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How do you move mountains of unwanted weed?

Oregon farmers have grown three times what their customers can smoke in a year, causing bud prices to plummet and panic to set in

A recent Sunday afternoon at the Bridge City Collective cannabis shop in north Portland saw a steady flow of customers.

Little wonder: a gram of weed was selling for less than the price of a glass of wine.

The $4 and $5 grams enticed Scotty Saunders, a 24-year-old sporting a gray hoodie, to spend $88 picking out new products to try with a friend. Weve definitely seen a huge drop in prices, he says.

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Across the wood and glass counter, Bridge City owner David Alport was less delighted. He says hes never sold marijuana this cheap before.

We have standard grams on the shelf at $4, Alport says. Before, we didnt see a gram below $8.

The scene at Bridge City Collective is playing out across the city and state. Three years into Oregons era of recreational cannabis, the state is inundated with legal weed.

It turns out Oregonians are good at growing cannabis too good.

In February, state officials announced that 1.1m pounds of cannabis flower were logged in the states database.

If a million pounds sounds like a lot of pot, thats because it is: last year, Oregonians smoked, vaped or otherwise consumed just under 340,000lb of legal bud.

That means Oregon farmers have grown three times what their clientele can smoke in a year.

Yet state documents show the number of Oregon weed farmers is poised to double this summer without much regard to whether theres demand to fill.

The result? Prices are dropping to unprecedented lows in auction houses and on dispensary counters across the state.

Wholesale sun-grown weed fell from $1,500 a pound last summer to as low as $700 by mid-October. On store shelves, that means the price of sun-grown flower has been sliced in half to those four-buck grams.

For Oregon customers, this is a bonanza. A gram of the beloved Girl Scout Cookies strain now sells for little more than two boxes of actual Girl Scout cookies.

But it has left growers and sellers with a high-cost product thats a financial loser. And a new feeling has descended on the once-confident Oregon cannabis industry: panic.

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The business has been up and down and up and down, says Don Morse, who closed his Human Collective II dispensary in south-west Portland four months ago. But in a lot of ways it has just been down and down for dispensaries.

This month, WW spoke to two dozen people across Oregons cannabis industry. They describe a bleak scene: small businesses laying off employees and shrinking operations. Farms shuttering. People losing their lifes savings are unable to declare bankruptcy because marijuana is still a federally scheduled narcotic.

To be sure, every new market creates winners and losers. But the glut of legal weed places Oregons young industry in a precarious position, and could swiftly reshape it.

Oregons wineries, breweries and distilleries have experienced some of the same kind of shakeout over time. But the timetable is faster with pot: for many businesses, its boom to bust within months.

Mom-and-pop farms are accepting lowball offers to sell to out-of-state investors, and what was once a diverse and local market is increasingly owned by a few big players. And frantic growers face an even greater temptation to illegally leak excess grass across state lines and into the crosshairs of US attorney general Jeff Sessions justice department.

If somebody has got thousands of pounds that they cant sell, they are desperate, says Myron Chadowitz, who owns the Eugene farm Cannassentials. Desperate people do desperate things.

In March, Robin Cordell posted a distress signal on Instagram.

The prices are so low, she wrote, and without hustling all day, hoping to find the odd shop with an empty jar, it doesnt seem to move at any price.

Cordell has a rare level of visibility for a cannabis grower. Her Oregon City farm, Oregon Girl Gardens, received glowing profiles from Dope Magazine and Oregon Leaf. She has 12 years of experience in the medical marijuana system, a plot of family land in Clackamas county, and branding as one of the states leaders in organic and women-led cannabis horticulture.

She fears shell be out of business by the end of the year.

The prices just never went back up, she says.

The
The prices just never went back up.

Cordell ran headlong into Oregons catastrophically bountiful cannabis crop.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) handed out dozens of licenses to new farmers who planted their first crop last spring. Mild weather blessed the summer of 2017 and stretched generously into the fall. And growers going into their second summer season planted extra seeds to make up for flower lost to a 2016 storm, the last vestige of a brutal typhoon blown across the Pacific from Asia.

That storm naturally constrained the supply even though there were a lot of cultivators, says Beau Whitney, senior economist for New Frontier Data, which studies the cannabis industry.

It kept supply low and prices high in 2017 even though the state was handing out licenses at an alarming rate.

It was a hot new market, Whitney says. There werent a whole lot of barriers to entry. The OLCC basically issued a license to anyone who qualified.

Chadowitz blames out-of-state money for flooding the Oregon system. In 2016, state lawmakers decided to lift a restriction that barred out-of-state investors from owning controlling shares of local farms and dispensaries.

It was a controversial choice one that many longtime growers still resent.

The root of the entire thing was allowance of outside money into Oregon, Chadowitz says. Anyone could get the money they needed. Unlimited money and unlimited licenses, youre going to get unlimited flower and crash the market.

As of 1 April, Oregon had licensed 963 recreational cannabis grows, while another 910 awaited OLCC approval.

That means oversupply is only going to increase as more farms start harvesting bud.

The OLCC has said repeatedly that it has no authority to limit the number of licenses it grants to growers, wholesalers and dispensaries (although by contrast, the number of liquor stores in Oregon is strictly limited).

Since voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, many industry veterans from the medical marijuana years have chafed at the entrance of new money, warning it would destroy a carefully crafted farm ecosystem.

