Julie Aitcheson, Author at Green Market Report

Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonSeptember 18, 2020
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5min2080

Weed-related subscriptions have jumped by an eye-popping 550% on the subscription box service Cratejoy during the pandemic, and box companies like Hemp Crate Co., Cure Crate, and The Stoney Babe Box are at the forefront of this surging popularity. Cratejoy offers subscription boxes for any enthusiasm, need, or DIY endeavor (current picks include lesson planning boxes to make in-home schooling less onerous and multiple iterations of the “date night” theme). Covid-19 has been a major driver of the subscription box boom, allowing Cratejoy and the weed companies it features to cash in on cannabis in a big way.

Hemp Crate, Cure Crate, and The Stoney Babe Box profit from their great reviews, built-out listings, and artsy photos showcasing what to expect in each delivery. These companies are actively engaged with the Cratejoy platform when it comes to customer reviews and questions, but it takes more than photos and customer care to hit 550% growth, pandemic or no.

Hemp Crate Co., which bills itself as “the #1 CBD subscription service” and recently launched a low income, long-term disability and veteran assistance program, offers boxes on Cratejoy starting at $44.99 per month and has an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. With high marks from shipping to price to curation, cannabis consumers seem to love their monthly, quarterly, or biannual deliveries from Hemp Crate. Founded in 2018 in response to a lack of transparency and education in the CBD industry, Hemp Crate Co. dedicated itself to providing quality organic products from reputable manufacturers, incorporating transparency and consumer education every step of the way.

Cure Crate, which offers a quiz for subscribers that helps them find the right CBD products for their needs, gets glowing reviews on Cratejoy for attention to customer education and a fine-tuned focus on customization. Cure Crate’s process takes aim at the erroneous assumption that one-size-fits all in terms of formulations, offering a personalized service to help those with a range of allergies, dosage tolerances, and a wide variety of conditions find the right combination of products for each delivery. Cure Crate also offers a discount program for those facing financial hardship and donates a portion of its proceeds to The Last Prisoner Project, an innovative approach to clemency and re-entry programs for cannabis offenders.

The Stoney Babe Box is also no slouch when it comes to sales or civic responsibility. The company maintains a focus on “feminine souls who admire hemp and love smoking”. Every box contains artisanal products selected to be “unique and feminine” from small, women-owned businesses. With plans starting as low as $30 per month and reviews that give Hemp Crate and Cure Crate a run for their money, The Stoney Babe Box offers hand-crafted smoking accessories as well as daily necessities like grinders and rolling papers.

With these three companies leading the pack of weed-related subscription boxes and no end in sight to pandemic-driven demand, the ascent of cannabis-inspired care packages is poised to continue its current trajectory. 

 


Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonAugust 26, 2020
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7min3690

With unionization becoming ever more common in the cannabis industry, Labor Day 2020 provides an opportunity to take a closer look at the state of cannabis labor unions in the U.S.  Across industries, labor unions organize members and offer access to group health insurance, provide legal compliance and other assistance, help negotiate annual raises and higher wages, and often provide discounts through partner businesses. The International United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW- working not just in the representation of businesses, but advocacy, coalition-building, and policy change), is regarded as the most powerful cannabis union in the country, initiating a Cannabis Workers Rising Campaign in 2010. As of March 2020, UFCW represented more than 10,000 workers in 14 states.

United Cannabis Workers, which “unionized as an independent workers union made up of small business owners, self-employed workers, and employees of small cannabis businesses”, eschews “old school union tactics” while holding a significant place in the cannabis union landscape. This landscape is differentiated from that of other industries in that it normalizes companies disclosing the fact that their employees are organizing. In cannabis, unionization is frequently seen as a way for a business to demonstrate legitimacy, however not all companies are supportive of unionizing efforts.

