as empowering, thanks to the incredible responsibility and influence he’s been given, in spite of his young age. And working in GreenBroz’ laid back business environment has allowed the engineer to develop revolutionary new products and ideas, his boss says. 

GreenBroz engineer Kevin Bower welding machinery.

Beyond his hiring practices, Raichart takes pride in supporting US businesses. He buys all of his steel, plastic and aluminum domestically, and said his machines are made with 96% US materials. “I buy everything I possibly can from here,” he says. “The only things we get from abroad are some electronics from Taiwan, and a motor that’s sourced from Japan. If there’s anything we want people to know about GreenBroz, it’s that we’re an American company first.”

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Lemonhaze’s Cannabis Executive Golf Classic in Las Vegas

Relationships, relationships, relationships. The world’s top business executives will tell you this is what success in any industry boils down to. Drawn to the networking opportunities, and some time on the greens, cannabis leaders teed up for some new and impressive connections at last month’s inaugural Lemonhaze Golf Invitational.

The invite-only event took place on Oct. 19 at the award-winning Cascata Golf Club, located in Boulder City, Nevada, just 30 miles outside Las Vegas. Lemonhaze CEO Brian Yauger is setting out to bring the cannabis industry the most coveted networking opportunities and exclusive experiences.

“This is where the executives and the most powerful decision-makers in the industry get together to hobnob every year,” Yaguer said. “The golf tournament is a tool for bringing the cannabis community together.”

Founders, VP’s, and C-suite executives traveled from around the country for a next-level networking experience that combined the outdoors, sports, entertainment—and of course lots of cannabis-related conversations. Guests included the likes of Curaleaf CEO, Joe Bayern; Heisman Trophy Winner, Ricky Williams; along with execs from KIVA, Med Men, Bhang, Wana Brands and more.

This year’s Lemonhaze Golf Invitational was a testament to the future of cannabis—classy, community-oriented, and active.

Upon arrival in Las Vegas, tournament players were transported to the golf course in party buses stacked with the who’s who of cannabis. Foursomes then took to the green for some healthy competition and handshakes, with industry mixers set-up before and after golf, undoubtedly as important as the game itself.

While Lemonhaze first became known for its budtender parties thrown around the country, Yauger has since leveled things up. He is now responsible for creating one of cannabis’ most high-profile events.

Those itching for an invite to next year’s Cannabis Industry Executive Golf Invitational will be delighted to know that Lemonhaze is expanding its reach across North America. Cannabis insiders in Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan, California, Illinois, New Jersey and Florida should be on the lookout for upcoming golf outings in 2022.

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Cannabis Industry Pros Flock to Much-Anticipated MJBizCon in Las Vegas

It’s been two weeks since cannabis professionals from around the world convened at the Las Vegas Convention Center for the 10th annual MJBizCon, one of the industry’s largest events for making connections, building brand awareness and closing deals.

The whirlwind 3-day event undoubtedly takes some time to recover from. With approximately 27,000 people in attendance, and over 250,000 square feet of exhibit space, there was a lot of ground to cover (an average of 4.5 miles/day, according to my iPhone). And while consuming cannabis products inside the convention center is prohibited, it was easy to catch a buzz off all the positive energy at this year’s event.

“I believe there’s energy at any cannabis event,” said Darren Lampert, CEO of GrowGeneration. “You can see the passion. People are smiling, happy and learning.”

Many businesses, clients—and even remote team members—reconnected for the first time since the 2019 MJBizCon. Last year’s live event was put on hold after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in March of 2020. 

“It’s exciting to see lots of brands we love still in business,” said Shelby Nelson, an Account Executive with Cannabis Now. “It almost has the same excitement of 3-4 years ago. Everyone seems rejuvenated.”

Break Out Brands

Taking the spread of COVID-19 into consideration, this year’s conference featured wider lanes with booths more spaced out. This made for a less congested, more enjoyable experience. It’s not possible to visit them all, but a few exhibitors stood out: Dutchie’s cleanly designed lounge space gave off feel-good retro vibes, inviting guests to sit down inside modern diner-style booths, complete with ceiling fans, wallpaper and comfy seating. Meanwhile, flat-screen TVs displayed facts about the company tech solutions. Who said software had to be boring?

Huber also beckoned us in with their neon signs, cannabis ice sculptures and free beer. Sitting down at their bar or taking a photo in front of the giant pot leaf carved from ice afforded patrons with a nice break after hours of talking business. Not to mention, it was a clever play on the “King of Temp’s” precise temperature control solutions.

After making the rounds, we checked in with several other leading brands to see what they’ve been up to since 2019, and how MJBizCon 2021 was going for them.

Fohse, Inc.

The first stop was under the bright lights of Fohse. In 2019, Fohse arrived at MJBizCon to unveil their flagship product, the A3i. Now, two years later, they utilized their time at the conference to share case studies that show off how that light is helping grows improve efficiencies while seeing bigger yields. “Last time we showed up to build a reputation, this time we showed up with a reputation,” James Bradley, Fohse’s CMO, said with a smile.

Beyond showcasing product, Bradley says the show is about connections.

“These shows are always a team bonding experience. Connections this time around are even more important,” he said, adding that there seemed to be a lot of pent-up energy at the conference. “People have been waiting for this live show. As far as differences, we can really only compare it back to 2019 because that’s the last time we were all in front of each other. I’d say this time around the excitement’s a little higher. People have been cooped up for two years.”

GrowGeneration

America’s largest hydroponics supplier, GrowGeneration, is another company that has seen tremendous growth since their first appearance at MJBizCon in 2017, when they walked the floor, getting a lay of the land. The next year, in 2018, they arrived with a 10X10 booth. And this year, they boasted a 40X40 booth that offered guests a space to relax while they showed off some of their top products, including ion light fixtures and the nutrient-boosting Power SI formula.

CEO Darren Lampert echoed Bradley’s sentiment on the importance of team building at the conference. GrowGeneration employees are spread out between 63 stores in 13 states, so MJBizCon provides a way for everyone to get together.

“The show has been fabulous,” he said. “It’s about showing customers new products and the solutions that Grow Generation provides and getting the staff together. It’s also about giving back.”

Grow Generation sponsored the Oct. 21 Blues Brothers concert, hosted by MJ Unpacked, a new executive level cannabis conference connecting brands and retailers. The fundraiser raised approximately $70,000 for the Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit dedicated to releasing those in incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis offenses. 

Looking ahead, Lampert says the future will bring tremendous product innovation, incorporating energy conservation and creating a product that is more consistent because, “that’s what people want.”

Boveda

Giving the people what they want is something Boveda’s Program Manager Claire Erickson also touched on, noting an overall shift in how companies are approaching their products more thoughtfully.

“The focus this year is all about making the cannabis experience better for the consumer,” explained Erickson. She also discussed how expanding legalization is impacting Boveda’s product development and continual push for innovation.

“Shelf life is huge heading toward legalization,” she said, explaining that as shipping cannabis between states becomes a reality, preserving product authenticity, from the time it’s packaged to the time it reaches the consumer, will become even more paramount.

Root Sciences

Roots Sciences is a one-stop shop for all end-to-end solutions for the cannabis industry’s processing labs. Formed in 2015, Root Sciences started with distillation equipment and has migrated into extraction and end-to-end equipment solutions for the industry, explained the company’s CEO Forrest Didier.

“We’ve been here since the early days,” Didier said, adding that this year’s show has been better for them than the 2019 MJBiz Conference.

“2019 was kind of unique. The cannabis stocks in Canada—the big guys, the aurora and canopy stocks— had already started crashing in 2019, so we had already started seeing some capital drying up in the industry before the show. But it’s been better this year, it’s good to be back live, face-to-face with our clients…You can only explain so much online and digital marketing. You can’t beat the in-person experience of a show like this.”

And we must agree with Didier. Whether we were learning about new products and services or just catching up and sharing stories with new and familiar faces, nothing compares to being together. 

After Hours Connections

Half of the networking at MJBizCon happens outside of the convention doors. Pre- and post-show get-togethers give companies creative ways to show off their brands while getting to know the people behind the business.

On Thursday morning, we visited Pacific Stone’s 70s style “Hangover” suite inside Caesar’s Palace, featuring a complimentary oxygen bar and an IV hydration lounge. Fast forward to 4:20 p.m., after a day of networking and expo floor interviews, and Bhang’s CEO Jamie Pearson was welcoming us inside their Cosmopolitan suite for an infused happy hour. Cannabis chef and educator Travis Peterson, perhaps better known as “The Nomad Cook,” was serving up bite-sized portions of gazpacho; sesame wonton cones filled with vegetables; cordon blue cheese balls; and special Bhang cannoli blunts for dessert, featuring matcha ricotta, crushed pistachios and an infused Bhang chocolate sauce. The food was all nonmedicated, but guests could opt for 2.5mg infused garnishes if desired. 

DJ Muggs from Cypress Hill even made an appearance, showing his support for the Bhang brand, which he has helped give a sense of “street culture,” he said, adding that “you have to live it and breathe it—you can’t buy it.”

Looking at the Past, Present & Future

Whether in line for a taxi, riding up the elevator, sitting at the hotel bar or any one of Sin City’s restaurants, odds are you were in the company of a fellow cannabis industry professional.

Both inside and outside the expo, excitement and optimism for the growing industry permeated Las Vegas.

Themes of opportunity and responsibility were also evident over the course of the conference. While people were clearly optimistic about the future of cannabis, we were also reminded how we got here and how the history of the plant should not be lost in the pursuit of profit.

Hawthorne is one company taking corporate responsibility and setting the stage for other brands through their partnerships with social justice nonprofits in the cannabis space. Apart from their regular booth where they showed off product and met with current and potential clients, Hawthorne also hosted a social equity panel inside of a separate convention center room they called “Hawthorne House.” Fab 5 Freddy and Steve DeAngelo, along with other key advocates, discussed the importance of repairing the harms of the War on Drugs. They talked about what companies can do to take meaningful action and ensure that resources are spent on this important industry pillar.

“What Hawthorne’s doing needs to be replicated—giving back on the local and national level,” DeAngelo said.

Looking ahead to 2022, we are excited to see what comes out of this year’s conference and what kind of change these important conversations bring about. MJBizCon 2022 is slated for Nov. 15-18 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. We hope to see you there.  

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Blues Brothers Benefit Concert Reals in Over $70,000

“These are not criminals, but heroes,” said cannabis activist Steve DeAngelo as he welcomed Richard DeLisi and Michael Thompson on stage before the Blues Brothers show in Las Vegas last Thursday night.

The concert was a special event organized by MJ Unpacked, a new cannabis conference connecting industry brands and retailers on the executive level.

Over 1,000 people were in attendance, spread throughout the juke-joint inspired House of Blues, sitting at high-top tables, on the red velvet seats in the second story mezzanine, and gathered on the hardwood paneled dance floor—all ready to share some laughs and good music in the name of cannabis reform. And it was a big night for the cannabis freedom movement. Approximately $70,000 were raised for DeAngelo’s nonprofit, the Last Prisoner Project, which was founded in 2019 with the mission of releasing prisoners serving time for nonviolent cannabis offenses.  

“There are 40,000 people in jail for trying to help people by touching a plant,” DeAngelo cried out to the audience. “Don’t forget our sisters and brothers as wealth is created.” 

DeLisi and Thompson were both released through the support of the Last Prisoner Project (LPP). Before last Thursday’s show commenced, they briefly shared their moving stories with the crowd. Prior to DeLisi’s release in December 2020, he was the longest active cannabis prisoner in the U.S., serving more than three decades of a lifetime sentence. Thompson, released in January 2021, served more than a quarter century of a 60-year sentence in a Michigan prison.

Michael Thompson, Steve DeAngelo and Richard DeLisi on stage before the Blues Brothers show in Las Vegas.

“It’s broken, and it needs to be fixed,” Thompson said, referring to the justice system that failed him. “Those in prison for marijuana need to be free!”

With tears in his eyes, Thompson struggled to get his final words out. A supportive DeAngelo with an arm around his shoulder stood next to him, rubbing his back, encouraging him to go on. Audience members cheered and applauded as Thompson thanked LPP for their support—for reuniting him with his family, for keeping him alive.  

Throughout the concert, slides were projected onto the stage’s backdrop, reminding and educating attendees of the problems that exist, what LPP is working towards, and how people can help. One slide read, “Despite widespread legal marijuana reform, cannabis arrests are actually increasing in several states,” and another offered people a way to take action: “Text freedom to 24365 to donate to Last Prisoner Project.”

Mary Bailey, the Last Prisoner Project’s managing director, firmly echoes the importance of education and sharing the powerful stories of those who are trapped behind bars for something that is now legal.

“We know that the injustice that is cannabis-related incarceration can only be counteracted by public attention paid to—and subsequent advocacy around—the issue,” Bailey said. “Leveraging the power of events like the Blues Brothers Benefit Concert is a critically important tool when helping to grow this desperately-needed public awareness, and we’re immensely grateful to those whose hard work and dedication made the concert a resounding success.”

Sitting down with DeAngelo in the venue’s “James Brown Room,” he provided a rundown of what these funds are used for: covering expenses for the families of prisoners; release grants; legal assistance; job placement.

“It really depends on what that particular prisoner needs, and then we attempt to provide that,” he said.

Cannabis & The Blues

Following DeAngelo’s on-stage introduction, the mood lightened. The Blues Brothers themselves—Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi—swaggered on stage donning black suits, shades and matching hats for an entertaining revue in which they reenacted the characters of Elwood and Zee Blues from the popular 1980 comedy release of the Blues Brothers. Backed by the talented Sacred Hearts band, the famous duo got in full character with chest slams, bare belly rolls, and some hilariously bad moves.

Jim Belushi performs at the House of Blues at a fundraiser for the Last Prisoner Project.

“It tickles me to dance with this 6’4” Canadian and sing alongside him,” Belushi said. “It just brings joy to my soul in every show. Of course, performing at the House of Blues, which we opened as The Blues Brothers, is a highlight, as well. All House of Blues venues are just so sexy and exotic and filled with the resonance of all the Blues legends and spirits.” 

At the close of the concert, Aykroyd auctioned off the opportunity to come on stage and sing the hit song “Soul Man.” Grow Generation’s president Michael Salaman and board member Paul Ciasullo both pledged $12,000.

George Jage, founder and CEO of Jage Media, which organized MJ Unpacked, says booking the Blues Brothers made sense for a number of reasons.

“When we were developing the show, we wanted to make sure we had a strong mission-based philosophy. We are here to serve the industry, but we also need to help support the industry and advocacy groups,” Jage said. “I’ve always been impressed with Mary Bailey and Steve DeAngelo. I think it’s one of the most important causes for our industry.”

Belushi has also served as an official advisor to the Last Prisoner Project since May 2020. He first got involved with the nonprofit after a venue fell through for another LPP fundraising event DeAngelo was organizing in Los Angeles.

“He called me in the morning, and we had the first fundraiser at my house that night,” Belushi recounts. “I was so deeply moved. I said, ‘How do I get in on this? I want to help.’”

In his LPP advisory role, Belushi says he helps spread awareness for the cause. And as a longtime entertainer turned cannabis farmer, he’s in an ideal position to help.

“My job is to get the word out,” he says. “Let’s free these men and women—now!; Write letters, donate money. Also, I call and speak with the survivors of the failed war on drugs when they’re released. I participate in fundraisers.”

Belushi is intimately connected with both music and marijuana. For him, it’s about more than operating a profitable business. It’s about bringing people together. It’s about healing.

“I’m hoping to create confidence in cannabis with the curious, the new consumer. I believe in the medicine,” he said. “Everybody knows somebody who’s suffering. Everybody. And the pathway to healing and the medicine of cannabis can really aid those who are suffering, including their families who witness the suffering.”

Needless to say, cannabis matters to Belushi, as it does to countless other Americans. And in the words of Steve DeAngelo, “If you’re not a Black or Brown person and you love cannabis, and you live in North America, you’ve got a debt to pay.”

The Short and Long Plays

As cannabis legalization picks up steam and continues to spread across the U.S., the Last Prisoner Project is making it known that pardons granted for cannabis offenses aren’t occurring at the same rate. Not a single cannabis law has passed that provides for the release of cannabis prisoners.

It seems logical that when laws are passed legalizing cannabis, those incarcerated for the thing that is no longer illegal (cannabis, in this case), should be automatically released. It should be written into the laws.

DeAngelo explains why this isn’t the case.

“I’ll tell you why it hasn’t been automatic. It’s because there hasn’t been an organization like LPP at the table,” he says. “There are a huge number of problems. The default position of the justice system is that once a prisoner is sentenced, they have to serve their sentence unless there’s some other judicial procedure that intervenes and releases them.”

He goes on to discuss the structural impediments in the way, the main one being that there are too many people in power opposed to releasing prisoners.

“One of the things the prohibitionists like to do is talk about how you can’t reward people who broke the rules, and you can’t let criminals go free. They have this point of principle about it,” he said. “Because there hasn’t been a voice that’s strongly advocated for the release of cannabis prisoners, it’s been an overlooked issue for many years in the cannabis freedom movement.”

With no amnesty laws currently in place, LPP is focusing on other ways to release prisoners.

“When you’re doing work to get prisoners out, you have to fight on multiple levels simultaneously,” DeAngelo said, explaining that they’re also looking ahead, working to ensure that new cannabis laws passed in the future include the release of prisoners.

“We’re lobbying to make sure that happens, but it hasn’t happened yet,” he said. “We have people in prison, so we have to use other ways to get them out. One is with the clemency process.”

In every state that’s legalized cannabis, the governor has the ability to release all cannabis prisoners with the stroke of a pen. However, it’s not so easy. Clemency, as DeAngelo explains it, is a difficult process that comes down to a lack of resources. To grant clemency, a legal document must be filed for each prisoner, and each document must be individually reviewed by someone in the governor’s office. With hundreds of clemency petitions and maybe one person reviewing them on a part-time basis, the road to freedom is slow.

“So, what we’ve been doing is working with governors’ offices to try and get them to agree to a mass release of cannabis prisoners instead of considering these petitions one by one,” DeAngelo said.

The work of LPP is limited, however, to states where adult-use cannabis is legal.

“It’s basically impossible to argue for the release of prisoners for something that’s still a crime. It’s only been since we’ve had those victories that we really have the ability to go to the governors and say, ‘Hey it’s not illegal anymore, you should really release everybody who’s in prison for the thing that’s not illegal anymore.’ If it’s still illegal, you don’t have an argument to make. It’s really only in the last few years that it’s been possible to make this argument in an effective way.”

Life After Bars

While releasing cannabis prisoners is the Last Prisoner Project’s main objective, it doesn’t stop there. Much of the group’s work is dedicated to ensuring that prisoners are given opportunities after they get out.  

Craig Cesal and Evelyn LaChapelle, both in attendance at the Blues Brothers show, were locked up for never even touching the plant. In 2001, Cesal was charged with conspiring to distribute marijuana because his Chicago-area truck repair company was working on a Florida company’s feet of trucks used to haul marijuana. He had no prior convictions and was sentenced with life without the possibility of parole.

“It’s too typical, unfortunately,” Cesal says. Twenty years later, on January 20, 2021, Cesal received clemency. The Last Prisoner Project hired him as a Program Associate the day he walked out of prison.

“They were instrumental in convincing President Trump to grant clemency to me and 11 other marijuana lifers,” he said. “I had no faith in it. I didn’t believe it until I walked out of the front gate of the prison.”

Meanwhile, LaChapelle, a former high-end hospitality professional, was charged for depositing profits from unregulated cannabis sales into her bank account. She was tried in North Carolina—a state she had never even been to—and sentenced to 87 months in jail, all of which she served. An attractive young woman with a solid résumé, she landed a position as a sales and catering coordinator at the Omni, which was in line with her career path before going to prison. Because she was working in California, she wasn’t required to include any past criminal charges on her application. However, with a quick Google search, a co-worker found her case online and reported her to Human Resources. She was fired immediately.

“It reminded me that I have a résumé, I have a degree. I have experience, and I still got fired,” LaChapelle said. “So, for the men who come out of prison, for the people who look the part of a felon—because I don’t look like a felon, even with all that going for me, I was fired—what does that say about our second chances?”

Raising Awareness

As businesses are built and cannabis becomes more deeply woven into our daily culture, Steve DeAngelo and the Last Prisoner Project team are working hard to ensure that the very people who introduced the plant to our culture are not forgotten. 

“For me this is a global issue. We take it everywhere. The Last Prisoner Project is part of an overall approach that I have,” DeAngelo said. “I want the cannabis industry to be more of an engine of change and justice than an engine of wealth creation and concentration of money and power. That’s what I really want.”

As made evident by last week’s turnout at MJ Unpacked and MJBizCon in Las Vegas, there is a huge amount of opportunity in this burgeoning industry. But the onus is on the consumer to engage and stay informed rather than simply having your product of choice delivered to your door, sitting back and indulging. 

“We have this amazing opportunity with cannabis to really do something different and build an industry that spreads wealth widely and empowers people who are usually disadvantaged. We can do that,” DeAngelo says. “If we cannabis consumers insist on that and vote with our dollars and educate ourselves, then that can happen. If we don’t do that, if consumers don’t do that, if we don’t engage, it’s just going to be another fucking industry that makes money for some rich people who have more money than they need already.”

The post Blues Brothers Benefit Concert Reals in Over $70,000 appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Blues Brothers Benefit Concert Reels in Over $70,000

“These are not criminals, but heroes,” said cannabis activist Steve DeAngelo as he welcomed Richard DeLisi and Michael Thompson on stage before the Blues Brothers show in Las Vegas last Thursday night.

The concert was a special event organized by MJ Unpacked, a new cannabis conference connecting industry brands and retailers on the executive level.

Over 1,000 people were in attendance, spread throughout the juke-joint inspired House of Blues, sitting at high-top tables, on the red velvet seats in the second story mezzanine, and gathered on the hardwood paneled dance floor—all ready to share some laughs and good music in the name of cannabis reform. And it was a big night for the cannabis freedom movement. Approximately $70,000 were raised for DeAngelo’s nonprofit, the Last Prisoner Project, which was founded in 2019 with the mission of releasing prisoners serving time for nonviolent cannabis offenses.  

“There are 40,000 people in jail for trying to help people by touching a plant,” DeAngelo cried out to the audience. “Don’t forget our sisters and brothers as wealth is created.” 

DeLisi and Thompson were both released through the support of the Last Prisoner Project (LPP). Before last Thursday’s show commenced, they briefly shared their moving stories with the crowd. Prior to DeLisi’s release in December 2020, he was the longest active cannabis prisoner in the U.S., serving more than three decades of a lifetime sentence. Thompson, released in January 2021, served more than a quarter century of a 60-year sentence in a Michigan prison.

Michael Thompson, Steve DeAngelo and Richard DeLisi on stage before the Blues Brothers show in Las Vegas.

“It’s broken, and it needs to be fixed,” Thompson said, referring to the justice system that failed him. “Those in prison for marijuana need to be free!”

With tears in his eyes, Thompson struggled to get his final words out. A supportive DeAngelo with an arm around his shoulder stood next to him, rubbing his back, encouraging him to go on. Audience members cheered and applauded as Thompson thanked LPP for their support—for reuniting him with his family, for keeping him alive.  

Throughout the concert, slides were projected onto the stage’s backdrop, reminding and educating attendees of the problems that exist, what LPP is working towards, and how people can help. One slide read, “Despite widespread legal marijuana reform, cannabis arrests are actually increasing in several states,” and another offered people a way to take action: “Text freedom to 24365 to donate to Last Prisoner Project.”

Mary Bailey, the Last Prisoner Project’s managing director, firmly echoes the importance of education and sharing the powerful stories of those who are trapped behind bars for something that is now legal.

“We know that the injustice that is cannabis-related incarceration can only be counteracted by public attention paid to—and subsequent advocacy around—the issue,” Bailey said. “Leveraging the power of events like the Blues Brothers Benefit Concert is a critically important tool when helping to grow this desperately-needed public awareness, and we’re immensely grateful to those whose hard work and dedication made the concert a resounding success.”

Sitting down with DeAngelo in the venue’s “James Brown Room,” he provided a rundown of what these funds are used for: covering expenses for the families of prisoners; release grants; legal assistance; job placement.

“It really depends on what that particular prisoner needs, and then we attempt to provide that,” he said.

Cannabis & The Blues

Following DeAngelo’s on-stage introduction, the mood lightened. The Blues Brothers themselves—Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi—swaggered on stage donning black suits, shades and matching hats for an entertaining revue in which they reenacted the characters of Elwood and Zee Blues from the popular 1980 comedy release of the Blues Brothers. Backed by the talented Sacred Hearts band, the famous duo got in full character with chest slams, bare belly rolls, and some hilariously bad moves.

Jim Belushi performs at the House of Blues at a fundraiser for the Last Prisoner Project.

“It tickles me to dance with this 6’4” Canadian and sing alongside him,” Belushi said. “It just brings joy to my soul in every show. Of course, performing at the House of Blues, which we opened as The Blues Brothers, is a highlight, as well. All House of Blues venues are just so sexy and exotic and filled with the resonance of all the Blues legends and spirits.” 

At the close of the concert, Aykroyd auctioned off the opportunity to come on stage and sing the hit song “Soul Man.” Grow Generation’s president Michael Salaman and board member Paul Ciasullo both pledged $12,000.

George Jage, founder and CEO of Jage Media, which organized MJ Unpacked, says booking the Blues Brothers made sense for a number of reasons.

“When we were developing the show, we wanted to make sure we had a strong mission-based philosophy. We are here to serve the industry, but we also need to help support the industry and advocacy groups,” Jage said. “I’ve always been impressed with Mary Bailey and Steve DeAngelo. I think it’s one of the most important causes for our industry.”

Belushi has also served as an official advisor to the Last Prisoner Project since May 2020. He first got involved with the nonprofit after a venue fell through for another LPP fundraising event DeAngelo was organizing in Los Angeles.

“He called me in the morning, and we had the first fundraiser at my house that night,” Belushi recounts. “I was so deeply moved. I said, ‘How do I get in on this? I want to help.’”

In his LPP advisory role, Belushi says he helps spread awareness for the cause. And as a longtime entertainer turned cannabis farmer, he’s in an ideal position to help.

“My job is to get the word out,” he says. “Let’s free these men and women—now!; Write letters, donate money. Also, I call and speak with the survivors of the failed war on drugs when they’re released. I participate in fundraisers.”

Belushi is intimately connected with both music and marijuana. For him, it’s about more than operating a profitable business. It’s about bringing people together. It’s about healing.

“I’m hoping to create confidence in cannabis with the curious, the new consumer. I believe in the medicine,” he said. “Everybody knows somebody who’s suffering. Everybody. And the pathway to healing and the medicine of cannabis can really aid those who are suffering, including their families who witness the suffering.”

Needless to say, cannabis matters to Belushi, as it does to countless other Americans. And in the words of Steve DeAngelo, “If you’re not a Black or Brown person and you love cannabis, and you live in North America, you’ve got a debt to pay.”

The Short and Long Plays

As cannabis legalization picks up steam and continues to spread across the U.S., the Last Prisoner Project is making it known that pardons granted for cannabis offenses aren’t occurring at the same rate. Not a single cannabis law has passed that provides for the release of cannabis prisoners.

It seems logical that when laws are passed legalizing cannabis, those incarcerated for the thing that is no longer illegal (cannabis, in this case), should be automatically released. It should be written into the laws.

DeAngelo explains why this isn’t the case.

“I’ll tell you why it hasn’t been automatic. It’s because there hasn’t been an organization like LPP at the table,” he says. “There are a huge number of problems. The default position of the justice system is that once a prisoner is sentenced, they have to serve their sentence unless there’s some other judicial procedure that intervenes and releases them.”

He goes on to discuss the structural impediments in the way, the main one being that there are too many people in power opposed to releasing prisoners.

“One of the things the prohibitionists like to do is talk about how you can’t reward people who broke the rules, and you can’t let criminals go free. They have this point of principle about it,” he said. “Because there hasn’t been a voice that’s strongly advocated for the release of cannabis prisoners, it’s been an overlooked issue for many years in the cannabis freedom movement.”

With no amnesty laws currently in place, LPP is focusing on other ways to release prisoners.

“When you’re doing work to get prisoners out, you have to fight on multiple levels simultaneously,” DeAngelo said, explaining that they’re also looking ahead, working to ensure that new cannabis laws passed in the future include the release of prisoners.

“We’re lobbying to make sure that happens, but it hasn’t happened yet,” he said. “We have people in prison, so we have to use other ways to get them out. One is with the clemency process.”

In every state that’s legalized cannabis, the governor has the ability to release all cannabis prisoners with the stroke of a pen. However, it’s not so easy. Clemency, as DeAngelo explains it, is a difficult process that comes down to a lack of resources. To grant clemency, a legal document must be filed for each prisoner, and each document must be individually reviewed by someone in the governor’s office. With hundreds of clemency petitions and maybe one person reviewing them on a part-time basis, the road to freedom is slow.

“So, what we’ve been doing is working with governors’ offices to try and get them to agree to a mass release of cannabis prisoners instead of considering these petitions one by one,” DeAngelo said.

The work of LPP is limited, however, to states where adult-use cannabis is legal.

“It’s basically impossible to argue for the release of prisoners for something that’s still a crime. It’s only been since we’ve had those victories that we really have the ability to go to the governors and say, ‘Hey it’s not illegal anymore, you should really release everybody who’s in prison for the thing that’s not illegal anymore.’ If it’s still illegal, you don’t have an argument to make. It’s really only in the last few years that it’s been possible to make this argument in an effective way.”

Life After Bars

While releasing cannabis prisoners is the Last Prisoner Project’s main objective, it doesn’t stop there. Much of the group’s work is dedicated to ensuring that prisoners are given opportunities after they get out.  

Craig Cesal and Evelyn LaChapelle, both in attendance at the Blues Brothers show, were locked up for never even touching the plant. In 2001, Cesal was charged with conspiring to distribute marijuana because his Chicago-area truck repair company was working on a Florida company’s feet of trucks used to haul marijuana. He had no prior convictions and was sentenced with life without the possibility of parole.

“It’s too typical, unfortunately,” Cesal says. Twenty years later, on January 20, 2021, Cesal received clemency. The Last Prisoner Project hired him as a Program Associate the day he walked out of prison.

“They were instrumental in convincing President Trump to grant clemency to me and 11 other marijuana lifers,” he said. “I had no faith in it. I didn’t believe it until I walked out of the front gate of the prison.”

Meanwhile, LaChapelle, a former high-end hospitality professional, was charged for depositing profits from unregulated cannabis sales into her bank account. She was tried in North Carolina—a state she had never even been to—and sentenced to 87 months in jail, all of which she served. An attractive young woman with a solid résumé, she landed a position as a sales and catering coordinator at the Omni, which was in line with her career path before going to prison. Because she was working in California, she wasn’t required to include any past criminal charges on her application. However, with a quick Google search, a co-worker found her case online and reported her to Human Resources. She was fired immediately.

“It reminded me that I have a résumé, I have a degree. I have experience, and I still got fired,” LaChapelle said. “So, for the men who come out of prison, for the people who look the part of a felon—because I don’t look like a felon, even with all that going for me, I was fired—what does that say about our second chances?”

Raising Awareness

As businesses are built and cannabis becomes more deeply woven into our daily culture, Steve DeAngelo and the Last Prisoner Project team are working hard to ensure that the very people who introduced the plant to our culture are not forgotten. 

“For me this is a global issue. We take it everywhere. The Last Prisoner Project is part of an overall approach that I have,” DeAngelo said. “I want the cannabis industry to be more of an engine of change and justice than an engine of wealth creation and concentration of money and power. That’s what I really want.”

As made evident by last week’s turnout at MJ Unpacked and MJBizCon in Las Vegas, there is a huge amount of opportunity in this burgeoning industry. But the onus is on the consumer to engage and stay informed rather than simply having your product of choice delivered to your door, sitting back and indulging. 

“We have this amazing opportunity with cannabis to really do something different and build an industry that spreads wealth widely and empowers people who are usually disadvantaged. We can do that,” DeAngelo says. “If we cannabis consumers insist on that and vote with our dollars and educate ourselves, then that can happen. If we don’t do that, if consumers don’t do that, if we don’t engage, it’s just going to be another fucking industry that makes money for some rich people who have more money than they need already.”

The post Blues Brothers Benefit Concert Reels in Over $70,000 appeared first on Cannabis Now.