Timothy Leo Cullen is a former infielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Washington Senators, Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics. He batted and threw right-handed. In a six-season career, Cullen was a .220 hitter with nine home runs and 134 RBI in 700 games.
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I wanted to reach out to everyone and see if you have any questions on the legal cannabis industry here in Colorado? Colorado Harvest Company was one of the first stores to open it’s doors to recreational cannabis in the USA on Jan 1st, 2014 and has since grown with the ever expanding cannabis industry. With more states legalizing, I feel it is a great time to answer some questions you may have.
Ask Me Anything!
My Proof #1: http://imgur.com/a/rKYZS
UPDATE: Alright everyone! I must leave now. Thanks for being involved in the AMA! You all are the best. :)
Do you get high on your own supply?
You know I do!
How over saturated is the cannabis industry right now? And how does that effect you?
In Colorado I would say the market is not "saturated" but rather limited by zoning regulations. Those being 1000 feet from a school, a park, a daycare, a drug treatment facility or a like business. It is nearly impossible to find a retail location that meets that criteria and is in a good spot. Competition makes us better and we welcome it. The biggest effect has been the decrease in pricing for consumers - that has been a trend for several years now and it's the customers who win.
Before legalization comes to my state, how should I position myself to be ready to dive into the industry as a provider?
All the rules in each state vary. Colorado has a model that is often copied, but never exactly. The caregiver aspect of Colorado's rules are a little gray. Your best position is to be as close to the plant as possible and hold the necessary licenses.
Do you have first-time customers who started smoking only because it became legal for recreation?
That is not a question we ask of anyone who shops with us, but I am guessing that that legalization makes that decision much easier. It certainly took the paranoia out of most strains!
Tim, what's your stance on employees smoking during work hours?
It is the law that no consumption happen on site (in Colorado). For the same reason Coors does not allow beer drinking at work we don't allow consumption at work either. It's not a moral thing to me, but an excepectation for high quality customer service
When it comes to family stuff, do your spouse's friends know what you do? or when the teacher asks questions is it a bit weird? OR is it open that you work in the cannabis industry?
Yes. For a bit I tried to keep it under the rug so to speak, but at this point (7 years down the road) it would be hard to hides. If you google my name that cat would be out of the bag. I have no shame. I'm a proud owner of a successful business and I'm not ashamed to say so. If I'm judged for that (and sometimes I am) then we would not be friends anyway. My family and friends have been my biggest support.
Let's say someone wants to open a daycare within 1000 feet, do they deny them the daycare there or would they try to shut you down instead?
If the MJ company existed first (registered with the state) then they would be considered "grandfathered" and be fine.
okay so they can't screw you over. I was afraid they would find any excuse to give rid of the pot shops.
We are here to stay. Colorado is coming up on 17 years of the medical program and 3 years of the recreational program. I employ about 80 people and have 7 buildings in Colorado and we are just one company. Multiply that by the 200 or so others and you would have a real problem if it all went away tomorrow. I can't image a sane person thinking that the black market was a better way even if they don't necessarily agree. Taxed and regulated is the way moving forward.
Do any of the customers try to ask for product on credit ?
That is not an issue. Colorado Harvest Company looks and feels like a retail store - no credit is given.
Do you expect federal prosecutors to enforce current laws re: marijuana sales in the coming years?
I expect more of the same in the coming years. The movement toward states rights is strong and MJ is a states rights issue. I expect that states that comply with the current federal memos will continue to conduct business without the fear of prosecution.
What is your best food to eat when you have the munchies?
I love some Ben and Jerry's ice cream - I just found this one called Fudge Carmel that is my kryptonite.
What are the coolest new cannabis products you've seen, or that you sell?
There has been some amazing products in the past year. From O.penvape vaporizers to Mary's Medicinal transdermal patches. Edible companies have really stepped up their game in terms of quality of product and packaging. It seems like there is some new form a concentrate almost weekly. We try to carry new products as they become available. We currently carry over 50 edible companies on our shelves - something for everyone.
Ahh I see.
Cool if they take a few bong hits before work?
And do employees get a discount?
We do provide an employee discount - it's important that they have the ability to test the products they are selling, but that is not a requirement to work here. "Functionally medicated" is a term that I like because it can relate to any substance in a workplace environment.
Are you interested in opening a shop in MA? Or do you know of any companies opening in MA?
Also, what's your favorite vaporizer you've tried?
I would love to open MA Harvest Company. The trick is finding good partners who can run the day to day. Could that be you? I don't really like vaporizing flower, I'm an old school bong guy, but I love my O.penvape pen and the Reserve cartridges are amazing for vaporizing oil.