Michigan

In January of this year, controversy broke out over proposed labor union laws for cannabis businesses in Michigan, put forward by the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency. The proposal included a requirement that cannabis companies enter into “labor peace agreements” with unions before being licensed to grow, sell, or distribute cannabis. This suggested rule was met with significant opposition by industry groups and businesses, many going so far as to claim the measure thinly disguised political favor and a protection racket. This June, Michigan’s pro-union “labor peace agreement” requirement was stripped out of the proposal after a deluge of negative feedback. Many who oppose labor union laws such as these claim a violation of The National Labor Relations Act, which guarantees private-sector employees the right to form labor unions and gives unionized employees the right to strike and bargain jointly for working conditions. Opponents see labor peace agreements as “a pretense to use industry licensing to impose forced union dues on workers in violation of federal labor law.”

Supporters argue that labor peace agreement requirements result in a more stable workforce for the cannabis industry. In New York and California (where cannabis labor unions are required) cannabis industry workers are commonly acknowledged as ripe for exploitation by unethical businesses and therefore in need of union protection, while companies in states such as Michigan and Massachusetts have pushed back against unionization efforts. New England Treatment Access, one of Massachusetts’ largest cannabis companies, has been on the receiving end of numerous complaints filed by UCFW alleging anti-union efforts and retaliation against workers.   In July, about 60 New England Treatment Access, (NETA) workers in Franklin, Mass., voted to join UFCW Local 1445. With so much at stake and so much still unresolved in the cannabis regulatory sphere, cannabis labor unions and industry companies will no doubt continue this dance of compromise and conflict for many Labor Days to come.

Also in July, the Cannabis Workers Union said that 40 workers from Mayflower Medicinals joined UFCW Local 1445 because they were concerned about insufficient wages, as well as an unclear and slow response to workplace safety issues by the company in relation to the current COVID-19 health crisis, and a lack of respect by management for the work that they do at the company’s grow facility. Mayflower Medicinals is owned by iAnthus Capital Holdings, Inc. (OTC:ITUHF).

“As the cannabis industry continues to grow in Massachusetts, UFCW Local 1445 is proud to support these good jobs and the responsible employers that empower their workers in this new part of our economy,” said UFCW Local 1445 President Fernando Lemus. “These workers at Mayflower/IAnthus are an important role in the company’s success and they deserve the protections and security of a union contract.”

Vireo Health Supports Unions

In January this year, Vireo Health International, Inc. (CNSX: VREO)(OTCQX: VREOF) announced that its workers at its wholly-owned subsidiary, MaryMed, LLC  voted overwhelmingly to ratify a Collective Bargaining Agreement and officially joined the ranks of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 27 (UFCW27).

The company said that the three-year agreement would be the first medical cannabis union contract ratified in the State of Maryland. The contract would cover employees working in Vireo’s 20,000 square-foot Hurlock, Maryland-based manufacturing facility, which supplies precisely formulated medical cannabis products to third-party dispensaries throughout the state.

“As a ‘people-first’ business, Vireo is deeply committed to our employees and we are proud to be a union employer in Maryland and beyond,” said Kyle Kingsley, M.D., CEO of Vireo Health. “Our workforce is key to our company’s success and we look forward to partnering with UFCW to support legislation, such as legalizing adult-use cannabis, that will help create thousands of new middle-class jobs across Maryland.”

 


Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonAugust 5, 2020
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4min4740

Some holidays seem to roll around at just the right time, like my birthday when the last dregs of Christmas largesse are spent, Memorial Day when we need one last long weekend to get us through the school year before summer vacation, and now, National CBD Day on August 8th, just when the CBD market needs a boost from the deflating impacts of Covid-19. 

In a July 2020 report by The Brightfield Group, data analysts projected that CBD sales for 2020 will only be up 14% from 2019 rather than the 30% originally projected due to impacts of the Covid crisis. Store closures, spiking unemployment, and inaction by the FDA are all contributing to a sluggish market. The report also shows that nearly half of CBD consumers have moved their purchasing online due to coronavirus. CBD sales may be suffering due to the pandemic, but the surge in conditions triggered and exacerbated by the virus, such as anxiety (ranked the number one ailment of CBD users), depression (ranked second) and insomnia (ranked sixth) indicate that demand for CBD products will only increase as Covid-19 maintains its grip. 

