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Merger mania
Add four more big companies to the merger game (it's getting hard to keep track). Baker Technologies, Briteside, Sea Hunter, and Sante Veritas Holdings, have announced a merger to produce the "first fully integrated, multi-national cannabis company focusing on delivering a broad array of industry solutions." They're calling themselves TILT.

Cannabis chains
No, not the shackled kind, but franchises. This piecelooks at one company that's hoping to set up a franchise of shops throughout Oregon. Locals might not be stoked (since much of the money is coming from out of state) but buyers might be. One thing you can say about franchise shops? They're consistent.

Canada, cannabis and beer
Canada's beer industry is "expressing concern that the recreational marijuana market is going to cut into its profits, and it wants the government to raise the proposed tax to level the playing field."

California's cannabis sales in Q1?
The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) has released revenue numbers for cannabis sales in the first quarter of 2018: $60.9 million since January 1, 2018. Shwing.

Zine envy
We do a lot of poking around the internet to bring you the freshest news each week. And, as part of that, we read a lot of slick magazines, digital pubs, blogs, local paper zines, you name it. We're stoked at all of the great reporting on the industry happening right now. 

Each week we'll bring you a favorite. This week? Herb.Started out as The Stoner's Cookbook, re-branded as Herb they not only cover cannabis (news, politics, lifestyles) but in their own words: "We are not the couch-locked stoner caricature sketched by politicians with a hidden agenda and a lack of imagination."




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Higher Ground featured in Reason magazine
Cannabis-based companies have to navigate complex state-by-state regulations in order reach customers. Despite growing popularity and market value, it's difficult to advertise for cannabis companies. Read Robert O'Shaughnessy's thoughts on how you can navigate advertising hurdles (and if you want to learn more, let's talk).

Is too much cannabis a bad thing?
It might be great news for consumers, but not so much for growers. This article explores how some farmers have grown three times what the market can ingest, causing bud prices to plummet and some real worry in the community.

The 'Apple store' dispensary
Sure, many dispensaries still have unwelcoming, dim lights and plywood aesthetics, but many have taken it to the next level, with "clean lines, shining floors, and minimalist setup." One company profiled in the piece uses six color-coded cannabis-based formulas, which are designed to promote "wellness," "harmony," "awake," "calm," and  "sleep." And we think that's rad.

Need a gig?
There are an estimated 125,000 to 160,000 people working in the cannabis industry right now and budtenders could be the biggest in-demand position in the growing cannabis industry. Read why.



Higher Ground's Robert O'Shaughnessy featured in Reason magazine

 Robert O'Shaughnessy, co-founder/partner at Higher Ground

Robert O'Shaughnessy, co-founder/partner at Higher Ground

The headline says it all: Even Where Weed Is Legal, Government Regulation Makes Advertising It a Nightmare

It's true. Here's the opening salvo: 

Cannabis-based companies must navigate complex state-by-state regulations in order reach their customers. Despite their growing popularity and market value, cannabis products remains difficult to advertise.

Our own Robert O'Shaughnessy was featured in the piece providing insight on how cannabis companies—even those in states where it's legal—how to navigate some pretty choppy waters when they want to advertise, including their own followers on social media. 

There are ways to be successful in doing advertising under the rules, for sure (hint: you need to be more creative). Here's another thought from the piece: 

Without the largest internet platforms to boost their digital strategy, cannabis companies must get creative when targeting their customers. 

Read the whole piece here. And if you're confused about the regs and rules and want to get your newly launched brand out into the world without it being blown out of the sky? Let's chat!




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Two puffs and done?
A new study claims that medical cannabis users found relief from symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress from as little as a single puff of cannabis. Researchers noted a "50 percent reduction in symptoms of depression, and 58 percent reduction in anxiety and stress after cannabis use. As little as two puffs was sufficient to alleviate depression and anxiety, while 10 or more puffs showed effectiveness for stress."

Ding dong: Special delivery
California cities and towns are still allowed to ban sales of cannabis in their jurisdictions (whatever, dudes). However, a new bill in front of the California Senate "would allow marijuana companies to deliver their products anywhere in the state, including cities where legal sales are still banned." That's quite a nice loophole.

Print is not dead
We love print. We love when a new magazine launches. This piece looks at the slew of new ones hitting the market. The design? Top notch, as is the content.

