RJJ Frisco:  

GG #4,  Papaya Cake,  Sage N Sour

Higher Grade 38th:  

GG #4


Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9,  The Sauce


Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9

Rocky Mountain Blaze:  

Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9,  The Sauce,  White 99

Trill Alternatives:  

Biker OZ,  Blanco,  Cake Mix,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9


Bananaghani,  Biker OZ,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake

The Dab By Silverpeak – Courtesy Rd.:  

Bananaghani,  Item #9,  LA Kush Cake


Bananaghani,  Biker OZ,  Grape OZ

Wolf Pac Cannabis Federal:  

Biker OZ,  Blanco,  Cake Mix,  Cheetah Piss,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9

Mile High Dispensary – MED:  

GG #4

The Dab By Silverpeak – Dillon Rd:  

Bananaghani,  Item #9,  The Sauce

Tumbleweed Carbondale:  

Grape OZ,  Tractor Beam


Biker OZ,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake

Tumbleweed Edwards:  

Item #9,  Tractor Beam


Biker OZ,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake

Eclipse Cannabis Company:  

Biker OZ,  Blanco,  Cake Mix,  Cheetah Piss,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9

5280 Weedery:  

GG #4,  Papaya Cake


Biker OZ,  Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9


Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9,  The Sauce


The Sauce,  Tractor Beam

RJJ Tower:  

GG #4,  Papaya Cake,  Sage N Sour


Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake,  The Sauce,  White 99


Ice Cream Cake,  Tractor Beam


Grape OZ,  Item #9


Ice Cream Cake

Tumbleweed – Steamboat:  

Biker OZ,  Item #9

Golden Meds – Sante Fe:  

Bananaghani,  Cake Mix,  Cheetah Piss,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake

A Cut Above – rec:  

Bananaghani,  Biker OZ,  Blanco,  Cake Mix,  Item #9,  Sage N Sour,  Tractor Beam

Solace Meds – WR:  

Biker OZ,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake


Bananaghani,  Biker OZ,  Dosidos,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9

Natures Kiss:  

Bananaghani,  Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9

The Peaceful Choice:  

GG #4,  Papaya Cake,  Sueño

Tumbleweed Frisco:  

Bananaghani,  Biker OZ


Bananaghani,  Item #9,  The Sauce

Herbal Healing:  

Native Roots Trinidad:  

Bananaghani,  Biker OZ,  Dosidos,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9,  LA Kush Cake,  The Sauce


Bananaghani,  Biker OZ,  Dosidos

Tumbleweed Debeque:  

Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9

Native Roots Littleton MED:  

GG #4,  Papaya Cake,  Sage N Sour

Standing Akimbo:  


Native Roots Highlands:  

Biker OZ,  Dosidos,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9


Biker OZ,  Cake Mix,  Item #9,  Purple Papaya Punch,  The Sauce,  White 99


Bananaghani,  Dosidos,  Headband Kush,  Item #9,  Purple Papaya Punch,  White 99

NATIVE ROOTS Frisco – rec:  

Biker OZ,  Dosidos,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9


Grape OZ,  Item #9

The Dab by Silverpeak – Downtown:  

Bananaghani,  Item #9,  LA Kush Cake


Biker OZ,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9

Dabbington LLC:  

Blanco,  Cake Mix

Native Roots Colorado:  

Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9

Solace Meds Broadway:  

Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake

Solace Meds Colfax:  

Bananaghani,  Biker OZ,  Grape OZ

Wolf Pac – Pueblo West:  

Biker OZ,  Grape OZ


Bananaghani,  Biker OZ,  Blanco,  Cake Mix,  Ice Cream Cake


Grape OZ,  Item #9

The Dispo (REC):  

Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake,  White 99

Higher Grade Medical (at Galena):  

GG #4,  Papaya Cake

Nature’s Herbs & Wellness – Distribution Center (Flower only):  

Blanco,  Cake Mix,  Headband Kush,  Item #9,  Purple Papaya Punch,  White 99

Boulder Wellness Center:  

GG #4,  Papaya Cake,  Sueño


Bananaghani,  Biker OZ,  Dosidos,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9,  Sage N Sour,  The Sauce


