New concentrate-infused products
Advantis is introducing a new line of premium concentrate-infused products that it will make available through its existing business partners, before kicking off a new marketing campaign. "This is a luxury-inspired, premium quality, vacuum concentrate-infused cannabis amalgamation that is more powerful than anything we've seen in the marketplace," Advantis CEO, Christopher Swartz. "Several different exotic flavor profiles of some of the most potent medicine you may ever have, including strawberry, coconut and others." 

New app for 4/20
Metatron is releasing a new and revamped Canniboids app on 4/20., an Organic Nutraceuticals Portal, was designed for medical marijuana patients to have the resources to find the latest CBD news and connect to legal dispensaries. History has shown the weeks leading up to April 20th, dispensaries around the country show a significant increase in traffic and cannabis sales.The Cannaboids app was created by Metatron's subsidiary, i-Mobilize app division and was the pioneer to put any Hemp related app on iTunes, and this was the first app to market CBD based products exclusively. The app is based on Metatron's CDB portal and brand,

Get the word out on 4/20
Speaking of 4/20 - how are you promoting your company? Higher Ground can help! We're a full-service PR & Marketing agency that will connect you to your customers, tell your story, or design a campaign - and have fun doing it.

We're PR pros, social media wizards, digital experts, brand creators, video producers, website concoctors, and storytellers. We're ready to get to work for you.

4/20 is the perfect time to celebrate the industry but also increase your visibility, grow market share, and build passionate followers.

News of the weed
Here's a quick round-up of news we'd like to share: 

  • It seems like every week there's a piece on celebrities endorsing weed. But now, some are stepping away. Like Woody from Cheers (he's always going to be Woody from Cheers to us). 
  • Actual headline alert: Is Cannabis the Next Kale? Is it? 




Meanwhile in PA: New Jobs
AGRiMED Industries is obtaining a license to grow and cultivate medical cannabis - and is expected to create at least 62 new jobs in Southwestern Pennsylvania, they say. AGRiMED is a highly specialized medical cannabis cultivation company and will grow its inaugural crop in a new state-of-the-art facility that will help serve patients with medicines derived from cannabinoid compounds. "We intend to leverage local sources of energy to create a healthier economic environment for Greene County and leave a smaller carbon footprint on our surrounding community," said Bruce Goldman, CEO of AGRiMED.

Technology for the win
Shimadzu Scientific Instruments (SSI) has released of its Cannabis Analyzer for Potency that enables operators to produce accurate results with ease, regardless of cannabis testing knowledge or chromatography experience. This high performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC) is the first-ever instrument designed specifically for quantitative determination of cannabinoid content. With the Cannabis Analyzer for Potency, operators are now able to produce accurate results with ease, regardless of cannabis testing knowledge or chromatography experience.

Same strains, different names
CANNDESCENT, a cultivator of ultra-premium cannabis, is abandoning the use of traditional strain names, and will adopt an effects-based classification system, grouping its flowers Calm, Cruise, Create, Connect and Charge. Its system, they say, simplifies cannabis for users by combining informative names, colors, numbers, and tasting notes to indicate how users may feel after consumption. As part of its effects-based system, CANNDESCENT pairs activities with each strain the way a sommelier might tailor a wine selection to a particular meal or course. 

"You shouldn't need to bio-hack your body through a periodic table of ominous strains like Durban Poison and Trainwreck just to buy some cannabis," said Adrian Sedlin, CEO. 

News of the weed
Here's a quick round-up of news we'd like to share: 




Is weed dipping into beer sales?Research from Cannabiz Consumer Group (C2G) shows that legalized recreational marijuana has "canna-balized" (their word, not ours) 7.1% of revenues from the existing retail beer industry in legal markets. If cannabis were legalized nationally, the beer industry they say would lose more than $2 billion in retail sales. Twenty-seven percent (27%) of beer drinkers state that they already have substituted cannabis for beer, or would substitute their retail beer purchases with cannabis in the future if legal. Other segments of the alcohol industry including wine, spirits and on-premise sales are also being impacted as are other CPG categories, brands, and retailers.