The same problem has plagued cannabis industries in other states that have legalized recreational weed. In 2016, Colorado saw wholesale prices for recreational flower drop 38%. Washington saw its pot drop in value at the same time Oregon did.

The OLCC remains committed to facilitating a free market for recreational marijuana in which anyone can try their hand at growing or selling.

[The law] has to be explicit that we have that authority to limit or put a cap on licenses, says OLCC spokesman Mark Pettinger. It doesnt say that we could put a cap on licenses. The only thing that we can regulate is canopy size.

The demand for weed in Oregon is robust the state reeled in $68m in cannabis sales taxes last year but it cant keep pace with supply.

A
A cannabis harvest at East Fork Cultivars, Oregon.

Whitney says its not unusual for a new industry to attract speculators and people without much business savvy.

Whenever you have these emerging markets, theres going to be a lot of people entering the market looking for profit, he says. Once it becomes saturated, it becomes more competitive. This is not a phenomenon that is unique to cannabis. There used to be a lot of computer companies, but theres not so many anymore.

Across rolling hills of Oregon farmland and in Portland dispensaries as sleek as designer eyewear shops, the story plays out the same: Business owners cant make the low prices pencil out.

Nick Duyck is a second-generation farmer and owner of 3D Blueberry Farms in Washington county. I was born and raised on blueberries, he says.

But last June, Duyck launched Private Reserve Cannabis, a weed grow designed to create permanent jobs for seasonal workers.

By starting up the cannabis business, says Duyck, it keeps my guys busy on a year-round basis.

He invested $250,000 in the structural build-outs, lighting, environmental controls and other initial costs to achieve a 5,000 sq ft, Tier I, OLCC-approved indoor canopy.

Ongoing labor and operational costs added another $20,000 a month.

Weed prices were high: Duyck forecast a $1,500 return per pound. If Duyck could produce 20lb of flower a week, hed make back his money and start banking profits in just three months.

A
A gram of weed was selling for less than a glass of wine.

Octobers bumper crop tore those plans apart.

We got in at the wrong time, Duyck says. The outdoor harvest flooded the market.

By the start of the new year, Duyck was sitting on 100lb of ready-to-sell flower an inventory trickling out to dispensaries in single-pound increments.

So he turned to a wholesaler, Cannabis Auctions LLC, which holds monthly fire sales in various undisclosed locations throughout Oregon.

Weed auctions operate under a traditional model: sellers submit their wares, and buyers dispensary owners, intake managers and extract manufacturers are given an opportunity to inspect products before bidding on parcels awarded to the highest dollar.

Duyck sent 60lb of pot to the auction block in December. He had adjusted his expectations downward: he hoped to see something in the ballpark of $400 a pound.

It sold for $100 a pound.

The price per pound that it costs us to raise this product is significantly higher than the hundred dollars a pound, says Duyck. (A little light math points to a $250-per-unit production cost.) Currently, were operating at a $15,000-per-month loss, Duyck says.

If prices dont improve soon, Duyck says he wont be able to justify renewing his OLCC license for another year.

The dispensaries that are out there, a lot of them have their own farms, so they dont buy a lot of product from small farms like us Duyck says. If you really want to grow the product, you almost have to own the store also.

Middlemen store owners without farms are also suffering. Take Don Morse, who gave up selling weed on New Years Eve.

Morse ran Human Collective II, one of the earliest recreational shops in the city, which first opened as a medical marijuana supplier in 2010. At times, Morse stocked 100 strains in his Multnomah Village location.

A
A cannabis crop. I think if we let it be a painful moment, and not try to cover it up, were going to be better off for it.

Morse lobbied for legal recreational weed and founded the Oregon Cannabis Business Council.

The shift to recreational was costly. With his business partner Sarah Bennett, Morse says he invested more than $100,000 in equipment to meet state regulations.

By last summer, new stores were popping up at a rapid pace. Morses company wasnt vertically integrated, which means it did not grow any of its own pot or run a wholesaler that might have subsidized low sales.

Competition around us was fierce, and the company started losing money, and it wasnt worth it anymore, Morse says. At our peak, we had 20 employees. When we closed, we had six.

Prices went into free fall in October: the average retail price dropped 40%.

Morse couldnt see a way to make the numbers work. Human Collective priced grams as low as $6 to compete with large chains like Nectar and Chalice, but it struggled to turn a profit.

When youre the little guy buying the product from wholesalers, you cant afford to compete, he says. Theres only so far you can lower the price. Theres too much of everything and too many people in the industry.

So Morse closed his shop: We paid our creditors and that was that. That was the end of it.

Despite losing his business, Morse stands behind Oregons light touch when it comes to regulating the industry.

Its just commercialism at its finest, he says. Let the best survive. Thats just the way it goes in capitalism. Thats just the way it goes.

Just as mom-and-pop grocery stores gave way to big chains, people like Morse are losing out to bigger operations.

Chalice Farms has five stores in the Portland area and is opening a sixth in Happy Valley. La Mota has 15 dispensaries. Nectar has 11 storefronts in Oregon, with four more slated to open soon.

Despite the record-low prices in the cannabis industry, these chains are hiring and opening new locations, sometimes after buying failed mom-and-pop shops.

The home page on Nectars website prominently declares: Now buying dispensaries! Please contact us if you are a dispensary owner interested in selling your business.

