| AspenTimes.com

State marijuana tax dollars provide limited support locally

Marijuana is displayed in glass canisters in glass cases around High Q in the Snowmass Village Mall. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The three-county region of Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin encompasses 5,621 square miles, has a combined population of 133,000 residents, and is home to dozens of marijuana shops.

Those stores also combined for more than $66 million of Colorado’s record-breaking $2.2 billion in retail sales of marijuana in 2020, according to Colorado Department Revenue data.

Consumers of retail marijuana in Colorado are hit with a trio of taxes at the point of sale — there’s a 2.9% state sales tax, a 15% marijuana retail sales tax (not applicable to medical pot), and a 15% excise tax. Some municipalities — such as Snowmass Village, but not Aspen — have additional taxes on cannabis. Snowmass voters passed a 5% sales tax on marijuana in November 2018.

Pot sales and populations

Retail marijuana sales in 2020

County Sales

Eagle $22.8 million

Garfield $29.2 million

Pitkin $14.4 million

Total $66.4 million

Source: Colorado Department of Revenue; totals are rounded up

Populations by county

Eagle 55,127

Garfield 60,061

Pitkin 17,767

Source: U.S. Census Bureau (figures based through July 2019)

Taxing marijuana has been a primary arguing point for advocates of cannabis legalization, including those “fiscal conservatives who complain America is spending $40 billion a year on the War on Drugs rather than making a few billion taxing it,” journalist Ioan Grillo wrote in “El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency,“ published in November 2011.

When it comes to billions in tax revenue from pot sales, count Colorado — where in November 2012 voters passed Amendment 64 legalizing the sale of retail marijuana, pitched as a boon to school districts’ coffers — among the beneficiaries. Voters a year later in 2013 approved Proposition AA calling for a 15% excise tax and up to 15% retail tax, which started at 10%.

Ever since the clock struck 9 on the morning of Jan. 1, 2014, in Colorado, people have been buying marijuana legally, needing just an ID to show they’re 21. Through December they’d bought enough cannabis products — that doesn’t include paraphernalia and other accessories — to close in on the $10 billion mark in sales. More precisely, it was $9,978,794,073 in sales through December.

From February 2014 to January 2020, the state had collected $1.6 billion in marijuana taxes and fee revenue, according to the Department of Revenue.

Colorado marijuana tax revenue

2021 $35 million (January only)

2020 $387.5 million

2019 $302.5 million

2018 $266.5 million

2017 $247.4 million

2016 $193.6 million

2015 $130.4 million

2014 $67.6 million (Feb – Dec)

Source: Colorado Department of Revenue

Where the money goes

On its website, the Colorado Department of Education notes “though the amount of tax revenue that comes from marijuana sales is minimal — around 1 percent of the state’s total education budget — the money is directed to a variety of programs, including school construction, bullying prevention and behavioral health.”

The chart from the Colorado Department of Education breaks down the method in which marijuana tax dollars are allocated.

The Aspen School District has seen some marijuana tax dollars — more than $80,000 annually for three years to pay for a district counselor from 2017-20. That money, $250,000, came from the School Health Professional Grants Program, which is supported through taxes from marijuana sales.

Yet the district, which is coming off a November win at the polls where voters approved spending $95 million on capital improvements, hasn’t reaped any of money from the Colorado Department of Education’s Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program since it started to receive one-third from marijuana excise tax dollars. The program also is supported by revenue from the Colorado Lottery and the state land trust. BEST budgeted nearly $90 million for fiscal year 2019-20 to go toward school construction, according to the CDE.

BEST, which was established in 2008, in 2012 approved a grant application from the Aspen Community School, awarding it $4.2 million toward the construction of the new charter school in Woody Creek.

At the time the grant was awarded, the BEST program was not supported by marijuana dollars.

Aspen School District CFO Linda Warhoe said other than funds used to pay a school counselor, the district has seen minimal marijuana tax revenue. The Aspen Education Association raises private funds for the district and provides the district with much greater financial aid without the strings attached to state funding, she said.

Even so, Warhoe said the district plans to be more aggressive when it comes to pursuing marijuana tax dollars.

“I think our governor has heard loud and clear from school districts that this isn’t benefiting everyone, and there’s money sitting there not being spent. And we’re sitting here with no pay raises,” Warhoe said of stagnant wages.

“We need to make sure our voices are heard,” she added.

From 2015-19, the city of Aspen’s take of state marijuana taxes was $525,000, including $168,011 in 2019, according Pete Strecker, city finance director.

“The state has requirements around its retained portion of the tax, but for our local government share – we apply these as discretionary resources for supporting departments under the General Fund,” Strecker said in an email to The Aspen Times.

Snowmass Village Town Manager Clint Kinney said he isn’t aware of any state marijuana tax dollars coming to the town. The town combines its local tax revenue from tobacco and marijuana sales, which totaled $134,917 in 2020. Similar to Pitkin County’s tobacco tax, which will increase 10 cents annually until it reached $4 per pack, the collections will be used to support local social and mental-health services.

Pitkin County and local law enforcement in 2018 also received a grant from the state Office of Behavioral Health, which came from state marijuana tax revenue, to create a diversion program intended to keep people struggling with mental health issues or with substance abuse out of jail.

The progarm, called Pitkin Area Co-Responder Team, is supported by a grant of “up to $362,500 per year from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund, which was awarded to Pitkin County Public Health in 2018 by the Colorado State Office of Behavioral Health,” the county said at the time.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

 

 

High Country: Behind the design of Dalwhinnie Farms, downtown’s newest (and fanciest) dispensary

A $14,700 crystal saddle by Aspen-based artist James Vilona is available for purchase. Dalwhinnie Farms plans to rotate its roster of showpieces seasonally.
Courtesy Dalwhinnie Farms

In rural Ridgway, Colorado, what was once a dressage riding arena on a 230-acre equestrian ranch transformed into a 30,000-square-foot indoor cannabis cultivation in 2019. Two years later and a few hours north, Dalwhinnie Farms debuted a retail extension — a fancy, flagship boutique in the downtown core.

