By Danny Reed -November 25, 2020
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.).
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:
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.
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.
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.
DANNY BRADLEY x NOVEMBER 9, 2020
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.”
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.”
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.
“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.”
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.”
Written by: Bart Schaneman
National cannabis brands are common in several sectors including infused products, vape pens and retail. But the industry has not seen many national flower brands.
For one thing, flower can’t be transported across state lines, so it can’t reach consumers in other markets. Additionally, growers often pride themselves on creating flower with characteristics specific to their location.
When each state’s cannabis market is insular, it’s difficult to establish a national reputation. But at least one marijuana producer has taken steps to achieve this.
Cookies, a cannabis company from California’s Bay Area, has established itself as a recognizable flower brand in several states, including Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada and Washington, among other markets.
Denver marijuana producer Veritas Fine Cannabis entered a licensing deal with Cookies last fall to sell Cookies-branded flower in 50 Colorado retail stores. Cookies Colorado products launched statewide in May 2020.
Jon Spadafora, partner and head of sales and marketing at Veritas, told Marijuana Business Magazine that initially Veritas wasn’t sure growing flower under the Cookies brand would be a good fit.
Cookies was founded by Gilbert Milam Jr., a rapper who goes by the name Berner. Spadafora said he worried the rapper’s name was supposed to sell the product by itself.
“We were concerned it was just another celebrity-driven brand,” Spadafora said. Meanwhile, he believed Colorado’s cannabis consumers were too discerning to pay a premium if the cannabis wasn’t of high quality.
But when Spadafora and a few members of the Veritas team took a trip to see Cookies’ commercial grow in Los Angeles, his opinion changed.
“We were struck by, one, how clean and beautiful the space was,” Spadafora said.
He also noticed the staff’s passion, “that twinkle in the growers’ eyes,” and could tell the cultivators on the Cookies team loved to grow cannabis.
“That’s important,” Spadafora said. “Everybody cares, and they care because everyone loves the end product.”
The team visited another Cookies facility in Northern California—and after that, Spadafora knew the two companies’ values aligned.
The vetting process went the other way, too. Tori Cole, vice president of marketing for Cookies, said the company was looking for “like-minded partners” and found one in Veritas.
Even though Cookies has a range of other products including vapes and cannabis-infused items, the company has always been focused on growing different strains, she said.
When looking for an out-of-state cultivator, the company was seeking a partner that “understands the phenomenon of Cookies.” They wanted to work with growers who had the same attention to detail and the ability to work in a collaborative environment.
“There’s a lot of sharing between teams,” Cole said. But it really comes down to how good the growers are. Reputation often precedes the introduction for cultivation companies, Cole said, adding, “It’s a small industry.”
Beyond vetting the reputation of potential partners, Cookies will also visit grow sites to determine if companies’ existing cultivation practices fit their ethos, paying attention to details such as irrigation systems and lighting.
Once the product starts to hit store shelves, the Cookies team monitors what consumers say on social media and how they’re voting with their dollars, Cole added. Cookies fans have been known to line up around the block when the company announces product drops.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the quality-control arm of Cookies’ sales team would travel to check on its partners’ operations. Now, Zoom fills that function, and Berner will often participate in the video calls and ask to see the flower up close.
“It’s a pretty entrenched process on both sides, and everyone is talking to each other,” Cole said.
Spadafora agreed, adding that
the Veritas grow team and Cookies cultivators were “geeking out over humidity,” for instance.
Spadafora said Veritas has allocated about 15% of its production to growing for Cookies, with the intention of ramping up to about 40%.
The deal the companies entered stipulates that Veritas will grow for Cookies for a set amount of time (the companies declined to disclose exactly how long) and then the partnership will be reevaluated.
More to Come
Spadafora said that although Veritas had already established itself as a premium flower brand—one reason he believes Cookies wanted to work with his company—the cross-branding opportunities also bring a lot of value.
