Gretchen Gailey, Author at Green Market Report

Gretchen GaileyGretchen GaileyMarch 16, 2020
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4min3680

With news coverage of the Coronavirus pandemic prepping Americans for the impending health crisis, many are taking extreme precautions with whom they interact, where they are going, and the businesses that they frequent. According to The Washington Post, “consumer spending – which supports 70 percent of the economy – is grinding to a halt,” and cannabis businesses are not immune.

The only way to shore up your business and maintain your customer base is through public relations and communication, internally and externally. A lack of information breeds fears and anxiety.  You have the power to alleviate those concerns and navigate this health crisis.

Communicate with your Customers: No one in this country has dealt with this kind of crisis in recent years, so there are questions all around on how to deal with it. Tell your customers about the extra precautions that you are taking in your dispensary to maintain a hygienic environment. CEO Wanda James of Simply Pure did a great job of this recently in an online video posted to Instagram, where she informed her customers of the precautions that they have always taken and are currently taking to ensure customer safety.

Make company announcements across multiple platforms: This will show your customers, employees, and stakeholders that you have a firm grasp of the situation and that you are covering all of your bases. By having one standard message across all platforms it also leaves no room for miscommunication.

Communicate with your suppliers: Around the country, quarantines may go into place, impacting your supply chain. Or perhaps you are a vape pen manufacturer waiting on parts to come in from China. You need to be aware of what strains and products may not be coming into your store so you can inform your patients and your budtenders. With this knowledge in hand, you can determine alternative product recommendations for your patients and have your workers prepared to offer that advice.

Have in Place Emergency Preparedness Plan: Make sure all employees are aware of contingency plans when they may call in sick, have childcare issues when their children are kept home from school, or you run out of product. You don’t want your business to be impacted because your employees don’t know how to react to internal conflicts.

Educate the media: In this 24-hour news cycle, reporters are going to need to fill every angle possible in their broadcasts to inform the public about what is going on in their communities and they will eventually look at what is going on in the cannabis industry. You want your organization to be known for the care, calm, and professionalism that the cannabis industry is bringing to this health crisis. If reporters have medical questions about what impact cannabis might have on the virus, bring in a doctor that you trust to speak on your behalf. Since COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, speak to reporters about products you may be advising patients to take that are not consumed through the lungs. Don’t wing it and don’t make unfounded claims about your product being able to cure it.

Above all, take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Our industry is still in its infancy, now is not the time for martyrs. We need everyone healthy and an “abundance of caution” is not cowardice, it’s the best science available.

 


Gretchen GaileyGretchen GaileyJanuary 29, 2020
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3min3930

Governor Andrew Cuomo (NY) announced his plans to legalize cannabis for adult use in his state budget speech last week. He made the announcement with such enthusiasm some think legalization is an actual possibility this year. A major stumbling block in 2019 was sorting out the social and criminal justice issues that come with cannabis legalization, it will be so again this year.

Can the Empire State overcome the usual pitfalls and set up a market that will finally address those disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs?  Unlikely.

If we look closely at the Cuomo cannabis plan there are red flags. According to Cuomo’s budget, “the program will limit the number of producers and retail dispensaries to guard against a market collapse.” 

That may sound good but time and again states that have limited licensing markets face serious product shortages, increased consumer cost, and greater startup expenses that ultimately keep illicit markets going. 

Fewer licenses at higher costs mean fewer entrepreneurs. In many markets the initial capital requirements are so high minority entrepreneurs can’t compete. 

Cuomo says that he wants to “encourage equity through craft growers and cooperatives, and provide training and incubators to ensure meaningful and sustained participation by communities disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition.” If you read between the lines, that means the minorities who cannot meet the state’s high standards for a license will be thrown a bone and be allowed into a collective of other potential unworthy license holders who won’t be able to compete with the deep pockets of more established brands. None the less, come election day, it may seem to some that the Governor kept his promise for social and criminal justice.

The budget also says, “the Office of Cannabis Management will administer social equity licensing opportunities, implement an egalitarian adult-use market structure….” 

