In July the Cannabis Buiness Summit  sponsored by the National Cannabis Industry Association held a conference in Denver, CO. Many of the sucessful entrepreneurs in the field came out to share ideas and encourage new business owners.

Enjoy this segment of speakers showcasing why profit and taxation of Marijuana is making it the next American business frontier.


cannabis summit


There may be some illnesses that are eligible in certain states that are not listed here, so be sure to consult with your physician to check if your illness is indeed eligible in your state. All state laws highlight that those who have an illness that is not listed as eligible, do have the opportunity to consult with the state board of health to see if they could get an exception for their specific case.

We have compiled this list primarily as a method to look at the differences and strictness of each policy in each state.

All states_qualifying Illnesses_600dpi


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)

DC, instead of generating a list, has issued this text ” any other condition as determined by rulemaking that is: (i) chronic or long-lasting, (ii) debilitating or interferes with the basic functions of life, (iii) a serious medical condition for which the use of medical marijuana is beneficial:  (a) that cannot be effectively treated by any ordinary medical or surgical measure and (b) for which there is scientific evidence that the use of medical marijuana is likely to be significantly less addictive than the ordinary medical treatment for that condition.”

Illinois has a very specific list, and currently does not accept considerations of illnesses that are not on their posted list. The continuation of the list: “spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), Arnold Chiari malformation, myoclonus, Aremyoclonus, dystonia, causalgia, CRPS, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), neurofibromatosis, Sjogren’s syndrome, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, Lupus, myasthenia gravis, interstitial cystitis, nail patella syndrome, hydrocephalus and residual limb pain, or the treatment of any of these conditions.”

New Jersey includes inflammatory bowel disease with their definition of Crohn’s Disease. Also any terminal illness if a doctor has determined the Patient will die within a year.

Vermont, like DC, instead of generating a list, has issued this text”qualifying “debilitating medical condition,”  including those diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, cancer and Multiple Sclerosis.


It is possible to make money and even earn a living growing Marijuana and providing it to Dispensaries and directly to medical Marijuana patients. If you have the skills – or want to learn – to work with plants in a controlled environment, and get really excited about varieties of Marijuana and the limitless possibilities hybridization – then this is the job for you!

The New Era of Growing Marijuana

Of all the aspects contributing to changing the culture and opinion of Marijuana, the ability for growers to perfect their art and be compensated for their time so they can reinvest into continually improving their processes is the greatest. This is because the metrics and rating systems for establishing valid and repeatable characteristics of specific strains can be verified.

Quite simply, on the black market, anyone could (and would if they were a good salesperson) make claims that the product they had was of a certain variety, so if you were used to hearing that you were getting BC’sters (anything with a popcorn style to weight and size of the Marijuana has traditionally been called this in the northern states because, supposedly, it came from British Columbia), then you were willing to pay a $10 premium when someone had Blueberry Northern Lights or White Widow – primarily because it was different, but there was never any guarantee that what you got was the strain you expected nor that it was better. This has drastically changed with the new number of legal growers who can now operate legitimately, without having to take measures to hide their greenhouses, and reliably acquire source materials (like clones and seeds).

The methodology of quantifying and classifying different strains that reinforces the work of caregivers as hybridization scientists, and provides your storefront staff with the capacity to responsibly and reliably recommend different strains to patients based on their needs.

First and Foremost, You are a Care Giver

It is easy to get caught up and excited about the growing process, because you are working in a progressive industry and it is extremely rewarding to put the effort into creating an efficient and effective set-up to produce a beautiful product. However, it is very important to remember, especially where the law is concerned, that your primary reason for growing Marijuana is to provide for your patients.

Your patients’ specific needs is what drives your experimentation as a growing engineer. Different patients will have different needs. Glaucoma patients will have positive results from a strain that has little or less desired effect for patients with spinal injuries. It is important for the grower to study and learn all of the intricate differences relevant to each strain’s impacts in relation to dosage and time of day for ingestion so that they can accurately advise patients in the best use of their medicine.

Responsibilities of caregivers, like all other regulation specifics, have slight variations from state to state, but the following two summaries give a good overview of what it means to be a caregiver.

Excerpt from Colorado State Law:

“A primary caregiver shall have significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a patient with a debilitating condition. The care-giving relationship must be more than providing medical marijuana or medical marijuana paraphernalia. Patients who do not require caregiver service beyond provision of medical marijuana shall not designate a primary caregiver.  Additional care-giving services may include, but are not limited to, transportation, housekeeping, meal preparation, shopping or arranging access to medical care or other services unrelated to medical marijuana.  A designated primary caregiver shall not delegate the responsibility of provision of medical marijuana for a patient to another person.”

