S1E8 - The Dispensary

Crystal Ball time!  What will cannabis stores in Manitoba look like?  Kirk goes south to Fort Collins, Colorado and visits a dispensary there.  What does a legal cannabis store look like?  How do the staff interact with customers?  Is it a nice inviting place or a seedy, run down, scary place?  I think you need to have a listen!

Wednesday, 04 July 2018 01:47

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Jason Scott
Jason Scott

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Episode Transcript

Brendan: Just so my name's Brendan I'm the sales and operations manager at Organic Alternatives and Fort Collins Colorado. We've been recreational since June of 2014 and before that we were medical for about five years as well. The way that the city of Fort Collins and certainly each county in Colorado has done it a little bit differently but the way that Larimer County where we're at currently decided to do it was in order to go recreational you had to have been established medical facility before so because we were medical we were allowed to go recreational in 2014 and recreational when it was legalized statewide. Places like Denver did it a little bit differently where you just applied for a license and you were approved. At that point was a pretty heavy oversaturate or recreational facilities. At one point there were more recreational marijuana shops in Denver than Starbucks coffees and where we're at here in northern Colorado it was a little bit more conservative I would say. So they like to keep nice and tight. So yeah, we were we were medical for quite a long time.

Brendan:So customers will come in they will get their I.D. checked right if they're at the front desk. We ensure that they're 21 years of age and they're presenting valid identification. Sometimes we see expired, expired passports things like. Some facilities are able to do it a little bit differently but we operate on just a cash basis. Every thing is cash. We don't do cards. Some other places play play games with credit card companies where it looks like ATM pull but really they just write to their credit card. We don't do that. We we keep everything on the up and up and so we are operated on only a cash basis. And typically what will happen is just like my associate did here, a budtender will come out you will call them next name on the list. And that patient will either be recreationally shopping or medically shopping. If they're medically shopping. They have this whole side reserved for them.

Kirk: OK so we're walking into it now. What would you just the rooms the bud room. OK. So this is where it's like a cigar with a cigar place.

Brendan: So that's where we go for like a cigar bar or a coffee shop. Feel me. You know and certainly like anything else like restaurants like liquor stores there are some dingy ones and there are some ones where you feel pretty comfortable walking in. We try to shoot for the latter with the wood finish and the stained glass lamps and things like that. Our owner is very prominent here in Fort Collins and he had a bar a nightclub for 20 years and moved his bar to this location. When they shut down in the late 80s early 90s and then since the wood finish on the counters has just been shaped to match. A medical patient would typically come over here to the medical side and shop.

Kirk: So what's the different between the medical side and recreation.

Brenden: good Question. So first and foremost money. The medical side is quite a bit cheaper. You know I never like to give people a hard answer but typically about half the price or so.

Kirk: So you have a green card. You have a medical credit card.

Brendan: And patients will be issuing licenses from their physician. OK then the state has approved. And they show that to the budtender in the lobby just like I checked your IDs. The medical patient will present their medical card as well. The big thing over here on the medical side is tax. So here here and it varies by county court. But here in Fort Collins the medical marijuana tax is just regular sales tax which is a little over 7 percent here and for cons the tax on the recreational side is considered sin tax cuts to about 20 percent.

Kirk: OK so how much is there how much is a gram of

Brendan: It varies on the medical side between 10 and 12. OK. On the recreational side if we're doing some daily specials 10 to 12. If it's not on special it's going to be about $15.

Kirk:  Now that's Americans here at home. That was seven dollars a gram. Be Canadian. And that's the whole point is to try to make sure that it doesn't because recreational the black market pot is seven a gram. So they want to keep seven dollars they want to keep it less. So I guess here you guys worry about that anymore.

Brendan: You know there's. And this is just a personal. I think there's always going to be whether it's here in Colorado here in California nationwide and worldwide I think there will always be a black market. But what we try to do is compete on price certainly quality and experience more and more. Right. We want people coming in and getting a safe product that's been tested. We test our things every single batch

Kirk: So every plant,

Brendan: Every batch! So if We're growing three of those train wreck plants all three of those plants will be tested to you.

Kirk: And they're tested for what their level of THC.

Brendan: We have to have them tested for level of THC OK. We have to have them tested for levels of CBD and other cannabinoids. We also have to have them tested for any residual Compounds left in there that shouldn't be in there. So you know some people are using artificial nutrients. OK we do not use the name organic alternatives. Everything we grow is soil and water.

