Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Gonzalez-Walker

At Leaf411, we love sharing our supporting members’ stories. We really do believe that our members are the best in the industry, and hope that you’ll consider supporting them when shopping. 

As a founding member, Seed & Smith has supported the Leaf411 mission from Day One. Their commitment to education and transparency elevates the industry and provides a counternarrative against outdated stereotypes about cannabis.

Headshot of Mike Lempert, Director of Logistics at Seed & Smith
Mike Lempert, Director of Logistics at Seed & Smith

We recently checked in with Mike Lempert, Director of Logistics at Seed & Smith, to learn more about the Colorado dispensary’s current work. We also got his thoughts on the emerging consensus in legal states that cannabis is an essential need, following up on his recent interview with Denver 7 News.

Recognizing Cannabis as An Essential Need During the COVID-19 Crisis

The legal marijuana market sits in an interesting spot right now. While marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, states with legal medical and/or adult-use (recreational) marijuana have generally classified dispensaries as essential businesses allowed to remain open during the COVID-19 response. Dispensaries are being acknowledged as similar to pharmacies, providing essential medicine to patients.

Many patients, consumers and industry members are thinking about what this will mean for cannabis once the COVID-19 emergency passes. We asked Mike for his thoughts on this topic.

“My stance has always been that there are very serious medical issues that people use cannabis to treat. People come into our dispensary who need cannabis to live a ‘normal life.’ They may be suffering from MS or Parkinson’s disease or cancer or insomnia. Whatever the case may be, there’s a lot of relief (through cannabis),” he said.

“Absolutely, cannabis should be deemed essential,” Mike said. “If people are relying upon something to live a normal life—we’re not talking about a vice but about actual ailments and problems—then 100% cannabis should be deemed essential. It shouldn’t even be questioned whether we need to stay open during times like this.”

Keep reading to learn more about how Seed & Smith is ensuring employee and customer safety while providing access to high-quality legal cannabis amid the COVID-19 business restrictions.

Seed & Smith’s Commitment to Quality and Transparency

Have you ever been curious about how legal cannabis is cultivated, harvested and extracted? Part of the Seed & Smith experience is their free cannabis grow tour featuring their cultivation, production and packaging areas. While the tours have been temporarily cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, the spirit of transparency continues in every area of Seed & Smith’s work.

Leaf411 CEO Katherine Golden looks through a window at cannabis plants in Seed & Smith’s cultivation facility.
View from inside Seed & Smith’s cultivation facility. A tour group looks through a window at a big container of cannabis flower.
Checking out Seed & Smith product on the cannabis grow tour. Note: Tours are currently suspended in response to COVID-19.

When we asked Mike what makes Seed & Smith different from the competition, transparency was at the top of his list.

“We consider ourselves to be pioneers in the industry,” he said. “Seed & Smith was formed at the tail end of prohibition for recreational use. We wanted to hit the scene hard with transparency and prove that cannabis isn’t this big, scary drug like a lot of people make it out to be. We wanted people to understand exactly how our cannabis is grown, how it’s packaged, how we extract it to make the concentrates, where it’s sold and who sells it—basically every detail about our product.”

Mike explained how their approach is different, saying, “The cannabis industry is notorious for closing doors and keeping things very close to the vest. We wanted to dismantle that. I think we’ve been extremely successful.”

Seed & Smith’s owners looked to craft breweries as a model for doing things differently.

“Breweries were opening up their doors for the public to come see how their beer was made. You could go and talk to the head brewmaster. You could take a tour. You could see the cleanliness of the facility. You could see the beer getting canned.”

Seed & Smith adapted that model for their own operations, “being fully transparent and allowing people to get the freshest product,” said Mike.

A hand holding the Seed & Smith Dart vaporizer, showing how the vape is small and discreet.
Seed & Smith’s Dart vaporizer
Leaf411 supporting member Seed & Smith’s Dart vaporizer and packaging.
Seed & Smith’s Dart vaporizer

The Seed & Smith Dart: Making a Better Vape

We asked Mike what Seed & Smith products he’s most excited about these days.

 “We’re extremely proud of our Dart vaporizer, which is a pod-based system,” he said.

“We worked with CCell, the hardware manufacturer, for over a year to dial this product in. Now  we’re doing a big push for people to try the Dart vape as part of a move to a cleaner product. If you’re concerned about health risks, you should understand what goes into products that you end up ingesting or inhaling into your body.”

“A lot of companies that make cartridges or vaporizers don’t show you how their oils are made,” said Mike, “At Seed & Smith, you can visit and see our entire process. You can see the product that’s used to make it (the pods). You watch how it’s made through videos. You can see into our extraction rooms. Everything is transparent.”

