It’s been just over three weeks since the first legal cannabis shops opened in Washington and already it feels like the initial high is starting to wear off.
The long lines, media storms and general hysteria that will likely be discussed in history books are quieting down. In the aftermath, producers, processors, retailers and legislators are now tasked with the hard stuff – working out the kinks to find a way to make cannabis just as viable as any other commodity.
From establishing the best store fixtures and merchandising display techniques, to developing customer loyalty schemes and other marketing strategies, the cannabusiness industry is thriving and constantly adapting to make the most of growing demand.
Even with the shortage that caused several I-502 proprietors to close their doors, a host of enterprising ‘canna-preneurs’ are realizing the potential of cannabis as a business.
Mary White loves two things: cooking and showing people it’s not difficult to prepare good, healthy meals. That’s why she created “The Pantry Raid,” a cooking class designed to teach people how to get the most out of their food.
White got her first taste of edible cannabis after viewing fudgy brownies and cookies infused with special butter at a medical marijuana dispensary. Not much of a smoker, White said she liked the idea of eating instead of inhaling, but what she didn’t like was consuming a lot of sweet desserts.
“If you take marijuana as medicine, you don’t want to have to eat two brownies every night,” she said.
With an appetite for tinkering, White began making her own cannabis-infused butters and oils. She quickly learned there was a place at the table for savory cannabis.
“What I like is [the butter] in brown rice, but I’ve made cheese crackers, chicken curry; you can use kief just like a spice,” she explained. “If you make your own butter or oil you can use it in whatever you want.”
Making the infused butter and oil can be tricky, though, and White decided “cooking with cannabis” would make the perfect addition to her classes.
“I just want to get people as educated as possible,” she said. “I show them how to make the butter so they can do it themselves.”
THE PANTRY RAID’S GREEN CHEESE CRACKERS RECIPE
These little crackers are a great way to get your medicine, especially if you’re getting tired of medicated brownies and cookies. To make about 6 dozen, you’ll need:
2 C. flour
Pinch of salt
2 tsp. red pepper flakes (play with this –you might want more or less, or use curry powder or whatever spice you like)
1 Lb. sharp cheddar, grated and at room temp
1 C. melted cannabis butter (unmedicated is ok too – you just won’t get high)
2 C. crispy rice cereal
Preheat your oven to 325. In a big bowl, combine the flour, salt, and spices. Dump in the cheese and mix till it’s all coated with the flour. Pour in the melted butter and stir till the mixture is crumbly and moist. Add the cereal and knead till everything is all combined. Form the dough into small balls, arrange on an ungreased baking sheet and flatten with a fork. This is where you can make ’em big or small – it’s up to you.
Bake thin crackers 30 minutes and thick ones about 40. They’re great with a glass of wine or dipped in chutney…..and if you use cannabutter you’ll probably only need to eat one!
For this and other great recipes, visit www.thepantryraid.com.
Like White, Chase Kush found cannabis was the perfect way to merge his two greatest interests, travelling and the cannabis industry, into a business called Kush Tourism.
“Both my business partner and I are passionate about the cannabis industry,” Kush said. “We saw there was a need for people who wanted to learn about it.”
With legalized recreational cannabis use in its infancy, Kush Tourism caters its tours to keep up with rapidly changing times, and presents a unique and ancient plant to people who may have had little or no experience with it.
“We went through a vast networking process to meet as many people as we could.” Kush said.
From viewing facilities that manufacture CO2 extraction machines to meeting the farmer who has been growing for decades to visiting with a prominent glassblower, tours run the gamut of everything canna-business. Kush says there’s no limit to what people can learn, and that’s what makes being at the forefront so exciting.
“The cannabis industry is just amazing,” says Kush. “When tourists get to meet the owners they realize these are normal, hardworking people in a legitimate business.”
Kush and White are not alone. Everyday new business owners have new ideas about how they too can get involved in the industry. But, considering the vagaries of recent legislation and limitations placed on producers, are these canna-businesses really sustainable?
Kush is optimistic. “I think [canna-business] is a way of diversifying Seattle’s tourism,” he said. “It’s bringing more people to the city, creating more jobs and we’re seeing all different kinds of people willing to invest and start a new business.”
White joked that her business model isn’t very smart. Once people know how to make the butter, she said, the possibilities are endless and they don’t need her expertise anymore. But even if White’s cannabis cooking classes don’t turn into a cannabis cooking school, what’s important is she is showing it can be done.
Kurt Boehl, a Seattle attorney specializing in washington marijuana laws, said canna-business is just that, a business, and in order for any business to be successful best practices need to lead the way.
“Your standard business practices are going to take you far in this industry,” he said. “We’ve seen that with the medical marijuana businesses that have been successful; they get the proper licenses, pay taxes and operate like a traditional business with transparency. If you don’t operate like that, there’s not much hope.”
The cream is going to rise to the top, he added, and what the industry needs is strong leaders who have the foresight to offer what people want in a responsible and effective way.
“It’s very exciting,” Boehl said. “The products that are coming out, the quality we’re seeing; it’s no longer going into alleys because now we can go into stores and hold our heads up.”
It’s an exciting time for business owners, and it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to say that. People have the opportunity to turn their passions into a business and innovators like Kush and White are ready to teach the versatility of cannabis, which is what will take canna-business to the next level and into the future.
The high isn’t wearing off. It’s just getting started.