Government and Cannabis

Every state has had its share of bumps in attempting to create a new heavy-regulated industry while ensuring those screwed by the ridiculous war on drugs (mainlyly cannabis) can participate in this wild west.

There are countless bumps, most coming from antiquated laws. Lobbyists have come out with a full-court press; god forbid this business is run differently than those in the past. The 280E tax code essentially screws anyone attempting to build a retail establishment. Now the UN wants to force states to repeal legislation to comply with a six-decade-old treaty. Good luck with that one.

Everyone saw this one coming. New York State is being sued, again, for their rolling out of the cannabis industry. A coalition of MSOs (Multiple State Operators) have sued NY State for “alleges unconstitutional overreach and policymaking, egregious abdication of duties, and actions that put New Yorkers’ health and safety at risk.” Essentially, they are pissed about how long it has taken them to apply for a license because all of the licenses have gone to previously incarcerated people and non-profit organizations that help previously incarcerated people reenter society.

I applaud what NY State has tried to do. Our store, Gotham, partnered with Strive; they own 51% of the business. We could afford that, and I am thrilled to do it because we planned on giving back to Strive (and other organizations )with a large piece of the profits from this business. A piece of every cannabis business should be required to give back to impact change.

The issue is that the people who have been issued the licenses are not adequatelyly funded, and many real estate operators are not interested in renting to cannabis stores. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case when thousands of illegal operators exist throughout the state. It has been announced that the state is coming after them, including the landlords who have leased property to illicit storefronts. Lets hope.

NY State has set aside a pool of capital for those dispensary licensees, but it is only enough to help 20 dispensaries at most. Without speeding up the process, the loss of taxes to the state (almost $3b in the next eight years) and job opportunities.

NY State should open the application process again to anyone except MSOs. Let small businesses flourish. If you are awarded a license, 5% of your profits must go back to organizations such as Strive, which will be overseen by a group of non-Government individuals to ensure the money is going to the right place. Rally the rest of all the other states that now have dispensaries (medical and consumer) and together sue the Federal Government to change the tax and banking laws so these businesses can grow. Allow the MSOs to apply a year after this next round is complete. And most important, make sure to close down the illegal dispensaries that are untaxed and grab more market share every single day.

Cannabis will be a win for NY State, but it is time to make new decisions. Going back to the well and giving out more licenses to the same pool of applicants is not the answer. We need stores to open sooner and create taxes for the state unless the pool of capital for all of them grows exponentially now. If the Federal Government legalizes cannabis, the room for investment will change the game. Few people want to put their capital in, but the reality is they are all dying to.

Women Need to Break More Glass

I recently read that only 6% of American monuments feature women as the subject. This defines “you can’t be it if you can’t see it.” Women’s health does not get the same funding as men’s. Women CEOs only lead 10% of corporate companies, yet female-led companies’ return rates are higher by over 100% in the past ten years than men’s. Women are the majority of the population, yet they are not the majority in the workplace. “Me too” gave all women a sigh of relief to finally speak up, and although this movement brought the reality of bad behavior to the forefront, there is much more to do.

Years ago, Janet Hanson, who, besides being the first woman promoted into sales at Goldman Sachs, began 85 Broad, an organization connecting women across the globe, invited me to have a one-on-one with her at a women’s event. Most of the women came out of corporate America.

I do not recall precisely what we were discussing, but a woman got up from the audience to ask a question but spoke about her frustrations. She was at Goldman Sachs and had left because of the lack of opportunity as a woman. The reality is there are only a few people at the top of Goldman Sachs or any organization, and for most women, the ladder becomes rungless at one point. It does for some men, too, but not in the same way. Too many men get kicked up the ladder, but women rarely do.

My advice to this woman was to start her own Goldman Sachs. She was sitting in a room full of incredibly successful women who probably had better numbers than most men. If you want change, create it yourself.

