I produced and hosted the first episode of VICE’s Weediquette show with the help of several professionals in Denver’s cannabis scene. It was the spring of 2013, and REC had been legalized, but legal retail sales were still several months away. It was a happy period of limbo, with folks in the industry knowing that things were going their way, but not the specifics of how it would all play out. Dan de Sailles, the founder of Denver’s award-winning extraction kitchen Top Shelf Extracts, guided me through his facility, and told me of the challenges facing companies like his own.
Top Shelf has continued to succeed in Colorado’s evolving legal cannabis environment and remains one of Denver’s premier sources for high grade MED and REC extracts. Concentrates have occasionally gotten a bad rep since they came to light, leading lawmakers to scrutinize the process of making it as well as the powerful product itself. Dan has an eye-opening perspective on what it’s like to operate a cannabis business in a dynamic business realm with an indefinite future.
Describe your involvement with cannabis in all aspects, personal, professional, etc.
I own Top Shelf Extracts, I founded The Secret Cup, and I love marijuana and everything you can make with it.
How is state-level legalization affecting your cannabis-related activities?
Mostly positive, but in the beginning of anything there will be birth pains. I believe that we are moving in the right direction though. For instance, we haven't been processing for the last month because we've been building out our new blast chamber. It's going to be catastrophe proof and will be an incredibly safe working environment for my crew. Regulation means we had to pay close to 100K to get it done, but now that it's reaching the end of the process we'll be fully compliant with the new regulations moving into the future.
What are some of the victories of state-level legalization in your area?
Homicide is down 66%.
What are some of the failures of state-level legalization in your area?
Taking away our right to assemble.
Do you believe the federal government is making progress towards decriminalization or legalization?
It seems like it but a lot of times it's two steps forward one step back. It's definitely a battle and champions of prohibition, used to losing the war but staying in the fight, are not going anywhere no matter how futile their position is.
How long, do you predict, before weed is completely legal in America?
By 2020, I'm calling it. Too many Republicans are on board with the legalization efforts.
How long, do you predict, before weed is completely legal in the world?
I don't think it ever will be completely. Alcohol isn't even legal everywhere in the world. But I would say in the next 20 years we'll see the most of the world wise up.
What is the biggest challenge facing legalization on a state level?
Overregulation. At least in Colorado we voted to “Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol.” That was the name of the bill anyway, and I've since learned that the name of a bill has nothing to do with what a bill does at all. Still though, most people including myself thought that was what we'd be getting. Far from it. The mayor of Denver and the city council have a vendetta against people being able to go to an event where people are allowed to consume cannabis together with other adults. Like at a bar, only without all the fights, date rape, and vehicular homicide. What we got was “Regulate Marijuana like Masturbation.” You can do it, sure, but don't do it where anyone can see you. People are flying into the city just to purchase legal marijuana, but the city has left them with no safe, secure, discreet place to smoke. That's short sighted and wrong. Marijuana and what you can make with it should be regulated, but it should be done sensibly.
On a national level?
On a global level?