| AspenTimes.com

High Country: Roadside CDOT Censorship

Earlier this month, The Aspen Times’ Jason Auslander reported on Pitkin County officials’ concern about the 10-plus Dalwhinnie Colorado Cannabis signs dotting Highway 82. County Manager Jon Peacock formalized the government’s worries in a letter to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) on Dec. 18. In it, he wrote that the county is “trying to discourage use of marijuana, tobacco, alcohol and other drugs among our youth and youth who are visiting” and argued “this appears to be a partnership that was rolled out hastily and as a result will vex local communities (I’m sure we’re not the only one complaining).”

As it turns out, Pitkin County is the only one in the state complaining, according to CDOT Northwest region communications manager Elise Thatcher.

“This is the first time a county has complained about the program,” Thatcher shared with me,

And for what it’s worth, I doubt many backseat passengers who fall into the “youth” category are paying more attention to the “Colorado Cannabis” fine print on the signage than what’s streaming on the screens of their handheld devices. I personally noticed the signs in September and promptly sent an email to Dalwhinnie, excited to learn about a new, presumably local cannabis company in our city, which to my longtime local knowledge, was the first to take up real estate along Aspen’s only state thoroughfare (a fact also confirmed by Thatcher).

Curious about what specific complaints county officials have received pertaining to the signs, I inquired with Peacock, to which he replied, “Many of the complaints have been informal and directly to board (of county commissioners) members, so we do not have an exact count. However, this has been an issue board members have been hearing about for several months, and complaints continue to roll in.”

For Pitkin County Commissioner Patti Clapper, the subject matter is less of an issue than the size and frequency of the actual signage and the fact that Dalwhinnie hasn’t personally cleaned up its section of Highway 82 since the campaign began.

“The signs do not appear to be in compliance with CDOT’s rules and regulations for signage along state highways,” Clapper told me during a phone interview. “We never saw anybody out there putting up these new signs, they just suddenly appeared.”

Clapper added: “We only received a few (complaints) and it was a while ago … not significant numbers. The main thing is that when you drive the highway you can’t help but notice (the signs). They are just too big and in your face. The board is concerned as a whole as to if they are legal and are they (Dalwhinnie) going to clean up the highway?”

Thatcher confirmed the signs do follow program requirements. And it’s not Dalwhinnie’s responsibility to clean the road as a sign sponsor, which were bought under the Clean Colorado program — not the better-known Adopt a Highway. As such, when businesses enlist in the Clean Colorado sponsorship program, they pay a fee to cover the cost of a cleanup crew for their designated stretch of highway. It’s an increasingly popular marketing workaround for the cannabis industry, which faces a multitude of restrictions when it comes to advertising on TV, radio, billboards and social media.

Peacock says Pitkin County is still awaiting a formal response from CDOT as to how the program is being implemented and overseen.

“We have seen no evidence of cleanups. We want to know how many times sections of Highway 82 with these signs have actually been cleaned by the company receiving (Dalwhinnie’s) advertising revenues,” Peacock added. “It appears there was more responsiveness to The Aspen Times than the county. The board has requested that we pursue further scrutiny of the program.”

Commissioner Clapper agreed: “The responses that Jason reported in the newspaper are of concern to us as far as public safety. We are not letting it go at this point until we have answers to our questions.”

According to a Feb. 14 news story in the Denver Post, “Cannabis companies are the leading sponsors of Colorado highways, accounting for cleanup on two-thirds of the roads maintained by Clean Colorado — a program the industry has leveraged as a loophole in the state’s strict limits on marijuana advertising.” Currently, 50 cannabis-related businesses (including dispensaries, cultivators, manufacturers and edible producers) sponsor highway miles throughout the state, accounting for 48% (versus the 66% reported in The Denver Post, clarified by Thatcher) of all sponsored roadways part of the Clean Colorado program.

In addition to cultivating the cannabis industry’s support for its Clean Colorado initiative, CDOT is also dedicated to impaired driving awareness. The state agency, which manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,429 bridges in Colorado, recently wrapped a Valentine’s Day “Nip It In The Bud” promotion in partnership with Lightshade dispensaries across metro Denver to give customers cannabis-themed bouquets adorned with safety messages and cards with reminders of driving laws.

The holiday effort is part of CDOT’s ongoing “Cannabis Conversation” campaign, a two-year initiative that researched cannabis driving behaviors and perspectives from more than 18,000 Coloradans. CDOT results found that dispensaries and budtenders are among the most trusted messengers when it comes to information about cannabis safety, laws and regulations.