Nectar representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Mason
Mason Walker, the CEO of East Fork Cultivars.

Because the federal government does not recognize legal marijuana, the industry cannot access traditional banking systems or even federal courts. That means business owners cant declare bankruptcy to dissolve a failed dispensary or farm, leaving them with few options. They can try to liquidate their assets, destroy the product they have on hand and eat the losses.

Or they can sell the business to a company like Nectar, often for a fraction of what theyve invested.

This time last year, it was basically all mom-and-pop shops, says Mason Walker, CEO of Cave Junction cannabis farm East Fork Cultivars. Now there are five or six companies that own 25 or 30%. Stores are selling for pennies on the dollar, and people are losing their life savings in the process.

Deep-pocketed companies can survive the crash and wait for the market to contract again.

What this means is, the market is now in a position where only the large [businesses] or the ones that can produce at the lower cost can survive, Whitney says. A lot of the craft growers, a lot of the small-capacity cultivators, will go out of business.

Oregon faces another consequence of pot businesses closing up shop: leftover weed could end up on the black market.

Already, Oregon has a thriving illegal market shipping to other states.

US attorney for Oregon, Billy Williams, has said he has little interest in cracking down on legal marijuana businesses, but will prosecute those shipping marijuana to other states.

That kind of thing is whats going to shut down our industry, Chadowitz says. Anything we can do to prevent Jeff Sessions from being right, we have to do.

Ask someone in the cannabis industry what to do about Oregons weed surplus, and youre likely to get one of three answers.

The first is to cap the number of licenses awarded by the OLCC. The second is to reduce the canopy size allotted to each license Massachusetts is trying that. And the last, equally common answer is to simply do nothing. Let the market sort itself out.

Up
Up in smoke: opinions vary about what Oregon must do to address its weed surplus.

Farmers, such as Walker of East Fork Cultivars, argue that limiting the number of licensed farms in Oregon would stunt the states ability to compete on the national stage in the years ahead.

Were in this sort of painful moment right now, says Walker, but I think if we let it be a painful moment, and not try to cover it up, were going to be better off for it.

Walker and other growers hope selling across state lines will someday become legal.

Every farmer, wholesaler, dispensary owner and economist WW talked to for this story said that if interstate weed sales became legal, Oregons oversupply problem would go away.

Under the current presidential administration, that might seem a long shot. But legalization is sweeping the country, Donald Trump is signaling a looser approach, and experts say Oregon will benefit when the feds stop fighting.

The thing about Oregon is that it is known for its cannabis, in a similar way to Oregon pinot noir, Whitney says. For those who are able to survive, they are positioned extremely well not only to survive in the Oregon market but also to take advantage of a larger market assuming things open up on a federal level.

Looking for more great work from the Portland, Oregon, alt-weekly paper and website Willamette Week? Here are some suggestions:

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Marissa SafontHow do you move mountains of unwanted weed?
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Top Senate Democrat Endorses Decriminalizing Marijuana at the Federal Level

The push to decriminalize marijuana has picked up another high-profile backer — Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer — just a week after President Donald Trump endorsed letting states decide how to regulate the drug.

"I’ll be introducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level from one end of the country to the other," Schumer, of New York, told Vice News in an interview airing Thursday evening. "I’ve seen too many people’s lives ruined because they had small amounts of marijuana and served time in jail much too long."

Schumer’s backing of decriminalization adds to what has become a bipartisan effort in the Senate, led by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, which was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. Marijuana currently is legal for medicinal use in 29 states and for recreational use in eight.

Trump’s promise to let states handle the issue caused pot-related stocks to spike. It also eased the threat that the Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions — a staunch foe of legalization — would step up enforcement of federal prohibitions on sales and use of marijuana in states like Colorado.

Gardner separately said in an interview Wednesday he is 80 percent finished with legislation he is writing to ensure states don’t run afoul of the federal prohibition on marijuana and to allow marijuana businesses access to the financial system.

It’s not clear, however, when or if such a bill might move. In the meantime Schumer’s backing could help Democrats, given that polls have increasingly shown a strong majority backing legalization.

Previous efforts to expand an existing appropriations rider protecting state-licensed medical-marijuana operations failed.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Marissa SafontTop Senate Democrat Endorses Decriminalizing Marijuana at the Federal Level
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Ex-Speaker John Boehner Joins Marijuana Firms Advisory Board

  • Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld also added
  • Watershed moment for cannabis as drug goes mainstream

The U.S. marijuana industry has a new spokesman: John Boehner.

The Republican former Speaker of the House has joined the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a company that cultivates, processes and dispenses cannabis in 11 U.S. states. Boehner’s endorsement, after saying nine years ago he was “unalterably opposed” to legalization, could be considered a watershed event: Marijuana has gone mainstream.

“Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically,” he said in an interview. “I find myself in that same position.”

Sixty-four percent of Americans, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, want to legalize it, according to an October Gallup survey. That’s the most since the pollster began asking the question in 1969, when 12 percent of the population favored legalization.

Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld will join Boehner on the advisory board of Acreage, which holds 35 licenses for cannabis businesses in the U.S. Boehner, 68, was first elected to the House of Representatives from Southwest Ohio in 1990. He was Speaker from 2011 to 2015, when he resigned amid problems with an increasingly fractious Republican caucus.

Since then, he’s served as a board member for tobacco company Reynolds American Inc. and adviser for global law firm Squire Patton Boggs US LLP. Weld, 72, who was governor from 1991 to 1997, was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for vice president in 2016.