Bananaghani,  Biker OZ,  Dosidos,  Grape OZ,  Ice Cream Cake,  Item #9


Ice Cream Cake

Craft vs. Commercial Cannabis

Kenneth Morrow

Columns – Tomorrow in Cannabis

How do you—and the industry—define what is and what is not “craft” cannabis? Subscribe

Periodically, I scan social media sites for posts of large-scale cannabis production facilities, and when I find such a post, inevitably someone has left a comment stating the facility, due to its size, will merely produce average or substandard, low-grade cannabis. The commenter usually follows up such an accusation with a comment that he will only produce and consume the presumably superior “craft” cannabis.

This begs the questions: What is craft cannabis? And how did this notion come to suggest that all large-scale cannabis cultivation operations produce the negatively perceived “commercial-grade cannabis”?

The Craft Beer Model

The Brewer’s Association for small and independent craft brewers, on its website, offers a clear-cut definition of craft brewing:

“An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.

Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.

Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.

Traditional: A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.”

The Brewers Association also offers concepts related to craft beer and craft brewers:

  • “Craft brewers are small brewers.
  • The hallmark of craft beer and craft brewers is innovation. Craft brewers interpret historic styles with unique twists and develop new styles that have no precedent.
  • Craft beer is generally made with traditional ingredients like malted barley; interesting and sometimes non-traditional ingredients are often added for distinctiveness.
  • Craft brewers tend to be very involved in their communities through philanthropy, product donations, volunteerism and sponsorship of events.
  • Craft brewers have distinctive, individualistic approaches to connecting with their customers.
  • Craft brewers maintain integrity by what they brew and their general independence, free from a substantial interest by a non-craft brewer.
  • The majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewer.”

The Search for ‘Craft Cannabis’ History and Qualifications

In an attempt to find an official “craft” application to cannabis, I paged through many cannabis books, spoke with my mentors and peers, even scoured the internet—yet I could not find any concrete rules that dictate whether a crop or plant can be deemed, certified or considered “craft.” So I still am left with the question: On what is the “craft” cannabis designation based?Could it be:

  • Plant count? If so, how many plants are too many?
  • The number of people who work with the plants?
  • The cultivator(s)’ percentage of ownership vs. outside or investor ownership?
  • The facility’s automated capabilities (or lack thereof)?
  • Nutritional additives? What can be approved for use?
  • Innovation?
  • Limited production and sales?

I completely agree that passion, care and attention to every detail is required to produce superior-quality cannabis with rich cannabinoid and terpene profiles. There cannot be compromises to nutrient-source quality, environmental control nor labor practices.

In cannabis production with supplemental nutrients, for example, one could choose to purchase lower-quality and less-expensive nutrient options, but could never eliminate any of the three major nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) or potassium (K). Doing so would spell disaster for any crop.

In brewing, while some commercial breweries sometimes substitute ingredients like corn and rice to minimize costs, beer is made of basically four ingredients: water, hops, malt (usually from barley) and yeast. (In fact, German beer-purity law, or Reinheitsgebot, adopted in 1516, decrees that only these ingredients must be used for beer making.)

Some breweries choose to follow these rules while others choose to circumvent them. Ultimately, a brewery’s success or failure is, in large part, determined by its ability to sell its product based on the choices it makes regarding sourcing its starting materials and their quality. The customer chooses his brew, in large part, based on flavor and complexity, not (usually) alcohol content. Taste means everything in both beer and cannabis, and there are rules regarding beer making that are respected by the industry. Cannabis should create the same; however, like brewers, obviously not all cultivators will opt to abide by them.

Other Potential Factors in ‘Craft’ Cannabis

In a previous column, I noted that someone could cultivate the world’s best cannabis only to destroy its delicate aromatics in the drying and curing process. I suspect the point at which some craft-grade can become commercial-grade could be determined by the technique used to dry and cure product, not necessarily the scale at which these processes are being performed.

But, it should be noted that it is far easier to dry and cure small amounts of cannabis than large amounts.