Dalwhinnie embarked on the Clean Colorado campaign as a prelude to the grand opening of its flagship location, which will be downtown Aspen’s ninth cannabis dispensary when it opens this spring (the final step is getting approval from the Historic Preservation Commission for its nearly-finished home on the corner of Mill and Main Street).

With its cultivation operation more than three hours away in Ridgway, Dalwhinnie thought a Clean Colorado campaign was the best possible way to participate without having any staff yet on the ground in Aspen.

“Because cannabis is so regulated, I think we’re just getting extra scrutiny on top of it,” said Dalwhinnie Group chief strategy and brand officer Jenny Diggles, who recently relocated from Portland, Oregon, to Aspen proper full time. “It’s a shame to get caught in the crosshairs of this confusion between CDOT and the city, but here we are. We really were trying to do something good and support the community before we could even open officially. We were very thoughtful about where we wanted to place our brand and look at Aspen as our home. We want the community to see us as a company that cares about their community.”

Don’t worry, Dalwhinnie, there are a lot of locals that appreciate your support of keeping Highway 82 clean are ready to welcome your store with open arms.

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

Colorado marijuana sales hit record $1.75 billion in 2019

Last year was the most lucrative 12 months for cannabis sales in Colorado since the state’s voters legalized recreational marijuana.

Medical and recreational cannabis sales hit a record $1.75 billion in 2019, up 13% from 2018, according to data from the Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division. Marijuana tax collections also hit an all-time high, at more than $302 million in 2019.

December closed out the year with strong sales totaling more than $144 million, up 6.7% compared to the previous year. But that wasn’t the biggest month of 2019; instead, August topped the calendar year with $173 million in sales.

All told, Colorado marijuana sales now have hit $7.79 billion since recreational sales began in 2014.

Read the full story about Colorado marijuana sales from The Denver Post.

Former Aspen businessman found guilty on marijuana trafficking charges, faces 32 years in prison

A former Aspen businessman faces up to 32 years in prison after he was found guilty Friday of six felonies in connection with a marijuana trafficking organization that duped investors and shipped pot out of Colorado.

Scott Pack, 41, was convicted by an Arapahoe County jury of two counts under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act — pattern of racketeering and conspiracy; a first-class drug felony; and conspiracy to cultivate marijuana, according to a news release from the 18th Judicial District. He was also found guilty of two counts of securities fraud.

Pack, who now lives in California, was indicted in June 2017 along with 19 others after an investigation that started in August 2016. At that time law enforcement found an illegal marijuana operation at a site in Elizabeth, which is southeast of Denver.

Investigators discovered 845 marijuana plants weighing 2,535 pounds worth more than $5 million.

“Coloradans did not pass Amendment 64 to become the Wild West of Weed. Despite the perception that marijuana is completely legal, it is not,” District Attorney George Brauchler said in the news release. “Colorado created a regulatory framework that we defend by aggressively prosecuting those, including the rich, who choose greed over our laws.”

Pack was at the top of the drug enterprise, according to the news release, and played a pivotal role, taking the proceeds of black market marijuana as well as soliciting investors to back the enterprise through fraudulent statements and empty promises. None of the pot was sold legally in Colorado.

That was the beginning of an investigation that uncovered a major drug trafficking organization that was involved in illegally cultivating, processing and distributing marijuana and marijuana products to at least five states, according to the release.

“This defendant thought he could avoid prosecution by having subordinates do all the dirty work. He thought he left no trail.  He told them, ‘If anything happens to you, I have the money to hire the attorneys. So none of this can touch me,’” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Darcy Kofol, who tried the case with Senior Deputy District Attorney Laura Wilson. “He was wrong. I am grateful to the jurors for seeing the truth and holding him accountable.”

The drug felony carries a mandatory prison term of 8-32 years in prison. Other counts have presumptive ranges but prison time is not mandatory and sentences are at the discretion of the judge, officials said in the release.

Pack’s sentencing is set for April 6 at 8:30 a.m.

Celebrate 4/20 All Year With Besito’s Super Cool Monthly Merch Drops

It might be a stretch, but in 2020 the cannabis community gets to celebrate their favorite holiday 12 times (on the 4th of every month) and not just once on April 20 as it has been observed annually since the 1960s in honor of the designated time a group of Bay Area high school students snuck out for their daily afternoon smoke session.