The fastest way to develop an egalitarian cannabis model is unlimited licensing, low barriers to entry, access to capital, ending “grandfathering” of medical market license holders, and a strict government agency that ensures access to minority entrepreneurs and polices abuse like shell companies scooping up licenses. 

While a truly free market is the American way, that free market needs to be tempered with reasonable regulation.  However, that regulation should not limit the number of licenses, or make licenses inaccessible to less established entrepreneurs.


Gretchen GaileyGretchen GaileyJanuary 15, 2020
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3min3190

Editor’s Note: This is an opinion guest post. 

In my last post, I promised a whole other can of worms on how impeachment will impact cannabis and I am a woman of my word. As I stated before, once the trial begins in the Senate, all Senators must be in their seats for the duration of the trial to hear the entirety of the case. This means that several the pro-cannabis Democratic candidates are going to be sitting on the sidelines for the earliest races in the primary calendar which often decides who is going to be the presidential nominee.

Four of the remaining candidates and a few frontrunners, Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet, and Amy Klobuchar, will not be able to campaign and participate in the Iowa Caucus or the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries because they will be sitting in their seats listening to arguments on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 

While all those races could be cause for concern, we truly need to just look at Iowa to determine the possible fate of cannabis.  Iowa has been a strong indicator of who will be the Democratic nominee and it will be impacted by the upcoming hearing. The latest Real Clear Politics poll has the race neck and neck between former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Senator Elizabeth Warren. 

If Senators Warren and Sanders are unable to campaign in Iowa then that leaves the door open for Biden and Buttigieg to pick up the momentum they need for the win. Buttigieg had not said much on the cannabis issue, which I’m sure is tactical given his hopes of winning over more conservative voters in the Midwest. Time will tell with his campaign.

Meanwhile, Biden is by far the worst possible nominee for the cannabis movement. He has been a staunch opponent to legalization for years and helped to create the Office of National Drug Control Policy and drafted the legislation, The Violent Crime Control, and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 which has led to massive numbers of incarcerations, not to mention that the term “gateway drug” is still in his vocabulary.

According to polling site FiveThirtyEight, Biden will take Iowa and if that’s the case, then that’s the federal ballgame for cannabis – if Biden beats Trump.  If Trump comes back around for another term, that’s a whole case of worms for cannabis.

 


Gretchen GaileyGretchen GaileyJanuary 7, 2020
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3min10801

With the start of a new legislative session kicking off this week, cannabis enthusiasts are hopeful for a year of progress on cannabis bills like the SAFE Act to jumpstart the industry out of its current lull and bring more legitimacy to its legalization movement. Well, keep waiting.

Despite Congress’ holiday break, President Donald J. Trump has been impeached by the House of Representatives and the Senate is going to have to act at some point, leaving cannabis and every other possible issue on the back burner. I take that back, cannabis won’t be on the back burner, it won’t even be in the kitchen.

When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s stops stonewalling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and turns over the Articles of Impeachment, which many expect will happen this week, Senate rules state that the trial must commence the next day by 1 pm and all Senators must be in their seats for the entirety of the trial. Meaning – all other legislative business in the Senate comes to a standstill and cannabis is an afterthought.

If the Senate trial is anything like President Clinton’s trial which went for six weeks, all of January will be sucked up and run us deep into February, (which opens a whole other can of worms for cannabis that I’ll come back to in a later post, stay tuned.) Congress will want to get back to its actual legislative priorities, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, surveillance reform, funding the government and not to mention, now a potential war with Iran. Cannabis is nowhere on this list, especially in the Senate where it needs to find support.

While it may seem that Trump and McConnell want to bring the Senate trial to a quick close and end this “witch hunt,” it’s in the President’s and the Republicans’ best interest to drag it out and use it for every ounce of PR fuel that it’s going to provide for the upcoming election. In the meantime, cannabis bills will be set aside, and their fate sealed like 96% of all other legislation introduced during a Congress – a slow, quiet, unnoticed death.

All legislative actions can be followed at no cost under the Legislation tab on the home page of the Green Market Report.



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