Excerpt from the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, that extends this concept to include some ethical and quality considerations as well:

“Caregivers agree to follow all applicable state and local laws, regulations and ordinances; Caregivers pledge to put the well-being of patients and the public good foremost; Caregivers will always give honest measure or weight; Caregivers will produce a “pure” product, uncontaminated with pesticides, mold and un-necessary additives or adulterants; All ingredients used to make medical marijuana tinctures, preparations, suppositories or foods will be of high quality, clearly identified and made known to patients; Caregivers will protect the confidentiality of their client patients; Caregivers will strive to adopt green, eco-friendly techniques. We hope to better define more of these techniques in the future, but, at a minimum, don’t pollute and recycle and re-use where possible to create the highest quality medicine with the minimum use of natural resources.”

The Basic Steps to Making Money Selling to Dispensaries

There are differences between state rules and regulations, especially related to the specifics of how much a Caregiver can grow, posess and how many Patients and Dispensaries they can distribute to, but the basic steps are as follows:

  • Apply for your Patient Status with Doctor recommendation
    • If you are in Colorado or Washington you can bypass this step and directly apply for a Retail Growers license
  • Register with the state if there is a registry that requires you to do so
  • Get your Caregiver license, and file additional paperwork if you plan to provide for more than 5 patients
  • A retail license is required to sell non-medicinal Marijuana to dispensaries in Colorado
    • You have to decide how big you want your operation to be and how much time you have to dedicate to your product
  • Finally, the most difficult step, is establishing a relationship with a Dispensary
    • Many Dispensaries grow their own product so your product needs to be quality and reliable
    • Secure clones and strains that
  • The last step is maintaining your relationship and your paperwork

How Many Plants Caregivers can Grow and How Much they can Possess

For each state there are different regulations regarding the number of plants a caregiver can grow and the rules related to transportation of medicines, and in some states the only wway to be paid as a grower is to work for dispensaries directly. We have compiled this table to give you a brief rundown of the basics.

All states Careivers and quantities._600dpi

Each state has different guidelines based on requirements for caregivers (like age and criminal records), but there are also differing regulations on a variety of other factors as well. In addition, specific regulations govern the provision of Marijuana to recreational dispensaries in Colorado and Washington States. We have compiled a summary from our extensive research detailing the rules for people wanting to specifically grow Marijuana to provide dispensaries and patients, read our article How Many Plants and Dispensaries One Caregiver Can Supply. You will also find information about how to apply for your retail grower’s license in Colorado.


One of the important things to consider when looking into owning a business is the future viability and longevity of your product and the prospectus of your particular market. To put it simply, the data being collected in the experiment of legalizing recreational Marijuana is the foundation for determining whether or not Dispensary Ownership would be a sound investment.

The good news is that positive signs are popping up everywhere. Proving that GREEN is literally the new GOLD, just recently The New Yorker published an article on Canadian mining companies diversifying their investments into medical Marijuana. This trend is largely because the smaller companies cannot compete with the less stringent environmental regulations on companies in China. “The Papuan Precious Metals Corp.’s stock price rose from two cents to fourteen cents after it announced plans to consider agricultural projects and then hired a marijuana consultant. This month, Papuan agreed to acquire the assets of a pot dispensary in Colorado, where marijuana is now legal for anyone who is twenty-one or older. Other junior companies are experimenting with growing mediums and fertilizers, or looking to provide equipment to growers. ‘The reason you’re seeing the junior mining companies going to medical marijuana is because there is no money in mining,’ Greg Downey, the C.F.O. of Papuan, said. ‘We look to where the money is going.’”

A similar article in The Huffington Post cites that this growth is occuring so rapidly, some are concerned with the development of an investment bubble, although it is more likely this is a trend that is here to stay. “Interest in the budding industry has been heating up since April 1, when Health Canada turned the sale of medical marijuana over to a handful of commercial producers. The industry is expected to be worth some $1.3 billion over the next decade. There are more than 600 applicants waiting in the wings to become licensed producers, but the government recently released an analysis of the industry using an estimate of 50 companies over the next decade, which could be an indication that it plans to cap the number of licences it plans to hand out.”

Another sign that cultural trends are going to continue to prove an investment in the Marijuana industry is a wise maneuver, and one that has gotten the most publicity lately, is the data showing crime has gone down since the start of legal sales of recreational Marijuana in Colorado.

One of the most basic things to understand about statistics is that it is very difficult to prove a relationship between variables. Meaning, just because the data shows that crime has gone down since marijuana sales have been legalized for recreational use, doesn’t mean we can prove that the reduced crime is BECAUSE of the legalization of recreational marijuana. Nonetheless, the numbers themselves are factual, and at the very least it doesn’t provide evidence to the nay-sayers of legalization who try to perpetuate the brainwashing concept that somehow you could conclude that legalization of Marijuana would lead to an increase in crime rates.