The California-based cannabis vaporizer company Besito has taken this rare occurrence in time and turned it into a super cool merchandise campaign to support the Equity First Alliance (EFA)—a nonprofit that according to its website, “Works to advance equity in the cannabis industry, to repair harms of the War on Drugs, and to seek justice for those who have been most harmed by it.”

Last September, Besito launched a formal partnership with EFA and committed 1% of all profits to supporting its goal of facilitating automated expungement and providing easily accessible health, employment, and legal resources for those in need of restorative services. Two months later, the brand released the short film “A Record Shouldn’t Last A Lifetime” as a call to action and urgent reminder of the moral obligation of those who are profiting off of the legal cannabis industry to fight for equity and reparative justice.

“We believe it’s an enormous privilege to work in a legal, regulated cannabis industry given the criminalization of this plant and sacrifices so many have made before us,” Besito founder and CEO Maggie Connors told me via email. “The failed War on Drugs has devastated people of color and we believe that it’s our industry’s moral imperative to help repair the harms caused to these marginalized communities.”

Besito has raised thousands of dollars to date for EFA from its best-selling line of stylized, disposable vaporizer pens, which are sold through dispensary partners and delivery services in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Available in mint, grapefruit and blackberry, each naturally derived flavor is blended from social-friendly sativa strains and promise “a happy high” with a 2:1 THC to CBD ratio. Besito’s clean cannabis oil blends are extracted without the use of harmful diluents like Vitamin E, crafted from organically grown plants and tested free from pesticides or unnatural fillers.

To generate even more awareness (and funds) for EFA, Besito’s 4/20 swag campaign commenced in January with two monthly merch drops so far including: a logo embroidered crewneck, hoodie, and dad cap with a cheeky chip clip that reads, “I’m high, lol;” a canvas tote bag stamped with one of Besito’s signature slogans, “Less oh, f-k … more f-k yeah.” Each drop is seasonally inspired, with beach towels coming for the summer and custom Besito ornaments for holiday time.

“It’s all about releasing iconic Besito pieces that shape the brand,” Connors said. “We want our 4/20 line to go beyond traditional brand ‘swag’ and create unique pieces that anyone can use in their everyday life. Weed is fun for us, and we want our merchandise to tell that story, too.”

Connors, an early-stage cannabis investor, founded Besito in 2017 after receiving an MBA from Stanford and working for close to a decade in brand management and product design for global companies like Apple, Pepsi and Starbucks. With a passion for bringing stylized cannabis products to the market while also giving back to the community, Besito has emerged as a leading brand advocate for LGBTQ rights, criminal justice reform and the advancement of scientific research in cannabis.

“We’re so excited to continue to partner with such a diverse class of L.A.-based artists and manufacturers to create bespoke, curated pieces for this line,” Connors added. “As we solidify our roots in the city we call home, we’re also excited to reveal collaborations with fellow cannabis brands that are in the pipeline. In order to create an equitable industry, it’s important to us to partner with and uplift fellow brands that share our ethical values, as well as our commitment to ‘highly’ designed cannabis products.”

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

High Country: Cannabis is getting certified organic in 2020

Do you know what’s in your weed?

For the majority of cannabis consumers, the answer is a resounding no — despite claims from dispensaries, cultivators, or makers of derivative goods (i.e. edibles, topicals and tinctures).

The Cannabis Certification Council (CCC) asked this very question in its initial launch campaign. A cornerstone and continued message for the nonprofit #WhatsInMyWeed aims to make the connection clearer between organic, fine foods and cannabis. It’s a still-necessary reminder that shoppers place priority on buying only-organic, fair trade, cage-free, and grass-fed (the list goes on …) at the grocery store, yet when it comes to cannabis, there is far less concern about transparency and quality of what people are inhaling and ingesting.

In December at the annual MJBizCon in Las Vegas, the Denver-based standard-holding body quietly announced an industry-wide cannabis certification program. This in-depth, years-in-the-works labeling system will apply a CCC “Organically Grown” sticker on qualifying products in addition to all cannabis labeling already required by law, which varies by state.

Embarking on the project last month, the CCC estimates the standard will take at least six months to develop and will involve a public input period that is required of all highly rated certifications. The standard will feature varying labels for indoor, greenhouse and outdoor hemp and marijuana production as well as cannabis-derived byproducts. Once in place, Organically Grown applicants will have to go through a monthslong process including multiple inspections in order to obtain the certification.

