Saturday, April 18, 2020

Potty Training

Why that explains the issue surrounding toilet paper hoarding (there is a documentary on the subject so I am not going into detail about that) there is also an issue surrounding Marijuana and its definition of essential in places where it is legal.  Originally from Washington State and lived in Seattle through its evolution and recall when it was strictly medical in California and the times they are a changing and then again not so much.

Well one thing Covid did do is end passing the bong/the joint/the vape that much is certain.  For that I am good with again I have always had bodily fluid exchange issues and I would rather fuck with condoms than kiss anyone. I can shower and walk out of that but the whole tongue in the mouth, yuck. Again while I did not think I would be celibate for seven years it gave me an opportunity to inventory the sexual history and frankly fucking is about having a few minutes or longer if lucky to really have fun then its over, like a roller coaster.  It doesn't mean you need to ride it every day and the thrill of it makes it exciting when you remember it and can look forward to it again.  I am good with memories and the thought of a man climbing on top of me and humping and pumping just makes me roller coaster nauseous so thankfully I have many options of self pleasure that I prefer. But enough about me!

This November Jersey is allowing the citizens to vote on legalizing Marijuana and I say hail yes. Frankly at this point we need businesses and the taxes that pot provides.  Medical Marijuana is tax exempt and hence when you purchase your weed there it is cheaper but the selections are fewer and that is almost strictly all cash and with hard restrictions about purchase.  The legal recreational shops are not tax exempt, have massive options and types of purchase, some do take cards and have lounges and the ability to sit and enjoy your purchase on site and even prepared for you by the Budtenders. Think Barista but with pot not coffee.  That said you are not allowed to buy a limited amount but nothing stopping you from going to shop to shop and loading up as they are not interconnected with that data and from what I could tell it is not reported to the State to monitor individuals and their purchasing history.  But it is like any competitive business and the type of weed, prices, etc matter and I can say from my last weed vacation in San Francisco it does matter.  I went to almost all the legal shops and tried it all and while it was great for a high holiday I can see that unless you have no budget and that it is a regular part of your lifestyle you need money.  And the black market still very much exists for that reason.

The reality is that many investment firms and venture capitalists decided that pot was the new frontier and when they get their grubby profit enhanced hands in there it turns into shit real fast, one only needs to look at the graveyards of restaurants and retail that will in the post pandemic world see a graveyard filled with their bones.   I have long said there is a bizarre marketplace when it comes to pot, from the bullshit idiots who diagnose you with some disorder to qualify for a med pot license, few if any are actual Doctors, shit Dr. Phil qualifies, and in turn you pay that price to get that card. Then there were wholesalers that found themselves in a myriad of complex legalities and confusing financials that led few outlets to open much like a floral marketplace in which vendors could sell and retailers could shop.  So that too is another complex variable to this polynomial.

I don't need to again to get into the complex financial regulations and issues about how that affects the business but it is like the Mafia, Breaking Bad or Ozark only with less interesting characters.

The Washington Post examined the industry in California one of the early lockdown states that also allowed Pot businesses to remain open as essential.  And it like many others are finding it hard to stay open and remain profitable.

Weed is deemed ‘essential’ in California, but many pot businesses are on the brink of failure

The industry has been hammered by high taxes, local opposition to retail stores, the vaping crisis and more. The coronavirus creates a new opportunity and another potential crisis.

By  Reed Albergotti 
The Washington Post
April 14, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO — As the novel coronavirus rages on, few industries have experienced quite as many highs and lows as California’s cannabis industry.

Just a month ago, it looked like California’s weed trade was headed for a shutdown, which would have landed a devastating blow to many businesses that are already struggling. Then, state officials deemed pot “essential, and many stores reported the biggest days of sales since recreational marijuana became legal. Now, a more sobering reality is setting in: The marijuana industry is unable to tap into a federal stimulus package or bank loans.

“There’s no money that’s going to be coming into the sector,” says Nicholas Kovacevich, CEO of KushCo Holdings, a major distributor to marijuana dispensaries. “All of these companies, including us, need to get profitable really quickly or risk running out of money.”

For industries like California’s pot business that were already on the brink, the coronavirus crisis represents a make-or-break moment. Many retailers and restaurants have shut in the past month for the stay-at-home order, unsure whether they’ll reopen when it’s over. Like grocers, the marijuana industry’s ability to operate during the pandemic offers a much-needed source of revenue. But for the pot business, the lack of a safety net, access to banking or the ability to tap into federal stimulus dollars means the tiniest misstep could lead to bankruptcy.