‘Immensely Positive’

“We view this advocacy that we get from these two gentlemen as immensely positive for the industry,” said George Allen, Acreage’s president.

The politicians are a sign of a watershed moment for the industry, according to Vahan Ajamian, an analyst at Beacon Securities Ltd.

“It is difficult to overstate the impact of this monumental event for the U.S. cannabis sector,” he said in a note Wednesday after Bloomberg broke the news.

The two former Republican politicians join Acreage as current officeholders vacillate on their support for weed. President Donald Trump has gone back and forth, while Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a longtime opponent. The Justice Department in January rescinded the Obama-era policies that allowed state legal pot markets to flourish.

Both Boehner and Weld say they’ve never tried the drug, but adult recreational use is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C. That means more than one in five American adults can partake. Twenty additional states allow for some form of medical marijuana. The legal market is expected to reach $75 billion by 2030, according to the investment bank Cowen & Co.

Still, the drug remains federally illegal and is classified as a Schedule I narcotic, the harshest of five government ratings.

Supported Referendum

Weld said he’s been in favor of medical marijuana since 1992 and supported the referendum that legalized recreational pot use in his home state in 2016.

“I was a little bit ahead of the field there,” he said in an interview.

Even so, his belief in the functionality of the plant has grown, he said, especially when it comes to easing the opioid crisis.

“Cannabis could be perceived as an exit drug, not a gateway drug,” he said.

Boehner said his perspective shifted after he saw the plant’s efficacy in helping a close friend deal with debilitating back pain. Marijuana’s potential use as a treatment for veterans helped sway him, too. Plus he’s been studying the problems of the U.S. criminal justice system for years.

“When you look at the number of people in our state and federal penitentiaries, who are there for possession of small amounts of cannabis, you begin to really scratch your head,” Boehner said. “We have literally filled up our jails with people who are nonviolent and frankly do not belong there.”

10th Amendment

On top of all those reasons to support the plant, Boehner and Weld say the debate over legalization is, at its core, a discussion of the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which allows states to do what they want.

“If some states don’t want marijuana to be legal, that’s their prerogative,” Weld said. “But that shouldn’t be dictated by the nanny state in Washington.”

Despite the GOP mostly lauding the amendment, Republican politicians have been split on the cannabis issue. Sessions’ harsh words for marijuana, and his decision to roll back Obama-era protections, didn’t deter Boehner or Weld’s decisions to get involved with the industry, they said.

“When I saw the announcement, I almost chuckled to myself,” Boehner said, referring to the policy reversal. “I don’t know why they decided to do this. It could be that the attorney general is trying to force the Congress to act.”

Winding Road

The politicians’ years in public office may help the company navigate the winding road to federal legalization.

“When it comes to an issue like this, that has what I’ll call murky legal issues and political issues, we’re there to provide advice to Acreage in terms of how they work with state and federal governments, how they work with local governments and advice on what states look promising,” Boehner said.

Neither Boehner nor Weld has made a financial investment in Acreage, though Weld says he’s considering it.

“Millennials who will inherit the kingdom before long, they are even more positive about cannabis than the populous at large,” Weld said. “You can look at the trend of millennial opinion and you can see the future.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Marissa SafontEx-Speaker John Boehner Joins Marijuana Firms Advisory Board
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Trump Backs State-Level Marijuana Regulation, Lifting Pot Stocks

Trump Backs State-Level Marijuana Regulation, Lifting Pot Stocks

Updated on
  • Colorado’s Gardner says he received assurances from president
  • White House spokeswoman says Gardner statement ‘accurate’

President Donald Trump endorsed letting states decide how to regulate marijuana, in a major boost for the legal pot industry.

Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner said that as a result of Trump’s assurances, he’ll end a blockade of Justice Department nominees. Gardner held up the nominees after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an earlier Justice Department memo that shielded marijuana operations in states like Colorado from enforcement of the federal ban on the drug.

"Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana," Gardner said in a statement Friday. “President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Gardner’s statement is “accurate.” She didn’t elaborate.

“The president did speak with Senator Gardner yesterday and again today,” Sanders told reporters Friday at the White House, adding, "the president is a firm believer" in states’ rights.

Marijuana is legal for medicinal use in 29 states and for recreational use in eight.

Marijuana stocks surged on the news, which removed the threat posed by Sessions’s decision in January to rescind an Obama-era policy that helped states legalize recreational pot.

Canada’s Canopy Growth Corp., the largest cannabis producer by market value, jumped as much as 11 percent in its biggest intraday advance since March 5. Medical-marijuana supplier Aphria Inc. climbed as much as 21 percent in Toronto trading.

Gardner said he’s lifting his hold and working with colleagues on legislation that would protect marijuana operations in states that have legalized the drug. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump offered qualified support for legalization while on the presidential campaign trail, saying that medical marijuana “should happen” and that laws regarding recreational usage should be left in the hands of the states.

Sessions, on the other hand, has been an outspoken opponent of state marijuana laws.