“The bulk of the problem the industry has been up against lies in false organic claims,” explains Amy Andrle, co-owner of L’Eagle, a vertically integrated marijuana company in Denver and CCC founding board member. “Certification will help to clarify the market and inform consumers about what they are buying. And as the first cannabis label that everyone can clearly understand, a premium can be applied to certified products in the legal marketplace.”

Before it was known as CCC, the organization was originally conceived in 2015 as the Organic Cannabis Association by co-founder and current board chair Ben Gelt. Realizing the synergy between its mission and that of the Portland-based Ethical Cannabis Alliance, the two organizations merged in 2018, officially forming the CCC to make their master plan a reality for the entire industry.

Leslie McAhren, who’s worked as the director of research and executive director at CG Corrigan for nine years, is using her role in CCC’s Cannabis Sustainability Workgroup as part of her doctoral degree program at the University of Colorado School of Public Health.

“Growing clean cannabis has been something we’ve (CG Corrigan) been practicing for years, but converting this knowledge into a policy standard is the best way to protect the public’s health and to inform consumers nationwide,” McAhren says. “Honestly, an organic standard is a natural progression for the cannabis industry and sustainable production.”

Comparatively, “USDA Organic”— the most widely known label applied to food and other agricultural products — considers hemp under its certifying umbrella as a result of the 2018 Farm Bill. Hemp growers in the U.S. can now cultivate under certain regulated situations with the USDA National Organic Program confirming that hemp managed organically can be certified organic.

Gelt believes that hemp’s increasing acknowledgment by the USDA will only help CCC’s cause.

“We are excited by this news because any effort to help drive transparency and greater consumer choice in cannabis is aligned with our mission,” Gelt says. “The ‘Organically Grown’ standard will hold up to any and all scrutiny and will serve cannabis consumers well in making more informed choices about the products that they purchase.”

According to McAhren, published scientific literature has already identified pesticide residues in cannabis smoke (flower). As concentrates and edibles become more popular, it’s important to understand pest management (pesticide use) practices in all facets of the cultivation and production process.

“I am anxious for the organic standard to prioritize integrated pest management and to have the EPA and USDA (not just the DEA) involved in pyrolysis (breakdown of larger molecules into smaller molecules in the presence of heat) studies and the regulation of cannabis,” McAhren adds. “This will allow us to best explore the human health effects of pesticides used in cannabis cultivation.”

The new certification has been made possible by five founding sponsors including L’Eagle, CG Corrigan, and House of Cultivar. Organically Grown will complement already-existing clean cannabis certifications including Sun + Earth, Envirocann, Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards and The Cannabis Conservancy with ongoing fundraising initiatives.

“This big cannabis social experiment is still in its earliest form, and there are a lot of gray areas that still need to be defined,” says Matt Gaboury, owner of House of Cultivar, a large-scale indoor cannabis farm in Seattle. “One of the many holes is a lack of agreed-upon industry standards for certification of clean, organic and sustainable cannabis. Banding together now to set the foundation will effect future rules and regulations, and ultimately, have a global impact.”

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

High Country: A cannabis-infused pasta perfect for an at-home aprés ski

In October, High Country kicked off a seasonal series with Kitchen Toke — a quarterly, design-driven magazine known as the first internationally distributed food journal dedicated to cooking with cannabis for health and wellness. In celebration of its recent winter issue release, we’re back with a hearty, cannabis-infused pasta recipe that’s perfect for an at-home après-ski pour deux.

Founder Joline Rivera is also celebrating her role in Food & Wine magazine’s in-depth cannabis feature in its January issue. Editor Hunter Lewis called her “one of the most clear-eyed visionaries of the new culinary cannabis world” and turned to her and the Kitchen Toke team to vet “The Food & Wine Guide To Culinary Cannabis.”

This mainstream endorsement for cannabis follows its historic inclusion at the Food & Wine Classic last summer — for the first time in its 37 years, the Grand Tasting Pavilion welcomed two CBD companies (Grön CBD and Fleur d’Henri) as official exhibitors. According to festival organizers, the next Food & Wine Classic (June 19 to 21) “will offer even more cannabis programming as an extension of last year and the January story.”

Here’s Kitchen Toke’s recipe for fresh pappardelle with winter greens, hazelnuts and ricotta salata (courtesy of Elise Swopes). And if you need a refresher on how to make the required cannabutter base, hit the High County archive on aspentimes.com or visit kitchentoke.com.