Take note(s)
Passpot Publishing has launched Passpot, a cannabis passport and travel journal. Currently available exclusively through the company's Kickstarter campaign, the first run of basic and custom books will ship in time for supporters to enjoy cannabis festivities occurring the week of April 20 with Passpot in hand. Passpot walks readers through the basics of cannabis laws, product options, and consumption methods as well as the more scientific aspects including cannabinoids and flavonoids. The smell, taste, and terpene charts assist readers with the complicated process of rating cannabis, and the journal provides ample space to record cannabis adventures. Readers collect stamps and stickers from dispensaries, tour companies, events, and other cannabis-related businesses to add to the blank stamp pages found inside. Passpot can also be customized with personal information and a picture.

Bills on the Hill
It's true, there are numerous pieces of legislation pending in Congress that would provide protection for users and businesses in legal states. Here's a solid round-up of said bills. 




Get (really, really) secure
One California-based security company is taking armored vehicle security to the next level. Hard Car Security announced its plans to incorporate a built-in weapons detection system into the walls of client locations all over the U.S. The asset protection and armored transportation company services clients in California, Nevada, and Arizona, where they transport valuable assets and, most recently, marijuana. The veteran-owned company is comprised of professionally trained agents and drivers who are military veterans. The trained crew has the experience necessary to protect the most sensitive information and materials, and all employees are licensed and insured. In addition, each armored vehicle is equip with a camera system that records all aspects of each transaction, from pick-up to drop off.

Cannabis cohort drives new development
Canopy San Diego, Southern California's only seed-stage accelerator and investment program for technology and business infrastructure companies that support the legal cannabis industry, is pleased to announce the graduation of its inaugural accelerator program cohort. Each graduating company completed a 16-week cannabis-specific business accelerator program, designed to spur business development and prepare the companies to raise outside capital. Throughout the program, the participating companies were exposed to over 65 potential mentors, representatives from local venture firms, and key figures within the local entrepreneurial community. Additionally, Canopy San Diego hosted numerous public and private events to increase the participants' exposure to early adopters and potential customers within the local cannabis community, as well as local early stage technology investors.

U.S. Cannabis Market: 283,422 Jobs by 2020
New Frontier Data continues to find evidence demonstrating that legal cannabis is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S., and examines its growth in its upcoming annual report, The Cannabis Industry Annual Report: 2017 Legal Marijuana Outlook. New Frontier Data projects that by 2020 the legal cannabis market will create more than a quarter million jobs for American workers.

"These numbers confirm that cannabis is a major economic driver and job creation engine for the U.S. economy," said Giadha Aguirre De Carcer, Founder and CEO of New Frontier Data. "We expect the cannabis industry's growth to be slowed down to some degree in the next 3 to 5 years, however with a projected total market sales to exceed $24 billion by 2025, and the possibility of almost 300,000 jobs by 2020, it remains a positive economic force in the U.S."

Can we get a mic drop?

Spicer's comments on recreational usage
In case you missed it, Spicer hinted that "greater enforcement" may soon be coming down on recreational marijuana. We think the Marijuana Policy Project sums the situation up thoughtfully. Go here and read their statement.




California dreaming
Cali-based Eaze, launched in 2014, allows patients to get medical marijuana delivered by friendly, background-checked drivers from local dispensaries in under 20 minutes. Using data from more than 250,000 California cannabis consumers on the Eaze platform, and over 5,000 survey respondents, the second annual Eaze Insights "State of Cannabis" data report is out. It's huge. It's packed with data. There's too much to cover in one blurb, so here's some super high-level data to give you an idea of the research: 

  • NorCal is growing faster than SoCal
  • Vaporizers are growing in popularity, flowers are shrinking
  • Baby Boomers are fastest growing segment, Millennials are shrinking
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) is on the rise

Read the whole thing here.

Medical MJ market exploding
The global medical marijuana market is expected to reach a value of $55.8 billion by 2025, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. In 2016, Washington D.C. along with 28 states legalized marijuana for medical uses. In 2016, states such as Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania were approved to use the drug in medical applications such as chemotherapies and pain management. The growing number of states and countries getting approval for using it in therapeutic applications will be crucial factors driving the demand over the coming few years.