A farm, in the middle of L.A.
When you think of growers and farms, oftentimes the vision of a bucolic farmhouse and rolling hills or a warehouse with LED lights come to mind. Here's a profile  of a farm, in the middle of L.A., that not only grows cannabis, they do it sustainably. For instance, they capture, reclaim and reuse between 1,500 and 2,000 gallons of water per day from dehumidifiers and central air conditioning. Super cool. 

Israel is worth watching
Despite Israel's pioneering role in medical marijuana, its cannabis market now faces uncertainty as canna-business stocks and pot exports encounter government scrutiny. Read more here. 




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The average cannabis user is...
Civilized recently teamed up with PSB Research to conduct a poll of over 1,000 Americans to get their thoughts and feelings about marijuana (and a clearer picture about who uses cannabis). Drum roll: "essentially the average American marijuana user is a white man in his 30's with no children living near or in a major city and a middle-class job and did not vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 election." Alrighty then.

LEED for weed?
Amanda Chicago Lewis from Rolling Stone is one of our favorite writers reporting on cannabis right now. This piece looks at the massive energy amounts large-scale growers are using. The solution might be a similar program to the popular LEED program to provide a similar point system for growers to lessen their impact by using energy-saving tactics like LED lights.

Mandatory pesticide testing in Washington?
Washington state marijuana business owners are "urging regulators to require cultivators to test adult-use crops for pesticides. "Some cultivators," according to the article, "hope such a move, already adopted in other states, would inspire confidence among consumers and bolster recreational marijuana sales."The downside? Small growers worry they won't be able to afford the testing.

First-Ever National Advertising Rules
The National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB), the first and only self-regulatory organization (SRO) for U.S. licensed cannabis businesses, has published for comment the NACB Advertising National Standard. The Standard is designed to help NACB members protect consumers and demonstrate to regulators, financial institutions and the public that NACB members operate at the highest levels of ethics and responsibility. 

Clients in the news
Zack Ruskin did a bang-up job (another writer covering some deep cannabis topics these days) reporting on the challenges of California's higher prices, long-time dispensary customers walking away, and maybe a possible solution. In the piece, Berkeley Patients Group COO Sean Luse explains the hurdles-and the opportunities.

Headline of the Week

This architect used to work for Disney. Now, he designs cannabis retail stores.

We're struggling to find a Mickey Mouse cannabis joke here. Read the piece anyway, it's fascinating. 



Higher Ground client, BPG, featured in SF Weekly

When California celebrated recreational cannabis on January 1, there were jubilation and cheers. Rightly so. Since then, there have also been some growing pains, most notably bureaucratic red tape (as expected) and taxes (no surprise) that have forced dispensary owners to raise prices.

In this piece from the SF Weekly, reporter Zack Ruskin talks about how those higher prices have driven long-time dispensary customers in California to grow their own cannabis. (Interestingly enough, in Oregon, the prices are dropping because of an over-abundance of crops.)

However, there might be a temporary solution: AB 3157, a California Assembly bill that would reduce the state’s excise tax from 15 percent to 11 percent and temporarily suspend a cultivation tax imposed on growers.

Read how our client, BPG, who’s exclusively interviewed for the piece, explains the hurdles—and the opportunities.

 Carol Ruiz, co-founder/partner, Higher Ground

Carol Ruiz, co-founder/partner, Higher Ground



Hey, it's 4/20. Do you know where your news is?

 In Portland,  Serra  is delighting customers.

In Portland, Serra is delighting customers.

Newsflash: It's 4/20. 

Actually, no, that isn't a newsflash. If it is, you're probably in the wrong industry. But because it is 4/20, you're probably not doing a lot of news reading. (If we're lucky, you've gotten this far). Hopefully your sales are soaring high and maybe you might be. 

So instead of our usual news roundup (where each week we diligently pour through the web to find you the finest cannabis news possible), we present some possible events you might attend and a couple of items that caught our eye this week.

Happy 4/20 Day! 

High design
It's no secret that dispensaries are getting fancier. Here are two we've recently visited. In downtown Portland, Serra is delighting customers. With sleek design (featured in gobs of design magazines), they also offer something called Happiness Hour, featuring in-house demos and other special offers. Also in Portland (there's a trend here), is one of the first CBD-only shops. The CBD Hemp Store (not the most original name) offers shoppers the chance to peruse CBD products in the store or online. If you're not quite ready to go into a cannabis shop with tons of THC, this might be your place.

