North Coast cannabis start-ups tackle tours, software, vaping pens, cultivation, delivery

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Read more about cannabis commerce in the North Coast:

Consulting, touring, creating software and salves: These are just a few of the plans of those entrepreneurs seeking to establish a beachhead business in North Bay cannabis commerce.

Staffing for cannabis businesses

Jamie Garzot, owner of 530 Cannabis, a cannabis retail store in Shasta Lake, and Synergy, a cannabis retail store in Redding, has branched out into a consulting service, Santa Rosa-based Roots Consulting.

“I assist companies, particularly retail cannabis businesses, with understanding how they can meet California tax obligations and comply with California labor laws. I am going to focus on Sonoma County because I recently returned to the area. That is where I live and that is where I’m from,” said Garzot.

Garzot, also the owner of North State Enterprises, a Shasta Lake-based staffing company, is also offering North State’s services to cannabis businesses.

“I help cannabis companies find experienced candidates to be security guards, reception people, cashiers, and budtenders (a service person with knowledge of cannabis varieties who helps patients or customers choose the strain that meets their needs). I see resumes from all over the country for these positions, in part because the wages in the cannabis industry are higher than minimum wage and there’s a lot of opportunity for growth.

“Also, staffing firms offer cannabis businesses a solution to some of their banking issues. When we become the employer of record, we assume the responsibility of employer tax deposit obligations. Most of (these) have to be made electronically. Since we are not cannabis operators (do not cultivate, make products with, or deliver cannabis), we are not barred from using banks,” said Garzot.

Wine-like cannabis clubs

Devika Maskey is co-founder of TSO Sonoma, a Santa Rosa-based manufacturer of cannabis vape pens. Maskey states her business is working to get cultivation, distribution, and dispensary licenses and fully launch in early 2019. TSO Sonoma also plans to introduce a cannabis-infused beverage in the coming year.

“Right now co-founder Allison Kosta and I are holding educational events to teach the community about our products. What we offer is like a wine club membership, exploring cannabis as a health and wellness product. Since we both live in Sonoma County, we are focused here. We have done a few events at private homes in Napa,” said Maskey.

TSO Sonoma’s schedule includes Elevated Events, are pop-up dinners with local chefs and seasonal foods. During the dinners, Maskey and Kosta explain to those who are unfamiliar with cannabis what the substance can do for them. They also showcase where they source their materials, “from different small farms that grow organic flower,” said Maskey.

“We currently have four vape pens, a lighter blend with CBD for socializing during the day called Awakening, a stronger blend for sleep called Moonlit Night,” a stimulating pen called Steppe Into Reverie, and Grounded, a 100 percent CBD non-psychoactive blend, said Maskey.

Cultivation for medical use

Shannon Hattan, co-owner together with Cameron Hattan of Fiddler’s Greens, a cannabis farm south of Sebastopol, said the farm is now focused on providing low-dose, non-psychoactive cannabis tinctures for about 60 medical cannabis dispensaries and retail stores from Eureka to San Diego. Fiddler’s Greens has a cultivation license in Sonoma County. The business is waiting on manufacturing and distributing permits to be approved in Santa Rosa.

“Expanding our customer base to reach the entire state has been the result of Cameron spending a lot of hours in the car. He’s attended every cannabis festival, knocked on dispensary and retail store doors, attended medical and educational conferences, and come to patient education days at dispensaries,” said Hattan.

Read more about cannabis commerce in the North Coast:

Fiddler’s Green raw tinctures contain organic olive oil and raw cannabinoids, which are helpful for “arthritis, older adults with various age-related ailments, children with epilepsy, and individuals with multiple sclerosis,” said Hattan.

The tinctures do not give users the high commonly associated with cannabis. The company recently launched a distribution company called High Tide Distribution. In 2019, the business plans to carry cannabis from heritage brands and farms.

“My husband and I moved to Sonoma County about 10 years ago and fell in love with it. We founded our business here because this is home to us. We hope to be able to set the standard for what a responsible, local cannabis business should look like,” said Hattan.

