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Pothead: Interview with Blackbird’s CEONovember 16, 2016
The Reno News & Review interviewed Blackbird's CEO, Tim Conder. Read the full interview below.
Recreational marijuana legalization passed in Nevada. From an industry perspective, what does that mean?
Currently, in the medical market, there are 13,000 Nevada medical patients. There are 2 million Nevadans. The recreational market will open up sales to an enormous part of the population that are not accessible right now, so that is obviously huge for the industry. Blackbird does transportation and delivery for every part of the supply chain, so we do wholesale and retail delivery. Wholesale is the transportation of product from cultivation and production to licensed dispensaries, and retail delivery is delivery of medication from dispensaries to patients. We do all of that. We facilitate patient delivery through our BlackbirdGo menu, which allows patients to register through their phone, computer or tablet, create a profile, pop online and create an order for pickup or delivery. We only deliver product on behalf of licensed dispensaries. The biggest difference between the recreational market and the medical market is that they are overseen by different state agencies. Medical is overseen by the Department of Behavioral and Public Health. The recreational market will be overseen by the Department of Taxation. Part of the recreational law is that in order to distribute wholesale product, you’ll have to have an alcohol distribution license. That’s the biggest change for us.
You’ll be able to start delivering recreational on Jan. 1?
No, because we have to deliver through dispensaries, the dispensary program will have to be rolled out first. Although it will be legal for you to carry around an ounce as of January 1, there will be nowhere for you to purchase that ounce legally if you’re a recreational user.
The legislation wasn’t perfect. What do you see as the problems?
There’s a lot of ambiguity. That’s the reason why it’s scary, and it’s also the reason why it passed. All and all, you are voting for recreational marijuana. How that’s implemented still remains to be seen. The three-tier distribution system that will supposedly be in place for recreational marijuana is definitely not ideal. Similarly to how that distribution is difficult for small brewpubs, this will make distribution very costly and difficult for smaller cultivators and producers. … And it will affect the buying public because there’s a 15 perfect excise tax on marijuana. If you’re a recreational user, you will be paying more than a medical user in Nevada. We were lucky to have an organization like MPP, Marijuana Policy Project, running the Yes on 2 campaign. They’ve had a lot of success across the country and are really great at what they do. They’ve contested Sheldon [Adelson] in other states and lost. I think they knew what he was going to do in Nevada and how to combat that.
The No on 2 campaign centered on “protecting our children” and edibles that look like candy. What do you say in response to that?
It’s Nevada’s job to regulate that, and keep those products out of the hands of children. As far as the industry is concerned, the industry wants to sell to responsible adults. … And marijuana is expensive! People don’t want to give it to kids. And it’s important that people in Nevada know that a very robust medical market has already been happening, and it hasn’t had any real negative effects on our community. But I see a lot of positive effects—patients having access to medication, people making some money and paying taxes. It’s going to be good.