The perceived, but still-undefined concept of “commercial” cannabis-as produced by large-scale production and consequentially lower-quality and lower-priced-is similar to less-expensive, lower-quality wine or beer, for which there is still a huge market. Some consumers do not care about complexity; they focus on price, while others select products for quality and/or certain related traits. Again, compare this to the alcohol industry, which offers an almost endless range of selections between light liqueurs and 190-proof Everclear; the latter also can be loosely compared to super-high-THC strains, in that higher alcohol or THC content does not often make for the best consumption experience for the masses, yet it has its market.

© Mitch | Adobe Stock

‘Craft’ and Quality

There are both traditional values and legal guidelines to abide by as a producer. For cannabis consumers to make a blanket statement that large-scale production facilities do and always will produce commercial-grade “substandard” cannabis is a head-in-the-sand mentality. It is naive at best to assume that a company with a legitimate understanding and comprehension of large-scale agriculture, with hundreds of millions of dollars at its disposal, contract agreements with the best breeders/genetics and a qualified staff can’t produce quality cannabis with low production costs. I firmly believe those who produce the best cannabis, regardless of scale, will always have customers, and those who do it ethically and sustainably possess even more strategic advantages.

Customers and their specific tastes will decide the success or failure of a company based on its quality, price and behavior.

I recently saw a TV commercial featuring the American actor Danny Trejo as a barkeep, in which a pretentious, finicky hipster approaches the barkeep, and says (continuously interrupting himself):

“Looking for a ‘microbrew’-

No, ‘nano brew’-


Not too fruity-


No, boysenberry-

With hints of chocolate and leather-

Not shoe leather-

Like a belt-

But barrel-aged-

And with a sick label…”

I found this hilarious because cannabis is rapidly heading in the same direction, and I wonder how many cannabis apothecaries have heard the same.

But do these specific traits automatically imply “craft” cannabis? With no clear definition, the industry is subjecting itself to confusion that will be passed down to consumers. So, if you consider yourself to be a craft grower, on what are you basing that? What do you think the true definition of “craft” cannabis should be?

Editor’s Note: This is an important topic the industry would do well to address. Please feel free to share your insights with us at: EditorCBT@gie.net.

Kenneth Morrow is an author, consultant; owner of Trichome Technologies™. Facebook: TrichomeTechnologies Instagram: Trichome Technologies



LeafLink Releases Encouraging Cannabis Data with Newest ‘Insights Flash’

By Danny Reed -November 25, 2020

Image: Talaj / Shutterstock.com

NEW YORK – Despite the uncertainty bearing down on many industries, cannabis has provided some bright spots for the U.S. economy since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In its newest “Insights Flash,” a monthly report that provides data and insight into key areas of legal cannabis including category sales, state-by-state performance, and pricing analysis, LeafLink said the cannabis industry is showing impressive growth even as our daily lives have been disrupted.

“The wholesale cannabis industry, as measured by LeafLink’s GMV (Gross Merchandise Value), grew 112 percent in October 2020 year-over-year,” LeafLink said. Advertisement

Dispensaries also are seeing higher sales than they were last year. Leaflink identified a 25 percent rise in GMV for same-store sales in October versus last year.

Due to a lack of federal guidance, cannabis operates almost as a series of individual markets. Michigan nearly doubled its overall industry growth with a GMV increase of 213 percent when compared to the same time period last year. This likely is due to a huge expansion of the state’s legalized cannabis industry. Michigan voters approved recreational use in 2018 and the state’s first recreational sales started in December of 2019. Sales really picked up during the course of 2020. California, which first legalized cannabis sales in 1996 for medicinal use, is still demonstrating impressive growth. The state’s GMV rose 65 percent over the past year despite already having the largest legal cannabis market in the United States. California’s neighboring states, Nevada and Oregon, actually saw the GMV drop compared to a year ago. 

When it comes to overall month over month sales data from September to October, cartridges led the field in growth (1.78 percent). But despite rumors of its premature demise, flower continues to dominate. Packaged cannabis flower represented 20 percent of all legal cannabis sales from September to October 2020. Edibles experienced the sharpest decline (1.7 percent) mostly driven by a bottoming out of gummy sales (10 percent). 

