Thursday, November 17, 2016

Musings: Pakalolo Practicalities

In what some may see as a palliative to the election of Donald Trump, marijuana initiatives moved ahead on the mainland when voters took to the polls last week.

As Marijuana Business Daily reports, nearly 60 percent of Americans now live in states that have legalized recreational and/or medicinal use of cannabis, including the entire west coast of the U.S.
In Colorado, which led the way in legal pot, the industry created more than 18,000 new fulltime jobs in 2015 and generated $2.4 billion in economic activity, according to an analysis prepared by the Marijuana Policy group.

That included $1 billion in retail sales, with the rest generated through spillover effects, such  as warehouse space rentals for grow operations, sales of lighting, irrigation materials and cultivation products, and services provided by lawyers, contractors, bookkeepers and consultants. 

Some of those consultants came to the Islands recently to offer the Hawaii Medical Marijuana training and certificate conference. Yes, there is actually an institution — Clover Leaf University — that certifies cannabis workers, although the benefits of such credentials were never made clear.

The day-long event in Waikiki seemed primarily intended to introduce the Cannabis Workers Rising program and ensure that Hawaii medical dispensaries and grow operations employ unionized workers, as represented by UFCW 480.

I was struck by two things: the tremendous amount of money involved in this industry, and the number of Hawaii politicians who showed up for the relatively small event. Of course, this was right before the election, so that may have had some influence. But still, those who attended and/or spoke included Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, Rep. Marcus Oshiro, Rep. Della Au Belatti and former Sen. Clayton Hee.

As for the money, well, one consultant, who got her start in commercial real estate, noted that one of her Colorado medical marijuana dispensaries grossed $250,000 per day — in cash. What did she do with all that dough? one participant asked. “Invest in commercial real estate,” the consultant replied.

Hmm. Perhaps that helps explain why the high-end Hawaii Life Real Estate company pursued, and won, the sole dispensary license on Kauai.

Speaking of Hawaii Life, I noticed The Garden Island gave one of the company's smarmier Realtors, Neal Norman, extensive free advertising space as it gushed over his $16.2 million sale of Julia Robert's house on Hanalei Bay, while pitching other high end properties he represents on Kauai's North Shore.

These include a $5.5 million estate owned by Danny Errico, co-founder of Equinox gym chain. His big contribution to Kauai was giving serious money to the failed mayoral campaign of anti-GMO activist Dustin Barca.

The article concludes with Norman's self-serving statement:

I appreciate these kind of buyers that own these second homes. They employ a lot of people — gardeners and window cleaners and caretakers.

All of whom earn a pittance compared to the commissions that Norman pulls down.

Which leads me back to the cannabis industry. Yes, it's created jobs, but as the consultant acknowledged, many of them are $15-hour gigs, such as the mind-numbing task of trimming leaves from buds. Then there are the warehouse workers, the bud-tenders (shop clerks) and guards who provide the required 24-7 security. One dispensary operation was spending $1,200 per week just to grind up its green waste for disposal.

The only true opportunities for advancement lie with folks in the IT field. And the really big money remains the purview of the the dispensary owners. To that end, I'm glad that actual farmers on the Big Island and Oahu were granted dispensary licenses. It's great they have a chance to finally make money doing ag on Hawaii.

But I have to raise an eyebrow at further enriching Hawaii Life by giving it a monopoly on Kauai sales.

The consultant also noted that operators might want to consider automation wherever possible because, she said, “we're in the business of forgetfulness.”

Yeah. That's one downside to having stoners on the payroll.

It was also disclosed that one of the “huge revenue streams for dispensaries” is selling clones to people who want to grow their own. Problem is, the Hawaii law still has a major glitich, in that it doesn't specify how cannabis caretakers are supposed to legally obtain seeds and starts. The Lege needs to address that, both to keep the dispensaries viable and ensure that caretakers have a legal source.

Belatti said that legalization isn't in the near future for Hawaii, which seems a shame. As more states legalize on the mainland, the profits in places like Colorado, which draw customers from well beyond state lines, are bound to decline.

But this is one of those situations where Hawaii's isolation could pay off. And the Islands certainly could use the money — the Colorado industry paid $100 million in state taxes last year — especially if the federal spigot is turned off by a Republican Congress.

Still, there is one area of concern: one dispensary partner noted he would be bringing in genetics from the mainland to beef up the Hawaii strains. Uh, might want to think twice about that. Hawaii pakalolo is legendary for a reason, and it ain't just the Islands' mystique.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why or how the state created a monopoly for MJ on Kauai?

Anonymous said...

California has 17 categories of legal pot growers, Hawaii has one and it's reserved for people who already have lots of money. Once again the farmers and home growers get screwed!

Anonymous said...

What do you mean by the last sentence?

Anonymous said...

Whenever it comes to making some serious money the government along with the wealthy elite finds some way,either through regulation or a very high buy-in fee as is the case here, to exclude the small producers. If it's an agricultural product then how come farmers aren't allowed to grow it?

Anonymous said...

It was intended to be had by the Kawakami's and silver spoon was state rep for Kauai that voted for the monopoly.

All the legislatures has to do is open the recreational use of marijuana and the monopoly is gone.

4 states just legalized recreational use this November election.

In January another handful of states have legislation introduced.

Hawaii with its millions of tourists would gain so much that its stupid for the drug cartels to control this market like gambling in Hawaii.

Las Vegas makes a billion+ dollars from each and every year from Hawaii residents. If these people have that kind of money to burn then why don't Hawaii devise a plan to keep those dollars in the state? The tax money will be used for the people of Hawaii instead of the 9th island.