Dalwhinnie Farms is deliberately extravagant. It’s why the family-owned company chose Aspen over nearby Telluride.

Dalwhinnie Farms-branded cashmere blankets, candles, apparel, accouterments and equestrian-style leather goods compliment its cannabis.
Courtesy Dalwhinnie Farms

“Our roots are very much in Colorado, and few towns are more Colorado than Aspen. You can be luxe without being snooty, and that’s part of the ethos that inspires the Dalwhinnie Farms brand,” shared Dalwhinnie Farms CEO Terrence Mendez. “We grow and sell premiere flower, absolutely, but we also have a lot of fun while doing so. We also felt that Aspen needed a cannabis boutique that fit alongside iconic businesses like the Hotel Jerome, St. Regis or The Little Nell. We designed the store to be unlike any other cannabis dispensary on Earth.”

But it was a long road (pun very intended) to get here. The pandemic and construction delays (working closely with the city’s Historic Preservation Commission) pushed the grand opening from spring to fall last year, with its doors originally opening in September. Before that, the Dalwhinnie name made headlines for a Clean Colorado roadway sponsorship. What was intended to be a generous community-building gesture resulted in an attempt to censor cannabis with an official complaint from Pitkin County sent to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). The signs are legal and remain in place on its designated stretch of Highway 82.

As the eighth (yes, eighth) cannabis dispensary in town, Dalwhinnie Farms stands apart from mostly basement-dwelling, green cross-stamped competitors with a grand, ground-level storefront. Inside, a team of “Cannasseurs” (a welcome departure from “budtenders”) guides guests through “connoisseur-grade cannabis” of its own and other products from leading Colorado brands like Coda Signature, Binske, 1906 and Ripple by Stillwater Brands. Concentrates and wax come from its Shift Genuine Cannabis line, which Dalwhinnie Farms acquired in 2020 and processes at an extraction lab in Denver.

Dalwhinnie Farms flower is available in 1/8 jars for $60; Summerland's Chongo bong in glossy white.
Courtesy Dalwhinnie Farms

But it’s everything else they’re stocking that’s making a statement. Think: Jacquie Aiche’s beloved Sweet Leaf line (custom vintage Rolexes included), Rogue Paq carrying cases, Pasotti umbrellas, Badash crystal ashtrays, home goods from Jonathan Adler and handmade pipes and bongs by Summerland and Stonedware. Dalwhinnie Farms-branded cashmere blankets, candles, apparel, accouterments and equestrian-style leather goods are also on hand.

A Jacquie Aiche custom-adorned Sweet Leaf vintage Rolex retails for $15,000.
Courtesy Dalwhinnie Farms

“We’ve curated a selection of designer apparel, jewelry and home goods in addition to top-of-the-line cannabis showpiece accessories from all over the world—with the traveler, entertainer and aesthete in mind,” explained Dalwhinnie Farms CRO Ashley Grace, who was a founding marketing executive with Charlotte’s Web. “This building dates back to 1890 and housed general stores, coffee shops, beauty parlors and diners throughout the ages, so it was inspiring to create a space to also sell Dalwhinnie Farms dry goods and sundries to continue that heritage.”

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.

SHOP

Dalwhinnie Farms

108 S. Mill St., Aspen

970-429-8830

dalwhinnie.com

@dalwhinniefarms

 

High Country: How one social equity leader helped land $4 million for Colorado’s war on drugs

Sarah Woodson got her start in the industry in 2016 when she launched Kush & Canvases, a cannabis hospitality company offering painting classes, culinary experiences, and more.
Damian Mathis/24K Motion Pictures

In Colorado, approximately 87% of cannabis business owners identify as white. But in the first state to legalize adult-use marijuana sales, that figure might finally drop with the state dedicating $4 million in new funding to advance industry involvement for communities negatively affected by the War on Drugs.

Originally conceived as the Cannabis Opportunity Program and recently renamed as the Cannabis Advance Program (CAP), the proposal was co-written by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) and the governor’s office. The achievement was born from House Bill 1424, which passed in 2020 and was the first monumental action towards addressing the inequality inherent in Colorado’s regulated marijuana industry; it legally defined “social equity marijuana” and gave Colorado Gov. Jared Polis the authority to expunge criminal records for possession of up to 2 ounces (he later announced plans to mass-pardon 2,700-plus marijuana convictions).

“It was great to hear that members of the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee approved $4 million dollars to create the Cannabis Advancement Program pending passage of legislation,” Polis shared with me via email shortly after the committee vote in late January. “We look forward to working with the legislature to achieve our mutual goal of creating a Colorado for all and repairing the disenfranchisement of those who were harmed by the failed War on Drugs.”

But quietly leading the charge behind the scenes is Sarah Woodson, an up-and-coming political powerhouse and executive director of The Color of Cannabis, a Denver-based nonprofit with a mission of “creating a pathway to help more minorities get into the [cannabis] industry” through course offerings, lobbying, and criminal justice support.

Woodson, who is also the founder of the cannabis hospitality company Kush & Canvases, has industry and activism experience with former roles ranging from consulting for the Marijuana Industry Group and acting as the Legal Redress Chair for the NAACP’s Denver chapter to currently serving on the Denver African American Commission.

“This is really about creating an environment where we can discuss what wasn’t right so that we can correct the wrong,” said Woodson during a phone interview. “How can we create more wealth for Black and Brown communities through this billion-dollar industry?”

Like many Coloradans, Woodson was drawn to changing the course of her career when cannabis became legal to purchase recreationally in 2014. But it was also from the encouragement of her husband Terrence, who like a disproportionate number of Black men, had a possession felony on his record.

“The way I reacted was like a lot of people in African American communities and said, ‘Are you kidding me? You want to sell weed? What? This is crazy,’” reflected Woodson.