According to LeafLink thetop-performing brandsin October were Grow Sciences (Ariz.), THC Design (Calif.), Veritas Fine Cannabis (Colo.), Peregrine Manufacturing (Mich.), Cannavative (Nev.), and oreKron (Ore.).

Cozy cannabis picks: Products to try while snuggling up this snowy weekend

Entertainment| 3h ago

Casey Russell
Casey Russell  


With the snow we’re expected to get this weekend, and since Vail and Beaver Creek aren’t yet open, my plans this weekend include indulging in the thing that many Coloradans enjoy. Yeah, you guessed it, marijuana.

My other weekend plans usually include getting really cozy under some blankets, drinking some tea and probably doing nothing of note. Fortunately, these things pair extremely well — dare I say perfectly — with the ganja.

Of course, every cannabis consumer has their own personal preferences: mine are smoking flower from a pipe or cartridge, edibles and other relatively low-key products. While this article will share my favorite THC picks for all your TLC needs, this list is by no means exhaustive.

And without further ado, here are some top picks for your coziest high.

Flower: Veritas Fine Cannabis First Cut

All of Veritas’ bud is hand-processed, from growing to packaging.
Casey Russell | crussell@vaildaily.com

Part of my own self-care routine is impulse-buying artisanal food products — during quarantine, I had wine and cheese nights alone in my apartment with this delicious truffle gouda from Whole Foods — and that’s what you’re getting with any Veritas bud you buy. Every part of the process is completed by hand. Veritas grows each plant, hand cuts the nuggets, hand-packages the product in sealed containers for maximum freshness and consumer enjoyment

The First Cut line is Veritas’ first in-house cannabis project, and each strain of the developing product is cut and sold in small batches. The OG strain I got was package 62 of 96.

The attention to detail shows. The product itself looks noticeably nicer than its more traditionally-cultivated counterparts. It’s like the difference between fresh-baked loaf and grocery store sliced bread. Smoking it feels clean, and the high is pretty nice.

Veritas products are available at Native Roots Vail, Roots Rx in EagleVail and Tumbleweed in Edwards and Eagle.

Edibles: Wana Fast-Acting Gummies

Sometimes, when the goal is comfort, it’s best to go with the tried and true. For me, that’s Wana gummies. Fast-acting delivers on its promise, and the 5 mg gummies come in three cocktail flavors that correspond to sativa, indica and hybrid. I tried the Piña Colada indica ones, and they made hours of binge-watching “Masterchef” even better than it would be without the THC. The other two flavors are a sativa Peach Bellini and a strawberry Margarita hybrid.

Wana products are widely available at Vail Valley dispensaries.

Topicals: Coda Signature Symphony Bath Bombs

Uplift (left) and Balance (right) are two of Coda Signature’s Symphony Bath Bombs.
Casey Russell | crussell@vaildaily.com

Self-care and bath bombs go hand-in-hand, and I’m a big bath person. So with the chance to add a little extra relaxation to my hot-water-plus-book time in the tub, of course I was about it. You can guess how it went, but hint: the answer is well. The package comes with calm, balance and uplift scents, all formulated with natural ingredients. I used calm, which is a woody, floral blend of cedarwood, lavender, sweet marjoram and benzoin.

While the price tag is definitely not cheap — at Roots RX in EagleVail, the 3-pack retails for $30 — you’re paying for quality ingredients. Sure, even CityMarket sells bath bombs now, but those are the most basic formulas you can get. Compared to Lush bath bombs, which can run up to $10 themselves, Coda’s have the basic active ingredients required for the bath bombs to fizz, plus natural additives like safflower oil and hemp seed oil, and that’s it. You’re not getting anything besides calming scents, good ingredients and THC.

Also, you’re not getting a head high from this product. It’s not meant to enter your bloodstream to cause those effects. It’s meant to soothe sore muscles and bones. And it’s not meant to hit you like a train, either, it’s more of a slow burn. And, as always with baths, bring some cold water in case it does hit you too hard.