Who's funding the cannabis industry?
Funding for the cannabis industry has skyrocketed over the past four years with 2015 hitting a high of over $220M in equity financing to private companies, says CB Insights. The uptick in funding corresponds to the loosening of marijuana restrictions. 

The number of verticals being funded within the cannabis sector, including e-commerce, healthcare, and information service solutions, has also grown as startups begin to fill pain points within the cannabis supply chain.

CB Insights data was used to examine the most active investors in the cannabis industry globally. Many of these are either accelerators or cannabis-focused funds, highlighting the difficulty of attracting institutional dollars and the relative nascency of the space.

Check out the infographic that lays it all out. 




Two ways to meet us at Seed to Sale!
Higher Ground is participating at this year's Seed to Sale Show in Denver. I'll be appearing on the Advertising & Marketing Committee Roundtable, January 31, 11:30 am - 12:15 pm. If you're a communications pro, come learn, share, and collaborate on best practices. Bring your questions and ideas on communications and communications standards and leave with answers and action items. This session will be an open dialogue and a great opportunity to make your voice heard!

The night before the roundtable, there's a CMA Happy Hour Mixer. Join us for drinks and appetizers and mingle with folks from the Colorado and California chapters, and other conference attendees.  

Here are the details: CMA Happy Hour & Mixer, Monday, January 30th, 5:30 - 8:00pm, The Fire Lounge at The ART Hotel, 1201 Broadway, Denver

If you want to meet up before or after either event email me. Or just come up and introduce yourself.

Smell-proof your next trip
Sugarmade, Inc. announced the signing of a new contract to become the exclusive manufacturer of the SmelPro cannabis transport system, which enables nearly smell-proof and discrete shipping of cannabis. SmelPro is a significant improvement over currently available transport units used in the cannabis sector. SmelPro utilizes the proprietary polyamide sandwiched tri-liners developed for Sugarmade's CannaShroud product, combined with active carbon filtration to virtually eliminate all odors. The units are designed to be easy to carry, or to be worn as a backpack, and will initially be available in a choice of three colors, plus camouflage.

Choose your business name wisely
Stash Pot Shop, the largest retailer of variety, high-quality recreational cannabis in Seattle, announced it is changing its name to Lux. The string of retail marijuana shops is changing its name in response to legal pressure from Stash Tea Company of Portland, Ore., and anticipates the name change to be finalized over the next several weeks.  "After considering all of our options, changing our name allows us to avoid a legal battle and focus on what we do best as a company: providing our customers with the best product available and facilitating better education and awareness around legal, recreational cannabis," said Kc Franks, co-founder and owner of the newly named Lux Pot Shop.

Cannabis: An entrepreneur's dream
In order to bring you the latest in cannabis news, we read a lot of press releases and we read a lot of news. One thing we've noticed? Cannabis is everywhere for every lifestyle. From beer to coffee to food pairing, companies and products are popping up. In fact, just this week we read two stories to prove this. One piece looks at a Portland-based digital art studio that "creates intricate, other-worldly renderings of the various elements and life stages of the plant." Another post from Adweek revealed that a company is unveiling a new cologne that smells like our favorite strains. Do I have a point? Not really. But, maybe it's this: entrepreneurism is alive and well (and green). 




Increasing green yields
Two Kalamazoo entrepreneurs have launched AgTonik LLC to manufacture and market products containing an organic compound called fulvic acid that farms, greenhouses and hydroponics operations use to increase yields and promote plant growth.

Hydroponics operations that grow cannabis are among the fastest growing segments of customers using this high grade fulvic acid extracted from a mineral deposit AgTonik owns in the Southeast United States, said Andrew Bruex, CEO of AgTonik. The company has an 11,000-square-foot production facility in Kalamazoo and a 2,000-square-foot R&D location in Portage.

"Customers for this product include vegetable growers, poultry operations, a horse ranch, golf courses and a host of other businesses," said Bruex, who launched AgTonik with the company's Chief Science Officer and President Ralf Ostertag. "But the explosion of cannabis cultivation in the U.S. is like the old gold rush, and we are selling the pick axes and shovels."