Among the most popular products right now are edibles, with 33% of US consumers stating an increase in consumption when surveyed in June, with higher dosages reported among all products used. Vape products appear to be declining in popularity, however, due to negative media attention around inhalants and the increased likelihood that inhalant users will experience serious complications with Covid-19.  A surplus of hemp biomass is causing an overall price drop as well as hefty promotions and flash sales to incentivize consumers to sample the array of new products on the market, such as those with trendy ingredients like turmeric and ashwagandha as well as some lesser-known cannabinoids like CBG and CBN. Additionally, CBD companies are inundating the market with innovative products that go beyond the standard capsule and tincture delivery methods.

One example is VCC Brands’ Subtle Tea, a vegan, keto-friendly way to refresh the body and rejuvenate the mind with flavors like Jasmine Green Tea with Lychee and White Peach Tea with Cardamom. Another is TOCA Botanicals TOTO CBD Lubricant, to inspire pleasure and relaxation of a more intimate variety. Humans aren’t the only species feeling the shaky vibes of the 2020 rollercoaster, which is why Harvey’s All Naturals introduced their  Harvey’s All Naturals Elixir for Pets to address pet stress and anxiety as well as pain and inflammation.

2020 has been a rocky year for the economy, but with the FDA inching closer to a clearer, more consistent regulatory framework and the demand for products that can ease the tensions of one of the most dramatic periods in recent history ever rising, the CBD industry is poised for a major rebound. And with new products hitting the market just in time for National CBD Day (and beyond), there just might be a CBD product out there for everything the Covid Era still has in store.


Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonAugust 3, 2020
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4min8130

The differences between Baby Boomers (i.e. those born during a marked rise in birth rate, thought to be 1946-1964) and Millennials (born 1981-1996 or thereabouts) vary from the subtle to the stark. With the common friction points of politics, economics, and culture escalating to bare-knuckled debates over human rights and life-or-death public safety issues, polarization is increasing both within and between these generations.

Marijuana dispensary chain Verilife, (a subsidiary of PharmaCann, one of the county’s largest vertically integrated cannabis companies) recently conducted a study to map just one small piece of the Boomer/Millennial divide— the difference in marijuana consumer habits between the two. 

The results of the study (which surveyed 1,000 Millennials and 1,000 Baby Boomers regular marijuana consumers) reflect not only some predictable differences (yes, Boomers are twice as likely to use marijuana in the morning), but commonalities as well, some of which have emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic. Notably, both generations report using marijuana significantly more during the Covid crisis (44% more for Boomers and 36% more for Millennials). 

The biggest difference in consumption occurs around motivation for use, with nearly half of Millennials using for recreational reasons, while Baby Boomers are twice as likely to use marijuana solely for medical purposes. This despite a discrepancy that shows that more Millennials than Boomers believe that cannabis has medical benefits. A correlation might be drawn between Boomers’ higher rate of use for medical issues and the gravity of the illnesses for which they most commonly consume: arthritis, chronic pain, and cancer.

For Millennials, the top three medical reasons are migraines, chronic pain, and managing nausea. Whether the use is medical or recreational, one in five Millennials consider themselves daily users as opposed to only 12% of Baby Boomers.

A review of the report reveals some solid differences but a preponderance of similarities as well, including inhalation as the most preferable way to consume marijuana and the fact that both generations cite relaxation, social use, and anxiety as their three top reasons for recreational use, albeit in different orders of importance. Millennials are twice as likely to use before going to a public gathering or large event to ease social anxiety– a complaint far less frequent among members of the older generation. There is only a $3 difference in monthly spending between Boomers ($75) and Millennials ($78), and only a 2% difference between the Boomers (26%) and Millennials (28%) who said they have consumed marijuana before work. The divide grows a bit larger as far as toking up with the boss is concerned, with Boomers edging out Millennials with a 16% lead.