The Justice Department under President Barack Obama created guardrails for federal prosecution of the sale and possession of cannabis, which remains illegal under federal law, and allowed legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country. Under Sessions’s approach, U.S. attorneys in states where pot is legal were given approval to prosecute cases where they see fit.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Marissa SafontTrump Backs State-Level Marijuana Regulation, Lifting Pot Stocks
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This Pot Company Posts Record Sales as CEO Eyes Deals

Medical-marijuana company Aphria Inc. posted a 39 percent jump in second-quarter revenue to C$8.5 million ($6.8 million), exceeding the most recently reported figures of larger peer Aurora Cannabis Inc. and giving it the second-highest quarterly revenue of pot-specialty companies globally. Aphria remains upbeat, even as the increased legalization of marijuana is called into question after a move by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to revoke policies that allowed its spread and warnings of a possible de-listing. At a conference in Toronto on Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer Vic Neufeld stated plans for several acquisitions that will target expansion in four more states.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

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    This Little Canadian Town Has Become the Nations Pot Capital

    All it took was a little marijuana to lift this Canadian town’s spirits.

    Smiths Falls, Ontario — population 8,885 — is seeing a revival of fortunes since medical marijuana producer Tweed Inc. set up shop four years ago in an abandoned Hershey Co. chocolate factory. The company, since renamed Canopy Growth Corp., has become the world’s largest publicly traded cannabis producer and is the town’s largest private-sector employer.

    “We’re recognized as the pot capital of Canada — and we’re proud of that,” Mayor Shawn Pankow said in an interview from the town hall, a two-story brick building erected in 1859 on the main street. “The local economy is certainly far better today than it was before Tweed came to town.”

    Smiths Falls is on the rebound, with more younger people relocating to this town 75 kilometers (47 miles) southwest of the capital in Ottawa. There’s renewed interest in commercial property, new businesses are arriving and there’s even the odd bidding war on homes.

    “We’re seeing positive impacts really across the economy,” said Pankow, 52, who also runs a financial advisory firm. “People are recognizing that Smiths Falls is a community that’s on the upswing.”

    Canopy has since become one of the darlings of the Canada’s benchmark stock exchange. It’s the S&P/TSX Composite Index’s best performer in 2017 with returns of more than 250 percent as of Friday at noon in Toronto, and is up 40 percent in the past week alone with pot stocks surging ahead of legalization both in Canada and in California.

    Town Welcome

    Tweed took over a former Hershey factory with ambitious plans to grow medical marijuana. Today, the firm has 360 employees — a well-educated workforce that runs the administration, research, growing operations, packaging and shipping from the facility that still has signage and other remnants of its chocolate past. Construction crews hammer away on the next expansion. The parking lot is packed.

    “Smiths Falls welcomed us and we appreciated that,” said Chief Executive Officer Bruce Linton, who says he’s tapping local labor, suppliers and businesses as much as possible as the business gears up for the legalization of marijuana in Canada next summer. “The effect is the town becomes more desirable, and as it becomes more desirable my ability to recruit people who are senior or worldly increases.”

    It’s a stark contrast from a decade ago, when Smiths Falls faced an industry exodus with the shutdown of a Stanley Tools Manufacturing facility and a shuttering of the Hershey plant. That followed months later by the closure of the Rideau Regional Centre for the developmentally disabled. The closures affected more than 1,500 people — one-fifth the population.

    Smiths Falls has faced ebbs and flows of industry throughout its history, stemming back about 190 years when crews came to build the Rideau Canal connecting Ottawa with Kingston. Decades later, the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived to provide a rail connection to the outside world, helping support commerce.

    Reinvents Itself

    “It’s a town that constantly reinvents itself,” said Leisa Purdonbell, 33, who oversees the historical collections in the basement of an 1860s-era house that doubles as a museum. “Businesses have come and gone.”

    Frost & Wood Co., which began making farming equipment in 1846, evolved into a munitions factory during the Second World War that once employed 1,200 people before it closed in 1955. Coca-Cola Co. bottler Rideau Beverages was around until the 1970s.

    RCA Victor, which came to town in 1954, helped introduce The Beatles to North America: the band’s vinyl single “Love Me Do” was pressed at the plant in 1963. RCA Victor, which employed 350 people at its height, left in 1978.

    Hershey came in 1963 and within 25 years had 750 workers and a bustling plant that drew thousands of visitors. At one point, the town’s water tower boasted an image of a Hershey bar and the slogan “Chocolate Capital of Ontario.”

    Low Point

    “When we received notification of Hershey’s leaving and pulling out, and then Rideau Regional quickly after that, we kind of hit that low point,” Purdonbell said. “Thankfully, at the moment, it seems that everybody’s changed their way of thinking into something more positive, and I think businesses see that as they’re coming into the community.”

    Four Degrees Brewing Co. recently opened. European canal boat operator Le Boat has occupied an 1840s-era Lockmaster’s House on the waterway that bisects town. It’s ramping up plans to bring 16 rental boats next summer for tourists to cruise the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO world heritage site.

    Linton, whose company has soared to a market value of more than C$4 billion ($3.1 billion), sees room to further improve Smiths Falls. He wants to expand a retail area at his plant to draw visitors — akin to days when busloads of tourists toured Hershey’s and bought broken chocolate bars on the cheap. Beyond that, he’d like to see more restaurants, meeting places and a hotel to make it a destination spot.

    Hotel Needed

    “What the town lacks is a really great place for people to actually stay,” Linton said.

    Aside from the hubbub over weed, Smiths Falls has another claim to fame: It’s the hometown of Brooke Henderson, the 20-year-old golfer who ranks sixth in earnings this year on the Ladies Professional Golf Association circuit. 