The Cookies name is featured the most prominently on the brand’s Colorado-grown products, but it also notes that the cannabis inside was grown by Veritas. That’s important in a more mature market, where the consumer wants to know where cannabis originates, Spadafora said.
“Cookies has done a great job giving Veritas credit,” he said.
In the end, Spadafora said the relationship between the two businesses seems to be a good fit that goes beyond making money.
“This isn’t just putting your name on something and collecting a check,” he added.
Written by: THOMAS MITCHELL
Veritas Fine Cannabis wants to give consumers a peek inside its grow through a new series of marijuana phenotypes. Scott Lentz
What if we told you that all marijuana strains that share a name are not actually one and the same?
This isn’t really a secret in the worlds of marijuana and botany, where the same plant seeds can produce different phenotypes or varying traits that result from genetics interacting with a surrounding environment. But the trials of choosing phenotypes, or “pheno hunts,” are usually private, unknown to the public.
Most cultivations avoid ever-changing marijuana characteristics by cloning a favorite strain to achieve more consistency, but those growing and breeding new cultivars typically start from seed, assign numbers for the strain phenotypes, and then choose their favorite to be grown commercially and possibly cloned for future harvests. So, for example, if a breeder had three phenotypes of Purple Kush, they’d be labeled Purple Kush #1, Purple Kush #2 and Purple Kush #3. Occasionally breeders will leave the pheno number attached to the name to signify differences from the original strain, like Gorilla Glue #4 or Northern Lights #5.
Some local dispensaries, such as KrystaLeaves and Den-Rec, sell numerous phenotypes of the same strain, offering five or six versions of their favorite cuts for their customers to try. Now Veritas Fine Cannabis, a branded wholesale cultivation, is taking a more formal approach, enlisting you, the consumer, as a middleman to help pick one of three phenotypes for future statewide strain drops.
“When we work in the garden, there’s a real disconnect between the decisions we make, our opinions and our preferences and what the general public might do,” explains Veritas grower Andrew Mahon. “Pheno hunts usually come down to what those guys in the grow decide, so the intent here is to open up that process.”
As part of the new Veritas Pheno Hunt series, a limited number of boxes that feature a gram of three different phenotypes of a strain (and a grinder, lighter and joint papers) will be available to curious consumers. The guinea pigs try them, then vote for their favorite phenotype online, with the winning cut becoming a regular in Veritas’s more widely available rotation of strains.
Mahon thinks that many consumers could have different flavor preferences from those of growers, who tend to lean toward more classic cannabis attributes of Kush strains, which carry more earthy, skunky flavors. Meanwhile, new or novice users flock toward strains that taste more like fruits or pastries than weed.
“Within a given strain, we don’t know which flavors the public would want in terms of potency and effect,” he says. “In general, those who I work with have a little more of an experienced palate and tend to go more old-school — more of the Kushy flavors, [but] it always surprises me how popular some of the fruity flavors are with people.”
The first hunt will feature phenotypes of LA Kush Cake, a hybrid of Kush Mints and Wedding Cake. Future Pheno Hunts will feature Tart Pops, a potent mix of Skunk, Tangie, Zkittles and Purple Punch, with Mahon keeping his eye on more classic varieties as well, to see if consumers will come back around to older, more original strains. However, it’s all about jumping in at the right time.
“I think the industry gets bored and is constantly looking for something new,” Mahon says. “Can these strains survive that lull when people stop being interested in it? With that in mind, I’m actively trying to chase down some old-school genetics. There’s a market for things that people haven’t seen in a long time: Island Sweet Skunk, Acapulco Gold, Durban Poison.”
The first Veritas Pheno Hunt collections will be available Thursday, September 10, and carry a suggested retail price of $55; dispensaries carrying the boxes can be found on the Veritas website and Instagram account.