Why should women have to succumb to how men set up the world? The world needs some serious glass broken right now. What if, in every industry existing today, women decided to leave and begin the same sector with only women at the top? We can start with the banking world. It appears that they need a lot of help. Then move on to other industries, from media to the art world. There is so much that needs to change that could be run better and have better cultures, and it is long overdue to change how the majority of everything has been set in stone by male leaders.

And most of our biggest industries have been started by men. What would they look like if they were run by women who decided to break every single rule and create entirely different cultures? Workplaces that cared about their families, their health, and their life outside of the workplace. Where profits were distributed to everyone in the business, anything over a certain amount of profits would go to help others less fortunate. What a world we could create.

Change is afoot. Nobody is quite sure where we are going. We are living longer, and technology is moving at a light speed. Based on what is happening in the world these days, I genuinely believe the world would be a better place if women transformed, amended, or at least modified the world. Isn’t it time we broke more glass?

Why Do Many Americans Want to Ignore History?

As I get older, I have become more obsessed with history, any history. To understand anything, you must look at where things began.

History is part of their continual narrative in other parts of the world, mainly Europe. Perhaps that is because they physically lived through many destructive wars, where America began with people fleeing a Government that did not allow for economic and religious freedom.

Some Americans only like the present. Forget the past; let’s stick to the narrative that keeps white men in power. Black history shall be erased, how we destroyed the Native Americans upon our arrival, ignore the impact that women have made, cancel out people whose sexual choices do not fit in, and pretend that everything is “the best” when it comes to America.

From Florida’s leadership attempting to cut all Black history (Black history is all of our histories) out of their curriculum to Wyoming banning abortion pills. The conservatism mindset is counterintuitive to how our founding fathers began this country, although they did remain in power once they got here.

I want to believe that we are at a pivotal point in our country because the next generation is starting to rise to the top in our Government. They grew up with the internet and can see our actual history. They grew up with guns becoming the leading cause of death for children. They have watched multiple banks on the brink of collapse. They have seen huge disparities from the digital divide to homelessness. They have seen a wealthy country incapable of breaking systemic change in the poor and underserved communities. They have had too many bake sales for issues they care about and seem to empathize with others.

Am I crazy or just optimistic that our history will not be erased but acknowledged and become an integral part of the conversation as we grow older as a nation?

The Broccoli Report, Lauren Yoshiko, Podcast #181

Lauren Yoshiko is a freelance writer and editor who writes the Broccoli Report, a bi-weekly newsletter for creative cannabis entrepreneurs. Lauren has been blogging through the unprecedented wave of growth and change in the Cannabis industry as recreational use is slowly legalized nationwide. This podcast episode will highlight her experience navigating and documenting the strange world of weed as an AAPI woman.

You can also listen to this on iTunes and Soundcloud.

To learn more about the Broccoli Report, you can visit their website.

Our next guest on PGG will be Gina Duncan, the president of BAM, Brooklyn’s premiere multi-arts center, known for its focus on progressive, avant-garde, and diverse programming.

Why Do People Not Talk about Sex?

Why is sex treated as taboo? Why do young kids giggle and feel uncomfortable during those first sex education classes? What do we do in our society at a young age for that to happen?

Yet men talk about having sex while women are not supposed to. Birth control changed the game for women to have fun one-night stands as men have had for eternity.

What happens when a woman gets pregnant and has an abortion nobody talks about it. When we see what is happening in the “red” states rolling back any right to an abortion or birth control at Planned Parenthood, it makes no sense. Are those men making those decisions about women’s lives having sex? 

I am reading a book that takes place in the 1970s, where a young woman got a back-alley abortion right before Roe v. Wade. She went with an older woman to the doctor’s home, the abortion took place, and they never discussed it again. Why? She never forgot it, and I am sure I am not reaching here, but I am pretty positive nobody takes having an abortion lightly.

Sex might be political, but everyone has it, and it is women who have been dismissed without access to education, abortion, and their desires. Dr. Ruth is 94 years old. She is one of the few who have openly brought sexual conversations into the open. We need more Dr. Ruths, particularly when it comes to education. Kids start asking about how babies are born around age 6, and kids only ask questions when they are prepared to get answers. There is more to sex than just having a child.

