Editor’s Note: “Black and Khaki” is a column written by Enlighten Chairman Jeremy Jacobs. It’s name is derived from what has been dubbed as Jeremy’s “uniform” — a khaki hat, black shirt, khaki pants. Jeremy wears this combination daily and we felt it was only right to name his column after his signature style.
Of the many “firsts” that I’ve been involved with in cannabis, including launching the first full scale enterprise solution, there’s one first that stands alone above all the others. The moment that I write of occurred roughly five years ago during my first days of working in legal cannabis and it will forever be ingrained in my mind until the end of time. Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Before I continue I need to introduce you to a fellow we will call Woodrow Wilson. Woodrow was employed at Eyeconic, the award-winning digital signage company that I’ve proudly owned and operated for over a decade. Eyeconic is a premiere digital signage, menu and kiosk provider and, as such, we work with some pretty high profile clients. One of those clients is Sysco Foods, the world’s global foodservice leader. Woodrow was responsible for our working with our Sysco Foods reps in the Denver. Woodrow had a pair of buddies who were opening up a new dispensary right around the time Colorado made the wise and socially responsible decision to legalize cannabis. Woodrow gave me a call one day and said, “What do you think about making digital menus for these guys?” and, as the lifelong cannabis enthusiast that I am, I jumped at the opportunity to combine my two worlds – retail technology and weed.
Once we got the ball rolling on with DANK Dispesnary, I decided to fly out to Denver to meet with Woodrow. Woodrow wanted to show me around Denver and I was all for it. Why you ask? Because this is the trip that would allow me take my first steps inside a legal dispensary. When I arrived in the Centennial State, Woodrow was quick to introduce me to Chester A. Arthur. Chester looked like he could be an extra on the Sopranos. He effortlessly oozed the kind of cool at the rate and grade-A quality that rivaled Arthur Fonzarelli. And the best part about it? Chester knew it and he owned it like a boss.
At the time, Chester worked for one of the very first edible gummy manufacturers in cannabis. This company was involved in what I call the “trim trade,” but really it was more of a war. Multiple manufacturers were competing against one another to get all the weed they could get their hands on in order to meet customer demands. So what these companies would do is travel to each dispensary in the surrounding area and offer these retail locations discounts on their products in exchange for the leftover trim that dispensary had no use for. The main war being fought on “trim trade” front was being fought between the two largest edible gummy manufacturers in the cannabis. Unbeknownst to me, I had just been drafted to one side of the battle. Moments after touching down in Denver, I found myself in the back seat of Chester’s baller BMW. Woodrow was riding shotgun and he quickly explained to me how we’ll be traveling from dispensary to dispensary and collecting trim. I was up for the adventure, but truly had no idea what it would entail.
For some odd reason, no matter where we drove that day, it felt like the every parking lot was chock-full of no parking signs. That didn’t stop Chester A. Arthur though. Anywhere we went Chester drove his slick BMW right up the no parking sign and gave absolutely zero fucks. Naturally, this just elevated his baller status. With Woodrow and I in tow, Chester walked into that dispensary like he owned the place. Chester told Woodrow and I to hang back for a minute while he slithered off the back room with a dispensary employee. I didn’t mind to wait though. I was too busy picking up my jaw from the floor. Pot was everywhere and people were standing in line just paying for it like they were checking out at the grocery store. It was like a dream come true, but this moment of marijuana retail bliss in no way prepared me for what happened next. In fact, it was more like the calm before the storm.
When Chester finally emerged from the back room he was carrying a peculiar looking briefcase and had an enormous garbage bag filled with trim slung over his back. As we exited the dispensary I couldn’t help but ask Chester what was in the briefcase. When we reached the car he finally popped the briefcase open and the grin on his face must have been a mile wide. The briefcase was filled to the brim with Floyd Mayweather-like fat stacks of cash. Chester nonchalantly tossed the briefcase into the trunk, which was already filled with several other briefcases which Chester later clarified were also full of cash. I finally took my seat in the back of the BMW where I was huddled next to the enormous bag of trim. From this point forth, Chester proceeded to drive Woodrow and I from dispensary to dispensary all over Colorado. He was parking wherever the fuck he wanted to and each time we left, we took another briefcase of cash and another massive bag of marijuana trimmings. Before you know it, the trunk is full of cash filled briefcases and the BMW became overloaded with bags of trim that at one point my face was legitimately pressed up against the glass. I kid you not! It was at that point that Chester A. Arthur declared it was time to make a drop.
The next thing I know we rolled up to some kind of ominous looking abandoned warehouse in the middle of nowhere. This building just screamed bad news. It looked like the kind of place that every murder scene in the history of CSI was modeled after. To make matters worse, there was also an armed guard watching us as we approached. Chester pulled the car up next to the guard and we were immediately (and fortunately) met with a cheerful, booming welcome. This clearly wasn’t Chester’s first rodeo. The guard waved us forward and directed us towards an inauspicious looking door. When we exited the vehicle Chester turned to me and said, “Listen, man. These guys are a bit weird. Play it cool and don’t do anything to alarm them.” Typically, these aren’t the words you want to here before entering a murder warehouse, but these were my instructions nonetheless. Chester started pounding his fist on the door and about a moment later this funky looking guy creaked the door open just wide enough to poke his strange little head out. This dude looked straight up like a hippy oompa loompa. He had on a bright orange bandana and a pair of enormous George Romero style glasses with thick purple frames. Little did I know that this weird little man was the gatekeeper to what could only be described as Willy Wonka’s stoner brother’s marijuana edible factory.
The interior of this murder warehouse was nothing short of surreal. This was a marijuana gummy operation that knew what they were doing. Massive conveyor belts propelled enormous quantities of gummy bears down the assembly line where they would be later sprayed with cannabis oil that the hippy oompa loompa had extracted from all the trim. And judging by the absolutely enormous size of shipping crates that were filled with a rainbow array of gummy bears, these guys clearly weren’t planning on slowing down any time soon. I couldn’t help but watch in admiration as the hippy oompa loompa and his equally unfashionable friend bounced from one station to station inside the warehouse. Their work was as efficient as these two were frumpy. It was truly a magical sight to behold.
It wasn’t until later that night that I fully began to appreciate my first day in cannabis. My outrageous adventure began with meeting one of most outrageous characters in my life and ended with something that was so dreamlike that many even question the story’s legitimacy to this day. Well, it’s true, all of it, even the parts that I wish they weren’t. I wouldn’t trade that once in a lifetime experience for anything… well, except maybe for Chester’s BMW.