Realizing the state limitations on entrepreneurs with prior convictions, the Denver native decided to take the leap with him, together launching an ancillary venture as a workaround in 2016 focused on cannabis infused experiences including painting and cooking classes. Woodson left behind one of the largest pro se bankruptcy and divorce companies in the state of Colorado, where as CEO and a certified paralegal, she also created an equity program for women of color to start their own businesses.

“[My husband being excluded from the beginning] didn’t make any sense to me. It’s like telling Anheuser-Busch that because they participated during prohibition, they couldn’t participate during the legalization or the regulation of [alcohol] after?” Woodson explained. “So I started thinking, ‘What else can we do?’ And once I got involved with the Marijuana Industry Group, it was like, ‘Wow — there are people that are sitting around creating these rules and regulations and none of them are people of color.’ Now that it is legal and regulated, those with nonviolent cannabis convictions should be able to have the same opportunity.”

According to Westword, which obtained a recent copy of the proposal — originally asking for $5 million — the money will be distributed to start to provide more opportunities as follows (OEDIT declined to share funding specifics due to the ongoing legislative process):

“Suggested loan amounts range from $50,000 to $100,000. On top of the loan pool, a little under $1 million is proposed for grants to social equity businesses and support organizations that are ‘seeking to innovate and expand’ the marijuana industry while creating new jobs, according to OEDIT, with several hundred thousand dollars allocated to supporting the new business owners by providing help with business plans, operational consultations and other services.”

After working tirelessly for the cause — one that Woodson humbly assured was “a truly collaborative effort” with a team of fellow volunteer advocates and lobbyists, in close conjunction with Ean Seeb, the Governor’s special advisor on cannabis — in the State Capitol over the past two years, a run for office might be in her future, too.

“I believe that [Colorado] can become the gold standard for social equity [in cannabis]. And when it comes to representation, Black and Brown people are not only disenfranchised when it comes to health, education and wealth — but it’s also the same thing in politics,” added Woodson. “So I want more people to understand that it’s not that scary. You can do it. You can get involved, but it takes a lot of work. If I get to the point where the devotion I have for social equity also lies in running for a public office, then I will absolutely do it — that’s the freedom of being an entrepreneur — operating on sheer force, grit, and passion.”

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.

High Country: From Burton to Dosist, Anne-Marie Dacyshyn reaches new heights in cannabis

Three years ago today, Anne-Marie Dacyshyn had unknowingly embarked on her final Winter X Games in Aspen as Burton’s chief marketing officer. Rising through the ranks of the iconic snowboarding brand since her start with the company in 2006, she headed from Aspen to PyeongChang for the 2018 Winter Olympics, where she received a random phone call that changed the course of her career.

On the other end, from the other side of the world, was Dosist. The Los Angeles-based cannabis start-up, first founded in 2016 as hmblt, earned a spot on TIME magazine’s “25 Best Inventions” list that year (it’s also since been recognized by Fast Company as one of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies” and one of LinkedIn’s “Top Startups 2019: The 50 hottest U.S. companies to work for now”). The executive team was recruiting her — and only her — to lead the Dosist marketing team.

With Dacyshyn officially on board as chief marketing officer, Dosist continued to emerge as a leader in the vaporizer category promising to deliver “health and happiness” through a patented precision technology pre-loaded into its sleek, white Dose Pens.

Widely available at dispensary partners throughout California, Dosist has expanded its reach to Canada, Nevada and, most recently, Colorado, where its product line hit licensed retailers in the spring of last year. Also amid the pandemic, the company has introduced Dosist THC-Free — high-concentration tinctures targeting three benefits (Calm, Sleep and Relief) and available online for nationwide shipping; a spray and topical are coming soon.

And earlier this month, Dosist teamed up with 710 Labs and Bear Extraction House to launch a live resin collection designed for cannabis purists to offer an elevated potency with ongoing limited-edition pod drops of each cult company’s most exotic strains. All Dosist live resin and liquid live resin products are now available through Dosist delivery in Los Angeles and at select retailers across California; a Colorado rollout is slated for the first quarter of 2021.

Ahead of a crowd-less X Games (Jan. 29-31 on ESPN) unlike any the annual event has experienced before, I caught up with Dacyshyn via phone from her home in Santa Monica to talk all things cannabis, snowboarding and stigma.

KATIE SHAPIRO: Tell me about this chance phone call you had while on the ground with Burton in PyeongChang?

ANNE-MARIE DACYSHYN: I was honored and humbled to be there. We had dozens of athletes that had made their respective national teams, and Burton had designed the uniforms, which we were very proud of, for a number of the nationalities. So it was just a very special, kind of career pinnacle moment of being there with Jake Burton (who passed away in 2019), his family, all of our athletes and their families. (It was) so special. So, out of the blue, I get this call. And honestly, everything about what I heard just turned my head. I am just such a brand girl and a passionate marketer by nature. And I was very intrigued by their product platform and mission. I leaned in and took a meeting — fast-forward to today, where I’m coming into my third year of being with the Dosist team.

KS: That’s like a lifetime in cannabis years.

AMD: Right? What I loved about Dosist was that they’ve always been a slow play. We’re building a forever brand. We’re going to really remove the stigmas. We’re going to really bring people back to the essence of the plant.

KS: Did you have any sort of concerns leaving such an accepted industry for cannabis at all?

AMD: What’s so interesting about it was that it felt oddly like getting back on the ride that snowboarding had provided to me because there are so many similarities. Snowboarding was literally illegal in the beginning. (Burton) had to disrupt and pioneer a very traditional category like skiing and really learn to put education first. I remember what Jake, who was a longtime mentor of mine, always said: “If you put the education and the experience of the sport first, the commercial success and the brand follows.” Dosist felt like an opportunity to do that again.

KS: How have the stigmas compared?