    “We’ve been to Ireland and people there are not familiar with Canopy Growth Corp. or Tweed, but they know who Brooke Henderson is,” Pankow said. “Brooke has been really the face of the community over the last few years, and I would say she still probably carries a bigger presence.”

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

      Marissa SafontThis Little Canadian Town Has Become the Nations Pot Capital
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      This Pot Company Posts Record Sales as CEO Eyes Deals

      Medical-marijuana company Aphria Inc. posted a 39 percent jump in second-quarter revenue to C$8.5 million ($6.8 million), exceeding the most recently reported figures of larger peer Aurora Cannabis Inc. and giving it the second-highest quarterly revenue of pot-specialty companies globally. Aphria remains upbeat, even as the increased legalization of marijuana is called into question after a move by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to revoke policies that allowed its spread and warnings of a possible de-listing. At a conference in Toronto on Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer Vic Neufeld stated plans for several acquisitions that will target expansion in four more states.

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

        Marissa SafontThis Pot Company Posts Record Sales as CEO Eyes Deals
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        This Little Canadian Town Has Become the Nations Pot Capital

        All it took was a little marijuana to lift this Canadian town’s spirits.

        Smiths Falls, Ontario — population 8,885 — is seeing a revival of fortunes since medical marijuana producer Tweed Inc. set up shop four years ago in an abandoned Hershey Co. chocolate factory. The company, since renamed Canopy Growth Corp., has become the world’s largest publicly traded cannabis producer and is the town’s largest private-sector employer.

        “We’re recognized as the pot capital of Canada — and we’re proud of that,” Mayor Shawn Pankow said in an interview from the town hall, a two-story brick building erected in 1859 on the main street. “The local economy is certainly far better today than it was before Tweed came to town.”

        Smiths Falls is on the rebound, with more younger people relocating to this town 75 kilometers (47 miles) southwest of the capital in Ottawa. There’s renewed interest in commercial property, new businesses are arriving and there’s even the odd bidding war on homes.

        “We’re seeing positive impacts really across the economy,” said Pankow, 52, who also runs a financial advisory firm. “People are recognizing that Smiths Falls is a community that’s on the upswing.”

        Canopy has since become one of the darlings of the Canada’s benchmark stock exchange. It’s the S&P/TSX Composite Index’s best performer in 2017 with returns of more than 250 percent as of Friday at noon in Toronto, and is up 40 percent in the past week alone with pot stocks surging ahead of legalization both in Canada and in California.

        Town Welcome

        Tweed took over a former Hershey factory with ambitious plans to grow medical marijuana. Today, the firm has 360 employees — a well-educated workforce that runs the administration, research, growing operations, packaging and shipping from the facility that still has signage and other remnants of its chocolate past. Construction crews hammer away on the next expansion. The parking lot is packed.

        “Smiths Falls welcomed us and we appreciated that,” said Chief Executive Officer Bruce Linton, who says he’s tapping local labor, suppliers and businesses as much as possible as the business gears up for the legalization of marijuana in Canada next summer. “The effect is the town becomes more desirable, and as it becomes more desirable my ability to recruit people who are senior or worldly increases.”

        It’s a stark contrast from a decade ago, when Smiths Falls faced an industry exodus with the shutdown of a Stanley Tools Manufacturing facility and a shuttering of the Hershey plant. That followed months later by the closure of the Rideau Regional Centre for the developmentally disabled. The closures affected more than 1,500 people — one-fifth the population.

        Smiths Falls has faced ebbs and flows of industry throughout its history, stemming back about 190 years when crews came to build the Rideau Canal connecting Ottawa with Kingston. Decades later, the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived to provide a rail connection to the outside world, helping support commerce.

        Reinvents Itself

        “It’s a town that constantly reinvents itself,” said Leisa Purdonbell, 33, who oversees the historical collections in the basement of an 1860s-era house that doubles as a museum. “Businesses have come and gone.”

        Frost & Wood Co., which began making farming equipment in 1846, evolved into a munitions factory during the Second World War that once employed 1,200 people before it closed in 1955. Coca-Cola Co. bottler Rideau Beverages was around until the 1970s.

        RCA Victor, which came to town in 1954, helped introduce The Beatles to North America: the band’s vinyl single “Love Me Do” was pressed at the plant in 1963. RCA Victor, which employed 350 people at its height, left in 1978.

        Hershey came in 1963 and within 25 years had 750 workers and a bustling plant that drew thousands of visitors. At one point, the town’s water tower boasted an image of a Hershey bar and the slogan “Chocolate Capital of Ontario.”

        Low Point

        “When we received notification of Hershey’s leaving and pulling out, and then Rideau Regional quickly after that, we kind of hit that low point,” Purdonbell said. “Thankfully, at the moment, it seems that everybody’s changed their way of thinking into something more positive, and I think businesses see that as they’re coming into the community.”

        Four Degrees Brewing Co. recently opened. European canal boat operator Le Boat has occupied an 1840s-era Lockmaster’s House on the waterway that bisects town. It’s ramping up plans to bring 16 rental boats next summer for tourists to cruise the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO world heritage site.

        Linton, whose company has soared to a market value of more than C$4 billion ($3.1 billion), sees room to further improve Smiths Falls. He wants to expand a retail area at his plant to draw visitors — akin to days when busloads of tourists toured Hershey’s and bought broken chocolate bars on the cheap. Beyond that, he’d like to see more restaurants, meeting places and a hotel to make it a destination spot.