Coda’s bath bombs are available at Roots RX and High Country Healing in EagleVail.

Cannabis Brain Hacks: What Happens When You Mix Cannabinoids and Nootropics

What Is a Nootropic, and How Do These Brain-Boosting Substances Interact With Cannabis?

When it comes to consuming cannabis, different strains can provide you with vastly different cerebral experiences. There are types of cannabis that help you to relax, but there’s also cannabis you can use to focus or unleash a flow of creativity. You could call them cannabis brain hacks.

But did you know some supplements can also be used as brain hacks? They’re called nootropics, and when you mix cannabinoids and nootropics, you’ve got the potential for a potent cognitive boost.

What Is a Nootropic?

“Nootropic” is a term that encompasses a wide variety of natural and synthetic substances, supplements and drugs that may improve mental performance. In particular, nootropics are believed to enhance cognitive functions such as memory, focus, alertness, creativity and motivation.

While the term may sound strange, the truth is that nootropics are pretty common. Statistically speaking, you’ve probably already consumed one today: caffeine. Some other nootropics may also be familiar to you: nicotine, ginkgo biloba, creatine and panax ginseng, among others.

Can You Mix Cannabinoids and Nootropics?

So now we have a better idea of what nootropics are, but can you use cannabis with nootropics? Yes! Combining two or more nootropics, also known as “stacking,” is a practice intended to maximize the cognitive benefits of different nootropics.

In fact, in many circles, the effects of nonintoxicating cannabidiol (CBD) are considered to be nootropic, and so mixing cannabinoids and nootropics is not only something you can do but something plenty of people already do. Below are three quick examples of nootropics that are often infused or mixed with CBD or cannabis products. 


Caffeine can be taken in many forms but is most frequently consumed in coffee or non-herbal tea. A cup of coffee increases your attention and alertness while decreasing your response time. Recent studies have also found that the effects of regularly drinking coffee are associated with a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

But no one likes the jittery, anxious feelings that often come with a big caffeine boost, which is why CBD-infused coffee beans are gaining popularity. The calming qualities of CBD make it a surprisingly fitting counterbalance for caffeine. This way, you get the benefits of feeling more alert and focused, without the jitters.


While not as widely recognized as caffeine, L-theanine is a natural nootropic found in another popular beverage. It’s an amino acid contained in green and black teas, and has been found in multiple studies to have many of the same calming benefits as anti-anxiety medications, only without causing drowsiness. This makes L-theanine ideal if you need to focus on complex or stressful tasks. L-theanine also increases alpha waves in the brain, which are linked to creativity

Some CBD products already contain L-theanine, giving consumers a double-dose of calm. If your goal is to boost your focus and / or creativity, you could try combining an L-theanine supplement along with a Sativa-dominant cannabis strain as a strong combination. 


While you can find synthetic melatonin in the vitamin section of most any supermarket, melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the brain that helps regulate your circadian rhythm, also known as your “internal clock.” Your circadian rhythm can be thrown off by things like jet lag, insomnia, anxiety or depression. 

Studies have found melatonin to be beneficial to regulating sleep patterns, thereby potentially aiding alertness, lowering stress levels, and perhaps even helping combat seasonal depression. As with caffeine and L-theanine, melatonin can often be purchased already combined with either cannabis or CBD, most commonly in the form of gummies designed to help you get a good night’s sleep. 

A True Cannabis Brain Hack: Veritas Strain Resources

There’s more to cannabis than just a buzz. Depending on what you pair it with, you may be able to give yourself an additional brain boost. But whether you’re looking for a cannabis strain to get you feeling focused, creative and ready to work, or something on the more mellow side, with more than 90 strains in our library, Veritas has you covered.



Berner’s Cookies has continued its expansion across the United States, this time officially launching a beautiful new retail location in Colorado. Last spring, Cookies partnered with the Denver based cannabis company, Veritas Fine Cannabis.

Shortly after establishing that partnership, Colorado was introduced to Cookies products, though originally distributed through third parties. This Cookies Denver is the first Cookies dispensary to open in the state and they’re offering a full menu of their genetics plus many of the state’s best local brands.