AMD: Cannabis in most of the world is still illegal. So it felt like, “Wow, I’ve sort of been groomed for this.” And to be able to bring those same playbooks of using education to take away the stigmas and make people feel more comfortable of what this amazing plant can do — it’s an incredible opportunity to be part of this new, exciting global story. I had a pull to stay on the ride that had already been established, but there was a greater pull into this moment. Working with Jake helped set me up to do this — he also used to say, “When someone offers you a seat on a rocket ship you don’t say, ‘which one?’ You just go.”

KS: How do you think the perception is changing within both industries — especially as it relates to professional athletes and potential cannabis brand sponsorships?

AMD: The wider adoption is what I’m so excited about as it relates to Dosist. (Professional) athletes are helping change and shape the conversation about cannabis right now. We know, scientifically, cannabis has real human performance benefits and the fact that it is still forbidden in most sports is just archaic. Not letting athletes embrace plant-based therapy for pain, recovery or performance anxiety — instead, pivoting them to manufactured drugs? It just feels like the world needs to go in a different place and let them be able to choose cannabis as part of their wellness routines. At Dosist, the fact that we are very science-based, we are trying to take a firmer stance, get more involved and have a louder voice in this conversation.

KS: Your new THC-Free line is probably the easiest entry point, right?

AMD: Even with our current THC footprint, it’s, frankly, still very difficult to scale. So as a result, we realized there was an opportunity to create a national product line — removing the THC, but keeping all the other product tenets of the brand in tact. We created three CBD-, CBG- and CBN-forward formulas using a self-emulsifying technology to allow them to work with your body faster. And we’re doing it at another level than the “me-too CBD brands” — this was critical to us because most people are going to discover the Dosist brand through this line, before they discover it through a dispensary.

KS: I was stoked to hear about your collaboration with my go-to concentrates brand 710 Labs.

AMD: I am thrilled about our new Dosist Live Resin collaboration. It came about two ways: a shared (passion for) innovation and a pre-existing great relationship between our collective product teams; on a personal front, the founder and CEO Brad Melshenker is a close friend of mine, which made it that much more real and authentic for us to come together. 710 Labs are masters at what they do, and their highly curated live resin oil placed in our proprietary performance vaporization devices is a combination that is turning heads in the category already. Our Dose Pen technology elevates the flavor, consumption and experience of their oil at a whole new level, so in the end we have made something amazing together and cannabis enthusiasts are super excited.

KS: What does your own Dosist routine look like?

AMD: With the career I’ve had, cannabis was obviously very accepted. It’s always been around, so I’ve never really personally experienced the stigma — and spending so much time in Colorado for work over the years, it’s been so accessible. For me, it always felt safe and healthy. How I use it today? Absolutely daily. I have at least four Dose Pens and pods on me at all times — like a quiver of snowboards — to serve the headspace I’m in at any moment. If I work out, I like Relief because it can help soothe little aches and pains. If I have a little stress, I use Calm to smooth things out. And then, if I’m winding up in the evening to have dinner or, pre-COVID times, to go meet some friends, I like our THC-Plus formulas. My two favorites are Arouse and Bliss because I know they’re going to give me a nice feeling to bring me up. (Being able to match your mood) with all of these effects is why I love this brand so much — it allows you to pivot from full wellness to full elevation and everything in between.

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.

SHOP LOCAL

Find Dosist locally at the following downtown Aspen and Basalt dispensaries and shop Dosist THC-Free online at dosistthcfree.com.

Euflora

710 E. Durant Ave., Aspen, 970-925-6468, eufloracolorado.com

Silverpeak

520 E. Cooper Ave., Aspen, 970-925-4372

The Green Solution

106 S. Mill St., Aspen, 970-760-0284, tgscolorado.com

Goodpeople

175 Midland Ave., Basalt, 970-718-8102, goodpeoplemj.com

 

Marijuana drive-up windows spark heated debate in Dillon

Altitude Organic Cannabis is pictured Jan. 6 in Dillon. Town officials have agreed to push forward with a new ordinance to permit marijuana walk-up and drive-up windows in town.
Photo by Sawyer D'Argonne / sdargonne@summitdaily.com

Marijuana users soon could have more convenient options to purchase dispensary products in Dillon.

The Dillon Town Council is poised to adopt a new ordinance that would allow licensed marijuana stores to sell their products through walk-up or drive-up windows, a new option allowed this year due to changes to the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division’s regulations.

No official vote has taken place, but the council has decided to push forward with an ordinance at a future meeting despite a contentious debate that clearly divided council members on the issue.

Officials first broached the subject during a work session discussion Jan. 5, when the council reached consensus to pick up the talks again in more detail later on. Town staff presented council members with a draft ordinance Tuesday afternoon, which provided a first look at how the idea would work in practice.

According to the ordinance, dispensaries first would have to apply for a modification to their buildings for the addition of a walk-up or drive-up window, and the area immediately outside the windows would have to be on the dispensary’s property. Dispensaries also would be prohibited from adding any permanent menus displaying the word “marijuana” or any images of marijuana plants or products at the windows. They would also be prohibited from displaying products indoors that are visible from the window. Businesses would be allowed to hand menus to customers as they walk or drive up to windows.

Otherwise, the town’s code essentially would default to state regulations, requiring the stores to verify customer IDs and medical cards, video surveillance of every transaction, and proper packaging and labeling of marijuana products.

Of note, online orders would be accepted for medical marijuana, but not for retail marijuana. Telephone orders would be accepted for both.

Council members Renee Imamura, Karen Kaminski and Steven Milroy all opposed the idea and asked that either new language be added to the code to prohibit the windows or a moratorium be put in place on development applications until more research could be done on the windows’ potential impacts on the community.

Milroy said he supported the marijuana consumption lounge ordinance that council passed last year because education opportunities were offered to promote safe use among customers. He expressed concerns that the drive-up and walk-up windows moved in the other direction, with consumers likely spending less time speaking with budtenders.

Milroy also said the council had too many other important topics to discuss to keep returning to marijuana conversations.