Mike also talked about the recent vaping crisis that was connected to some manufacturers using Vitamin E acetate or other cutting agents which caused serious health issues.

Seed & Smith was ahead of the curve, however, since they do not use any cutting agents in their vape products. “From day one, it’s been 100% cannabis extracts in our cartridges and that’s it,” Mike said.

Partnering with Leaf411 to Provide Factual Cannabis Information

Mike talked about the challenges of providing factual information to customers, given the federal restrictions on cannabis research. “There’s not enough research done on cannabis, and we fully understand why that is,” he said.

He discussed how the lack of research means that people often fall back on anecdotal reports about how a product worked for a specific person, which may not end up being true for everyone. To navigate this tricky terrain, Seed & Smith sticks with providing education on what they know—their product.

“We give the facts in a clear and concise manner, about what we’re doing and how we grow,” he said.

Seed & Smith also relies on their partnership with Leaf411 to provide education on potential medical benefits of cannabis.

“We partner with Leaf411 to help us deliver reliable, factual information,” Mike said. “Focusing on providing factual information is the biggest key for us because there’s so much misinformation out there right now. We don’t want to add any more.”

At Leaf411, we know misconceptions about both the cannabis plant and the cannabis industry are everywhere. Mike shared a very similar perspective when discussing the education needs that he sees in the cannabis space.

“I’ve only been involved in the industry for three years, and in that three years I’ve learned a lot. I came with a lot of preconceived notions, most of which were wrong. So I’m the perfect poster child for the need for reliable information and education,” he said.

“There’s going to be a huge amount of people in this country and probably around the world shifting to cannabis use at some point. Providing reliable information about what they can expect and what’s in these products is extremely important.”

Seed & Smith dispensary door with a posted notice taped to it listing new COVID-19 rules for customers.
Seed & Smith dispensary door showing updated COVID-19 rules in late March 2020.

Maintaining Safe Dispensary Operations During COVID-19

You’ve likely noticed the impact of COVID-19 on businesses you frequent in person or even online as the government rolls out new rules and restrictions.

Cannabis dispensaries are no different. In Colorado, the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) released several rounds of emergency rules for dispensaries that emphasize extreme social distancing and revise retail rules to protect both employees and customers. 

We asked Mike how Seed & Smith’s operations have been impacted by COVID-19.

He answered, “In just about every aspect, our company and the industry itself has been affected.”

“We have 12 cultivation rooms with over 20,000 square feet. We’ve redone the workflow so that growers can work in different rooms at different times. We’re also able to avoid having two employees working together on a specific task,” Mike said.

He went on to describe how the packaging area was expanded and reconfigured to spread out employees and limit interactions. Employees with jobs that can be done from home are required to work remotely.

“It’s extremely tough for me to work remotely. I’m very much in the trenches on a daily basis. But I and my co-directors understand the need to not only reduce our risk of getting sick but to reduce risk to our employees as well. We’re making sacrifices all around but it’s for the greater good—for the company, our employees and our customers,” he said.

Seed & Smith checkout area showing registers spaced far apart and tape on floor to reinforce social distancing rules.
Seed & Smith checkout area with added social distancing measures in late March 2020. These safety measures are regularly updated to comply with state guidance.

How Seed & Smith Is Working to Keep Customers Safe

Mike described precautions that retail employees are taking to regularly disinfect all work areas and practice extreme social distancing while assisting customers. Cash registers have been spaced farther apart and customers have the option to pay by debit card at curbside for online orders. Cash payments must be made inside the store.

As of this writing, customers who order online from Seed & Smith online via Weedmaps will receive a “Thank You” discount code for a future purchase.

As state-issued rules continue to change, you can stay up to date on Seed & Smith’s operations on their blog, Facebook and Instagram.

Red phone on blue table with sticky note that says “Hotline!” as a reminder for the free Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline.

Answering Your Questions About Cannabis and COVID-19

We know that many of you are worried about the impact of COVID-19 on both your access to cannabis medicine and on other areas of your life, as well. You can trust Leaf411 as a reliable source of information in this challenging time.

We’re here for you, with the clinical knowledge and resources to answer your questions about safely purchasing and using legal marijuana and CBD hemp products. We’re also ready to take your COVID-19 questions at the Leaf411 hotline. 

Call 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) at no cost to have your questions answered by one of our fully-licensed RNs.

Don’t like talking on the phone? We can also answer your questions via chat during hotline hours. Look for the chat icon in the lower right corner of the Leaf411 home page. https://leaf411.org/

Also, keep an eye on our Facebook page, where we share updated information, webinars and education resources on COVID-19 and cannabis. 

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline provides free, anonymous education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.