Soothing salves promised

Elena DuCharme is the spokesperson for CBD Botanica, a Sebastopol-based cannabis cultivator. Before the new cannabis regulations took effect on July 1, 2018, CBD Botanica produced a raw, organic olive oil and alcohol-based line of medical cannabis tinctures and two salves under a product line called Prof. Snook’s CannaSalvation. Both types of tinctures. The company states the salves help with pain relief and stress.

DuCharme said recently that CBD Botanica is working with a new manufacturing partner and plans to bring Prof. Snook’s back to dispensary shelves in in San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego before the end of 2018.

“Our products are unique in that they are strain-specific and made from fresh cannabis, offering CBDA and THCA. (These) are delicate but potent forms of the cannabinoids. We don’t blend and we use the whole flower. Our three cultivars, ACDC, Harlequin, and Kumari, have distinct effects that customers count on. For example, our Harlequin is known for promoting relaxation and sound sleep,” said DuCharme.

DuCharme said CBD Botanica is one of 18 outdoor licensed cannabis farms in Sonoma County.

“We want to maintain a quality-focused, high-integrity small business culture. We incorporate feedback from our customers to create great products,” said DuCharme.

Cannabis to home doorstep

Alexa Wall and Curtis Wall, owners of Luma California, a cannabis cultivation business, are currently working to get a cultivation permit in unincorporated Sonoma County.

The Walls have also co-founded Moonflower, a San Rafael-based cannabis delivery service. Moonflower will begin delivering to Marin County in January 2019.

“One goal is to get our cultivation license in Sonoma County. (We want to) offer a line of cannabis products through the delivery service made using flower from the farm. We moved up here in 2014 because Sonoma County is a beautiful growing environment. Cannabis cultivation is deep-rooted here,” said Alexa Wall.

The Walls previously operated a Petaluma-based cannabis delivery service through Luma California between late 2016 and early 2017.

“We now want to focus again on the farm-to-doorstep cultivation model and delivery with a personal touch,” said Wall.

Software focused on cannabis

Nico Spann, another co-founder of Moonflower with his sister, said the company’s six owners want to differentiate Moonflower from other cannabis delivery services by catering to all demographics of the cannabis market in Marin.

“We plan to offer environmentally-friendly, organic, and clean cannabis products, providing transparency and an educational experience along with our products, at a reasonable price,” said Spann.

Spann is also the founder of a Santa Rosa-based cannabis software company called CannAlign. The software allows cannabis-related businesses to create an online profile that is linked to the QR code that can be used on marketing collateral, and product packaging to drive consumer traffic.

CannAlign currently serves 20-plus plus businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles to reach approximately 10,000 users a month. In 2019, CannAlign plans to pilot in Colorado and Seattle.

“In addition, we recently relaunched a new functionality, which streamlines online ordering and e-commerce for brands and retailers,” said Spann.

North Bay hub

Jared Giamonna, said his cannabis-related tour company, The Sonoma County Experience, plans to bring visitors to new areas of Sonoma County in the coming year.

Right now, it has two tours, a craft beer and cannabis experience and a wine and cannabis experience.

Giammona said 60 percent of customers come from the San Francisco Bay Area. Many are just starting to learn the history of the cannabis industry in the North Bay.

“We explain why Sonoma County is a hub for the cannabis industry. Through our tours, visitors learn why location, soil, and climate are important, just as in the wine industry,” he said.

On the craft beer tour are visits to Barrel Brothers Brewing Company in Windsor and 101 North Brewing Company in Petaluma. On the wine tour, visitors go to Larson Family Winery in Sonoma and Hook & Ladder Vineyards and Winery in Santa Rosa.

Cannabis businesses visited may include SolFul dispensary in Sebastopol, SPARC in Santa Rosa and CannaCraft in Santa Rosa.

Using cannabis on the tours is not permitted, but visitors can buy cannabis products to consume based on state and local laws, Giamonna said. In the coming year, the venture is looking to expand, offering different itineraries and adding new partners.

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