“We’ve got an hour on the agenda on marijuana tonight,” Milroy said. “To me, it’s just a waste of time. I want to talk about the town core. I want to talk about why business sucks in the town core. … Why aren’t we talking about that? This is going to help one business. It might result in a few thousand dollars in sales tax revenue. I just think our priorities are off.”

Others voiced that community groups already have come out against the idea and that the council needed to heed the concerns of residents and stakeholders around the county.

“I feel that we should get more public input, and maybe a presentation, before drawing up an ordinance that allows this type of thing,” Imamura said. “… It doesn’t really just affect Dillon; it affects Silverthorne and other towns, too. … There are stats from Youth and Family Services they’d like to bring to our attention. That’s why I’d like the verbiage to say ‘no’ right now until we have more discussions and information.”

Representatives with Summit County Communities That Care, which operates under the county’s Youth and Family Services department, along with the Summit County Public Health Department both opposed the concept during the initial discussion earlier this month, citing concerns about youth substance use and impaired driving.

“Those (numbers) aren’t based on drive-up windows,” council member Jen Barchers said. “Those are based on illegal use of marijuana by underage kids. That’s going to happen no matter what. We’re talking about legal people going to these shops anyway. All we’re saying is here’s another option, just like Walgreens or a bank. …

“Let’s let our legal businesses do what’s legal, and let that moral and ethical fight be in the proper place, not at a drive-up window discussion.”

Other proponents of the change agreed that the arguments being made against the windows were based more on anti-marijuana sentiments and that improving convenience for marijuana users wouldn’t have any impact on who has access to the substance or how they use it.

“It’s legal,” council member Kyle Hendricks added. “It’s here. It’s a business trying to reach more people and make it more convenient for people who can legally buy it. We are way beyond whether or not this is the right thing to do. It’s a drive-thru window to buy a product. Period.”

Of note, the council could decide not to act at all, but officials felt that without clear language in the town code expressly prohibiting the windows, failing to make any changes would in effect serve as an approval of the new sales options.

“We don’t have a strong enough code to say one way or the other whether it’s approved or not,” Mayor Carolyn Skowyra said. “… If we don’t go forward with it, drive-up windows are allowed in our community. We would lose an argument that they’re not allowed.”

The council decided to move forward with a formal vote on the ordinance in an upcoming meeting, though some voiced strong displeasure in how the conversation unfolded.

“Some of us are saying, ’Let’s hear from people. Let’s get some more information,’” Kaminski said. “We don’t agree with this, and that’s not being heard. … I don’t think that people are treating people respectfully in this conversation, so why would I want to speak up because I’m just going to get shut down anyway? There’s no respect, and there’s no listening to anybody going on in this conversation. I’m disappointed with the way this whole thing has been handled.”

But others said continuing to argue the same points wouldn’t ultimately help to change any opinions.

“Sometimes in council, that’s the deal,” Barchers said. “If four of us agree, and we’re not going to be swayed by the additional information, then at that point that’s when we do have to say, ‘OK, we’re good. We voted.’ It’s 4-3, and sometimes, unfortunately, that’s the way it goes. … There’s only so much you can argue.”

 

High Country: Warm up and calm down this winter with CBD-infused soup

Kitchen Toke’s Winter Issue is on newsstands now and online at kitchentoke.com.
Courtesy Kitchen Toke

In the newly released winter issue of Kitchen Toke magazine, author Laura Lagano writes in the “Unsung Cannabinoids Explained” cover story, “In our current worldwide pandemic, we now have an added global anxiety disorder.”

This week, anxiety across America is heightened even more with a transition of power unlike history has ever experienced before, making a stronger case for CBD consumption and revisiting the benefits of the all-star cannabis plant compound.

Lagano, who also published the 2019 book “The CBD Oil Miracle,” continues, “The reason why CBD works to quell anxiety is because it is psychoactive,” debunking the most common misconception that it’s not (it’s just less psychoactive than THC). “Unlike THC, CBD does not bind to our cannabinoid receptors in the body. Rather, CBD acts indirectly in the endocannabinoid system by interacting with other receptor systems in the body.”

Lagano concludes: “As for anxiety-relieving foods, what better vehicle for CBD than hot soup?”

For High Country’s latest quarterly Kitchen Toke spotlight, here are two comforting, CBD-infused soups to warm up with this winter.

GOLDEN BEET SOUP

Kitchen Toke’s Golden Beet Soup
Matt Armendariz

Ingredients:

•8 large yellow or gold beets, peeled, cut into small cubes

•¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided use

•2 teaspoons Himalayan pink salt

•1 large red onion, chopped

•2 tablespoons fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried

•4 cups vegetable broth or stock

•¾ cup CBD-infused coconut milk*

•1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

*Get the recipe for CBD-infused coconut milk at kitchentoke.com.

Instructions:

•Heat oven to 375 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

•Spread beets on lined sheet; drizzle with ¼ cup olive oil, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with salt and toss again. Bake until beets are fully soft, 40 to 50 minutes.

•In medium saucepan, heat remaining olive oil. Add onion and thyme; cook, stirring often, until onion is softened, about 8 minutes. Add vegetable broth; heat to boil.

•Spoon half of beets into blender container; use slotted spoon to add onions from broth. Puree until smooth, carefully adding ½ cup broth. Stir puree back into saucepan with broth; add remaining diced beets and heat gently. Season with salt to taste.

•To serve, ladle into six soup bowls. Top each with 2 tablespoons infused coconut milk and a bit of fresh ginger.

ROASTED VEGETABLE AND LENTIL SOUP

Kitchen Toke’s Roasted Vegetable and Lentil Soup
Matt Armendariz

Ingredients:

•1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into ¼-inch cubes

•1 large yellow onion, halved, thinly sliced

•2 large carrots, cut into thin rounds

•1 small head fennel, cored, trimmed, thinly sliced

•¼ cup CBD-infused bacon fat or olive oil*

•2 tablespoons fresh thyme

•4 strips thick-sliced bacon

•8 cups vegetable broth

•1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed

•one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

•1 tablespoon garlic, minced

•Salt and pepper to taste

*Get the recipe for CBD-infused bacon fat or olive oil at kitchentoke.com.