Kirk: So you grow your own and sell it like a craft brewery.

Brendan: Yes we do. We're able to we're able to grow our own. Some people do that. Some people like to just buy everything wholesale. We're able to grow our own and sell our own again that ensures us better quality control and we have it tested for any residual any residual things that should not be like some of those artificial nutrients again we don't have to worry about that but We still have it tested. And I think that's the big thing that we see a lot of people coming from the black market into our shop shops statewide is they want someone say they want something they know is going to be safe to consume and they want the education to go with it. You know in particular in edible.

Kirk: So, I see Girl Scout cookies our girl guide cookies is a very common strain. So you have your own terpenes that you have now grown.

Brendan: Yes. OK. And you know those genetics are going to vary from store to store state to state. You know the blue or blue dream is one of the most popular if not the most popular strains nationwide. Our Blue Dream is going to be different than a dream they grow across town where the dream that they grow in California. And that's that's a product of different methods different soils different climates things of that nature but in general the effects are going to be pretty similar.  

Kirk: So now we know Sativa and Indica right now the big thing is because in the couch. So I guess more word CBDs? The reason why I'm asking botanists will tell you there's no difference.

Brendan: So CBD varies more from the strain of a strain than Indica you know I've seen. Sativa that have a ton CBD maybe I've seen Indica that have a ton of CBD. I've seen 50 /50 blends that have a ton of CBD and you know you're able to cultivate it in such a way that you can bring about more CBD if you really want to. The big difference for me between Indica and sativa is sativa tend to be more stimulating more cerebral more upbeat and energetic and lively silly giggly laughy. But certainly I would never recommend sativa to someone that struggles with anxiety because that'll bring that about more. The Indica are typically more medicinal. I will agree with that portion of what you said. They tend to be more medicinal because they're more body oriented right.

Kirk: But isn't that isn't that because the content. Like CB1 receptors CB2 receptors?

Brendan: CBD is a totally different compound that will be felt by a totally different receptor so THC is what you're going to see primarily in any of these strains. You know and say that Girl Scout cookies that has 19 percent THC 19 percent or more usual are pretty much everything we have is over 20. And that's the advantage of growing things indoor and with botanists and horticulture majors growing our stuff they're pretty dialed in but not all Indica and actually very few Indica are going to have significant portions of CBD so that affect the relaxed body oriented high is simply a product of how it's grown, the environment in which it's grown and the genetics behind it and some of the Terpenes genes as you alluded to craft beer. Same thing applies to marijuana flavored terpenes are going to be the flavour profile of the plant and they are going to contribute substantially to the effect that that is going have. So for example we grow a strain called Durbin poison which is a very tiny very earthy strain and that piney Terpene brings out a very focused high. I can smell it. Some of you know the gorilla glue and some of the chemdoc cuts. Those are going to be Glue Number 4 we can't call your old Glue number four. Those are going to have kind of those really funky heavy earthy flavour profiles which bring about a very euphoric and relaxed affect. Yeah okay and CBD I think is a different story so CBD is. CBD is not going to get high.  It you know it's just more it's so THC is that compound in marijuana it does get you high. Yes CBD is the compound in marijuana that's going to contribute Medicinaly, it's going to contribute to aches and pains gastro and will stuff, seizures is a huge one, PTSD, things of that nature and it because CBD does not get you high. You know a lot of edible companies a lot of companies are moving a lot of things to a pure CBD blend for people that want the medicinal benefits of the cannabis plants Hemp plant but sometimes don't want to get the high or the munchies or something that goes with that.

Kirk: So where where can people smoke. Obviously this is not a smoke bar. No. So how does the state handle that. Can you smoke in restaurants. No.

Brendan: So it's to be treated here in the states here in Colorado. It's to be treated like alcohol. You can purchase it legally you can have it legally as long as it's purchased from a licensed retailer. And as long as you're over 21. But it's not to be consumed in public. OK. So here in Colorado I can go buy a bottle of wine but I can't crack that open on Main Street. And that's so that's the part of the legislature that's the part of the movement (BIG BACK Ground interuption). Right now as it stands. Marijuana needs to be consumed in a private residence. OK. Whether that be a hostel that allows you to smoke in a hotel that allows you to smoke or your home or a friend's home or private property cannot be consumed in public or in any time you can't walk down the street. She cannot walk it's legal to have it. It is not legal to consume it.