These trends are very encouraging of those looking into becoming Dispensary Owners and Business professionals in the Marijuana industry. Also undeniable are the tax dollars that have been generated and the direct improvement in funding for schools that all current and future Marijuana Dispensary Owners can be proud of.

Marijuana revenue is trending up

The state sold nearly $19 million worth of recreational pot in March, up from $14 million in January and February. For all three months, Denver County made up about half that revenue.

That Denver makes up such a huge chunk of the state’s marijuana revenue isn’t really surprising, as almost 60% of marijuana licenses are in Denver.

Violent and property crimes are down in Denver

The Denver Police Department’s crime data shows that violent crime from January through April dropped by 5.6 percent compared to the same time period last year, and robberies in particular fell by 4.8 percent.

Major property crimes also dropped by 11.4 percent, with burglaries falling by 4.7 percent, compared to the same time last year.


The Young Turks give a nice 5 minute run down of the data and what it means.

3 Months After Legalization, Colorado Is Overrun With Way Less Crime

“Three months into Colorado’s historic legal recreational marijuana sales, crime hasn’t gone up in Denver, according to recent data released by the city.

Overall property crime in the first two months of 2014 fell by 14.6 percent in Denver compared to the same period of 2013. There wasn’t as dramatic of a shift in overall violent crime rates for the same period, but they were still down by 2.4 percent.

The data stands in contrast to statements made in 2012, before Amendment 64 passed legalizing marijuana for recreational sale and use, when members of the law enforcement community warned of dire and “harmful” consequences because of legalization.”* Desi Doyen (Green News Report), John Iadarola (TYT University), Dave Rubin (The Rubin Report) and Michael Shure break it down.”

*Read more here from Matt Ferner – The Huffington Post


If you haven’t been to Colorado yet to experience the reality lf legalized recreational Marijuana, we’re sure it is on your short list.

Of course you’ll want to check out our map of the 2014 Cannabis Cup winning dispensaries! and be sure to note that dispensaries in Denver are only open until 7pm at the latest.

The Retail Recreational Experience – Different Store Operations

The most important thing to consider is that all dispensaries have their actual storefront set up a little differently. Some do a better job than others of making the experience seem inviting and friendly. There are certain protocols that each shop must adhere to for ensuring they are operating by the book, but there are techniques for the interior design and layout that can translate into a big difference in how this is experienced by the customer. To iterate this point, we’ll look at three different recreational dispensaries in the Denver area.

1. Herbs 4 You – 20 E 9th Street – This facility is clearly following the storefront requirements to the letter, and also have designed their facility for maximum safety of both the employees and the customers. When you first enter, you walk into a small hallway type area and are greeted by the employees through a “bank teller” type window – this is primarily so that patients with their medical cards can bypass the waiting room and head straight back to the retail area. You are then directed to go behind a closed door to your right where you will find a waiting room. They have free water from a water cooler and magazines and the room is lined with couches and chairs. While they have made good effort to help people feel comfortable during their wait, the layout makes it unmistakable that you are in a waiting room, and it just feels like you’re at the doctors office or some other med-clinic type situation. Especially as your wait ends with them coming into the room calling for “next” and then, after checking your ID, taking you into the retail space located behind another closed door. There you are greeted by friendly staff and a wide area of glass countertops with a plethora of options. After singing you onto the list, they will return your IDs to you and assist you with your purchase. This is all well and good, and we give them kudos for making sure they abide by the law, but compared to the next two locations we’re about to describe, it just seemed so sterile, and formal, and uninviting.

2. High Level Health – 970 Lincoln Street – So in terms of sterility, this place is quite the opposite from Herbs 4 You as your experience here will be VERY informal. This shop is run without any frills and barely any formalities – in fact only recently have they started using a sign-in sheet. For this reason it has gotten the most of my business, because its nice to just get in and get to business. The waiting room is more like visiting a retail eye glasses/optician shop (without the stands showing different types of glasses, obviously). The front room is small with a receptionist desk, and there are only a few seats for waiting. Outside you ring a doorbell, and they check your ID when you enter. They move people through quickly, so I’ve never had a long wait time, and when they call you back you just pop around the corner to find the glass cases of which there are notably fewer than at Herbs 4 You. There are also usually only a few strains in the case at any given time, so this helps their turn around time as well – just pick your strain and quantity and you’re out the door. They run coupons every week in Westward, a free Denver cultural magazine. They do have a wall with a small selection of accessories, but this location is about as straight forward as it gets. The staff is super friendly, and we can’t say enough about the positive customer experience here. No frills, but no hassle.