Dropping their latest
SPARC, a San Francisco medical marijuana dispensary, totally gets it. They've collaborated with @jazzdispensary to launch an exclusive limited edition 45rpm single. Private Stock #001 features Bobby Rush's funk nugget, "Mary Jane" and Rusty Bryant's tried and true burner "Fire Eater" on the flip. The 45 will be available at all 4 Sparc locations on April 20, 2018.

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Some choice 4/20 events

Berkeley's own BPG (one of our rad clients) has a whole day of events planned with extended hours and will be the only dispensary in the Bay Area open from 6am-10pm on 4/20. The first members to arrive will take advantage of our Sunrise Specials, and enjoy coffee, donuts, and other fun giveaways.

Los Angeles will have tons of events going on. This one caught our eye: Magic Bus Experience: A Multi-Sensory 4.20 Event. It's a 60,000 square foot psychedelic wonderland "comprised of multiple whimsical environments inspired by marijuana culture." Four words: Adult-sized Pillow Fort. It's all day (until 4:20).

San Francisco will have its Annual 420 Gathering on Hippie Hill. For more than 50 years (!!), Hippie Hill has served as the iconic cultural landmark and gathering point for annual 4/20 celebrations, with nearly thousands of revelers attending 4/20 at Hippie Hill in 2017. This year will be no different.

Denver is having a Mile High 420 Festival. The event will have three stages of entertainment, with local craft and food vendors set up throughout the day. The festival is free to attend. Also in Denver is Myxed Up 420. The shop will be celebrating throughout the day, giving away free merchandise and munchies as the Myxed Up party bus is parked outside for legal, social pot consumption (21+). The party is free to attend, but RSVP on Facebook first.

In Boston, it's 420 Paint & Smoke BYOC. Paint and Smoke and enjoy live performances, giveaways, vendors, raffles and free paint and art supplies. In Western Mass in Worcester Canna Bros Presents: The 1st Annual 420 Ganja Galla, featuring Art Exhibits 4pm, VIP Cocktail and Appetizer Pre Mixer presented by Canna Bros Catering and musical Performances.

If you're in DC, wait a day (4/21) and attend the National Cannabis Festival. The concert features a headlining performance by hip-hop royalty Cypress Hill (but come for a whole day of music and good vibes).

Seattle's Hempfest (for members only-sign up for $15) will gather, raise spirits and reaffirm its convictions. There will be pizza, dessert, DJ's, music, & a raffle to support Jimmy Romans who is serving 30 years for cannabis distribution. 

In Portland? Local brewer Coalition is putting on the (first?) CBD Beer Fest. They'll have several CBD beers on tap, and a panel discussion.





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Boehner evolves
No doubt you've heard about John Boehner and his newly improved opinion on cannabis. But just in case, he casually mentioned on Twitter that his "thinking on cannabis has evolved" (and he's looking to get into business). 

Has he come to regret any role he had in his years with that big R next to his name including the role of his party in the history of mass incarceration for possession of this plant? Was there a particular strain passed among friends that caused him to see the light, and, if so, can we get some? 

Our take: de-stigmatization is a good thing, so this is a good thing. Plus maybe he can put in a good word with his buddies at DOJ to leave us alone.

The kids are alright
A high school sophomore recently won the local science fair for research on the relationship between cannabis and cancer. For the project, they examined the "effects of cannabinoids on squamous cell carcinoma, the second most prominent form of skin cancer, often spurred by excess UV exposure and tanning beds." Nice work. Our last science fair years ago involved a lame volcano that fizzled out.

Hops and cannabis
We're fans of botany. We love hops. We love cannabis. That said, the cannabis beer scene (yeah, that's a thing) is growing quickly. One example: a new company, CERIA, plans to brew cannabis-infused beers that are "very different to the ones that have entered the market so far." Intriguing.

Canada, Coffee, Cannabis
The Second Cup, a huge Canadian coffee chain says it plans to "open a network of recreational cannabis dispensaries, starting in Western Canada and then potentially moving east to other provinces where the drug is expected to soon be legal." Whoa.

Headline of the week
Cannabis museum to open in July in downtown Las Vegas

And it's going to feature a 360-degree theater.




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Pain in the ad
Placing ads for popular cannabis brands is still a huge hassle. And that mega-huge social media site we won't mention by name? Dream on. Here's how brands are working around this. (If you need help navigating, hit us up.)