Ingredients:

• 7 ounces fresh pappardelle pasta

• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

• 2 small shallots, minced

• 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

• 4 sprigs organic flat-leaf parsley, minced

• 3 ounces winter greens such as mizuna, tatsoi or beet greens

• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

• 1 tablespoon cannabutter

• Salt and pepper, to taste

• 3 tablespoons dry-roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

• 1½ ounces ricotta salata, grated

Instructions:

• Bring a large pan of salted water to boil. Add pasta; cook until al dente. Drain well, reserving ¼ cup cooking water.

• Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and pepper flakes; cook, stirring, until shallots begin to soften. Add cooked pasta, parsley and pasta water; heat through. Stir in the greens, lemon juice and cannabutter; cook just until greens wilt.

• Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper. Garnish with hazelnuts and ricotta salata.

Yield:

• Makes 2 servings at approximately 20 milligrams of THC (equivalent to the standard dose of 10 milligrams per person) based on using a 15% THC strain of cannabis flower.

Recipe courtesy of Elise Swopes

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

With legal haze cleared, High Valley Farms sells for $8.35 million

High Valley Farms, one of the first legal and commercial marijuana cultivation facilities to open in the Roaring Fork Valley, has changed ownership for $8.35 million, but not before a judge and the parties involved had to sort out an array of legal issues.

Earlier this month a company called Silverpeak Real Estate closed on the purchase of a 19,925-square-foot warehouse, 5,075-square-foot office building and a 2,536-square-foot house, all part of the High Valley Farms enterprise at 24480 and 24530 Highway 82, according to filings made Tuesday in the Pitkin County Clerk & Recorder’s office. The two-parcel, 4.7-acre property flanks the Roaring Fork Club and is located on the outskirts of Basalt.

News of the ownership change began to circulate last year, when Pitkin County commissioners approved the transfer of High Valley Farms’ grow and retail licenses to a company called Silverpeak Real Estate.

Businessmen James Young of Aspen and Chapman Ducote of Aspen and Miami — both principals with Silverpeak Real Estate — told commissioners in November their pending acquisition of High Valley Farms would include the Silverpeak dispensary business in Aspen. They said the shop would keep the Silverpeak name — hence their new company’s name — and they would expand the brand in Colorado by acquiring more cannabis stores.

The seller, cannabis entrepreneur Jordan Lewis, had operated High Valley Farms and the Silverpeak dispensary in Aspen. Silverpeak and the now-defunct Stash were the first Aspen stores to sell recreational marijuana in March 2014.

Yet the transaction was hardly a turnkey deal. Attorneys for the new ownership, as well as Young and Ducote, could not be reached for comment about the High Valley Farms deal this week.

Legal documents, however, show the transaction was enabled by multiple parties reaching an agreement through what’s called a “quiet title” action, a court measure taken to clarify ownership of a property.

That’s what both the buyer and seller did Jan. 3, when they jointly filed a quiet-title complaint in Pitkin County District Court. Their reason: The transaction was being held up by four judgments against High Valley Farms affiliates under Jordan Lewis’s control.

Three of those judgments, issued in July 2018 by Pitkin County District Judge Chris Seldin, were in the amounts of $1.6 million, $2.1 million and $1.1 million against multiple limited liability corporations associated with Lewis and High Valley Farms.

Owed the money was New York-based agriculture investment firm B. Zaitz & Sons, which along with two associated parties sued Lewis and High Valley Farm affiliates in September 2018. The suit accused Lewis of fraudulently transferring nearly $5 million from three loans B. Zaitz & Sons made to his companies from 2013 to 2015 — which were intended to support his Silverpeak and High Valley Farms operations — to a marijuana venture he started in Uruguay. Lewis denied the claims at the time through his Aspen attorney, Darryl Cramer, who could not be reached Friday.

Even so, because Seldin ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor with the combined $4.8 million judgments, this week’s High Valley Farms sale could not go through without B. Zaitz & Sons releasing the deed of trusts attached to the property. That’s what they agreed to do, although the judgments were partially paid down in the amount of $2.063 million, rather than in full, at the closing of the sale.

“Although the pay down will be partial, leaving a deficiency to be collected through other legal means that have nothing to do with the property, the Zaitz Parties have concluded the pay down is sufficient and, in exchange, to effectuate the release of the Zaitz (deeds of trusts),” the title action said.

