Wed | Oct 28, 2020

UPDATE: HedoWeedo ganja dispensary adds flavour to Hedonism II

Published:Friday | September 25, 2020 | 12:12 AMNeville Graham - Business Reporter
Kevin Levee, principal shareholder of HedoWeedo herb house and general manager of Hedonism II hotel in Negril.

Holding true to its laid-back and permissive image, Hedonism II in Negril has added a therapeutic element to its product line in the form of a medical marijuana dispensary.

The herb house, called HedoWeedo, had a soft opening on July 10, making its début shortly after the tourism industry began emerging from its COVID-induced slumber.

Hedonism II has long held the reputation as being the ultimate pleasure seekers’ haven, as does the resort town of Negril itself.

“Having been a part of Negril life since 1984, I have always noticed that ganja, or cannabis, has been a part of the experience all that time. With the decriminalisation of ganja in 2016, I saw an opportunity to create a product that would attract a significant travel niche,” said General Manager Kevin Levee.

HedoWeedo is actually a separate entity from the hotel, but sits on the same property, which is held by PB&J Resorts II (Jamaica) Limited.

The two key people behind the HedoWeedo venture, as listed in company documents, are the hotel’s general manager, Richard ‘Kevin’ Levee, and Harry Lange of Florida, United States, who are the sole shareholders. Accountant Diane Thomas is a director of the company, along with its two owners. They work collaboratively with Terry and Sharon Hobbs out of Colorado, who are acting as consultants.

Levee says the Hobbses do not have an equity stake in HedoWeedo, but provide valuable expertise.

“They have the longest-running dispensary in Denver, Colorado, since 2007.Their experience and knowledge has been great for us, especially since they’ve been a part of an industry that moved from medicinal to recreational use of cannabis,” he said.

HedoWeedo is looking to tap into the health and wellness side of hospitality, being one of the fastest-growing segments of the market.

“We started off slow and we wanted to have not only our own guests, but those from other nearby properties, and even locals. They have been coming in and the reaction has been great,” Levee said, regarding the reception to the dispensary.

The herb house was set up at a cost of US$300,000, inclusive of smoke room and dispensary, and is manned by five ‘bud-tenders’. Over time, the partners plan to add a therapeutic centre utilising cannabidiol, or CBD, products. Cannabidiols are the non-psychoactive compounds in cannabis.

HedoWeedo’s permits from the Cannabis Licensing Authority, CLA, only covers the herb house and therapeutic spa operations, so its supply of cannabis is sourced from licensed growers. Levee says he aims to develop relationships with growers along the lines of the fair-trade model, which involves getting more small farmers on board who run their operations along organic or environmentally sustainable lines for which they, in turn, receive a fair price for their product.

“We purchase only from CLA-licensed growers; we’re not tied to one particular producer. Once the growers became aware, they started to contact us and we looked at their farms and developed a list, but we’re still open to others,” Levee said.

His plan involves the addition of farm tours for persons wanting to ‘experience’ how marijuana is grown.

HedoWeedo’s commercial success is pegged to the welfare of the hospitality market, which means that right now its growth is hampered by “historically low levels of occupancy”, as Levy described it.

“I’ve been in the industry since 1984, and in all my years in the industry, through all the crises and world-changing events, it has never been this bad,” Levee declared, but immediately followed up optimistically, saying, “Hedonism guests bear the reputation of being the last to leave and the first to come back.”

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the name of the owner of Hedonism II to PB&J Resorts II (Jamaica) Limited.