Getting energized
Indoor cannabis farms are gobbling up megawatts of electricity. The energy requirements are massive. However, this might lead to a more thoughtful approach to growing, with cannabis growers leading the way to saving energy.

En masse in Massachusetts
Massachusetts companies that want to "operate retail marijuana stores in Massachusetts submitted a whopping 218 applications on the first day businesses could apply for recreational MJ business permits." 

And that's just for a place in line for licensing.

Watch us at NECANN
Speaking of Massachusetts, last month we spoke at NECANN in Boston. In case you missed our presentations, we shot some video. Check them out here. 

2018 Oscar swag bags: more magic
You're familiar with the swag bag at the Oscars, right? Performers and presenters get a bag every year with some super fun stuff. This year, cannabis played a role (and by "role" we mean bags full of product) thanks to cannabis swag bags.

Headline of the week
The Bumpy Road to Becoming the Martha Stewart of Cannabis

Hopefully it doesn't involve jail time. 




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Back to school
When the Cleveland School of Cannabis began its first introductory classes on marijuana in January 2017, the facility's small staff was overwhelmed with interest from prospective students. In other words, it's been a huge success.

Is the black market alive and well?
"Market disruption" is something usually reserved for tech but it's quickly becoming a term being used for cannabis. For now, product in California is available for retail, but some brands are in short supply. But? "The black market appears to be thriving anew-invigorated by dissuasive taxes on growers, plus licensing fees and frustrations over difficulties of entering the legal economy." The plot will thicken.

On a roll
New Frontier Data's new study, Cannabis In the U.S. Economy: Jobs, Growth and Tax Revenue, 2018 Edition, forecasts that under full federal legalization cannabis has the potential to create cumulatively $105.6 billion in federal tax revenue and 1 million new jobs by 2025. And, here's a cool nugget: If full legalization occurred in all 50 states today, there would be an excess of 654,000 jobs, and would increase to 1 million jobs by 2025.

More about NECANN
Good to see you in Boston at NECANN last weekend. Big props to my co-panelists, Beth Waterfall, David Day, Sirita Wright and Holly Alberti. Don't fret if you missed the session. We'll be uploading it to our YouTube page very soon!

Headline of the week
How to make a cannabis birthday cake

It's our birthday next month (hint hint). 




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Listen in
We love podcasts. We love history. We love (obviously) cannabis. Enter: a new podcast called "Great Moments in Weed History with Abdullah and Bean. The LA Times describes it as a "THC-trivia-packed adventure focusing on the relationship between pot and cannabis-culture heroes." 

From the NFL to cannabis entrepreneur
Ricky Williams, the Miami Dolphins, early retirement, then going back to the NFL. It all seems so long ago. And now? Williams just launched Real Wellness by Ricky Williams (RW), a cannabis-based wellness brand created for the health-conscious cannabis consumer.

Cannabis in Texas
Companies in the cannabis industry in Texas must "navigate conflicting state and federal laws, risk backlash from banks and state agencies, and overcome the stigma of selling a product that some consider dangerous or taboo." Read why.

Headline of the week

The World's First Plane Made From And Powered By Cannabis

There are so many "flying high" jokes to be made but we'll just let the headline speak for itself.

Meet us in Boston this weekend!
Hey! We are headed to New England for

NECANN this weekend to present (one session on marketing and the other on how we crushed it with PR for a client on California's first legal day of recreational sales). Will you be there? We'd love to meet you. Let's connect!




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Lies, damned lies, and statistics
Cannabis has been the victim of a series of lies meant to stigmatize those who use the herb, particularly over the past century. However, as science on the subject moves forward, researchers are proving these ridiculous theories as simply false. Here are five that really stand out.

Design meets cannabis
Meet Say Hi, a "highly edited online marketplace where consumers can find the types of sophisticated, design-minded cannabis products you can't find in the locked glass closet of your local deli." The site is beautifully designed and curated, natch.

Marketing cannabis
This is a solid piece that explores four ways to market your cannabis product or service. Facebook isn't anywhere near the list. (And if you need guidance with your marketing, you can always call us.)

Boston bound
Hey! We are headed to New England for NECANN in a couple of weeks to present two wicked awesome presentations (one on marketing and the other on how we crushed it with PR for a client on New Year's Day). Will you be there? We'd love to meet you. Let's connect!