B. Zaitz & Sons also did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Another judgment was related to a $3 million line of credit given to High Valley Farms from Fortunate Sons LLC, managed by Aspen resident Jonathan Lewis.

Fortunate Sons originally provided a $1 million line of credit to High Valley Family in October 2014, extending that $3 million, money that was borrowed against the property, according to court records. Upon this week’s closing, Fortunate Sons received $3.29 million, according to court documents.

“Proceeds of the Closing will be sufficient to provide for a full pay-off of the indebtedness owed by (High Valley Farms) to Fortunate,” the quiet-title complaint said.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

High Country: Sephora embarks on largest CBD skincare launch yet with Saint Jane

As a new decade begins, the beauty industry’s infatuation with cannabis continues.

CBD as a skincare ingredient has proved it’s much more than just the next trend thanks to conscious, clean beauty companies like Saint Jane, which earlier this month, hit shelves in 281 Sephora stores in 22 states across America.

It’s the largest CBD launch the LVMH-owned multinational chain of beauty boutiques has ever supported following its foray into cannabis skincare—first introducing Lord Jones online and in-stores (across 171 locations comparatively) in 2018. Saint Jane is also one of Sephora’s fastest success stories, with its best-selling Luxury Beauty Serum making a dot-com debut just four months after the brand launched.

Earning Sephora’s support was a full-circle moment for founder and CEO Casey Georgeson. While studying for her MBA at Stanford University, she begged for an unpaid internship at the company’s North America headquarters in San Francisco to pursue her passion for beauty products. Unlike Sephora’s standard high school- and undergraduate-level interns, Georgeson boasted previous career experience as a producer at CNN and the creative force behind Cupcake Vineyards for The Wine Group, one of the largest wine companies in the world.

Upon graduation, she was swiftly hired by the beauty brand incubator Kendo to lead its partnership division where she led the development for designer brands like Marc Jacobs, Kat von D, and Disney for Sephora. But even the beauty industry veteran thought pitching her own product was a long shot.

“Even with my background, to be totally honest, I thought, ‘There is no way Sephora is going to bring this on,’” Georgeson shared via phone. “We’re not even a brand yet. We have 100 followers on Instagram. They’re just going to look at this as a favor and tell me, ‘OK Casey, this is a cute little idea you have here. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’”

Georgeson got an email response from Sephora’s vice president of skincare merchandising, Cindy Deily, within 15 minutes after she received the Luxury Beauty Serum sample at her office. The rest is CBD skincare history.

Saint Jane was born Jan. 28, 2019, and as it approaches its one-year anniversary, it has already achieved what most beauty companies aim for in a lifetime. Clean beauty retailer Credo was the first outside stockist with Sephora, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Space NK soon following suit.

The patron saint of healing herself was born on the same date in the 1500s and is who Georgeson wanted to honor through her still 100% self-funded company.

“Saint Jane was an actual person—anointed into sainthood for healing people—specifically healing women that French society shunned …the elderly, the sickly, or unwed mothers,” Georgeson explained. “And like this pioneering feminist, we have a healing-centric approach to beauty. It has a double meaning for the innocent side of ‘Mary Jane,’ too, because I always wanted CBD to be the hero ingredient.”

Georgeson views and treats CBD as a vitamin and classifies it as a skincare superhero ingredient alongside hyaluronic acid and vitamin C and added, “It’s a molecule not a miracle, and depending on what it’s paired with, it works even better. As the (beauty) industry gets more educated on cannabis, people are starting to see it as more of a supplement—a good-for-you ingredient versus as a psychoactive.”

She personally sources Saint Jane’s hemp from sustainable, female-owned farms and has every batch tested for potency and purity by a third-party lab partner. According to the brand, the Luxury Beauty Serum contains the highest concentration of CBD for a facial serum on the market (and at Sephora) with 500 milligrams in each bottle; the Luxury Body Serum contains 200 milligrams of CBD oil.

More than 20 effective additional botanicals enhance her formula, such as wood oil, prickly pear, sea buckthorn, rosehip and pomegranate, which when combined, improve radiance, reduce inflammation, detoxify impurities and soothe the skin.

“We strive to provide clients with the most on-trend and sought-after products,” Deily said. “We saw a strong desire for an assortment of prestige CBD offerings, and Saint Jane has been a pioneer in growing the space. With their goal of bringing CBD to the forefront as an efficacious ingredient in prestige skincare, Saint Jane is passionate about education and category innovation and ingredient exploration and are thrilled to introduce more of our community to this new indie brand.”