“We saw the potential to lose everything and then have the state or federal government not have our backs at all. It was very scary,” said Dave Wingard, who owns Flora Terra, a marijuana cultivator and dispensary in Santa Rosa, Calif., with his wife, Alicia. They had finally gotten their business up and running last fall after a year and a half of cutting through red tape.

The designation by Bay Area governments was a major milestone for an industry that was ravaged by a war on drugs and survived years of turmoil since legalization. California was the first U.S. state to legalize medicinal marijuana in 1996, but the industry was marred by periodic crackdowns by federal law enforcement. In 2016, following Colorado and other states, voters approved recreational sales, prompting an investment boom. Many predicted that it would bring it out from the shadows, turning the once underground drug into an over-the-counter commodity.

The opposite happened. The state began heavily taxing the product, and local municipalities tacked on their own taxes and fees, which boosted prices. Many towns opted to block marijuana dispensaries from opening up nearby, choking the ability of legal operators to distribute their goods.

Tom Adler, owner of Wonder Extracts, which had been selling medicinal marijuana since the ’90s, says his business margins over the past two years were cut by 75 percent in part because of increased costs associated with regulation and high taxes — far from his “huge” expectations for the business when it was legalized four years ago.

With the drug legalized, underground dealers felt emboldened to expand their operations, setting up expansive delivery networks, undercutting the prices of legal pot and depriving the state of marijuana revenue. California initially expected about $1 billion in new tax revenue in 2018. It took in $342 million. Untaxed and unpoliced, black-market pot is estimated to be much larger than the legal trade in California.

Hampered by a morass of regulation, local opposition to stores and a thriving black market, many marijuana businesses have shuttered. The vaping crisis, which was linked to the marijuana business because the pens are a popular method for smoking pot, last fall scared away investors and sent pot stocks plummeting.

When the Bay Area designated dispensaries essential businesses and customers rushed to stock up, it created one of the few bright spots in the state’s economy.

The owner of Foggy Daze Delivery, who goes by the name Evrett, was so busy the day after the stay-at-home order that he became a delivery driver himself. He made 39 deliveries that day, driving all over San Francisco handing bags full of weed to grateful customers. “We genuinely believe we’re performing an essential service,” he said.

“The fact that they’re allowed to be open is huge,” said Fiona Ma, the California state treasurer who said she hopes marijuana will help buoy the state’s tax revenue, which is sure to be drastically down this year. “Obviously, it’s going to help,” she said. But she cautioned that the illicit marijuana business is likely also bustling, with even less enforcement because of stay-at-home orders.

Now, California’s cannabis workers have the undesirable distinction of being front-line workers during a pandemic operating on razor-thin margins and zero federal support.

Logistical hurdles such as setting up a drive-through operation — a public health requirement — and protecting employees from the virus have added costs. Meanwhile, business owners had to pay for extended sick leave for employees who aren’t working during the pandemic because of new requirements in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Brandon Levine, owner of Mercy Wellness in Cotati, Calif., said when he received an alert on his mobile phone that cannabis stores will be limited to curbside delivery, he and his employees wasted no time getting to work designing a drive-through store in the parking lot. They stayed up until 1 a.m. setting it up.

“Our industry, the people in it are resilient and open-minded. We’re talking about cannabis here, so you have to be a little bit open-minded,” he said.

What counts as essential during a coronavirus lockdown: Fries in Belgium, wine in France

Last week, Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado (D) said he is pushing to include marijuana businesses in the next federal stimulus package. Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both of Oregon, are also supporting that change.

The industry has some unusual challenges when it comes to stopping germs. Unlike most businesses these days, the marijuana trade is heavily reliant on cash transactions because banks have largely shunned the sector.

Hard Car, a security company that caters to the marijuana business, performs a function that sounds arcane in the year 2020: In addition to distributing cannabis products, it transfers large sums of cash to the federal reserve for marijuana companies that can’t get a bank to serve them because of federal restrictions.

Todd Kleperis, the company’s co-founder, said he anticipated the coronavirus would be a problem and ordered 3,000 face masks and gloves for his workers early last month. Once Hard Car’s drivers are done with a delivery, drivers take off their masks and gloves and use hand sanitizer and clean the vehicles, some of which have air filters that can stop viruses. Drivers are told to regularly change their masks to avoid risking infection.

In Santa Rosa, the Wingards’ Flora Terra business saw an initial spike after the industry was deemed essential. Since then, they are seeing better revenue overall, but not enough.

That burden on small businesses is supposed to be compensated by the new federal stimulus bill that offers small businesses what is essentially free money to make up for added costs. But the Wingards won’t be eligible for that aid because the federal government deems their business illegal.

“I don’t know where it’s going to go,” Dave Wingard said. “It’s hard. It’s a tough business. … We’re going to try our best.”

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