New app connects to customers
American Green, Inc. announced a new app that will allow the company to deliver information, share offers or rewards and gather data anonymously. The data will improve the release of its native app Xpress and its ability to serve clients in general. The app can be added to a mobile phone screen exactly like something downloaded through the app store and can be shared through marketing initiatives or peer to peer. It enables the company to update content on the fly and through the interaction increase its knowledge of the market while communicating easily with large groups of people. The launch version features a survey of the cannabis market as a whole. The app will be regularly updated to feature new information, surveys, and product offerings. The company believes it's part of a new era in digital commerce as connectivity increases and devices continue to saturate the population. Applying technological innovation to create new forms of revenue is at the company's core. Download the app here.

Programs will get growers growing
HempTech Corp is offering GrowLease: lease programs for its flagship of automated grow systems for qualified marijuana grow license holders nationwide. The lease program would allow marijuana grow license holders to start growing immediately with little upfront cost. HempTech will provide its newest version of grow.droid, an Advanced Controlled Environment Grow Platform Engineered for Cannabis that could grow 24 plants, 48 plants or thousands of plants using the tent, container or facility model. The grow.droid™ system is a unique all-inclusive, automated Total Control Grow System. Every system is specially engineered for easy operation so users can start growing immediately with high-end, industrial-grade equipment and enterprise-level automation software. It is specially engineered with integrated agriculture equipment and software platform with set profiles and conditions for optimal grow and cycle performance. The plant profiles are customizable and can be created precisely for the needs of the individual strain.

Come meet us at Seed to Sale in Denver!
Higher Ground is participating at this year's Seed to Sale Show in Denver. I'll be appearing on the Advertising & Marketing Committee Roundtable, January 31, 11:30 am - 12:15 pm. Mark your calendars for January 31, from 11:30 - 12:15 p.m. for the roundtable. If you're a communications pro, come learn, share, and collaborate on best practices. Bring your questions and ideas on communications and communications standards and leave with answers and action items. This session will be an open dialogue and a great opportunity to make your voice heard!

If you want to meet up before or after email me. Or just come up and introduce yourself.



Join us at Seed to Sale in Denver on January 31

Greetings and a Happy New Year!

Now that 2017 is upon us, it’s time to get back to work!

We couldn’t be happier.

On that note, our founder, Robert O’Shaughnessy (that's him in the photo!), will be attending this year’s Seed to Sale Show in Denver at the end of January, and participating, along with cohorts from the NCIA, on the Advertising & Marketing Committee Roundtable.

Mark your calendars for January 31, from 11:30 – 12:15 p.m. for the roundtable. Come listen and learn but also ask questions at the Q&A session.

If you’re a communications pro, come learn, share, and collaborate on best practices. Bring your questions and ideas on communications and communications standards and leave with answers and action items. This session will be an open dialogue and a great opportunity to make your voice heard!

We look forward to seeing you!

And, if you want to meet after or before and grab a beverage, email Robert to connect. 




New updates for MassRoots' iOS app
MassRoots, Inc. launched an update to the iOS mobile application, available through the Apple App Store. New features include:

  • Geo-targeted native advertisements in MassRoots' local, buds and global feeds, enabling businesses to target advertisements to cannabis consumers in their local area.
  • In-depth strain and product pages with high quality photos and descriptions, enabling users to learn about their favorite strains and products and see what fellow enthusiasts have to say about them.
  • Revamped reporting and content screening mechanisms, in addition to an enhanced geo-fence, to ensure MassRoots remains in compliance with state cannabis regulations and the Cole Memorandum.

CannKorp keeps cranking
CannaKorp Inc., announced that it has successfully closed its Series A round of funding. The company raised a total of $4.1 million on a goal of $4 million. CannaKorp has now raised a total of $5.7 million in 2016, including a seed round earlier in the year that was also oversubscribed ($1.6M raised), making the company one of the most well-funded startups in the cannabis industry.