As such, Saint Jane will be merchandised in-store on Sephora’s Indie Beauty Wall, a showcase of the most promising up-and-coming, buzz-worthy brands. As part of Saint Jane’s dedication to consumer education, outreach includes a video tutorial, written material and product samples for Sephora staff.

The Luxury Beauty Serum bottle itself looks and feels luxurious—think thick, matte black glass with a gold-plated brand badge—but it’s what’s inside that warrants the opulent packaging and high price point (the regular size retails for $125). Saint Jane’s new travel size ($38) is exclusive to Sephora and the Luxury Body Serum available online only ($58).

With customer testimonials ranging from regular use resulting in flawless skin to clearing up cystic acne to relieving rosacea pain, Saint Jane has deservedly earned awards from The Zoe Report (Best New Luxury Skincare Product of 2019), O, The Oprah Magazine (Best Body Product), Health (Best Facial Oil), PopSugar (Most Innovative Product) and more. It has also cured chronic skin issues for two top beauty editors at Glamour and Refinery 29.

The accolades and overwhelmingly positive customer reviews are also now validated by a medical stamp of approval from a medicinal cannabis pioneer. Dr. June Chin was recently announced as the company’s chief medical adviser in conjunction with the Sephora expansion. A chronic pain survivor practicing in New York City, Chin holds multiple degrees in nutrition and osteopathic medicine. Her personal experience led to the discovery of CBD, which she incorporates into her integrative approach to overall patient care and treating diseases including epilepsy, cancer and autism.

“Saint Jane is the most innovative CBD beauty company in the U.S., with an impressive team developing cutting-edge products,” said Chin, a noted expert in the space whose been featured on the “Today Show” and in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. “Since its inception, Saint Jane has introduced important transparency to the world of CBD beauty products. In this strategic role, my focus is to empower consumers to make more confident decisions with accurate and reliable information and to demystify CBD.”

Georgeson added, “In all of my years in beauty, I’ve never seen an ingredient that has this level of potential and performance in the skincare and wellness world.”

During the first quarter 2020, Georgeson plans to add Sephora-specific positions to her small team of 10 (she’s also a mom to three young daughters) to help oversee the day-to-day operations and communication with stores. Saint Jane is also working on releasing additional exclusive products exclusively for Sephora, which underscores her company’s commitment to the retailer—its largest point of distribution. Complementing Saint Jane’s Microdose Lip Gloss collection, a CBD-infused lipstick line will launch later this year.

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

Colorado lawmakers want to stop employers from firing people for using weed in their personal time

Two Colorado lawmakers want to pass a law to protect workers who use marijuana when they’re off the clock.

House Rep. Jevon Melton, D-Aurora, has introduced a bill to prevent businesses from firing employees for partaking in legal activities on their own time — even if the activities are only legal under state and not federal law. To pass, though, the bill will likely require some compromise to address expected objections from the business community.

Melton says the measure would correct an oversight in Colorado law.

“It was just a glaring gap that we have here in the statute, especially when we’re supposed to regulate marijuana like we are with alcohol,” Melton said. “If someone’s able to drink while they’re at home and on their free time, as long as they’re not coming into work intoxicated, then they’re not penalized with their employment.”

The bill would clarify the definition of legal activities as those that are legal just under state law, so if Coloradans legalize anything else that is illegal federally, lawmakers wouldn’t have go through the same process again.

Click here to read the full story from The Denver Post.

High Country: 10 luxury cannabis brands to know in 2020

As the stigma surrounding marijuana continues to shed, more national fashion and beauty retailers are welcoming cannabis brands into their stores. It was the addition of luxury cannabis company Lord Jones to the Sephora skin care portfolio in 2018 — the first-ever CBD brand for the chain to accept — that market trend expert Jed Wexler identified as the signal of a business opportunity bigger than the dot-com boom.

A few months prior to the milestone, the CEO and head of strategy for 818 Agency, a B2B event content marketing firm based in Manhattan, was inspired to create a dedicated collective to directly connect traditional buyers to a new genre of luxury-leaning and design-forward cannabis companies.

He hosted the debut Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference (LMCC) last summer as an evening program of panels featuring product pioneers including Cindy Capobianco (Lord Jones) and Andrew Goetz (Malin + Goetz) along with cannabis media luminaries like Megan Villa (Svn Space) and Anja Charbonneau (Broccoli).