Kirk: OK. People traveling between states. I went online before I came here to do some research. And obviously you can't travel can't drive you cannot go. There's no dogs waiting at the border.

Brendan: There's not there's not. But certainly the bordering states are lies to what's going on. Right. And all of my guys and gals here and as an establishment are very sensitive to that. It is we cannot and never will be able to endorse taking something outside. That's not that's not legal. We always are. We always say. Consume it here and take the memories. We never want people to take things out of state because that puts everything at risk. You know what I mean if everyone is buying something legally and then taking it into a state where it is illegal you're putting this whole thing at risk of putting our risk in every store in Colorado at risk and to be frank the kind of giving it a bad name. Whereas if it's bought here in Colorado and consumed here in Colorado that's the responsible way to go about it. It gets it gets a little tricky now that other states are starting to go legal. But what happens is you know Oregon's legal Colorado was legal but you would be crossing several states in which it is not legal right. Thus it is not legal to take it out of the state. Now it's it's nice I like to see that, other states like Oregon are going medical and recreational. So that is you know if I have my medical card and I'm traveling to Oregon I'm able to go into a dispensary in Oregon and purchase something there while I'm there but never want to take anything with you. The technical term for that is drug traffic.

Kirk: Sure. So what's happening with the finances now I'm reading I'm reading in Colorado a lot of the banks don't take their money. So is there an issue with that.

Brendan: So we need to be very sensitive about where the money is kept. Certainly any federal banking institution like your bigger banks are not going to want to work with any dispensaries. However, some smaller credit unions that are more Colorado based have started to have started to open up to it. And there has been some legislature put in place here in Colorado that has allowed banks to work with them.

Kirk: They have to go either way there's a vault someplace around here full of cash.

Brendan: You want to avoid that. Yes. Again breaking bad. Right. Right. Right right. I am not going to be Walter White and that's part of it for me. You know it's just a personal opinion but if you're going to allow something to go legal it's allowed to go legal all the way and that's not stopped just short you know let's you know we pay taxes we go through background checks we check, we give recommendations on how to consume stuff. So let's take it a step further and allow us to to us as an industry to bank responsible.

Michelle: He only the only question I had was earlier when you're talking about growing guys. Do you hire people. We do so.

Brendan: So there's two different ways so you you are either a sales or retail facility or a cultivation facility or you are both you know so some places are only retail stores they'll buy from other people that are growing it and some places are strictly cultivation facilities where they don't sell it they just at that establishment they just grow it and sell it to other dispensaries. We are both we are we have a retail operation and we have a state of the art warehouse in which we cultivate all our own marijuana and our own hash but we had to go through a pretty strenuous testing. We had to meet with fire marshals and things like that able to do that and we do so we have this is the way you're looking at here in the stores. About half of our team and then the other half of our team is out at our cultivation facility and that's a mixture of growers that's a mixture of Trimmer's that's a mixture of people that package that some mixture of people that make our hash

Kirk: And I'd be so bold how can I get a tour that may not.

Brendan: Unfortunately you may not. Unfortunately that's the way that facility works is similar to your banks or your military bases. It Is under strict lockdown. I even go with an escort from someone I order just to make sure and that's the way that we have to operate for security purposes and to adhere to.

Michelle: It's almost like a pharmacy.

Brendan: It is absolutely and and to keep things clean. You know we don't want outside pests getting in there. We don't want anything like that. So we ensure that it stays closed.

Kirk So we're going to walk through the process of buying cannabis.

Brendan: So this would be on the recreational side. So we have so we have a ton of vegetables. We've got chocolate bars and baked goods Parma waffles cookies and then down in that next corner, We've got gummies hard candies. It's OK. And the next counter we have. Hash. So. We've. Got Hash which is wax and shatter in the vaporizer pen live over there as well. We've got seeds behind this down here. So those are actually cultivating clones but also like plants where we do so.

Kirk: So does Colorado allow personal cultivation.

Brendan: So if you have a medical card you can legally cultivate single plants unless you've signed those plants over to someone else.

Kirk: So you go to a you brew like they can you grow they can grow for you.