Instructions:

•Heat oven to 375 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

•Arrange sweet potato, onion, carrots and fennel on baking sheet. Drizzle with infused bacon fat or olive oil; toss gently. Bake, stirring once or twice, until vegetables are tender, 30 minutes.

•In large, heavy saucepan, cook bacon until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel; cool, then cut into pieces.

•Add vegetable broth and lentils to same pan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer until lentils begin to soften, 20 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice and bacon; cook until lentils are tender, 8 to 10 minutes longer.

•In blender or food processor, pulse roasted vegetable mixture to a coarse consistency. Add to lentils; cook, stirring several times, until mixture is heated.

SHOP

Find the Winter 2021 issue of Kitchen Toke magazine in select Amazon Books, Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods, and City Market locations, online at kitchentoke.com, and socially @kitchentoke.

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.

High Country: Clio Cannabis unveils 2020 award winners

Editor’s Note: The photos that accompanied the print version of this article were incorrectly included from a previous column. The Aspen Times Weekly regrets the error.

When the venerable Clio Awards put cannabis on their short list of celebrated disciplines last year, it indicated a shift in the creative climate for the once-stigmatized industry. As the preeminent honors in the marketing world (the so-called “Oscars of advertising”), the official offshoot, Clio Cannabis, recently announced its second annual award winners.

Unveiled last month at a virtual ceremony as part of the Emerge Virtual Cannabis Conference, the live event was hosted by podcasters Weed & Grub and featured appearances by 2020 Clio Cannabis Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Snoop Dogg with Steve DeAngelo, Evelyn LaChapelle and Jim Belushi on behalf of the Last Prisoner Project, this year’s Clio Cannabis Impact Award winner.

“At Clio, we have several programs that are custom built to salute the diverse and nuanced creative work of a specific industry, with competitions focused on music, entertainment, sports and health in addition to the original Clio Awards competition,” explained Clio Cannabis director Michael Kauffman. “With Clio Cannabis, our goal is to set the standard for creativity in cannabis marketing and spotlight the people whose pioneering work is essential in growing the marketplace so that the industry as a whole can better serve its audience.”

But even with the endorsement of a global authority like Clio, which was originally established in 1959 to celebrate creative excellence in advertising, cannabis continues to face challenges from what Adweek described as “byzantine rules” ranging from social media censorship to commercial rejection from national broadcasters. Adweek’s 2019 year-in-review recap also credited cannabis brands for still having to navigate non-traditional strategies and forcing them to “run a confusing regulatory gauntlet when it comes to advertising their wares” despite the progress of legalization across the country.

From Kauffman’s perspective and leadership, this past year proved more of a success for the industry itself.

“Cannabis has made huge strides in 2020, from being deemed an ‘essential service’ during the pandemic to prevailing in every single marijuana ballot measure of the 2020 election,” added Kauffman. “These battles were won in part because of the creativity, tenacity, and tireless work of countless cannabusiness leaders and we’re humbled to be able to honor cannabis creators in this way.”

The 2020 Clio Cannabis jury — comprised of 14 industry leaders curated by Kauffman — selected three entries to be elevated to Grand Clio Cannabis status, the competition’s highest achievement. Charlotte’s Web scored the top prize in Partnerships & Collaborations for its mesmerizing “Trust The Earth” farm art installation, a 76-acre rendering of a hand holding a hemp stalk mowed into farmland (an extension of its urban, Shepard Fairey-designed billboard campaign). Puffco, also a Grand winner, was recognized in Product & Service Innovation for the Peak Pro, a portable vaporizer with the largest ceramic chamber on the market. The final Grand Clio Cannabis Award went to Kiva Confections in Public Relations for the “It’s All Gravy” campaign for the company’s limited-edition, cannabis-infused turkey gravy.

The top overall 2020 Clio Cannabis winners include: Kiva Confections with six total awards; Charlotte’s Web and Puffco with four trophies; and Arnold, Artisans on Fire and Weedmaps all receiving three statues. Superette, a Canadian dispensary chain with five funky locations in Toronto and Ottawa, took Gold in Brand Design.

“This award encompasses all the energy our team has put into creating a thoughtful and fun experience. We built Superette on the foundation that people should enjoy buying cannabis as much as they love consuming it,” shared Superette CEO and co-founder Mimi Lam. “[We’re] always pushing the creative envelope on what’s possible, and constantly innovating. No idea is too out of the box for us, and we make decisions based on what feels right for our brand rather than follow the norms of ‘cannabis retail.’”

With social equity and inclusivity programs becoming (a long overdue) industry standard for cannabis companies to acknowledge and incorporate into business practices, Clio Cannabis has selected the Last Prisoner Project as its inaugural Impact Award honoree.

“We’re very cognizant of the inequities in people’s experiences with cannabis and we want use the Clio Cannabis platform to shine a light on cannabis advocacy and the groups that are working towards social justice in this space,” said Kauffman. “One of the most rewarding parts about my job is to amplify the incredible work LPP is doing.”

The decision stemmed from Kauffman’s year-round work with Muse by Clio, the organization’s own content platform. During each Higher Calling Q+A , featured guests are always asked to share a cannabis social justice organization that they support. Time and time again, the answer was LPP, the nonprofit working to free every last prisoner unjustly effected by the war on drugs — to the tune of 40,000 currently incarcerated people for cannabis offenses, which are now legal in most states.