        Hotel Needed

        “What the town lacks is a really great place for people to actually stay,” Linton said.

        Aside from the hubbub over weed, Smiths Falls has another claim to fame: It’s the hometown of Brooke Henderson, the 20-year-old golfer who ranks sixth in earnings this year on the Ladies Professional Golf Association circuit. 

        “We’ve been to Ireland and people there are not familiar with Canopy Growth Corp. or Tweed, but they know who Brooke Henderson is,” Pankow said. “Brooke has been really the face of the community over the last few years, and I would say she still probably carries a bigger presence.”

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

          Marissa SafontThis Little Canadian Town Has Become the Nations Pot Capital
          read more

          The NFL can’t ignore its players’ activism any more

          Image: Getty Images

          With the NFL a day away from the kickoff of its 2017 season, a definite question has emerged: Is this the year that the NFL finally embraces athletic activism the way the NBA does?

          The examples are adding up on a nearly daily basis. A week of preseason football couldn’t go by without players making statements. Members of the Cleveland Browns knelt during the anthem. Michael Bennett sat out the anthem while his white teammate, Justin Britt, placed his hand on Bennett’s shoulder in a show of solidarity. Bennett’s brother, Martellus, made a political cartoon mocking the “stick to sports” mantra and posted it on Instagram. Following the neo-Nazi riots in Charlottesville, Malcolm Jenkins stood for the national anthem with one fist raised, while his white teammate Chris Long put his arm around his shoulder, in a plea for racial unity. In a similar gesture, Derek Carr placed his hand on Khalil Mack’s back during the national anthem.

          These can be considered small gestures, but in the NFL, they speak loudly. 

          Just ask Colin Kaepernick. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback kneeled during the national anthem before games last year as an act of protest against institutional racism in the United States in regards to police brutality and mass incarceration. Kaepernick’s actions become a national flashpoint, as athletes in multiple sports, former and current presidents, actors and artists alike chimed in. 

          Not everyone was on board. Some fans even started a campaign to boycott the NFL. After opting out of his contract with the 49ers this offseason, Kaepernick has not been able to find work in the NFL. He has been passed over in favor of a retiree, fringe college prospects, even a real estate agent. The situation has led to rumors that Kaepernick is being blackballed in a concerted effort to keep him off the field. At the least, there are allegations that certain owners and general managers would like to make an example out of him.

          Kaepernick’s struggle speaks to just how little the NFL has tolerated activism. But if his tribulations have been an effort to keep Kaepernick’s message from spreading within the NFL, they should be considered a failure. Despite the precarious situation Kaepernick finds himself in, activism is now far from the exception.

          And with Week 1 of the NFL season about to start, the expectation for more is palpable. For every fan that turns the TV off at the sight of an athlete kneeling before the flag, there is a concerned citizen marching to the NFL’s headquarters in New York and demanding an explanation. Another one buys a Kaepernick jersey, which remain popular even though he’s not in the league. The NFL, it appears, does not wish to cater to this particular demographic but they, like the athletes the NFL employs, have made this much clear: The more the NFL tries to pretend the people who support Kaepernick are irrelevant or simply don’t exist, the louder they’ll get—all the while assuaging concerns that Kaepernick would be a financial liability for ticket sales. 

          For two years in a row, despite the league’s best efforts, social activism and racism are going to be the off-field story of the NFL season. And it’s starting to follow what’s happened in the NBA.

          In profession basketball, activism isn’t the exception among its starts—it’s now the expectation. Examples are almost too numerous list, but here’s a sampling: Last year, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul donned all black on at the ESPYs aware show to discuss gun violence and racial profiling, and implored other athletes to get educated and involved. Anthony even marched with protesters in Baltimore, where he grew up, following the death of 25-year-old black man Freddie Gray, in the back of a police van. Just this offseason, Kevin Durant said he would not go to the White House if the Golden State Warriors were invited, a long-standing tradition for NBA champions. He also voiced disrespect for the current administration. 

          Durant could speak out against Trump and trust that he could have the support of the majority of his fans, the NBA’s commissioner, Adam Silver, and his locker room, headed by coach Steve Kerr, who publicly made his opinions on this administration clear. There is a great deal of organizational unity and progressive political thinking in the NBA, which makes it easier for players to speak up. They’re also more financially secure, with guaranteed contracts and higher salaries. And the NBA’s fanbase skews younger, more diverse, and more progressive. Social activism, for NBA players, might even be more profitable than silence. 

          All which is to say that NFL players will likely always face impediments that NBA players won’t, but that hasn’t stopped them from exerting their power like never before. 

          2016 was the year that everything converged. Social media collided with the specter of the presidency of Donald Trump, and all the while videos of violent, racist police brutality sprung up alongside protests, alongside an ugly, once-quieter call for white supremacy. There wasn’t a single social media platform in which racists didn’t congregate publicly, espousing retrograde views on their perception of inherent superiority. As a result, race and politics have leaked into every aspect of our culture. Today, to be a modern content consumer is to have an acute understanding of the phrase, “everything is political.” 