Brendan: Yes. So you know some people some people in that but that has to be a license for it to be. So you know some people are you know they'll come in and say Hey I would love to grow but I don't know how to do that. So. Why don't I sign my six plants over to the store. Will cultivate those plants for them and in exchange they get reduced price. And then here behind you we have all of the flour all of the candidates As we talked about briefly earlier those are going to fit into a couple of different categories they're going to be sativa which again will be energetic hybrids which fluctuates somewhere in the middle; Indica, which are very relaxing very heavy. Look good for pain management good for appetites good for sweet things of that nature. And then you have a couple CBD strains. OK typically what I'll ask people is just that what are you looking for. Are you looking for something upbeat.  Are you looking for something or are you looking for something medicinal

Kirk: So Charlotte's Web is a famous high CBD.

Brendan: The Stanley Brothers down in Boulder we had directly with them. Yeah. So we have are own version have our own version of Charlotte's Web and we carry the Charlotte's Web product line as well. Working with the Stanley Brothers. Yeah. No that's one of the best if not the best in the CBD game right.

Kirk: Yeah well I've done the research I've done is pretty much the highest CBD you can get.

Brendan: They're in very good quality. And so that's typically how I started sales simply by asking someone what they're looking for.  Are you looking for edibles are you looking for flower and then from there what effects are you looking you know are you looking for something medical you don't want to get. You just need some help with pain relief for your PTSD or whatever that might be. Or are you you live in a have some fun you know.

Kirk: Okay so medicinal marijuana like you said earlier is cheaper yes okay. And its cheaper in taxes only, both in cost and in tax. OK it's two forms and that's because you give your members a discount.

Brendan: We do we want to make sure that if someone's buying something for a medical purpose we're charging them appropriately. OK. And the other part is that on the medical side. And you know typically people in severe pain that are that are struggling with any number of ailments for a long time are going to require a little bit higher potency to get the job done. You know we're someone trying for the first time we don't want to give them the strong stuff we want to ease them, dip a toe into the water

Kirk: Do You have a lot of first timers coming in here and saying I've never tried

Brendan: Absolutely.

Kirk: What you guys have turned 21 said hey I've never done it at all.

Brendan: And that's the other part about what we do it's all walks of life. It's it's people that are just turned 21 last week looking to get their first dispensary experience. It's Retired military people that are like you know what I've been in the military for 50 years, I just got out last week. My back is killing me. I would love to try some of the CBD or something that cream this pain cream, and it's people that are in Colorado for the first time or traveling through Colorado and they're like Man. You know back in Vietnam or back in the 70s I tried some stuff but because it's not legal where I'm from didn't want to mess with it. And now that I'm here. Might as well try it and have a little fun

Kirk: While in Rome. So from your experience I guess maybe you're not an expert but from your experience. Now that it's legal, do you find cannabis is more standardized in conversation people are more tolerant of it, is still stigma to it.

Brendan: Certainly you know and I think. One of the other managers and I were just having this conversation the other day even if all 50 states legalize it even worldwide it becomes legalized. You're still going to run into those people have a negative view of it. That kind of. You know that mid 30s you know the 1930s you know kind of Reefer madness you know. And certainly you know there's always going to be people like that there's always going to be people that view Alcohol is a negative, Tobacco is you know whatever the case may be. But I would say in terms of general conversation in terms of culture Colorado has become much more accepting of marijuana much more accepting of the medicinal benefits behind it and socially accepting it. And there are statistics to prove that that's a positive.

Kirk: How about now is 21 to drink here too. Yes. OK so how about underage drinking underage smoking. Is that still a problem are kids still drinking

Brendan: So, under 21 cannabis consumption has gone down 18 percent since 2014 Gone down gone down.

Kirk: So whole fear about children having better access to it is false?

Brendan: In my opinion that is fault and the statistics that I've seen on violent crime is also down in Colorado I don't have that exact I'm not going I want to say

Kirk: Well my goal is to find or find good cop or policemen to talk to as well.

Brendan: I would say in general and I can only speak to Fort Collins police officers, in general. They are very receptive to it because they're saying to me Hey Brendan I don't want to spend my time busting someone for a joint for a couple of grams. Now we've got sex trafficking to worry about we've got an opioid crisis to worry about. We got drunk drivers that we need to get on the road. Now they're giving us the permission to not worry about the small stuff and to worry about those really big picture issues for Colorado. However it is still illegal to have more than an ounce of marijuana on your persons. Tested 28 grams in Canada grams that's still legal to drive while under the influence on her. And those are very serious offences as well that we take very seriously when you go.