“It is an incredible honor to be chosen for the Impact Award, especially in our first full year of operations,” said LPP executive director and general counsel Sarah Gersten. “The fact that the Clio Awards, spanning outside of [our] industry, has chosen to embrace cannabis sends a signal that cannabis is losing its long-held stigma and becoming broadly accepted, and even championed, by our society. It is also meaningful that LPP is a part of their honors. It shows a recognition of the critical work nonprofits are doing to create campaigns that inspire lasting reform.”

To learn more about the Clio Cannabis Awards and the full list of 2020 jurors and winners, visit cliocannabisawards.com.

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.

High Country: Veritas Fine Cannabis taps Icelantic for a smokin’ ski giveaway

Soon after moving to Colorado in 2007, I quickly learned that shopping and supporting local was ingrained in the community more so than anywhere else I’d lived before. Venturing out for my first season as a resident on Vokls, the following winter I splurged on my first set of Icelantics after discovering the then up-and-coming, homegrown gear brand through my magazine job at the time.

Five pairs and 12 years later, I realized my skis and I were truly meant to be when earlier this month, I picked up two jars of Veritas Fine Cannabis at Roots Rx and saw an Icelantic logo stamped on the side. The two companies have teamed up for a perfect winter promotion in collaboration with Denver-based artist Joe Palec, who was commissioned for the ski topsheets and cannabis container labels.

From Dec. 1, 2020 through Jan. 31, 2021, every 1/8th jar of Veritas includes a peel-off sticker with a unique code to enter to win a pair of custom Icelantic x Veritas Nomad 105 skis. Every week, Veritas will randomly select a winner from valid entries submitted (entries from the previous week also roll over into the following, unless your code was previously chosen).

Icelantic, which was established in 2006 and has its headquarters in Golden, is known for its seasonal limited-edition artwork by co-founder Travis Parr. But for this partnership, the company turned to an outside inspiration.

“We are fortunate to have one of the best art directors in cannabis (on our team). Sarah Egener has worked very hard to establish relationships with a number of local artists who we call on (for unique projects),” shared Veritas’ head of marketing and sales Jon Spadafora. “We are huge fans of Joe Palec’s art, and love the depth of his work. Every time we look at the skis and the jars, a new scene presents itself.”

“With our collaboration projects, we work with each company directly and their own artists to convey the story they want to present to the public,” explained Ashley Hart, Icelantic’s Mr. Manager (yes, that’s an Arrested Development nod as a title). “Joe’s work is hands down my favorite collab to date. Giving a new artist in the ski industry a chance to tell their story and have their creation live on a ski is something special.”

Having a global ski brand officially working with a cannabis company is also something special. Despite cannabis being legal for adult-use for the past seven years in Colorado, the snowsports industry has yet to make much movement into sponsorships and events. For what its worth, most ski resorts occupy federal forest land, which poses a legitimate risk for publicly endorsing consumption on-mountain until legalization passes at the federal level.

“As the years go on we are seeing more acceptance in a medicine that is clearly working. The reality is that (cannabis) has been a major ingredient in ski culture for decades and is finally getting shown in the light that it deserves,” said Hart. “I can’t speak for everyone in the company, but I personally can attribute a great deal of creativity, manifestation, and action to cannabis.”

With more than 90 varieties in its library (all grown in-house), Veritas drops a rotating roster of cannabis flower every week with an easy-to-navigate strain guide on its website based on experience.

Spadafora recommends any of Veritas’ “Invigorate” strains for an energetic, happy high before hitting the hill and the “Rejuvenate” line to wind down at the end of a ski day, adding, “For many, cannabis has already been a big part of snowsports. We are happy to carry on that tradition by creating a way to bring the cannabis and ski industries closer.”

SHOP

Find Veritas Fine Cannabis locally (1/8th jars range from $35-$50) at:

NATIVE ROOTS

308 S. Hunter St., Aspen, 970-429-4443, nativerootscannabis.com

ROOTS RX

400 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 970-900-9333, rootsrxstores.com

SILVERPEAK

520 E. Cooper Ave., Aspen, 970-925-4372

And visit veritascannabis.com/icelantic to enter your sticker code to win.

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.

High Country: The Top 10 Cannabis Strains of 2020

Smokey Town shared the best cannabis strains its team smoked this year with High Country.
Getty Images

 

The annual onslaught of “best of” lists that hit our newsfeeds every December is here, but most of them don’t feel quite right in 2020. One top 10 list we can get behind to help ease the stress, anxiety and darkness this year has brought us, though? The best cannabis.

In 2018, High Country introduced you to Smokey Town (smokey.town), a Basalt-based startup that provides an in-depth database of reviews for cannabis varietals found on-shelf at dispensaries from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. Since its launch, it remains the most thorough resource for finding flower in the Roaring Fork Valley.

According to its co-founders, who’ve requested anonymity, “It is no secret the pandemic has made 2020 a banner year for cannabis. Dispensaries in Colorado were designated essential businesses. Some have quickly adapted, making ordering ahead simple and easy; while others have struggled to find their way. Hats off to two in particular: RootsRx and The Green Joint.”

Working with close to 20 partners and expert judges, Smokey Town scours every dispensary in the area to compile detailed information year-round. There are currently more than 250 strain reviews available and subscribers of the Smokey Town e-newsletter also receive an update in their inbox as soon as a new strain is added to the database.

“With COVID on the brain, selecting the right cannabis product can turn ‘hiding out and stressing out’ into ‘hanging out and chilling out.’ The chemistry and composition of flower has never been more important to our judging,” added the Smokey Town co-founders. “Sure, we are suckers for a luscious scent and smooth taste and we can be downright snobbish about the cure – I mean really, how do you get the cure wrong in Colorado!? But you will see more complex, indica-leaning strains on the list this year, perfect for making the holidays feel merry and bright. Dessert names were also very popular, which naturally makes you want to try them all!”

As we finally wind down 2020, we turned to Smokey Town again for the third annual top 10 rankings of the best strains its team smoked this year — and where to shop for them locally.