Flying (really) high
Ancillary Business Consultants, Inc., in association with the ABC Family Fund, Inc., (ABCFF), which provides assistance to children afflicted with severe forms of epilepsy, announced today an ultra-exclusive private jet tour for participants to learn about the enormous potential and opportunities occurring in the rapidly emerging legal cannabis and related business markets.

The ABCFF private Boeing 757 executive configuration jet will transport 50 guests on a unique eight-night travel adventure featuring 6-star accommodations, dining and select events with leading cannabis and related industry pioneers. Pairing prime cannabis strains with gourmet dining, this trip will include lectures by industry experts, tours of state-of-the-art facilities for cultivating, processing and distributing the finished product and the opportunity to meet some of the new leaders in the industry. 

Meet us at Seed to Sale in Denver!
Higher Ground is participating at this year's Seed to Sale Show in Denver. I'll be appearing on the NCIA's Advertising & Marketing Committee Roundtable, January 31, 11:30 am - 12:15 pm. There's also a Q&A session for all attendees. Bring your questions and ideas - leave with answers and action items. This session will be an open dialogue and a great opportunity to make your voice heard! If you want to meet up before or after email me. Or just come up and introduce yourself.





Marijuana sales soar
Arcview Market Research has announced the availability of its 5th edition of the "State of Legal Marijuana Markets Report," out later this month. We'll post some of the results here. Until then, here's an inspiring stat: regulated marijuana sales in North America totaled $6.7 billion in 2016, a 30 percent increase from 2015. Sales are projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 25 percent, from $6.7 billion in 2016 to an estimated $20.2 billion by 2021.

Here comes Washington
New Frontier Data and Arcview Market Research released its Washington Legal Cannabis Market State Profile , which explores the recent significant changes to the state's cannabis industry. The elimination of the medical system that was operating in parallel to the adult use market will lead to a significant contraction of the state's medical market, making the adult use market the primary driver of the $2.4 billion in cannabis sales projected by 2020. "The Washington market is maturing, but it has a long way to go to reach saturation. It will practically double by 2020. People really like cannabis and the regulated market is beating the underground market, as predicted," said Troy Dayton, CEO of The Arcview Group.

Apps and maps released its long-awaited cannabis app in the Google Play store. The app is the first app in the legal marijuana market to combine full mapping services for dispensaries, doctors, lawyers, cannabusinesses, and head shops with a full social network and blogging platform. "We are the first company to put all three elements together in one app. We have a full international blogging platform, a full mapping service based on where you are with your phone, and a full 'Facebook of Weed' for cannabis fans," says CEO, Curt Dalton. Go here to download. Look for the iOS version soon. 

Meet us at Seed to Sale in Denver!
Higher Ground is participating at this year's Seed to Sale Show in Denver. I'll be appearing on the NCIA's Advertising & Marketing Committee Roundtable, January 31, 11:30 am - 12:15 pm. There's also a Q&A session for all attendees. Bring your questions and ideas - leave with answers and action items. This session will be an open dialogue and a great opportunity to make your voice heard! If you want to meet up before or after email me. Or just come up and introduce yourself.




Cali: It's bigger than we thought
Brightfield Group's latest research has revealed that California's recent legalization of recreational cannabis could have a profound economic impact.  Brightfield's projections show that by 2020 Los Angeles alone would sell $1.4 billion per year in legal marijuana. 

According to Director of Research, Bethany Gomez, "Millennial medical marijuana patients spend almost $100 per week on cannabis, 16% more than older patients. Despite growing popularity of dabbing, 42% prefer edibles compared with only 21% for concentrates. In fact, baked goods alone are as popular with Millennials as all types of concentrates combined."

Let's get topical, topical
Papa & Barkley (P&B) have announced the release of its flagship Releaf™ line of topical cannabis products. Produced in Humboldt County, P&B combines "deep industry knowledge with modern science and a commitment to developing products with unmatched potency and quality." P&B products focus on whole-plant medicine and the "Right Ratio" philosophy. The Right Ratio premise is that each product has a specific profile of cannabinoids and terpenes working in concert to produce the maximum effect with the greatest result. P&B tests its profiles with cannabinoids derived from high-end strains of sun-grown flowers cultivated and processed in the Emerald Triangle of Northern California, the largest cannabis-producing region in the United States.