3. LoDo Wellness Center – 1617 Wazee St #B – Alright, take note, that this location is downstairs, so even though there’s a big mural-type sign painted on the side of the building, we had to do a double take looking f0r the entrance, and then even directed someone else walking up to it as we were unlocking our bikes to ride off as they obviously did the same double take we did. This store is like a combination of High Level Health and Herbs4You. Very formal and by the book, but also a LOT of frills – certainly the best customer experience, and where we would send anyone looking for a full-on tourist type experience. The waiting room was huge, with leather couches, bamboo plants, hanging rugs, tables full of magazines for reading, free magazines and coupons to local businesses, and the icing on the cake – a window into an ACTUAL GROW ROOM! where you can see plants at different ages in the process (all vegetative though, there weren’t any flowering plants in view). Just like the other shops, you move from the waiting room into the retail area, but here there are more than just a couple glass counters. Also, it is very clear that the staff are trained in all of the details about each strain they are selling, as they will provide you with information on the effects as though it were part of the strain name. They also have information regarding the life cycle of the particular batch, and other interesting details if you request it. This operation will also have a special running at any given time that you do not need a coupon for. You might have to remind the person at the register (who, unlike at the other shops is a different person than the one that hands describes and weighs your items), but they honored their deal.

Greenhouse viewing window in LoDo waiting room

Greenhouse viewing window in LoDo waiting room

Plants almost completely through vegetation stage and ready to be flowered

Plants almost completely through vegetation stage and ready to be flowered

Sea of green

Sea of green

Look closely through the trees and you can see plants of different ages grown next to each other

Look closely through the trees and you can see plants of different ages grown next to each other

A well run greenhouse always tags each plant to keep track of strain and other details relevant to different stages in the growing process

A well run greenhouse always tags each plant to keep track of strain and other details relevant to different stages in the growing process


The Transaction Experience – Before and After the Black Market

So to prepare you a bit for your experience, there are some interesting differences between life before and after the Black Market.

This section is more commentary for the sake of entertainment in comparison between an old and new experience. Ultimately, these observations are all moot – because a lot of these old habits from the days of the Black Market are unnecessary because these are legitimate businesses selling quality products – just some interesting commentary.

1. You will still likely feel nervous when you see the police and you have Marijuana in your possession. Years of ingrained fear are emotion inspired reactions that do not dissipate with the conscious awareness that you are not actually breaking the law. Yes. That’s right. You are not actually breaking the law (!).

2. When you are actually in the retail facility, it will be difficult to not experience a euphoria of a retail store designed exclusively to sell Marijuana. Especially your first experience, it will be like an episode of the Twilight Zone. Coming from the Black Market experience, often in people’s homes or poorly lit parking lots, both staunch with the energy of paranoia – even if your dealer is your best friend, you still have to walk away from the location and transport your purchase to the safe house of your home – its just nerve racking.

3. Perhaps the most hilarious experience I’ve had is when they weigh the 1/8 ounce in front of you, because you don’t want to have anything happen that might make them not want to sell to you – a ridiculous feeling, but its there nonetheless per the experience described in the previous comment. Here are a couple of examples – in the days of yore on the Black Market, I would be like, “dude that gram is all stem so you need to hook it up a little more,” but in the store I’m like “oh thank you” *SO polite* and don’t even glance at it until I get home. Historically, I would also inspect it before making the purchase, to make sure it was cured properly, because water weight can increase the weight of the product causing you to not get an appropriate quantity. In the store the jar is opened for you to smell, but it seems a bit uneasy reaching in to the jar to get a feel test for moisture content. And in terms of weight, on the Black Market it would not be uncommon that I’d bust out my scale and be like “dude it’s 3.4 – let’s get it to 3.5,” but in the shop I don’t even look at it and I’m like “oh thank you,” *SO polite,* and the thought of bringing my own scale to the shop is even humorous.

All of this is humorous for certain, but it is also ironic, because the retail experience is designed for the consumer. Perhaps over time the newness will wear off, and I’ll feel a bit more comfortable asking questions and making requests as a normal consumer, but really it doesn’t matter, because a lot of these old habits from the days of the Black Market are unnecessary because these are legitimate businesses selling quality products. You don’t need to question the cure, because its grown and produced by professionals. You don’t need to question the weight, because the shop owners are not in the business of losing customers to bad service. And last time I had a big stem, the store clerk had thrown in a little extra (even though I didn’t realize the stem was why until inspecting it later).

This is the the the most factual observation about recreational Marijuana. It is more expensive, but you are guaranteed quality. You can purchase a strain with confidence that the description of the effects and the name of the strain are true to how they are being sold. You can be certain that the cure and weight are up to a standard of excellence. You know that your growers and caregivers are professionals that run their businesses well and are compensated appropriately for their production. And you can even feel good about the price you pay for your goods, because you know that the premium goes to pay for the taxes. Which prove to naysayers that the system is good for the state by generating revenue, and through the specific percent of taxes being channeled toward important civil services (like schools!) that your tax dollars are doing some good. Which is more accountability than the destination of, say, your income tax dollars.



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