No doubt these numbers will prove useful to advertisers when crafting their marketing strategies to lure specific demographics to their client brands, but the study also points to the possibility that marijuana may be one tract of common ground upon which Boomers and Millennials can meet without rancor, or at least quite so many scathing memes.


Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonJuly 24, 2020
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5min3131

The latest internet-spawned holiday always catches me by surprise. If it weren’t for hashtags and product promotions, I would drift through occasions like National Rotisserie Chicken Day (June 2) and National Underwear Day (August 5) in a state of blissful ignorance. This nearly occurred in regards to Self-Care Day until an email mentioning the latest and greatest in CBD self-care products to celebrate June 24th hit my Inbox. Unlike the many monetized holidays created by Madison Avenue, Self-Care Day is an initiative of Crisis Text Line, an international organization that provides free crisis counseling to individuals suffering from everything from pandemic stress to emotional abuse. 

The Self-Care Day website expands the typical “pedicure and bonbons” definition of self-care to encompass therapeutic experiences like community connection, time in nature, and creative expression. CBD is not specifically mentioned, but botanicals like CBD have gained significant popularity as a way to incorporate self-care into daily routines, especially during this time of civil unrest and Covid-19. Publicist and entrepreneur Melissa Vitale, who represents many clients in the cannabis industry, shares the sentiment of many dedicated CBD enthusiasts. “Between business, socializing, and supporting those causes and people close to me, I would be out of energy if I didn’t take the time to refill it. Sometimes the harder I work or the busier a season I have, the more indulgent my self-care needs to be. It’s a gentle balance of hustle and self-care that keeps me at my sharpest.”

With the multiple demands of work, family, community involvement, and the day-to-day stressors of these extraordinary times, symptoms like anxiety, stress, and sleeplessness abound—symptoms for which CBD is an ideal remedy, and not just in capsule or tincture form. For self-care that doesn’t come with any day-after regrets, SipCozy offers an alcohol-removed wine infused with broad-spectrum hemp extract. Their first beverage is a low-calorie grenache blend rosé perfect for beating a summer heatwave or paired with a bubble bath to soak away the stress.

While you’re at it, slip into a Masquerade CBD Collagen Facial Mask from Her Highness, saturated in a highly absorbable CBD serum to fight wrinkles and soothe weary skin. (The company is offering a site-wide 30% discount from July 20-24 in observance of Self-Care Day with code HighlyPampered30.)

For self-care that doesn’t require refrigeration or looking like the Phantom of the Opera, New Highs offers a topical CBD roll-on with essential oils and 100mg of CBD extract to soothe the nervous system and nourish the senses. With an additional $50 donation, New Highs will supply a healthcare professional with a 700mg tincture and throw in a topical roll-on for free. If treats are more your speed, Wana Wellness is offering 10-count packages of their Mango and Strawberry CBD gummies at $19.99 per pack for a cost-conscious self-care snack. So whether you choose to sip, spa, snack, or roll on your version of CBD self-care this July 24th, a range of tempting options are just a quick click away.  

 


Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonJuly 6, 2020
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5min8940

Medical cannabis legalization is a fait accompli in thirty-three states and counting and eleven states have legalized recreational marijuana, suggesting a brighter horizon for other restricted plant medicines as well. Enter psychedelic mushrooms, otherwise known as Psilocybe spp., and Susan Chapelle, co-CEO of the newly-launched Havn Life, a company dedicated to developing a range of standardized, quality-controlled psilocybin products to be used by researchers.

Chapelle (whose bio includes being the first female steel rigger in North America, a two-time elected politician, and boasts years spent lobbying for health policy change), launched Havn Life as part of a larger mission to build evidence-informed natural healthcare products that help people manage their own healthcare. 