Kirk: When I look at normalization you know in Canada right now and I guess most of the states if you're outside of a bar and you're sharing a reefer some underage kid walks by you're more likely to share with them. Now everyone's doing something illegal. But In Colorado now that its 21 and doing something and I'm in a private place is legal. Do you think hypotheically or do you think it's less likely someone will pass it to an 18 year old.

Brendan: Well I think so. I agree with you. I think that because Colorado is really set that line that marijuana cannabis is something for people of 21 years of age and older. Colorado's really drawn that line in the sand and said hey we're not going to tolerate anybody under 21 using marijuana but anyone over 21 that's the privilege of being an adult and being able to make adult decisions. And so I I very much believe that people in Colorado have that now that it's not for children it's not to be shared. It's not to be passed it's not left around. People the people that I work with here in the shop that I deal with on a day to day basis take it very seriously in that regard.

Kirk: Now I've heard rumors that there's more people going into the emergency departments with overdoses on marijuana

Brendan: You can't overdose on marijuana unless you take your full body weight which I would be very impressed if you took 200 pounds of marijuana. So what they're what they're experiencing is an overconsumption but an overconsumption that has very little if any health benefits or any drawbacks on health, what they're experiencing. If you take too many edibles it's a very uncomfortable feeling you can feel out of your body you feel anxious you feel not not very good. Paranoia can set in and things like that. And those are negative psychological effects. But those are not permanent. Those are very much temporary and that's part of the responsibility of us educating customers here at the storefront. And I think as we continue to educate people you'll see less of that because you know again ten years ago when marijuana was legal everywhere. Oh you take a brownie. I'm just going to eat that whole thing. I don't know what it is. It could be a lot could be very little. Here in my shop because everything's regulated, we're able to tell people hey you want to do just this one and give me one cookie one gummy one cookie, one little square the chocolate bar. That is the dos that start there. Do not exceed that and because people are getting that education behind it instead of just going into it blind. I think we see a lot less of those things and a lot more education and education tends to spread education. You know we told this gentleman here you know you only want to take one gummy. He's going to tell his friends hey told me in the shop you don't want to take one here. Let's not let's not go over. Getting back to your last point. You know when I was in high school nothing was legal and marijuana was fairly easy to get because it's illegal everywhere. Anyone can buy it. Anyone can sell it. But it was really hard for us to get alcohol in high school because you had to know someone that was 21 had to know someone that had you know something like that. And I think that's what you're seeing now with marijuana is that everything is pulled into the legal front. You know. We are very rigorous about our age verifications and we're not going to let anyone in here in a shop that's not 21.

Kirk: So I am Looking at your store and you have you have jars on the medicinal side and you have smaller smaller jars here. So can I, on the recreational side can I walk over here and pick one of those. No no.

Brendan: OK no different completely different essentially. Essentially what you're looking at here is two separate businesses. Our recreational shop and our medical shop

Kirk: So I can still buy flower on this side so I can't buy the same flowers

Brendan: As a Recreational customer you can not buy anything medical.

Kirk: So how is it different. How real blue dream on this side different?

Brendan:You can buy blue dream on the recreational side. But you cannot buy blue dream on the medical side because like when that Blue Dream is just a little seed we have to designate whether that seed which will then become a plant and then become marijuana is either medical or recreational. So we have we have to really stick to a certain count on the medical side. We can exceed X amount of plants on the medical side.

Kirk: Okay that's just that's just inventory. But in the sense of the level of THC level

Brendan: It's the same. I have to keep my inventory separate. And I just cannot sell medical a nonmedical patient however of medical patients that is over 21 is able to come over onto the recreational side and shop.

Kirk: But they're paying more for it. Yes. OK. So why would you.

Brendan: If there was a strain that he or she liked some care that we didn't have available over there would get them taken care of on the rec side. The flower is the same potency the same grade the same quality. We just have to designate something either medical or recreational. Once that goes on the medical side it must stay on the medical side for only medical patients whereas the recreational is available for anyone over 21 and presents us with a valid identification.

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