1. Purple Sherb

Indica Hybrid

Shop: The Green Joint, 720 E. Durant Ave., Aspen, 970-925-6468, thegreenjoint.com

2. Bacio

Hybrid

Shop: Silverpeak, 520 E. Cooper Ave., Aspen, 970-925-4372, silverpeakcannabis.com

“Creamsicle,” a sweet indica, is available at Roots Rx.
Courtesy Antero Sciences

3. Creamsicle

Indica

Shop: Roots Rx, 400 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 970-900-9333, rootsrxstores.com

4. Rozay

Sativa Hybrid

Shop: Best Day Ever, 520 E. Cooper Ave., Aspen, 970-429-8637, bestdayevercannabis.com

5. Wedding Cake

Indica

Shop: Tumbleweed, 304 CO-133, Carbondale, 970-510-3065, tumbleweed420.com

6. Space Monkey

Indica Hybrid

Shop: Rocky Mountain High, 615 Buggy Circle, Carbondale, 970-963-4669, rockymountainhigh.co

7. GMO x MAC

Hybrid

Shop: Roots Rx, 400 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 970-900-9333, rootsrxstores.com

8. Lemon Pound Cake

Indica Hybrid

Shop: The Green Joint, 720 E. Durant Ave., Aspen, 970-925-6468, thegreenjoint.com

9. Jenny Kush

Indica

Shop: Roots Rx, 400 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 970-900-9333, rootsrxstores.com

10. 7th Dimension

Indica

Shop: The Green Solution, 106 S. Mill St., Aspen, 970-760-0284, tgscolorado.com

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.

Wash your hands for a cause with Dr. Bronner’s limited edition cannabis soap

Hand washing in COVID times just got much more exciting for cannabis enthusiasts thanks to Dr. Bronner’s. The best-selling brand of natural, hemp-based soap debuted a limited edition terpene-infused take on its classic bar formula in celebration of Sun+Earth Certified’s crowdfunding campaign.

Sun+Earth is conducting a nationwide consumer education and fundraising initiative, which launched on November 20 and aims to raise awareness about the importance of regenerative organic agriculture and the need to shift the cannabis industry away from corporatized, industrial indoor growing warehouses toward a more sustainable system.

Initially seeking $25,000, the Emerald Triangle-based nonprofit organization’s campaign will subsidize the cost of certification for small-scale farmers and allow for expansion to more states, making sungrown cannabis more widely available to consumers. The campaign quickly reached its goal and is now asking for an additional $15,000 through Dec. 20, 2020.

Sun+Earth was founded on Earth Day in 2019 by cannabis industry leaders and experts on a communal belief that “consumers around the country deserve to have the confidence that their products were grown regeneratively with the highest integrity possible.”

In less than two years, Sun+Earth certifications have quickly increased to 42 cannabis farms in six states — California, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin — demonstrating the consumer demand for cannabis cultivated by small-scale family farmers. Sun+Earth is among a growing list of cannabis certifications within the industry. For example, the Organically Grown Cannabis certification will be coming to market in 2021 and will serve as a baseline standard for legal organic cannabis production nationwide.

According to a 2012 academic report, cannabis grown indoors in the U.S. uses the same amount of energy it takes to power 1.7 million U.S. homes, and generates greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 3 million cars. More recently, the 2018 Cannabis Energy Report from New Frontier Data found that growing indoors uses 18 times more electricity and has a carbon footprint nearly 25 times larger than outdoor farms.

Dr. Bronner’s Sun+Earth Cannabis Scented Pure-Castile Bar Soap — of which only 1,600 units were made — is the Vista, Calif.-based, family-owned company’s legacy formula, with the added magic of terpenes from Sun+Earth Certified hemp grown at East Fork Cultivars in Takilma, Oregon. The earthy, enticing scent evokes an unmistakable cannabis aroma and is completely free of THC or CBD (as such, it does not offer the therapeutic properties that are associated with topical cannabis products that contain cannabinoids).

“Dr. Bronner’s is deeply engaged in the global movement for regenerative organic agriculture, against industrial chemical agriculture,” said David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s and co-founder of the cannabis brand Brother David’s, in a statement. “In alignment with those values, the Sun+Earth Certified program addresses systemic problems in the cannabis industry, which is dominated by energy-intensive indoor operations and practices that rely on toxic chemical fertilizers, rather than models that rely on sunlight and healthy living soil. We need to support cannabis farmers and their communities, that are being displaced by industrialized cannabis.”

A longtime advocate of cannabis legalization and drug policy reform on a federal level, Dr. Bronner’s adds Sun+Earth to its growing roster of philanthropic partners. In 2019 alone Dr. Bronner’s dedicated $7.4 million alone in donations and sponsorships; in 2017 it committed $5 million to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). And through its limited-edition Heal Soul! label, 10% of sales in October supported MAPS, Oregon Psilocybin Initiative, Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative, Heroic Hearts Project and VETS: Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions, Inc.

“We are grateful for Dr. Bronner’s support and hope this effort will significantly grow our organic cannabis community,” added Andrew Black, executive director of Sun+Earth Certified. “Consumers are increasingly committed to making sure their cannabis products are not only healthy for their bodies and free of toxic chemicals, but also cultivated in a model that gives back to the Earth and farm communities.”

In addition to Dr. Bronner’s, the Sun+Earth Certified effort is endorsed by noteworthy cannabis and environmental advocates including Harborside co-founder Andrew DeAngelo and Moon Made Farms owner Tina Gordon with other prizes for the crowdfunding campaign supplied by visionary artist Alex Grey, eco-clothing manufacturer Ital Collective and more. Paired with Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Organic Hand Sanitizer, the Sun+Earth Cannabis Scented Pure-Castile Bar Soap is available for a minimum donation of $25.

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.

DONATE

To snag a bar of Dr. Bronner’s Sun+Earth Cannabis Scented Pure-Castile Bar Soap (the perfect stocking stuffer!), visit sunandearth.org.

And always remember to DILUTE! DILUTE! OK!