(Even) more Cali
OutCo has partnered with Monocle Research to conduct research  on the new state of cannabis in California. Here's what they found:

  • Marijuana consumables expected to grow to $11 billion by the end of 2017.
  • Industry growth will be spurred by the entrance of 7 million new or returning marijuana users into the California marketplace.
  • The rise of CBD use (a cannabis compound that has significant medical benefits). Many users and non-users expressed interest in the health benefits of CBD oils.
  • As a growing user segment, millennials are replacing alcohol outright in favor of cannabis

    Plug-and-play growing system
    LEAF has announced the launch of a new Plug-N-Plant™ grow system, a smart home appliance that lets users grow their own cannabis, food and herbs from the comfort and convenience of their own homes. Designed to automate the time-consuming and tedious process of cannabis growing, LEAF connects to your smartphone to let you control all aspects of the home growing process remotely. The device is paired with a mobile app for iOS and Android that offers an easy-to-use interface and beautiful design. It also has the optional ability to connect to your home's water and sewage for automated watering. The LEAF unit costs $2,990 will be shipping in fall 2017; LEAF is currently taking online pre-order deposits of $300.




Come join us in Berkeley!
We'd like to invite you to the next Bay Area Cannabis Marketing Association (CMA) meeting on December 14 in Berkeley.

A meeting of like-minded cannabis professionals, this meeting we will host a panel of local cannabis marketing professionals for a candid discussion on their unique use cases for social media. Learn how some of the top brands in the Bay Area that are engaging this proven communication channel to promote and grow their businesses.

Panelists will address questions from CMA moderators, Victor Pinho from Berkeley Patients Group and Robert O'Shaughnessy from Higher Ground Agency. There will be plenty of time for a great Q&A session. Join us as we meet to unlock some of the best-kept secrets in cannabis social media marketing.

The goal of the CMA is to build local communities in which cannabis entrepreneurs can cultivate effective and responsible marketing and PR practices through speaker events, workshops, and networking.

Come join us and let's build a solid community together. 

CannaKorp Announces New Advisor and Partner
CannaKorp has announced new additions to its growing team and ecosystem. Harvard-trained Cannabis expert, Dr. Jordan Tishler, has officially joined the team's Board of Advisors. Tishler is a leading expert on Cannabis therapeutics, with over 100 articles on "Cannabis as Medicine" available on his website, as well as a frequent resource for national media stories. 

CannaKorp also continues to expand its cultivator partner ecosystem with numerous growers and processors in key states in the US as well as Canada. While continuing its march to market launch in 2017, CannaKorp adds the Colorado-based licensed cultivator, Bolder Cannabis -- a well-respected, quality grower, processor and distributor.

"CannaKorp's partner ecosystem is a vital component of the superior Cannabis experience that CannaKorp will deliver to consumers and patients," stated James Winokur, CannaKorp CEO and Co-Founder.

New report on cannabis pesticides
Steep Hill today published an early report on the prevalence of pesticide contamination in the medical cannabis supply chain in California. According to "quantified pesticide analysis," 84.3% of cannabis samples submitted in Steep Hill's Berkeley lab tested positive for pesticide residues. These results were significantly higher than expected and are cause for concern for California cannabis consumers. 

Myclobutanil, typically sprayed on California grapes, almonds and strawberries, is legally listed as a "general use pesticide," but heating up the chemical, as is the case when smoking cannabis, converts Myclobutanil into Hydrogen Cyanide. Hydrogen Cyanide is a Schedule 3 substance under the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Of paramount concern is the extremely high level of Myclobutanil detected in cannabis samples tested by Steep Hill, which is in excess of 65% of all samples. Worth watching. 

Welcome, W!NK, to the Higher Ground family!
We have a new client that we're really excited about: W!NK. We'll be helping with communications as they are introduced in several states. We feel really confident that they are going to be a "big hit" and that's all we'll say for now. You'll know a lot about them at this time next year.