I just had the pleasure of attending the Marijuana Venture Interchange in Renton, Wa. If you’re unfamiliar with Marijuana Venture, it’s a magazine devoted to the cannabis business industry. If you’re unfamiliar with an interchange, think speed dating for money.
I’ve attended all the cannabis events I could in Washington State for the past 15 years. It’s gone from Festivals, private clubs, and open markets to a more business-oriented vibe, but it’s always a chance to meet other plant enthusiasts.
I learned a lot about the different ways people have been making money in this legal market.
One company present was doing a form of leasing in the state. They acquire licenses in various states and then lease the right to a grower or processor. This type of business model requires deep pockets initially. Licenses are not cheap; finding someone willing to gamble on their growing/ processing abilities takes time. No one I know of can hold on to a million-dollar license waiting for the next entrepreneur.
The next one is kind of exclusive to horizontal markets. In Washington State, one is limited to owning a grower/processor license or a store license; one can’t hold all three simultaneously. That said, grows and processors only make money when their products are on the shelves.
I met two female reps whom I was surprised to learn worked for multiple brands. One I’ve known for a while and was surprised to see her working with a different brand when I met her; from their position, there is no conflict of interest as long as they get your product on the shelves. It occurred to me that Washington State is an expensive State, and cannabis sales reps probably don’t make enough for a living just off of one brand.
Part of the reason I am an accidental journalist is I like to tell people’s stories. At events like these, I am overwhelmed by the options for content and stories, but at this recent event, the vendor I knew was in charge of a table full of jars shaped like shot glasses full of weed and concentrates. The brand is Top Shelf, one of the first in the I502 market. Their branding catches your eye, and their weed is just as good as the name implies.
Here at the Interchange, they were showcasing their new shot glass jar full of 7 grams of concentrate and the fact they’ve jumped into the concentrate market. Top Shelf in Washington State started as a grow and is now in the concentrate business extracted from their farm.
TJ Werth, the founder of Top Shelf, spoke with me for a bit, and he clearly has a passion for the plant and his business.
He talked about how he has the only cannabis patent, and that’s for the shot glass jars with lids; they’re pretty dope. What better way to throw your finger to the world over a misrepresented plant than to market it like alcohol by coming in a shot glass with an alcohol idiom?
TJ also spoke about his growing techniques and eagerness to expand to other states. He is eager to fly from garden to garden to perform QA. He believes in a more natural way to grow, and the flower speaks for itself. I had a dab of his Blue Dream extract; the flavors sent memories of the medical market days. It was Blue Dream times 100 from the terpenes to the “high” I experienced.
While there, I ran into two other media personalities and was surprised there wasn’t more live streaming. I did a little bit but got a little dabbed out.
Besides the two media groups I ran into, there was David Bienstock of Great Moments in Weed History fame and a longtime journalist who once worked for High Times Magazine. He was there to promote his joint venture with Saints Prerolls. A dope pack of 5 joints from 5 strains; think chocolate sampler box but for weed.
Keep in mind what I just wrote occurred in the course of two days and probably a total of 3 hours out of my life. Could you imagine what I could do if creating content paid my bills? But I digress. My point is, if you’re in a state with a “legal” market, the Marijuana Venture Interchange is worth it, where you walk away with content and, in other cases, contracts.