Premium Strain Line Up

Cookies Denver offers a variety of Cookies strains, exclusive Cookies drops, and products from their sister companies (Exotikz, Lemonnade & Runtz). Additionally, Cookies Denver highlights some of Colorado’s finest Cannabis brands, such as Veritas, Bloom County, Cherry, and Dixie Elixirs.

Cookies Denver’s featured flower strains include:

Georgia Pie: A cross between Gelati and Kush Mintz 11, this 60/40 Indica-hybrid is known for it’s relaxing and mood-elevating effects.

Cheetah Piss: This trio creates a unique high like no other. A hybrid between Lemonade, Gelato 42, and London Pound Cake, this strain produces focused and energizing effects.

White Runtz: This is one of the most popular strains on the market, most notably for its fruit-flavored terps. This calming and euphoric hybrid is a cross between Gelato and Zkittles.

The full menu is available on Denver’s Weedmaps.

Cookies Denver Dispensary Offers the Full Cookies Menu Features Many of the Best Colorado Cannabis Brands

The interior and exterior of Cookies Denver reflect the same style as their other projects, showcasing their iconic baby blue aesthetic. Inside the building, their featured products border the wall, similar to other Cookies dispensaries. There is also an indoor viewpoint that allows customers to get a glimpse of their on-site grow operation.

Although Cookies has been available in Colorado for a few months now, there was still plenty of hype at the grand opening. Photos posted on social media show people decked out in Cookies merch stretched all the way around the building.

Cookies Denver Dispensary Offers the Full Cookies Menu Features Many of the Best Colorado Cannabis Brands

Berner continues to make waves within the Cannabis community as he carries out his mission for nationwide expansion. Not only does Cookies produce some of the most loved strains, but they also have a following like no other. Cookies is hands down one of the most innovative brands in the game and Cookies’ popularity is only going to increase as they continue to launch new projects around the country.

If you find yourself in the area, make sure to check out Cookies Denver, located at 2057 S Broadway, Denver, CO 80210.



Denver residents, there’s a new cannabis brand in town! The international cannabis lifestyle brand COOKIES has planted roots and opened a location here in town. 

On November 5, the COOKIES brand joined the country’s oldest recreational cannabis market by opening its first retail location. COOKIES opened shop in Denver’s iconic South Broadway neighborhood.

The cannabis COOKIES offers boast premium genetics. While COOKIES is ready to take the Denver recreational cannabis market by storm, they remain humble and grateful to join the industry and Denver’s cannabis community.

How did COOKIES begin? Well, COOKIES began with cannabis grow and breeding expert Jai and an entrepreneur/Bay Area rapper Berner, whose famous strain, Girl Scout Cookies (GSC), remains one of the most sought-after cannabis strains in the world. COOKIES started out in a San Francisco garage grow. Throughout its journey, COOKIES has maintained a goal: authenticity and innovative genetics.

The Denver retail location offers famous COOKIES strains, including Gary Payton, Gelatti, Cheetah Piss, White Runtz, Georgia Pie, and Sticky Buns. COOKIES will also offer heavy-hitting products from the broader COOKIES family of brands: LEMONNADE, RUNTZ, and COLLINS AVE. The location will also stock strains and products from several top-quality Colorado-based brands like Cherry, a buzzworthy and award-winning boutique local grower.

The new store features a grow operation that customers can view through an in-store window. Located at 2057 S. Broadway, the retail storefront is situated among various boutiques, music venues, eateries, and arts attractions. The South Broadway neighborhood, affectionately known as SoBo, has exploded into one of the focal points for Denver’s music and cultural scenes over the past decade.

Before their retail store opening, COOKIES had a presence in Denver’s cannabis community. Since May 2020, COOKIES offered its strains and products in Colorado dispensaries by working out exclusive partnerships with local cultivation operator Veritas Fine Cannabis and distribution and manufacturing partner, Slang Worldwide. 