          For a professional black athlete, with a platform that—at the click of a button—can morph into a formidable pulpit, heeding the old mantra “stick to sports” has become an impossible proposition. This NFL season will be a battle for the life and death of that mantra, for the insistence that black athletes should no longer have to serve as an on-field distraction from the very issues that are vital to their survival off the field—a battle over personal dignity and self-expression, for the right of an athlete to never have to choose between his life and his livelihood, like Kaepernick did, ever again.

          Read more: http://mashable.com/

          Marissa SafontThe NFL can’t ignore its players’ activism any more
          read more

          The NFL can’t ignore its players’ activism any more

          Image: Getty Images

          With the NFL a day away from the kickoff of its 2017 season, a definite question has emerged: Is this the year that the NFL finally embraces athletic activism the way the NBA does?

          The examples are adding up on a nearly daily basis. A week of preseason football couldn’t go by without players making statements. Members of the Cleveland Browns knelt during the anthem. Michael Bennett sat out the anthem while his white teammate, Justin Britt, placed his hand on Bennett’s shoulder in a show of solidarity. Bennett’s brother, Martellus, made a political cartoon mocking the “stick to sports” mantra and posted it on Instagram. Following the neo-Nazi riots in Charlottesville, Malcolm Jenkins stood for the national anthem with one fist raised, while his white teammate Chris Long put his arm around his shoulder, in a plea for racial unity. In a similar gesture, Derek Carr placed his hand on Khalil Mack’s back during the national anthem.

          These can be considered small gestures, but in the NFL, they speak loudly. 

          Just ask Colin Kaepernick. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback kneeled during the national anthem before games last year as an act of protest against institutional racism in the United States in regards to police brutality and mass incarceration. Kaepernick’s actions become a national flashpoint, as athletes in multiple sports, former and current presidents, actors and artists alike chimed in. 

          Not everyone was on board. Some fans even started a campaign to boycott the NFL. After opting out of his contract with the 49ers this offseason, Kaepernick has not been able to find work in the NFL. He has been passed over in favor of a retiree, fringe college prospects, even a real estate agent. The situation has led to rumors that Kaepernick is being blackballed in a concerted effort to keep him off the field. At the least, there are allegations that certain owners and general managers would like to make an example out of him.

          Kaepernick’s struggle speaks to just how little the NFL has tolerated activism. But if his tribulations have been an effort to keep Kaepernick’s message from spreading within the NFL, they should be considered a failure. Despite the precarious situation Kaepernick finds himself in, activism is now far from the exception.

          And with Week 1 of the NFL season about to start, the expectation for more is palpable. For every fan that turns the TV off at the sight of an athlete kneeling before the flag, there is a concerned citizen marching to the NFL’s headquarters in New York and demanding an explanation. Another one buys a Kaepernick jersey, which remain popular even though he’s not in the league. The NFL, it appears, does not wish to cater to this particular demographic but they, like the athletes the NFL employs, have made this much clear: The more the NFL tries to pretend the people who support Kaepernick are irrelevant or simply don’t exist, the louder they’ll get—all the while assuaging concerns that Kaepernick would be a financial liability for ticket sales. 

          For two years in a row, despite the league’s best efforts, social activism and racism are going to be the off-field story of the NFL season. And it’s starting to follow what’s happened in the NBA.

          In profession basketball, activism isn’t the exception among its starts—it’s now the expectation. Examples are almost too numerous list, but here’s a sampling: Last year, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul donned all black on at the ESPYs aware show to discuss gun violence and racial profiling, and implored other athletes to get educated and involved. Anthony even marched with protesters in Baltimore, where he grew up, following the death of 25-year-old black man Freddie Gray, in the back of a police van. Just this offseason, Kevin Durant said he would not go to the White House if the Golden State Warriors were invited, a long-standing tradition for NBA champions. He also voiced disrespect for the current administration. 

          Durant could speak out against Trump and trust that he could have the support of the majority of his fans, the NBA’s commissioner, Adam Silver, and his locker room, headed by coach Steve Kerr, who publicly made his opinions on this administration clear. There is a great deal of organizational unity and progressive political thinking in the NBA, which makes it easier for players to speak up. They’re also more financially secure, with guaranteed contracts and higher salaries. And the NBA’s fanbase skews younger, more diverse, and more progressive. Social activism, for NBA players, might even be more profitable than silence. 

          All which is to say that NFL players will likely always face impediments that NBA players won’t, but that hasn’t stopped them from exerting their power like never before. 

          2016 was the year that everything converged. Social media collided with the specter of the presidency of Donald Trump, and all the while videos of violent, racist police brutality sprung up alongside protests, alongside an ugly, once-quieter call for white supremacy. There wasn’t a single social media platform in which racists didn’t congregate publicly, espousing retrograde views on their perception of inherent superiority. As a result, race and politics have leaked into every aspect of our culture. Today, to be a modern content consumer is to have an acute understanding of the phrase, “everything is political.” 

          For a professional black athlete, with a platform that—at the click of a button—can morph into a formidable pulpit, heeding the old mantra “stick to sports” has become an impossible proposition. This NFL season will be a battle for the life and death of that mantra, for the insistence that black athletes should no longer have to serve as an on-field distraction from the very issues that are vital to their survival off the field—a battle over personal dignity and self-expression, for the right of an athlete to never have to choose between his life and his livelihood, like Kaepernick did, ever again.

          Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/07/nfl-social-media-nba/

          Marissa SafontThe NFL can’t ignore its players’ activism any more
          read more