Developing a reliable, safe, standardized supply of psilocybin, which does not currently exist, is a central part of this broader vision. “A concern that all companies must grapple with as we look to the future of psychedelic medicines is the future of the supply chain,” Chappelle explains. “Havn Life is developing two labs in the South Campus of The University of British Columbia (UBC), where we will develop methodology for growing and extracting Psilocybe spp. These compounds will be available to academics studying psychedelics until policy becomes informed by evidence, and the market opens up to these compounds as approved medication.” But Susan Chapelle and her team do not intend to stop there, she states. “Havn Life is diversified and looking at other psychoactive compounds for use in Natural Health products to get to market using evidence-informed formulations derived from fungus and plants.”

Havn Life’s supply development won’t only benefit their own bottom line, however. “Havn Life is developing a reliable and safe supply chain of psychedelic compounds,” Chapelle says, “an essential component that will enable other companies to move to human clinical trials.” When I asked about the ways in which Havn Life is navigating the regulatory landscape as part of this endeavor, Chapelle informed me that “psilocybin is currently scheduled as a restricted compound by most governments. It is a controlled compound in Canada; however, both animal and human trials can be conducted through an application process to Health Canada. There is still a hangover effect from the ‘war on drugs,’ but ultimately the regulators must absorb the evidence from five decades of clinical research, most of which is peer-reviewed and published.”

Chapelle is unfazed regarding other potential obstacles to realizing her team’s vision for Havn Life. “The amount of collective knowledge and the fact that we are all trailblazers that have worked in nascent industries such as cannabis, technology, and formulations is such an incredible benefit. We have an ability to look at obstacles as challenges to be solved.” With the partnership with the University of British Columbia firmly in place and a diverse team of dedicated professionals, Havn Life’s mission appears anything but impossible. “Civilization has been enjoying mushrooms in both cultural ceremonies and for recreational purposes for eternity,” Chapelle asserts. “Access to a safe, properly dosed, standardized drug supply is long overdue.”

 


Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonJuly 2, 2020
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3min2720

Fourth of July celebrations won’t be the same this year, but here’s something that can lift your spirits.

Southern California-based Platinum Cannabis Products, which produces a line of THC-infused chocolates that the website describes as “carefully crafted and palate-driven”,  is bringing a sweet limited edition surprise to cannabis lovers for the 4th of July holiday festivities.  The 20-serving sugar cookie-flavored white chocolate bar with popping candy and patriotic red, white, and blue sprinkles comes in a resealable pouch, packing 5mg of THC per serving.

Of course, if you are like me, a serving of chocolate is whatever size bar comes in the wrapper, so consumers should be careful to check the scored marks delineating each piece to make sure of proper dosage.  There is specific guidance for first-time users, those who haven’t had cannabis in a while, and those who are frequent users. I highly recommend adhering to this guidance, as this pop rock chocolate packs a punch.

I am no lover of white chocolate. In fact, I once jokingly-not-jokingly told my boyfriend that it was a deal-breaker for our relationship when he told me that his favorite cookie was macadamia nut with white chocolate chips. Perhaps it was the “sugar cookie” overtones or pleasant fizz of popping candy in PV’s “All American Chocolate Bar” reminding me of Fourth of July picnics past, but I found the treat quite palatable, with only a very slight “weedy” aftertaste that quickly dispersed. The treat was too sweet for my taste, as all white chocolates are, but as good as any I’ve tried, THC-infused or no.

 The dose of THC imparted an uplifted, noticeably enhanced state of awareness. Visual details came through more sharply and I had a sense of alertness that wasn’t touched by adrenaline like a coffee buzz. More like my dog raising her head to sniff the kabobs sizzling on the grill. In all, I found it quite an agreeable adjunct to a July picnic. Just make sure to keep that resealable pouch in the cooler with the hot dog buns and macaroni salad to keep it safe from the summer heat!


Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonJune 16, 2020
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6min5420

The shared history between cannabis and the LGBTQ+ community is long, including the landmark moment when HIV/AIDS activists pushed through medical marijuana legalization in California in 1996. There is a commonality of lived experience as well. As articulated by Laila Makled and Caroline Phillips in an April 2019 article for The Washington Blade, “Both cannabis and LGBTQIA community have lived on the fringes of society for decades, navigating a country where their acceptance was, and often still is, hard to attain.” 

Several cannabis companies are stepping up to support and commemorate Pride month. In addition to donating $15,000 to GLAAD for Pride month, edibles brand Kiva Confections has re-released their tropical-flavored Proud Camino gummies. San Francisco-based company SPARC has launched its exclusive Unicorn OG cartridge, and is donating $1 per sale to the GLBT Historical Society. Peak Extracts is offering a Pride promo with 10% off of their entire line of tinctures and topicals, and purchases of Aster Farms’ limited edition Rainbow Chip Pre-Rolls and a Coolhaus pint will benefit Los Angeles based LGBTQ+ charities. 

But Pride month is not happening in a vacuum. We are in the midst not only of a global pandemic, but a global uprising of citizens in the face of systemic racism and police brutality against Black people.  Though many cannabis companies have made strong gestures of solidarity with the fight for racial equality during Pride month, such as Envy CBD which posted a “How to Support Your Community” primer on its website, few are stepping up on the monetary end, at least not yet.

Black communities have long been disproportionately affected by the criminalization of marijuana (as reflected in this report published by the ACLU), and black trans women of color are even more vulnerable to police brutality than their cisgender counterparts. “Trans people who have done street economy work are more than twice as likely to report physical assaults by police officers and four times as likely to report sexual assault by police” according to Blueprint for Equality, published by the National Center for Transgender Equality. In case you missed it, “street economy” includes the sale of marijuana in places where its recreational use is still a crime. 

Many Pride event organizers have offered to dedicate their marches and rallies to solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, such as the All Black Lives Matter march in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 14. The organizers made inclusivity an explicit theme of their protest, which helped to highlight the invisibilization of black trans people that occurs within the context of racial justice.

The annual Pridefest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was canceled altogether to center the concerns of the Black Lives Matter movement. With all of the crossover between cannabis, LGBTQ+ and Black communities, it seems a natural step that in addition to “sharing the mike” with Black voices, cannabis companies might be moved to share the spotlight and profits from their promotions as well. With two weeks left of Pride 2020, there’s still time. 

 

 

 


Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonJune 11, 2020
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6min4060

The summer of 2019 pales in comparison to the turmoil of pretty much every month of 2020 thus far, but was still notable for at least one high-profile public health crisis. August 2019 saw a noted rise in vaping-related illnesses. The vaping crisis prompted the Food and Drug Administration to initiate comprehensive laboratory testing and ongoing investigations of cases in order to regulate the use of vaping products.

Vape sales for key states hit a high of $160 million in August 2019 according to the new State of Legal Cannabis report by Arcview and BDSA. By September, those sales dropped to $126 million.  Once it was determined that illegal manufacturers were the root of the problem, branded vape sales started to slowly recover. Fourth-quarter 2019 sales still showed signs of decline, but in December sales picked up by 11%.

States and the vaping industry are still waiting on concrete federal guidelines, and in the meantime, many manufacturers of vaping hardware and associated products are downsizing or disbanding due to the one-two punch of the vape crisis and Covid-19. 

Blinc Remains Resilient

There is at least one hopeful story on the vape industry horizon, however, and that is the resilient growth and success of The Blinc Group. The Blinc Group’s business model is built on a tripartite foundation of innovation, quality, and safety, and it seems to be working. Where many companies suffered lethal blows from the vape crisis and Covid-19, The Blinc Group has maintained a focus on expansion and upgrading their facilities to improve safety standards. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Arnaud Dumas du Rauly, CEO of The Blinc Group. 

Arnaud Dumas du Rauly is also the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) Chairman of Standards on Vaping Products and the Chairman of the European Commission on Standards on Vaping Products. In other words, The Blinc Group is serious about safety. This focus led to slower initial growth and higher product pricing than the industry standard, but with earnings for 2020 already matching earnings for all of 2019, The Blinc Group is seeing a major return on its investment. 