From: Stoned Appetit
Veritas Fine Cannabis Co-Founder Mike Liebowitz and Marketing Manager John Spatafora (sp) join me on the podcast to talk about their Luxury Cannabis operation. We talk about how Veritas got started, how they’ve grown their brand, company, and what they have planned for the future. Why they were voted a top cannabis grower in Colorado, how they got involved with the Cookies Enterprise out of California, and what the dumbest name for a strain of weed is. In addition to the biz conversation, we also talk deadly hypotheticals and weird porn scenarios with cartoon characters… Absolutely great group of cats working in their cannafamily with 150+ passionate people who care for cannabis and their company, as I saw first hand. It really was a hilarious and informative episode.. If you like the episode, please hit that subscribe button and throw us a review (don’t be shy to make it 5 stars).Listen to “Season 2, Episode 3: Veritas Fine Cannabis with Mike Leibowitz & Jon Spadafora” on Spreaker.
Written by: Owen MacMillan
As cannabis brands expand, partnerships with trusted cultivators is crucial to ensure product consistency in new markets and keeping up with customer demand.
Cookies, the cannabis brand founded by Bay Area rapper and entrepreneur Berner, recently entered a cultivation partnership with Veritas Fine Cannabis, a cannabis cultivator based in Denver. Veritas is the exclusive grower of Cookies cannabis strains in Colorado for at least the next three years, according to a deal signed in October 2019. Cookies products launched in Colorado in July.
Jon Spadafora, head of marketing and sales at Veritas, said expanding can be risky for a company if it doesn’t ensure it is picking responsible partners.
“It was important for Cookies to find someone driven by quality,” Spadafora said. “As you expand one of the biggest concerns you have is maintaining the quality that got you where you are, as you start talking about gardens that you don’t have control over.”
For Cookies’ part, the company had no concerns that Veritas would be an unreliable partner.
“Veritas is one of the kind of gold standard partners and operators, especially in Colorado,” Tori Cole, VP of marketing at Cookies, said. “They have some fire products. When we saw some photos and videos, and saw the test results, we said, ‘Oh my God, this is exactly what our flower should look like.’”
Extensive communication between the companies was crucial to the process of becoming partners, with dozens of phone calls and Cookies sending representatives to tour Veritas’ facility. Feedback and open lines of communication are crucial when one company is trusting another with its genetic library and with creating the products it will put its label on.
Cole talked about entrusting the company’s strains to another company and said that Berner is very passionate about what he puts his name on. Spadafora keeps Berner updated on how the product is coming along, sharing pictures, lab tests and reviews daily to make sure the final product is as it should be. Cookies products first started to be sold in Colorado in May, and are now sold in about 50 dispensaries.“Every grower is very different,” she said. “What we try to do is standardize it so the Gary Payton you smoke in Colorado would be the same Gary Payton experience that you would have in California.”
Gary Payton, named after the NBA all-star who licensed his name to the company, is one of Cookies’ most popular and highly reviewed strains. Cole said learning to grow a new strain is complicated, and that the key to doing it the right way is keeping communication open at every step.
“[Growing a new strain] is like a new relationship, like meeting a new person,” she said. “You have to be introduced to them, learn who they are, what they like, what they don’t like. So, it is always an ongoing conversation that we have with our partners.”
Collaboration expands beyond the interview and production process, as the companies’ marketing departments make joint pushes to advertise new products as they drop.
“We are working in conjunction with the Cookies team in California to make sure that if they are marketing a new strain as it hits the shelf, they probably have that same strain hitting the shelves in multiple states,” Spadafora said. “If you have got Berner rapping about [the strain] and the Cookies team is pushing it hard on the corporate side, it certainly makes our job a lot easier to get a customer to understand and care about it.”
Both Veritas and Cookies repeated that the partnership between them is based on a shared passion and goals, rather than just profit.
“We look to have partners that share the vision of bringing good cannabis to sophisticated connoisseurs, which Colorado is filled with,” Cole said, adding that Cookies has plans to open one of its Cookies branded dispensaries there in the future. “That is why we chose Veritas, and also just what we look for when we choose any partnership.”
