Colorado Cannabis Industry Reacts to PA Senator Leach’s Tour

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PA Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) giving the thumbs-up at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, CO – PHOTO: Diane Fornbacher

Before my family and I moved from Collingswood, New Jersey to Highlands Ranch, Colorado, I had already been in contact with Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) because he’s been such a proponent of medical cannabis and adult use legalization. So, when I moved to the Centennial State, he asked me if he and his staff could come out to see the industry in action. They wanted to see for themselves what is being done and how things are going.

I put together a tour of ancillary businesses, mid- to large-scale grows, quality assurance and testing facilities, and cannabis stores and I believe Daylin and his staff were very impressed by the professional, well-heeled and articulate entrepreneurs and employees of these companies.

Concentrated hash oil cartridges

Employee at Organa Labs fills cartridges intended for O.PenVAPE with hash oil. PHOTO: Diane Fornbacher

First, we toured O.penVAPE, manufacturers of vaporizer pens and hash oil extract cartridges. Our point person there was Sales Director Chris Driessen, a lively gentleman who originally hails from Texas. We visited their corporate headquarters in Denver, which is a beautiful converted factory with lovely exposed brick, advanced technology and classy, modern decor. Sen. Leach and his staff asked informed question after question, and staff members were very helpful with their answers. I would like to add they were all very articulate and well-dressed as well. It looked just like any corporate office but the vibe was definitely cooler.

O.PenVAPE sent me this reflection of the visit:

“We were thrilled to host Senator Daylin Leach on his recent trip to research the top cannabis businesses in Colorado. It was refreshing to see a politician do his due diligence when determining how to move forward with practical cannabis policy. We hope that our industry experience in Colorado, and beyond, can benefit our friends in Pennsylvania.”

After that, we went to Organa Labs where General Manager Crystal Hoffman explained to us some of the processes by which hash oil is made and then showed us how the cartridges were filled. We saw lots of interesting gadgets and glass orbs with a telltale amber fluid spinning around and around in the lab. It was very informative and the staff was very patient with the amount of questions Daylin and his staff had.

After lunch, we went to 3D Cannabis Center, the historic dispensary that first sold legal cannabis in Colorado to a vet with PTSD, Sean Azzariti. Everyone was carded for identification to be sure we were all of age to be there. Our guide, Sam, first showed Daylin and his team various strains of cannabis flowers, edibles and other products like tinctures and salves at the sales counter. We saw all manner of folks come in that spanned ages ranging from twenty-one to people in their seventies. We saw white, black, hispanic, asian — every kind of human came in. Not one person was underaged or violent. Most were affable to us while others were shy and edged away from my camera. Next, we were able to see the ‘World’s Largest Viewing Corridor’ which has windows into their showroom so customers can look at the beautiful plants in various stages of growth as they make their way out of the establishment.

Toni Fox, who owns 3D said of the visit, “At 3D Cannabis Center, we believe the only way to change people’s perceptions of the cannabis user and the cannabis business owner is to educate anyone who is willing to listen.  It is an honor to be allowed to provide facility tours to dignitaries from not only this country but others as well.”

Rockies Sign

Coors Field: YES on alcohol and cigs, NO on cannabis PHOTO: Sabrina Fendrick

After that, we went to the Colorado Rockies game where they defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1. While we saw plenty of people wobbling through the seats with double and quadruple beers splashing their shirts and our shoes, there was nary a scent of cannabis in the air. However, there was a smoking section for cigarette consumers, ironically.

The next day, we made our way early in the morning to Steep Hill Halent, whose company‚Äôs primary mission is to ‘protect public health by providing infrastructure and analytical services to legally authorized distributors and producers of cannabis and to regulators tracking their operations.’ We explored their methods and machines, which were very expensive and impressive. It was here I hoped to make Daylin and his staff understand how serious the industry is about providing quality and getting accurate results about how their products hold up to scientific method and scrutiny. They did not let us down. We left with charts of active components within the miraculous cannabis plant, some sample readouts of test results of strains, and they even thoughtfully gave us snack packs to go.

Halent SH

Steep Hill Halent Lab Director Joseph Evans answers questions from Daylin. Susan Squibb is in the foreground. PHOTO: Diane Fornbacher

After that, we headed to Gaia Plant-Based Medicines large-scale grow facility where they are growing thousands of plants. The property is over an acre in size and one of the largest I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to put into words just how big it is. CEO Megan Sanders headed our tour and showed us room after room of robust plants, processing areas and their vegetable and grain garden outside. They recycle the coconut fiber from their grow to create compost and the results are beautiful. The produce grown outside goes to the community and employees are also allowed to share in the cornucopia as well. After taking a brief but fascinating detour to the all-organic produce garden, we went back inside to see more grow rooms and then a huge drying room. It was here that Megan explained to our party that the world needs to know that these businesses are comprised of good and caring people who just want to be able to do business like any other viable and responsible businesses. We agreed.

Megan had this to say about hosting us:

“We are as passionate about educating people about medical marijuana as we are about the plant itself. We believe, and our experience has shown, that the more real knowledge an individual has about cannabis and the responsible industry players, the more they will support it. That notion is even more important for state legislators and regulators. We have had local, state and federal legislators and regulators in many times over the years and to an individual, each tells us their experience was invaluable and that they will craft legislation, rules and regulations or do their jobs better because of it.”

Daylin Leach at Gaia PBM

Daylin & staff with Sabrina Fendrick from NORML (left), Megan Sanders, CEO (right of Daylin) of Gaia Plant Based Medicines and Diane Fornbacher, Publisher of Ladybud Magazine/Tour Guide PHOTO: Terry Wall/Ladybud

After that, we made our way to the NORML Denver office, which is situated within the Weedmaps office. We were joined by Avalon Realty Advisors owner Jason Thomas. His company “brokers the acquisition, disposition and leasing of licensable retail, warehouse, infused product manufacturing facilities, greenhouses and land.” He sat with us for awhile explaining that the cannabis green rush is very much akin to the dotcom boom, maybe even bigger. He was very helpful in explaining the positive economic impact legalization has had on the job market and filling up properties that might otherwise be standing empty and abandoned. He says, “I enjoyed meeting and talking cannabis business and real estate with Senator Leach,” and I can assure him that the feeling was mutual. Jason’s insight was invaluable to our tour.

Daylin and Jason Thomas from Avalon Realty

Jason Thomas from Avalon Realty explaining the industrial real estate boom to PA Sen. Daylin Leach PHOTO: Diane Fornbacher

CLICK: See PA Senator Daylin Leach’s Impressions from his Colorado Cannabis Tour

Before we parted, Daylin and his team checked out The Clinic Marijuana Center, which is in the same building as the NORML office. The budtenders there were very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. I explain some of new paraphernalia to some of the staff like dab rigs and torches, and perhaps some purchases were made. Soon after leaving The Clinic, we said our goodbyes and they went back to their hotel for the night.

THIS JUST IN: According to Pennsylvania media, Daylin ended up sampling his O.PenVape gift the night before he left to go back home. Apparently, he “only did two hits” because he “wanted to remain functional.” Good plan!