It was in emerging cannabis-centric media outlets where Wexler first discovered a new aspirational aesthetic coinciding with increased coverage in institutions such as Vanity Fair and Vogue. Matched with the plant’s perception as a wellness wunderkind, the potential for the CBD and hemp market alone is expected to reach $23 billion by 2023 with a 700% growth rate expected in 2019, according to the Brightfield Group.

“Most trends track year to year, but in cannabis, it is week to week. I think it’s actually going to be even bigger than the tech bubble, which is just wild,” Wexler told me via phone. “Luxury cannabis has quickly become its own lifestyle category at retail and it’s starting to be merchandised that way. The real question is, ‘What happens when (cannabis is) fully legal, there’s no stigma, and it’s just a commodity?’”

After an at-capacity inaugural event, the second annual LMCC returned in October as a full-day confab at Hudson Yards in New York City. Intended to be an intimate experience, an at-capacity 400 attendees convened for thought leadership panels, juried competition for new product launches, one-to-one matchmaking sessions, and a keynote speaker. LMCC tackled topics ranging from “The Hemp Opportunity: Feed You, Clothe You, House You, Heal You” to “CBD Beauty and Skincare: The Hottest Segment in the Market” to “Is Now The Right Time to Invest in Cannabis, CBD and Hemp?”

Wexler describes the exclusive industry event as “a curated, cross-over platform for retailers and investors to meet the leading luxury brands in the CBD, hemp and cannabis space.”

And with companies including Ulta, Neiman Marcus and Urban Outfitters following Sephora’s lead (it now carries more than a dozen CBD beauty brands), he also sees a uniquely enthusiastic consumer demand.

“Luxury used to just be a handful of names and mean a high price point, but now it’s about being accessible and embracing diversity. Luxury today means traceability, product quality and good design,” Wexler added. “We are using the concept of luxury and what that means today to push this idea that cannabis is no longer exotic and nor should it have ever been criminal. We have an opportunity to embed social impact into the DNA of what’s happening in all the ancillary businesses coming together before it gets away from us. It’s a requirement.”

With the date for the third annual Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference just announced (May 28), meet 10 of my personal favorite brands to know in 2020 (in alphabetical order, not ranked; for the full list of Official Brand Showcase honorees, visit the LMCC website).

Black Dahlia

Hand-crafted and infused with CBD-rich hemp oil, Black Dahlia is known for its pleasant-tasting oral sprays and also hand-crafts a line of skin creams, lotions and gelées. blackdahlia.co

Bloom Farms

A one-for-one company that produces responsibly made THC concentrates and CBD tinctures from sustainably farmed cannabis in California — both beautifully designed around the mantra of relaxation, relief, creativity and fun. getbloomfarms.com

The Good Patch

These state-of-the-art topical patches were designed to help with life’s common ailments (think sleep, hangovers, menstrual cramps, menopause and more) made with the organically farmed hemp and complimentary all-natural ingredients. thegoodpatch.com

Her Highness

This collection of CBD-infused and pleasure-enhancing products was made for women, by women and includes a face serum, intimacy oil, and vape pen kits. herhighness.com

Kiskanu

Located in Northern Humboldt, this family-owned and -operated business benefits from over 20 years of experience in the cannabis industry to create hand-crafted, small-batch skin and body products from whole plant hemp. kiskanuhemp.com

Lab to Beauty

A self-described “clean skin care movement,” hemp-derived CBD is used as a base in the entire Lab to Beauty lineup of all-natural and vegan products for face, hair, body, bath and wellness. labtobeauty.com

Mary’s Nutritionals

Founded in Colorado in 2013, Mary’s is an industry leader for accurately dosed, natural pain-relieving products including transdermal patches, topicals, capsules and tinctures. marysnutritionals.com

natureofthings

Broad-spectrum hemp extract is just one of the many ingredients found in this just-launched, boutique beauty company’s glossary of minerals, plants and elements that go into its modern wellness products. natureofthings.com

Saint Jane Beauty

Launched and personally formulated by a former Sephora executive, Saint Jane’s Luxury Beauty Serum, Luxury Body Serum and Microdose Lip Gloss have already earned awards from Allure to O, the Oprah magazine. saintjanebeauty.com

Treaty

A family of four broad-spectrum hemp tinctures is enhanced with bioregional plant extracts and available in the following effects: Calm, Focus, Balance and Recover. ourtreaty.com

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