Then, of course, yesterday, 21 South Carolina GOP proposed the death penalty for women who have an abortion. Perhaps all the politicians who have decided that women should have no choice over their bodies should never be allowed to have sex again. I can’t imagine that would play out so well.

Seriously, a pox on their heads.

When Did Intellect Stop Being Applauded?

An education is hands down the best thing you can give your child, period. The ability to make decisions after taking in the landscape is a gift. Our country’s lack of investment in education and educators is a crime, and unfortunately, children do not vote.

When people refer to educated people as the “liberal elite,” it casts disgust at people being educated. The lack of funding has disproportionately hurt, of course, the low-income, underserved communities. In turn, it has created one of the largest chasms in our country.

I have been watching clips of Lauren Boeburt in Congress. She dropped out of high school when she got pregnant, earning a GED a month before her first election primary. Her 16-year-old son got his girlfriend (we do not know her age) pregnant. Boeburt now believes defunding Planned Parenthood is her mission because she will be a Grandmother at 36 years old.

She is not the only inarticulate human in Congress right now. Is this the future we are hoping for in our country? Even in Oklahoma, thanks to the Church spending money on the narrative that they do not want to be like California, they voted down the cannabis legislature. Do they realize California has created almost $4b in revenue for the state, including over 83000 jobs? Does Oklahoma not want that? How come the Church gets to spend money pushing its narrative through ads when they do not pay taxes?

At one point, education and upward mobility were applauded. Our country has made great strides since the 40s in educating our children, where 35% of people have bachelor’s degrees, and 26% of Americans do not have a high school diploma.

Education, like all businesses that began to change and grow after WW2, has become layered in bureaucracy, losing the goal of what they are supposed to be doing, educating the children. How do we fix that? How do we have people like Lauren Boeburt representing a community of people in Congress when she spews nonsense that comes off the top of her head?

We should all be asking ourselves, how did we get here, and how do we fix this?

Has Technology Finally Outpaced Government?

ChatGPT, cryptocurrencies, and AI are a few things that come to mind. When I listen to some politicians try and wrap their heads around it, I fear they will create laws and restrictions that make zero sense. It is the same with cannabis regulation; most of it makes zero sense.

The implosion of SVB this past week speaks volumes regarding having cryptocurrencies. Why did SVB make companies who take loans from the put their cash in their bank? The other banks don’t demand that. The bank implosions over the past decade should make everyone wonder; wtf is going on here? There have been over 500 bank failures since 2009.

We have been spending a fair amount of time getting bank accounts for Gotham, our cannabis business. The frustration is beyond, but we have got it done. We also have accounts for non-cannabis products at one of the largest banks in the world, which have been the worst to deal with. Fifteen phone calls, awful antiquated software, divisions not speaking to each other, and truly simple stuff that should be seamless. It is mind-boggling.

All these things add up to Government regulation. As technology gets smarter and faster, we should all wonder if technology has finally surpassed the ability of the Government to regulate it.

Incentivizing New Industry

It is almost impossible to change consumer behavior. Our Government imposes regulations because consumer behavior has shown us if the CEOs and boards are not held to specific laws, they won’t do the right thing. That is why there are unions, and our country continues to have horrific train derailments. There are others, but let’s stick to incentivizing.

When the industry is incentivized through Government taxes, it is incredible how things change. Just look at what is happening with solar energy and electric vehicles. Not so much the people’s will but the tax deductions or losing market share in the case of electric vehicles.

The Federal Government began accepting applications for a $39 billion semiconductor subsidy program, including a 25% tax investment credit for building plants on new tax structures for the semiconductor industry.

But with this are caveats that Biden wants to implement. The company must provide childcare, use low-emissions energy, pay wages at union prices, shun stock buybacks, and share profits with the Government that exceeds the agreed-upon threshold.