Any experience with medicinal dispensaries? Looking into it from a business perspective in states that have newly legalized medicinal use.
Yes. Colorado Harvest Company started as a medical marijuana company and we are proud to say that we still are. As of 2014 all our retail locations now provide both medical and recreational products where the city will allow (for example Aurora Colorado only allow recreational sales, but Denver can be both).
Could you please elaborate on the ability to obtain a license? There will be 75 licenses issued to grow in the state of MA next year. How does someone become 1 of 75? Thank you :)
It is the most important step. Without a license there is no business. The competitive nature of the application process now requires that you bring your A-game. An attorney who understands your states rules and requirements is important, but so is a connection to someone who has "been there, done that" is a big help too. The application must be the best work you have ever done. I want you to be proud of it when you submit it!
Do you have your own farm to supply your dispensary or do you have multiple suppliers?
If you get from suppliers, how do you decide which ones to use?
Yes. We are what the state of Colorado would call a "vertically integrated company". In short we sell the flowers we grow and control the process from seed to sale. We do on occasion purchase wholesale flower if demand dictates, but we only use a couple of trusted sources. In Colorado those trusted sources have to be licensed business too (no guys with backpacks).
Some vaporizers work really well with bongs. I could definitely be that day to day guy, depends on location and price though.
Hoping to see you guys open up in 2018 here! We could use some dispensaries that have experience.
If you have some good folks that I should talk with you can catch me at Tim@ColoradoHarvestCompany.com
Pharmacist entrepreneur here - could I pm you with Qs?
You sure can, or my email is Tim@ColoradoHarvestCompany.com
You down with OPP?
Yea, you know me.
Ok maybe I should be more precise, what were you doing in 2008 that helped you start operating a dispensary in 2009? There had to be some "figuring it out" period you went through in which you learned some very valuable lessons. Can you speak on what those might have been?
In 2008 I was a high school biology teacher with a love of plants. The situation on the ground today is very different than when Colorado Harvest Company opened in 2009. Capital resources (money), strong partners and a good location are the components, but the ability to get the licenses is the most important thing.
What are some practical challenges for your business that most other businesses might not face?
Oh... so many, but the big ones are the lack of access to bank loans and the unfair tax penalties that are the result of 208E imposed by the federal government. There are advertising restrictions and some companies will not do business with us just based on what we do- for example payroll companies and credit card processors.
Thanks for doing this AMA. I hope a lot of these restrictions get lifted for you.
My pleasure and my first time doing an AMA. I'm excited at how many good questions there are. Happy to do it again soon or on the regular.
As one of your long time customers, yes, it was an important factor for me. I had never tried it before Colorado legalized.
Thank you so much for being a long time customer. I appreciate you!
Oh, man. You might have wanted to send that email address by private message.
I fine that in this day and age anyone can find my email...
Does your company produce other cannabis products besides raw/dried flowers? Do you do extraction and make edibles as well?
I know there are a ton of dispensaries in CO that blast/produce their own lines of concentrates and edibles, but would imagine certain labels are starting to pop up as favorites. So last question is how does the business to business sales look - meaning do you have other dispensaries that purchase from you, and the other way around?
We don't produce our own concentrates or edibles, but we do send out our trim to be blasted for strain specific wax and shatter. We are mostly on the buying side of the wholesale market.
Uh... Are you hiring ? XD
We are always looking for good folks! You must be 21 or older, a Colorado resident and be able to qualify for a support badge. Take a look at the Colorado Department of Revenue website under Marijuana Enforcement for the application. We only interview folks who have a badge in hand.
What's the item on the menu that is the best bang for your buck?
For the consumer and for the business?
I don't think you can beat the new Bakked line of concentrates for quality or price. There is a lot of bang for the buck there.
You're correct the black market is not the way to go. I wish my state was legal. Sadly we will probably be the last state to legalize. I have medical issues and edibles and oils are legal for medical use here, but no doctor will write the script and there is no where to get it if they did.... So that law is useless really.
It breaks my heart to hear stories like yours. The entire war on drugs could be summed up as "useless really". Hope that changes for you soon.
How many money and other resources it cost when you started your business? How many extra money you have then?
2009 was a very different environment than we have today. We started on a shoe string. Less than $100k. Today that number is probably closer to $3m. We had no extra money - my life savings and all my time went into starting Colorado Harvest Company. Seven years later, that is still the case!
Does your company work with hemp products as well?
Do you see a market for hemp products in the future?
We do carry a huge variety of CBD products that are all hemp derived. Hemp products will be as popular as fish oil is today and sold around the country. Its coming.