Anonymous said...

You just answered your own question prior to asking your question.

John Kauai said...


Are you suggesting a Casino be opened on one of the islands?

People go to Vegas for lots of reasons besides gambling. I went to see Bob Seger at the MGM. We lucked out in that an entire floor was blocked off at the last minute so our reservation wasn't honored. We were referred to a crap room at the Excaliber, but all rooms in Las Vegas are crap. But my wife refused the free buffet and demanded that we be allowed to check out all the restraints in the MGM so we could decide which one we wanted to be comped with. We found this little bar in a very dark corner that served little samples of different things. We were there for 3 hours. Something new would be placed in front of us every time one of the many plates was emptied. Celery Roots anyone? They were amazing.

Well, I obviously got off topic. Just fun to remember that I've had a few wonderful times in my life that almost balance those events that destroy my soul.

Of course only those who are "on the inside" or who "have connections" are going be allowed to cash in on the "weed bonanza".

I just cannot understand why those who voted for Trump or for Clinton thought that either one of them was really going to help you out. I have an impression (perhaps false) that most of those who comment on Joan's blog are well past 30 while they still believe the '60s mantra, "Don't trust anyone over 30".

John Kauai said...

It is also funny (not in a humorous way) that there are protests about how "This is not MY America". It hasn't been my America since 1968. It is probable that "my America" never existed. In "my America" Hawaii was ecstatic on being named the 50th state. I celebrated the entry as any 8-year-old might. But then came the events in Indonesia; and another invasion of Haiti; Vietnam became known for what it was; MLK and Bobby were assassinated; Nixon was revealed for the low-life scum he was (sadly reminds me of Trump, but don't think I'm defending Clinton); the Iran hostage crisis; and Casey's fingerprints were all over it which doomed Carter's chance for a second term; (The last time I went to Church turned into a celebration of Reagan who opened his Presidential Campaign in Philadelphia Mississippi where Schwerner Cheney and Goodman were tortured and murdered. I don't care how much you disagree with a man's politics, there is no justification for this murder.) Then Reagan played his Alzheimers card, over and over and over again, and because he has a voice that is at exactly the right frequency and a disarming smile, America thought he could do no wrong. One might think I supported Bill Clinton, jeez, he just dragged the Democratic Party into the mud so that the Republican fascists could pile on. And so "W" was elected because he was dumb enough to have a beer with.

John Kauai said...

I don't get why people have such low opinions of themselves that they cannot recognize that there are truly some people who are a lot smarter than they are. They remind me of Fredo Corleone "I'm Smart" And perhaps there's the problem. Fredo didn't need to run things, he just needed to be respected for who he was. I am at a complete loss as to how to do that. So now Trump rules because "your older brother" didn't treat you with respect. When things fall apart, it will still be "your older brother's" fault for letting Tump get elected. Still, your "older brother" should have respected you.

I apologize to all those I have offended.
I promise to try harder to understand what you are trying to say.
I hope you will forgive me for my past impatience.
Please, please, try to understand that I have absolutely no idea why you hate people who are trying to help you.

Anonymous said...

Joan "Problem is, the Hawaii law still has a major glitich, in that it doesn't specify how cannabis caretakers are supposed to legally obtain seeds and starts."

Does it specify how the dispensary growers get their seeds and starts? If not would not possession of said product be prima facie evidence that the seeds were illegally obtained? After all if there is no legal source where did it come from? Mana from Heaven?

Anonymous said...

"Still, there is one area of concern: one dispensary partner noted he would be bringing in genetics from the mainland to beef up the Hawaii strains. Uh, might want to think twice about that. Hawaii pakalolo is legendary for a reason, and it ain't just the Islands' mystique."

There are many active ingredients in pakalolo. Some are more likely to cause paranoia. Some are more likely to reduce pain or seizures or muscle spasms. Some blends are more beneficial for people with cancer. The science is still developing in the US, lagging behind other countries because of the laws currently in place. I hope that we can have true pharmacies that provide the best blend for the person in need.

Anonymous said...

Leftist Politicians are always for the little guy, except when there is money to be made.

Giving a monopoly to a real estate company for AG work is beyond comprehension...

Anonymous said...

99% of people who go to Las Vegas go there to gamble their money away so why not keep in on Kauai by only allowing a cruise ship that goes to all major Hawaiian island that has gaming?

Hawaii underground gambling scene is huge and the ring leaders are profiting at an insane amount that's untaxed.

Hawaii wants to create jobs and boost the economy then why let Las Vegas and the gambling ring leaders get involved with legislation.

Chiba should have been testifying for a bill while his partner Derek proposed it since they have knowledge and experience in that area and don't act like you people don't or didn't know.

Anonymous said...

hawaiilife did not get awarded the permit for the dispensary. Green Aloha is who was given the kauai monopoly. it just so happens that an ex-partner of hawaiilife founded Green Aloha. so....
a 'real estate company' was not awarded a monopoly for AG work.

educate yourself before commenting please

Joan Conrow said...

Yes, educate yourself. Green Aloha was founded by Justin Britt, a current partner of Hawaii Life.

Anonymous said...

"But I have to raise an eyebrow at further enriching Hawaii Life by giving it a monopoly on Kauai sales."

I agree.

Anonymous said...

Again, a real estate company was not awarded the license

Anonymous said...

You're not trying to help. You are just like Hooser and the Hawaii life guy that wants to pimp Kauai while telling all your friends how great you are what you've accomplished in life and how you're gonna make Kauai a better place than what it is. The missionary mentality is still alive today through their descendants.

Anonymous said...

The new AG is going to enforce the federal laws against marijuana.