Some marijuana advocates, including the Cannabis Therapy Institute's Laura Kriho, fear the passage of HB 1084, a bill to regulate the medical marijuana biz, and SB 109, intended to clarify the relationship between MMJ patients and doctors, will decimate the industry.
But that hasn't stopped entrepreneurs aplenty from conceiving projects intended to capitalize on the mainstreaming of marijuana. Among them is Kat Overholt, the woman behind TheJointEffort.com, which is being celebrated at a launch party at 8 p.m. tonight at Casselman's Bar & Venue, 2620 Walnut Street. The website's goal: to match patients with the dispensary that's right for them, starting a weedy love affair that will hopefully bloom for years to come.
Here's Overholt's pitch:
"It's a site that helps dispensaries set themselves apart from each other not only by their location and their name, but by any amenity they offer, from acupuncture and massage to greenhouse versus hydroponics versus soil-grown product, how many doctors are available, discounts, clones, tinctures, edibles -- anything. That way, people can find the dispensaries that are right for them.
"And we're also trying to build a community. There are a lot of sites out there, but most of them are national sites, and the local ones aren't as focused as we are. We want to help people get to know each other and have resources and information in one place, which is really important with the laws changing. I don't think most patients know what HB 1284 means for them, and we'll have comments from Sensible Colorado and SAFER and NORML letting them know." Indeed, she expects representatives from these three organizations, among other notables in Denver's MMJ scene, to attend tonight's bash.
Overholt has experience bringing people together, having worked in restaurant management at eateries like Lime before launching Knock Out Social Media Marketing last February. The women collaborating with her on TheJointEffort.com bring a different perspective to the site, she feels.
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"We're all women and moms," she notes. "So I think we naturally look at things from an emotional perspective. Amy Farrar, one of my sales managers, is a cancer survivor, and she's so active in cancer-support groups, dealing with the doctors who are a part of this. She's able to talk with patients and build increased awareness for the site, and to help people get more comfortable with the whole idea of medical marijuana. Twenty-somethings who have their cards and are young and hip have no trouble, but someone with breast cancer who's never smoked marijuana in her life may need a little help.
"That's what we're here for -- and we're doing this 100 percent legitimately. This isn't about the lifestyle, which is why we don't have pot leaves all over our site. This is about the community."
As for the future of the MMJ industry in the wake of the aforementioned bills' passage, Overholt doesn't think the end is near.
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"I feel the bills will separate the businesses that are doing things right, and were doing things right from the beginning, from those that aren't. With the 70-30 part of the law, anyone who's already built those connections with growers, they're going to be fine; it's not going to be the end of the line for them. Having those connections makes all the difference. This is about local business, not just about pot."
The same goes for TheJointEffort.com -- so what's the financial plan? According to Overholt, all dispensaries will have a free basic listing, but there'll be charges for what she calls an "enhanced listing" that will make centers stand out from the pack. Advertising is also part of the plan, although not for a few weeks -- and she wants to be selective about the products in question.
"We want to stay away from certain things that are unsavory," she says. "Like vodka."
Here's more information about tonight's event: