The Return of The Hall of Flowers

The past two years have affected us all in the cannabis business in unusual ways, from being on lockdown, to being declared an “essential business.” And now we’re fighting for survival in a difficult market.

Those who have survived were out in full force for the Hall of Flowers cannabis B2B show at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, Sept. 22-23. Perhaps the most overheard comment during both the days of the event was, “What a joy it is to be together again.” At last, after such a long break, dedicated cannabis business entrepreneurs were given a chance to gather, laugh, hug and share stories.

Of course, the players are the same. The last Hall of Flowers event took place in 2019, where many of the original companies, distributors, retailers and farms were clearly not present at this week’s gathering. Instead, there were several new interesting (and sometimes flashy) businesses. For the old-timers it was a bittersweet reunion, recognizing the loss of compatriots who have recently quit while also feeling thrilled to see dear old friends who have shared the pathway to legality all these years.

Outdoor Activations Go All Out

Three large halls were filled with various booths. Outdoors, there were sprinklings of large, elaborate installations – some were two levels high, offering fantastic views over the open chill spaces on the lawn below. Ispire, one of the world’s largest vape manufacturers, built a fantastic area with a second-floor lounge space, complete with fan and mister to keep you truly chilled while smoking through one of their outrageous new dabbing device designs.

Meanwhile, CannaCraft blasted non-stop music from their 2nd story outdoor area, punctuated every half hour or so by reminders to keep your mask on at all times while inside the main halls. In light of the coronavirus, many precautions were taken: All guests were required to present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test within 48 hours of entry. Testing kits were available on site for anyone who did not meet these requirements. While some participants complained, the extra security did afford everyone there the comfort to share careful hugs, fist-bumps and even some joints.

Finding Success Together

The Hall of Flowers is a unique B2B cannabis event. Participating brands paid well for their booth spaces, and curious guests (who were allowed entry on the second day only) also had a hefty entrance fee. Retailers and distributors, who wandered about making new connections, did not have a cover charge.

At each booth, vouchers were passed to interested visitors who wanted samples. Vouchers could then then be turned in at the “Dispensary Hall” where several salespeople efficiently redeemed them for their chosen samples. The customers paid only $3 for each sample, plus taxes, which was actually a good deal. Samples included pre-rolls, hash, topicals, edibles, carts and more. Guests mostly left the show with large bags bursting with $3 goodies.

Almost everyone agreed this was a very successful gathering, as many deals were made, which is the main objective. Wendy Baker, owner and founder of Space Gems edibles since 2013, is one of the old-timers in the biz at this point. In her opinion, Hall of Flowers is one of the very best cannabis events, affording her the opportunity to close deals and meet buyers from all parts of the U.S.

Baker shared her large booth space with Craig Nejerdley of Talking Trees, a regular winner at The Emerald Cup. Nejerdley does it all: He grows beautiful flowers and owns a distribution company and retail shop in Humboldt County. He is a community-oriented man who wants the best for his fellow cannabis companies. As he explained, “We will all only survive if we do this together.”

And isn’t that the core of cannabis philosophy? During the past few months, while the glut of mediocre cannabis grown in giant greenhouses hits the market, prices for legacy growers and brands is dropping, and the message is clear: We must join forces.

Cannabis Enterprises, Big and Small

Hall of Flowers in person B2B cannabis event September 2021.

Collaborations are the way to go for many – Radiant Distribution has a co-op brand for legacy farmers under the name Cosmic. Several of their farmers choose to donate 10 percent of each sale to the Last Prisoner’s Project, which is also a wonderful trend to see in the world of cannabis. As Peter Pietrangeli, VP of Sales at Cosmic said, “everyone on our supply chain has contributed.”

A few visitors did say the influence of “Big Business” was annoyingly evident. “You can smell more corporate cologne than weed in there,” commented one attendee upon leaving one of the large exhibit halls. But there was plenty of smoking was going on outside: At the Puffco booth, decked out with cozy white chairs and fake palm trees, Jessica Hwang from Feeling Frosty filled pipes for passersby and clearly loved seeing their contented smiles.

But there actually was perfume inside one of the halls, at the Drew Martin x Heretic booth. Martin himself offered whiffs of what he calls, “the world’s first THC-infused fragrance.” It was divine! Innovative products like this make our industry extra exciting. Some companies clearly catered to the Y and Z generations, some to an urban-slick style, and some to sophisticated elegance.

A big surprise was the guy from Talking Terps, Hope Lord, who is creatively making bank from cannabis, while never getting near the plant. Lord designs cannabis toys and clothing, and his quirky and colorful style has taken off. “I sold 300 of these Terp Crawford toys at $200 each in one hour today,” he said. Whoa. That is a good businessman who knows his demographic.

All kinds of cannabis enterprises, both big and small, were represented. Not to be missed was the Italian booth with 3 separate companies filling the space with cannabis delights: biscotti hashish and pre-rolls, authentic Italian edibles from Mammamia, and affordable concentrates from Tutti.

Even after a long day in the hot sun and warm halls, people were still ready to party. Several events took place all over Sonoma County, catering to the many facets of cannabis fans. For a group of people who have been so separate over the past 24 months, this was the perfect chance to re-learn how to socialize in public again.

Thanks, as always, to cannabis for bringing us together.

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America’s Longest-Serving Cannabis Prisoner Richard DeLisi To Be Released

After 32 years behind bars, America’s longest-serving non-violent cannabis prisoner Richard DeLisi will be able to spend the holidays with his family once again, thanks to the Last Prisoner Project and its dedicated legal team. “We participated in decarcerating someone who couldn’t deserve it more.” – Chiara Juster, Lead Attorney on Delisi’s case. Incarcerated at […]

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Tuesday, November 17, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, November 17, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// New Jersey Senate Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Despite Contentious Psychedelics Provision (Marijuana Moment)

// Rescoring of retail marijuana licenses in Illinois allowed to proceed (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Mexico slowly advances adult-use cannabis law – setting up key vote next week (Marijuana Business Daily)

These headlines are brought to you by All Kind of Portland, Maine, purveyors of fine legal medical marijuana products (and soon adult use!).

// Virginia governor vows to press for adult-use marijuana program (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Rhode Island Will ‘Absolutely’ Consider Legalizing Marijuana In 2021 New House Speaker Says (Marijuana Moment)

// Columbia Care Increases Revenue by 145% Prepares for Strong 2021 (Green Market Report)

// Canadian cannabis firm Pure Sunfarms delivers another profitable quarter (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Vireo Health Raises $5 Million with Pennsylvania Dispensaries Sale (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Wholesale marijuana hemp oil prices fall nationwide amid growing supply of raw material (Marijuana Business Daily)

// America’s longest serving nonviolent cannabis prisoner to be released after 32-year sentence (Independent)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Kamala Harris Touts ‘Commitment’ To Marijuana Decriminalization And Expungements Under Biden Administration (Marijuana Moment)

// Campaign Raises $30K To Help Release Cannabis Prisoners In Michigan (Benzinga)

// Massachusetts to limit number of cannabis delivery licenses (Marijuana Business Daily)

These headlines are brought to you by Curaleaf, one of the leading vertically-integrated cannabis operators in the U.S. With legal medical and adult use marijuana dispensaries, cultivation sites, and processing facilities all over the United States, Curaleaf has served more than 350,000 medical cannabis patients and looks forward to helping many more long into the future. Swing over to to learn more about this very cool company!

// Recreational cannabis brand and product expansion slow in US markets (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Top Senate Democrat Includes Marijuana Banking Protections In New Coronavirus Relief Bill (Marijuana Moment)

// 4Front Prices C$15 Million Units at C$0.70 (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Neptune Raises $35 Million Selling Units at $2.16 (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Marijuana Legalization In Texas Would Generate Billions In Tax Revenue New Economic Analysis Shows (Marijuana Moment)

// New Jersey Voters Strongly Back Marijuana Legalization And Cannabis Pardons New Poll Finds (Marijuana Moment)

// COVID-19 Was Good For Every Cannabis Company Except Dan Bilzerian’s Which Is Almost Broke: Filing (Forbes)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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The Cannabis Industry and the Black Lives Matter Uprising

Since the May 25 killing of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis police force, the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement—itself galvanized six years ago by the slaying of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, MO—has come to animate what can now only be called a national uprising. No part of the country has been untouched. Large solidarity demonstrations have also been held overseas.

As in any such situation, unpredictable forces have been unleashed—as witnessed by the broken glass and looted storefronts in cities coast to coast. 

Dispensaries Looted

Cannabis dispensaries across California have been hit by looters. The East Bay Express reports that “most of the dispensaries in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Oakland seem to have been hit.” Two outlets of the upscale national chain MedMen were among several dispensaries struck in Los Angeles.

The Cannabis Now retail store in Los Angeles was also among those hit. Cannabis Now founder and CEO Eugenio Garcia said in a statement that the looters struck last weekend—hours after a large and peaceful protest was held at the same intersection as the shop, where La Cienega Blvd. meets 3rd St., near West Hollywood. “I was threatened and assaulted and our building was ransacked for hours,” Garcia relates. “Almost everything was stolen and destroyed. As an entrepreneur this is heartbreaking.”

PHOTO Cannabis Now

Adding to the sting, the ransacking came days after the shop had re-opened after having been closed since early March due to COVID-19. “It was wonderful to have so many neighbors stop by and tell us how happy they were to see us open,” Garcia says. “Our store is currently closed again, but we will do our best to rebuild and offer a safe place for the community to come together.”

Oakland’s flagship cannabis dispensary, Harborside, which made headlines when it went public last year, has been “robbed repeatedly” over the past weeks of unrest, according to the company’s chairman emeritus, Steve DeAngelo. “We were one of dozens of California cannabis dispensaries that have been targeted,” DeAngelo tells Cannabis Now. He says the break-ins were the work not of protesters but “professional thieves who saw an opportunity.”  

Eugenio Garcia, in his statement on the sacking of the Cannabis Now store, had this message for the protesters:

“We stand with you. For a decade it has been our mission at Cannabis Now to help build an all-inclusive community surrounding the cannabis plant. Black and Latino communities are specifically targeted and incarcerated due to cannabis prohibition. Racial injustice has prevailed for far longer…

We encourage you to peacefully protest, to vote and to let your voice be heard. While you are doing that, please lift up and support the small businesses in your community who have been affected.”

War on Drugs Helped Bring Us to This Point  

What makes for the special situation of cannabis businesses at this historical juncture is that the War on Drugs—including cannabis prohibition—has been a major ticket-holder in the matrix of oppression faced by Black America. 

Harborside’s Steve DeAngelo, with personal roots as an activist long before he became an entrepreneur, especially emphasizes the social responsibilities of the cannabis community.

“I’ve always believed and continue to believe that cannabis movement needs to make racial justice an integral part of all that we do,” DeAngelo says. “We have a debt of history we need to honor and need to pay. This industry would not exist without the efforts of generations of African Americans—who were the first people to bring cannabis to North America. It’s passage from Black jazz musicians to white fans was one of the vectors to rest of America. Cannabis is a gift of the African American community to the rest of the country.” 

This history has played out in some agonizingly paradoxical ways. DeAngelo cites the case of Michael Thompson, a 68-year-old African American man who has been serving a 60-year term for selling cannabis in Michigan since 1996—in a state where it is now legal. A campaign for his release has recently been launched, in light of the danger COVID-19 poses to prisoners. Says DeAngelo: “There are 40,000 people in this country in same category of doing time for something no longer illegal in many states.” 

DeAngelo also invokes the case of Corvain Cooper, a Black man from Los Angeles who is serving a life term under the federal “three strikes” law—convicted in 2013 in a supposed conspiracy to ship cannabis out of state. His family appealed his life term, arguing that changes to California law meant that his prior convictions (all for nonviolent offenses) were no longer felonies. But the U.S. Supreme Court turned down the case. A clemency campaign for him has now been launched. He was recently transfered to a prison in Louisiana, so his family can no longer afford to visit him. In a particularly telling irony, the site of the Louisiana clothes boutique he had opened shortly before his arrest is today a cannabis dispensary.

“Can you imagine how they feel?” DeAngelo asks. “An extraordinarily rich industry is being built, and not only can you not participate but you’re still locked up. And with COVID in the prisons, you’re potentially facing a death sentence.”  

Last year, DeAngelo launched the Last Prisoner Project, a non-profit group working for, in his words, “the release of every cannabis prisoner on the planet, and helping provide the resources for them to rebuild their lives.” First, this means petitioning for “compassionate release,” DeAngelo says. “The government has the power at the stroke of a pen to grant clemency, but it’s a political risk. We’re currently having conversations with governors’ offices in legal states.” These clemency petitions are being undertaken in partnership with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Meanwhile, DeAngelo says the Last Prisoner Project “is making funds available to pay for phone calls and medical care which are prohibitively expansive for many prisoners. We’re also aiding prisoners on release to find employment—especially in the legal cannabis industry.” 

“The cannabis industry has a responsibility to strive for racial justice, both in operational and advocacy points of view,” DeAngelo sums up. “Both the COVID and policing crises make clear how urgent this is. I don’t think it’s any more urgent now than it was a week ago, but that urgency is becoming clearer now.” 

I don’t think it’s any more urgent now than it was a week ago, but that urgency is becoming clearer now.” 

– Steve DeAngelo

Maritza Perez, director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, said this in a June 1 statement in response to Trump mobilizing the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Customs & Border Protection (CBP) to target protesters: “For far too long, the drug war has been used as a tactic to target, harass, assault, criminalize, and incarcerate communities of color, resulting in a social, economic, and cultural stranglehold around our necks… People of color have a right to be angry and a right to be heard. We cannot meet pleas for liberation with more state-sponsored violence. Until we defund agencies like the DEA and CBP, and remove federal incentives for local police departments, Black and Brown people will forever be gasping for air.” 

The Soul of the Cannabis Community

The War on Drugs has been identified, most prominently by writer Michelle Alexander, as a “new Jim Crow” that is again incarcerating, disenfranchising—and killing—Black people in the United States. It can be argued that, whatever new propaganda guise is now employed, the actual social function of the War on Drugs has been the same as that of legal segregation and Klan terror of an earlier era. And as indicated by the case of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Black man killed while jogging near his Georgia home in February, the outright vigilante terror of the Klan era also lives on.  

We now see the narco-stigma being employed against George Floyd, with the assertion that he had been using meth—as if that makes any difference to the moral equation whatsoever. Often in the past, cannabis has been the substance at issue in the posthumous stigmatization of victims of police terror.

And many of the police killings of unarmed Black youth that we’ve seen in recent years across the country have been linked, one way or another, to cannabis. Most notorious was the case of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, who was shot dead in his own home in the Bronx in 2012. He was killed by an NYPD officer who had followed him into the apartment after supposedly witnessing him engaged in a street deal. He was shot while attempting to flush his stash of cannabis down the toilet. The officer who killed him never faced charges

As recently as this March, an egregious incident of police abuse in Brooklyn went viral on the internet and re-ignited public anger over racist marijuana enforcement in New York City.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we must recognize peaceful protesters and opportunistic theives as opposites ends of a spectrum—some of the looting (at least) has presumably been carried out by the simply angry and desperate. We should also keep in mind that from Minneapolis to Las Vegas, there have been signs that some of the violence has been provocation by far-right white nationalists bent on provoking a civil war.

PHOTO Harrison Haines

It’s a paradoxical testament to the gains of cannabis “normalization” that dispensaries are seen as just another capitalist enterprise—and therefore fair game for social rage, when it erupts. Where cannabis enterprises are seen as complicit with gentrification, the rage may even be targeted at such businesses. And this rage may be compounded by the bitter irony of white entrepreneurs disproportionately getting rich off legal cannabis, while Black users remain disproportionately criminalized. Official policies of “cannabis equity” in California (at least) represent an effort to address this contradiction—but the contradiction still persists.

The soul of the country’s cannabis community is being tested by this crisis. Cannabis massively reached white America—the critical step of its “normalization” in a white-dominated society—as a part of the cultural ferment of the 1960s, which also included the anti-war and civil rights movements. It is painfully clear that it is still necessary to fight for the things the civil rights movement fought for two generations ago. The degree to which the cannabis community will be a part of this fight will reveal the degree to which the values of that era have truly been nurtured—or whether the weed is today just another capitalist commodity in a system that consumes and exploits Black lives.

TELL US, how do you feel about the cannabis industry’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement?

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