During our interview, du Rauly spoke passionately about emissions, one of the industry’s primary safety issues. Because oils can undergo a change of state when they are vaporized, it is not possible to fully assess the potential toxicity of a product without testing emissions, typically using something called a “puffer machine”. This type of testing is not yet required in the U.S., but du Rauly is evangelical about its importance, not just for his company but industry-wide.

When the Covid-19 crisis hit and customers became more health-conscious in their buying behavior, The Blinc Group found itself in high demand with its start-to-finish supply chain control, a ten-year relationship with manufacturing facilities in China (which enabled them to keep their production on track as Covid-19 peaked there), and components that are ISO and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) compliant. It also allowed them to consolidate a position in the Canadian market, which is a highly regulated environment that few vaping product manufacturers in the U.S. are prepared to navigate. 

Arnaud Dumas du Rauly admits that research has not yet caught up with the cannabis industry in terms of product safety, but in his own words, “the DNA of the company is making sure that safe products get out there.” The Blinc Group’s current trajectory suggests that success is also part of their genetic makeup.

 


Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonJune 3, 2020
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5min7880

The summer of 2020, like the rest of the past year, is shaping up to be fraught with tension, unrest, and anxiety, but at least one thing is certain. There will be hot days (in the northern hemisphere, at least) and people will be thirsty, not just for cold, refreshing beverages, but for the opportunity to relax, unwind, and connect in whatever form is available to us in the months to come.

Sometimes soda, iced tea, or a tangy lemonade do the trick when temperatures rise, but sometimes an “adult beverage” is in order to take the edge off of these very edgy days. With favorite local watering holes either closed or restricted by limited seating and social distancing, grocers and liquor stores are stocking up on wine, beer, cocktail mixers, and alcohol-enhanced sodas to enjoy at home. Meanwhile, some companies are hatching more innovative ways to beat the heat. Enter mood33, House of Saka, and Cann Social Tonics.

Mood33 heralds the debut of its new hemp-infused herbal tea line with descriptives like “soulfully delicious” and “mindfully sweetened”, a surefire way to attract all of the hemp-minded Whole Foodies out there. Boasting 33mg of organic, American-grown hemp extract per bottle in blends that include botanicals, tea, and real fruit juice, mood33’s beverages offer more than a way to slake your summer thirst. With names like “Joy”, “Passion”, and a “Wellbeing” blend that includes 133mg of caffeine from guayusa and green tea, these drinks offer an alternative to the intoxicating effects of that IPA or chilled martini, and all at 70 calories or less.

House of Saka takes a different approach, as a Napa-based company focusing on “wine-style” libations for those disinclined to give up the grape. House of Saka is an all-female-run company focused on crafting alcohol-free, cannabis-infused wines for the luxury market. Their first release, the rosé-inspired Saka Pink, is “rosé-inspired”, and at 5mg of THC, 1mg of CBD, and only 16 calories per serving, consumers can feel good about that second glass.

As an herbalist and dedicated Whole Foodie myself, Cann Social Tonics caught my eye with its attention to wholesome ingredients and inventive infusions like Grapefruit Rosemary and Cardamom Blood Orange. Each beverage in the line is sweetened only with 100% organic agave nectar from Mexico and juices that are not from concentrate. With 2mg of THC and 4mg of CBD per can, Cann Social Tonics promises a fizzy summer fix with plenty of feel-good ingredients to ensure that the next morning is as pleasant and brain fog-free as the night before.

While you may not be able to stroll into your neighborhood tavern and order one of these plant-centric beverages over the counter, there are other ways to get your cannabis-infused mocktail this summer. Mood33 lists twenty-five grocery locations carrying their products in the U.S., as well as an online ordering option. Cann is available at dispensaries listed on their website and by delivery and House of Saka is also available at select dispensaries. Cheers!



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