Hey man! Can you do a quick little explanation on why every strain is different? Not just indica vs sativa, but all the different levels of cannabinoids? My dad thinks amount of thc is the only difference, I'd love having an authority answer!
Keep on doing your thing man :)
Yay! Okay... so it's like when a climber climbs a new route, they get to name it. Breeders have the same privilege when they cross strains. There are so many different criteria that a breeder is looking for, but they could be summed up with: fast growing, high yielding, disease resistant strains that are easy to handle. There are the few cannabinoids folks know about (THC, CBD, CBN), but their concentrations in varying amounts and how they all interact is still a mystery for a university level to study. I would never pick a strain based on THC content, just as I would not pick a bottle of wind based on proof.
Thanks Tim. I don't see it changing anytime soon sadly... If I could afford to move to a freed weed state I would. I'll just keep my fingers crossed and hope they see the light soon.
The light is coming from the people and it's like a train leaving the station. You can get on it or get out of the way, but don't stand on the tracks.
What does "M-O-O-N" spell?
Moon? Like the big yellow happy face in the sky?
how much revenue does the typical shop bring in? is it a very profitable business?
The only thing typical among the stores are the challenges we all face. I have no idea since they are all privately held companies. To the best of my knowledge Colorado Harvest Company is the only business to conduct an Economic Impact Study. You can google it. The margins are much tighter than I think the public believes. In the 15%-25% range.
How often do you hear of your peers distributing through the darknet?
Honestly, never. At this point the licenses are so valuable that you would have to be an idiot to jeopardize that. I think my peers are all on the up and up, but I can't say the same for the black market.
ive been seeing lots of CDB products in my state which is very strictly anticannabis... are these cdb products gonna be intoxicating at all, like charlottes web high-cbd stuff, or are they just labled that way to make me drop dollars?
CBD has no intoxicating effects at all (that comes from THC). You want to make sure you are buying from a reputable retailer. I saw the FDA did some testing on some CBD products and found them to contain no CBD. O.penvape is a Colorado company is the real deal and you can order on their website.
I bet botanical experience was a help as well.
Yes, but certainly not a requirement. My business partner has a background in marketing and mine in biology, so our weak spot was the financial side. You can hire for your weaknesses.
Word! Thank you so much for responding, I really appreciate it! The climber analogy is really clever. I knew about CBD and falsely assumed the others were understood at around that level. Thanks for enlightening me, I've grown some "thinking caps" before, so I know the importance of disease resistance, but cannabis is a lot more complex in pretty much every way...Thanks again man!
Keep on keeping on!
What are the salary ranges for production side workers aka the growers? Can an employee in the grow facility make enough to actually afford to live in colorado?
Oh yes. Like any job it will vary with experience. On the production side they start as low at $12 per hour but the sky is the limit. We provide health, dental, vision and 401k to employees too as well as paid time off.
Access to bank loans is a big deal. Has anyone explored partnering with alternative financing options like pawn shops or payday loan franchises?
I think you can the same crappy deals from VC group too.
What do you think about investing in companies within the Industry? I live in Canada and we are on the verge of legalization. Thanks!
I am much more confident in how Canada operates their exchange. At this point (even as an owner) I don't invest in any other companies. Too many are pump and dump pink sheets in the US. Avoid smoke and mirrors and make sure you are investing in a company that really has products and or services and real revenue. Be careful out there.
To my knowledge, most of the the states that have legalized either for medical or recreational, have left the option open for businesses to continue drug testing their employees. While I support the right of a business to decide for itself what it demands of it's employees, I believe in the end that this will make it hard for the employers to continue to find and/ or keep good employees as they will eventually find work where their rights are not limited.
Have you seen this happen in Colorado? Are employers slowly starting to look the other way when it comes to their employees using marijuana? Is drug testing for marijuana slowly going the way of the dinosaur?
Great question. Our "drug testing" is a little different since we actually have to try the products. We do not drug test our employees. There was a court case (Dish Network vs. Brandon Coats) that does allow companies to test on their own terms. Yes, I believe it will go away as the sigma of 70 years of propaganda fades.
Are there any educational materials you could recommend that might be useful to someone looking to get into the legal cannabis industry?
Absolutely. Most self help books would address "why would you ever do that to yourself". Only sort of joking, but there is a lot of good reading out there. Depends on the aspect of the business. How to books on growing and such will get you a little ways down the road, but I love "Good to Great" for general business practices. I love "Kitchen Confidential" for customer service and a basic model of how the business functions.
Are your siblings also huge disappointments?
Great question. Yes, the whole lot of them let poor mum down on the daily. Go back under your rock now troll.