Who knows where this will all shake out due to lobbying, but conceptually this is smart. The Government is giving away the cash to build these businesses, and if they exceed, they should give back, and the Government could put it towards something else, perhaps like housing. Childcare is imperative, period. Paying a fair wage is too.

It is unclear if this is the future of how Government operates, but it is one of the few things I have seen over the years that makes sense and breaks some glass.

Pistachio Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Frosting

This is insanely delicious. The double tier is absolutely unnecessary, and neither is the lemon cream frosting, but I felt compelled. Honestly, it is a bit too much, but it is so good. The last time I posted about this was in 2014. A good recipe is eternal.

After tasting the one at Brooklyn Larder, I have been looking for a lemon pistachio cake recipe, which I dreamt about for weeks on end.  This one is just as good—pistachios and lemons are some of my favorite ingredients. The recipe below is for one cake. I made it twice instead of doubling the recipe, but I am sure it would be fine if doubled.

  • 1 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp unsalted butter – room temperature.
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 eggs – room temperature
  • 2 cups grounded pistachios (I toasted them and then crushed whole pistachios in a Cuisinart)
  • 2 cups almond flour/meal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder

Heat the oven to 350—line and grease a 2- 10″ round cake pan. You really do need this size.

Cream the butter, sugar, salt, and lemon zest until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and eggs ( one at a time and beating well after each putting in each egg ).  Scrape the sides sufficiently, and then add the grounded pistachios, almond meal, flour, and baking powder on a low speed.  Mix until just incorporated.

Put into the cake pan and bake for about an hour (until the tester comes out clean). No more than an hour because you want the cake to be moist.

Lemon Butter Cream Filling:

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter – room temperature
  • 8 cups confectioners sugar
  • 4 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • Pinch kosher salt

Beat the butter for about two minutes until really creamy. Add the rest until fully incorporated. You should be able to spread this on the cake; if it is too thick, add some more cream.

If you make just one cake, cut the frosting in half. I put crushed pistachios in between the layers and on top.

As an option, make the glaze below and pour it over the cake when warm.

  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped pistachios
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze.  Simmer the pistachios, sugar, and lemon juice together until the pistachios are entirely coated.

When cooled, flip the cake out of the pan, and dribble the glaze over the top. Use a flat icing utensil to spread the glaze over the top.

Either way, this cake is delicious!

Good Bye Mercer Kitchen

Not sure how I missed that the Mercer Kitchen closed at the end of last year. It took me on a trip down memory lane. I had been to that restaurant and bar upstairs countless times for a meal, coffee, or drink. I spent countless hours at only a handful of other spots in NYC. Grammercy Tavern’s front room for any meal comes to mind, but I will tell that story another day.

We had decided to leave the suburbs, where Fred and I were unhappy, and return to NYC. We rallied the troops, then 8, 6, and 3, and gave the exciting news to them as if we were going to Disney World. We all jumped for joy. It was a gift from the gods.

We quickly bought a home that needed massive renovation, rented a place to live, and got the kids into school. The only caveat was that we could not move into the rental until mid-October. The options were limited to a six-week stint. Fred hung his hat at Chase while the Flatiron Partners office was being built. Chase funded the Mercer Hotel. Boom, we would stay there for six weeks.

We moved into two connecting rooms, they hooked us up with a fridge, and our family became NYers again. We had dinner out every night. Canteen had just opened across the street. I remember it was very brown; that was before it became Lure.

But our favorite spot was the Mercer Kitchen. The entire city was shut down one evening due to a nasty hurricane. The kitchen remained open. We took the elevator down to the kitchen for dinner and were the only guests in the place. By the time we left, I was even a fan of the raw tuna pizza, so ahead of its time. It was heaven.

Our kids got to go into the kitchen; they felt free inside their adults’ surroundings. It was one of the most epic, memorable evenings Fred and I remember. I continued to return even after we moved out into our home.

The older I get, the more I walk through NYC, remember what was here or there, and recount a memory of the place. The ever-changing landscape is a massive part of what makes this city hum. It is one of the many things I love about this town.