Written by: Angela Stelmakowich
Nothing is certain yet, but the owners of the Veritas Fine Cannabis cultivation site in Denver believe a robbery late last week could have involved someone who used to work for the company or was very familiar with its operations.
Having cultivated in the Denver community since it became legal to do so, the company is offering a US$25,000 reward for “any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of these criminals” seen on security footage.
“Let’s catch them before they do it again,” notes a Facebook post, which provides an email address for anyone with information.
Veritas Fine Cannabis supplies strains for Cookies, the brand of rapper and pot entrepreneur Berner, and has a licensing deal with Veritas in Colorado, according to Westword. “I don’t know if it was ‘inside’ in terms of being a current employee, but one of the individuals seen on the video knows the place well, where to go and what to do,” co-owner Mike Leibowitz told the publication.
“We have witnessed and heard stories from many colleagues about break-ins and robberies, some so severe that they toppled businesses completely,” the company notes in the Facebook post. “We can, unfortunately, now say that we understand how it feels to be a victim of this type of crime.”
Leibowitz told Westword that the theft appeared to be “very coordinated, so it tells us someone knew the spot well. That just stings. Money comes and money goes, but the idea that the person who did this is potentially still working for us really hurts,” he added.
Everyone at Veritas Fine Cannabis is back to work, the company reports. “We’re growing, harvesting, trimming and packaging everything by hand and look forward to getting back to normal.”
Written by: THOMAS MITCHELL
Burglars hit a Denver cultivation that supplies two popular marijuana brands late last week, according to the operation’s owners, who are offering a reward for information that helps catch the culprits.
Veritas Fine Cannabis co-owner Mike Leibowitz has experienced his fair share of break-ins during a decade in the legal marijuana industry, where commercial growing operations are a popular target during the off-hours. But the incident on July 10 stings the worst, he says.
“A lot of these people probably get jobs within the industry and case joints, no pun intended. But they do that — and I think our particular job was from an inside influence,” Leibowitz explains. “I don’t know if it was ‘inside’ in terms of being a current employee, but one of the individuals seen on the video knows the place well, where to go and what to do.”
Inside jobs by employees and temporary staffers is an ugly truth in the marijuana industry, Leibowitz adds, though he’s seen a bloopers reel of theft attempts by obvious outsiders, too.
“You have the temporary staffing companies, electricians and plumbers, couriers literally collecting cash; you can’t prejudice yourself against anyone who’s going there to do a job,” he says. “But it was very coordinated, so it tells us someone knew the spot well. That just stings. Money comes and money goes, but the idea that the person who did this is potentially still working for us really hurts.”
The burglarized cultivation grows strains for Cookies, a popular marijuana brand from the Bay Area that has a licensing deal with Veritas in Colorado. Sold for as much as $70 for 3.5 grams, Cookies products have been highly sought after since debuting in Colorado just over two months ago, and were also taken from the grow, according to Veritas.
The Denver Police Department is investigating the theft, and Veritas also plans to hire a private investigator. But the company isn’t depending on either of those probes to nab the thief. On its Instagram page, Veritas is offering $25,000 to anyone who provides “information that leads to the arrest and conviction” of the two individuals seen on security footage; tips can be sent to email@example.com.
Filing an insurance claim over a stolen-weed incident would’ve been unthinkable for Leibowitz as little as five years ago, but he’s filing one now. There’s property damage to cover, and both marijuana and cash were stolen from the Veritas grow warehouse, he says, though he declines to say how much.
There was a string of armed robberies at Denver-area dispensaries from late 2019 through January, and while the people responsible for those now seem to be lying low, in June the DPD sent a notice to local businesses, warning about a rise in crime at dispensaries and marijuana grows. The department suggested adding security measures; it also offered extra patrols in the neighborhood if the businesses desired them.