COOKIES managed to show its talent for developing partnerships through grower partnerships and brand-owned retail locations. COOKIES strains and products are available in every legal adult-use recreational cannabis market in the United States through its efforts. This excludes markets that have recently legalized cannabis due to ballot measures during the 2020 elections. Still, I am confident we will see a COOKIES presence extended into those markets soon enough.

What sets COOKIE apart? They cite their control of the entire experience from start to finish, seed to sale. COOKIES take pride in their in-house cultivation, global varieties, and a full lineup of strain-specific products.

The COOKIES brand is a lifestyle. 

“Today, COOKIES is one of the most well-respected and top-selling cannabis brands in California and throughout the worldm” their website claims. “The company and its product are recognized globally and offer a stable of over 85 cannabis varieties and product lines, including indoor and sun-grown flower, pre-rolls, gel caps, and vape carts.

“COOKIES’ seed-to-sale business allows for complete quality control at every step—from cultivation and production to customers’ end retail experience. With a deep commitment to restorative justice and progressive drug policy, COOKIES actively works to enrich communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs through advocacy work and social equity initiatives.” 

Trend Watch: The move toward “premium” products

MJ Brand Insights

By Margaret Jackson

November 5, 2020

As the cannabis industry matures, consumers are growing up along with it and gravitating toward more sophisticated products. Most cannabis data-tracking companies don’t distinguish premium brands from the rest of the products available on the market, but anecdotally, industry professionals say they’ve noticed more of their customers gravitating toward higher-end products

“Edibles have maintained their share of the market — it’s similar to where they were pre-COVID,” said Lisa Gee, director of marketing and corporate social responsibility at Lightshade, a vertically integrated Denver-based cannabis business. “What is markedly different for us, and I think it’s a trend in Colorado that we’re learning about from our friends, is that people are spending more money on higher-priced boutique flower.”

Lightshade dispensary in Denver

Among the brands flying off store shelves is Cookies, the San Francisco-based cannabis brand founded by grow expert Jai and rapper and entrepreneur Berner. Lightshade didn’t carry anything that sold for more than $42 an eighth until Cookies entered the Colorado market; it sells for about $72 an eighth, Gee said. 

So what is a premium brand? It depends on who you ask. 

Alana Malone, co-founder and CEO of the Denver cultivation and extraction business Green Dot Labs, said that in the consumer packaged goods arena, premium prices are on the upper end of the prices that already exist in the marketplace. 

“Premium is the top 20 to 30 percent of any category, but luxury is out of reach for most people,” Malone said.

Andrew Freeman, chief brand officer of the Los Angeles-based pre-roll cannabis company Drew Martin, said growing techniques are what set premium brands apart from the rest. 

“Specifically with flower products or vape, it’s about the growing techniques that have allowed the cultivator to create an incredibly controlled environment with an outcome that is potent,” Freeman said. “Within legacy markets and legacy retail, premium often means growing indoors, it often means high potency, and very often there is a design element — beautiful packaging with gold or metallic foil used to connote a premium product.” 

“At the end of the day it’s about the value of the product — it has nothing to do with price. The question is would I spend money on that again?”

Jon Spadafora, head of marketing and sales at Denver-based premium cultivator Veritas Fine Cannabis,  defines premium products from the perspective of user experience.

“Premium products are effective, consistent, have an amazing taste and cool aroma,” Spadafora said. “At the end of the day it’s about the value of the product — it has nothing to do with price. The question is would I spend money on that again?”

Partnering with a premium brand

When Cookies wanted to get into the Colorado market, it executed a licensing agreement with Veritas, which grows and packages the lifestyle brand’s strains and distributes it to Colorado retailers.

“They knew they couldn’t go and start a new facility in every state,” Spadafora said. “They looked to people like us. For us, it was important that we weren’t just signing up with any brand. Berner is a cannabis legend before he is a hop-hop legend.”

Veritas dropped 35 pounds of Cookies cannabis the first day it was available; it sold out in eight hours, Spadafora said. While the buzz around Cookies has subsided slightly, lines still form at shops that send notifications to their customers that they’ve received a drop. The company recently delivered 65 pounds of Cookies to Colorado shops that Spadafora estimated would sell out in a few days. 

“Every Friday, we’ll have 100 people tag us on Instagram while they’re opening either Cookies or Veritas,” he said.

While partnerships are one way to bring a premium brand into a new market, positioning your retail store as a luxury destination is another strategy some companies are taking. In Aspen, Colo., a mountain town that oozes wealth, Dalwhinnie Farms’ retail boutique is selling high-end goods alongside its premium cannabis brands — think Rolex watches and Italian umbrellas and leather goods. 

Dalwhinnie Farms markets an “experience”

“We’re trying to bring the top-notch quality of everything to our store,” said Ashley Grace, the company’s chief revenue officer. “The idea is we’re trying to de-stigmatize cannabis, and we’re using an alternative retail model to do so. We’re really focusing on a finely curated selection of interesting goods.”

The company promotes itself as meticulously growing proprietary cannabis strains at a purpose-built, advanced cultivation facility that shares its grounds with a 210-acre working equestrian ranch in the San Juan Mountains near Telluride, Colo. Its cannabis strains are available exclusively at its Aspen boutique.

“The Dalwhinnie products are for more of a connoisseur customer,” Grace said. “When we talk to customers about our product, the feedback we get is it’s by far the most superior product that they’re getting.” 

Brands can also convey premium status through carefully curated events.  Drew Martin had planned to launch its line of high-end pre-rolls with a series of dinners and cocktail parties, but the coronavirus pandemic forced the company to pivot to a virtual Zoom event. The company partnered with the exclusive Hollywood, Calf., club San Vicente Bungalows, which caters to A-list celebrities and power brokers. 

The Zoom event featured company founder Drew Martin, a former mixologist who has worked in several James Beard Award-winning bars, conducting a cocktail-making class. Drew Martin delivered packages to participants that included a list of alcohol and other ingredients they would need for the event, as well as a box of pre-rolls, a lime, a lemon, a measuring cup and a few mixers and elixirs.

“(Martin) brings that expertise in the way a chef would to a high-end restaurant,” Freeman said. “It keeps a premium consumer interested in the brand and gets in on the storytelling around the product. As we’re moving into new markets, it’s been an incredible way to introduce ourselves.”

Pretty packaging

Beyond the quality of the products, premium packaging needs to exude extravagance. 

“If you’re going to put the extra quality into the growing and curing, you have to convey that to the consumer and set an expectation that goes with it,” Grace said. “Packaging is critical to delivering on that expectation.” 

Jon Spadafora said Colorado has been resistant to pre-packaged cannabis, as opposed to having it weighed out when purchased, but he knew that the Cookies brand was strong enough for customers to accept it. That allowed Veritas to succeed with its own brand of pre-packaged products. 

“Berner is a man of the people,” Spadafora said. “His music is great, and it’s a very inclusive environment. It’s so different from what everyone else is growing.”

“Millennials as a group have high purchasing power and want a story and an emotion behind a brand”

While not all products in fancy packaging are premium, the aesthetic appeal of the container is important to ensuring a brand is attractive to millennials, a group that is more likely to invest in high-quality products and are increasingly demanding brands they can trust, said Susannah Grossman, marketing and sales director for Green Dot Labs. 

“Millennials as a group have high purchasing power and want a story and an emotion behind a brand,” Grossman said. 

It’s not only high-end cannabis flower and edibles that consumers are purchasing. They’re also interested in premium devices like DaVinci’s dual-use vaporizer. While the number of vaporizers the Las Vegas-based company has sold during the pandemic are down, its profits are up, DaVinci CEO Cort Smith said.  That’s because while in-store sales have declined, higher-profit internet sales have increased. 

“I’m sometimes amazed that people will spend $300 on an apparatus to ingest cannabis,” said Cort Smith, DaVinci’s CEO. “People are looking for safety. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) hasn’t figured out how to regulate it.”

Drew Martin’s Freeman, who has worked with mainstream luxury brands like Tiffany and West Elm, said cannabis retail is evolving toward a more boutique experience, and brands must elevate their images to match. 

“The experience has to be curated, authentic, aspirational but still approachable for consumers,” Freeman said. “We really want to create an experience that’s something special.”