061: Infusing Gourmet Edibles and THC Drinks into Modern-Day Speakeasy Events with Mark Rafailovich

There’s a greater appetite for cannabis events than ever before–and today’s guest is doing some amazing stuff to create safe, fun, and upscale opportunities and experiences for people who want to partake! 

We’re talking to Mark Rafailovich. Mark is the founder and owner of Spleaf, which he launched by selling homemade THC brownies when he was a freshman at Brooklyn College, before turning it into a full-fledged business. 

These days, Mark is all-in on gourmet edibles and creating special experiences. He’s bringing people together so they can enjoy great products like his in amazing environments, and to normalize and de-stigmatize cannabis use in common, everyday settings.

In today’s conversation, we talk to Mark about his journey from the former Soviet Union to entrepreneurship in New York City, how he creates a wide array of highly specialized cannabis products and presents them at complementary events, and how the audience for cannabis (and what they want) is rapidly changing.


  • How cannabis can serve as an alternative to alcohol (and why it isn’t a gateway drug).
  • How Mark started Spleaf in college, then used his knowledge from film school and the restaurant world to create gorgeously documented products and truly unique cannabis products.
  • How cannabis beverages can function as an analogue to alcohol–and the issues making it difficult to serve these products in many cities.
  • How Mark aims to create a pop-up experience vibe at his events and not just a shopping event.
  • Why Mark thinks we’ll see federal legalization no sooner than 2027.


  • Weed exposed me to an alternative to alcohol. And the B.S. that they’ve been saying that it’s a gateway drug, it’s totally untrue. I mean, it didn’t get me interested in many other things.” – Mark Rafailovich
  • “The market is just a tiny part of the experience where it’s a full-on party, it just has a market.” – Mark Rafailovich
  • I think we’ve made a real step change and a real huge step towards federal decriminalization and legalization.” – Jeffrey Boedges




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Rick Kiley: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of The Green Repeal. I am Rick Kiley. I am joined by Jeff Boedges. What up, Jeff?


Jeff Boedges: Oh, it’s a beautiful day here in New Jersey. Kind of cool but it’s gorgeous looking.


Rick Kiley: It’s autumn weather. It’s autumn in New York too. Really nice.


Jeff Boedges: Leaves have been really, actually, much better than I would hope they’d be this year because we didn’t have much rain this summer. And so, normally that can make for a muted fall but I guess the couple of rainstorms we had early in the fall, late in the summer have done their deal because it’s really nice out.


Rick Kiley: Man, you sound like an agricultural expert, someone who might be growing some stuff at some point in his future.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. Right now, just growing geraniums but, yeah, who knows? One of these days, I might grow something with more medicinal qualities to it.


Rick Kiley: Perfect. Well, today, just to keep it moving forward, we have an interview queued up after our intro with Mark Rafailovich. He’s the founder and owner of Spleaf, which is a company that is producing some edible products as in gourmet edibles, right? And then really delving deeply into the experience space, creating a lot of social events, bringing people together, a passion, I think, of ours. And it was a really enjoyable and interesting interview about how he’s going about creating this environment and bringing people together and enabling them to enjoy this product in a safe, fun, upscale, dare I say gourmet again, environment.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I started to sign up to be part of the club this morning that you actually have to upload a photo of yourself.


Rick Kiley: You’ve got a few photos.


Jeff Boedges: That one holding a sign that says a specific thing. So, I had to actually take it.


Rick Kiley: Wait. You got to upload a photo with a sign? All right.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. And it’s seen here.


Rick Kiley: Oh, okay. All right.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah.


Rick Kiley: Well, there are some words evidently. They make you jump through a few hoops, buddy. It might be worth the process because they got a really fun gig going on. Anyone in the New York City area, they seem to put on some really cool events and you might want to check it out. So, definitely listen for that after the interview but, Jeff.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. We got big news.


Rick Kiley: Well, I mean, we’re a little behind the eight ball on it. I feel bad but we haven’t talked since Papa Joe.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah.


Rick Kiley: Uncle Joe Biden, President Biden basically came out and said, “I’m going to pardon anybody who was convicted under marijuana possession under federal law,” although I will clarify it’s a simple marijuana possession. So, it’s not like tens and tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people are getting out of prison today but it is a huge step and I think an unexpected step. I mean, we were just interviewing Jarrod Loadholt.


Jeff Boedges: Loadholt, yep, and our old friend, Andrew DeAngelo.


Rick Kiley: It was a while.


Jeff Boedges: Many months ago, yeah, but for social justice and I don’t think either of them, if they had an inkling that something like this was in the wind, they didn’t share it with us at the time.


Rick Kiley: No. And I think a lot of people have actually been in the marijuana industry, the cannabis industry, have been pretty hard on President Biden for not very progressive stance. I think even Jarrod said it in our interview, he said there’s Joe Biden, the person, and then there’s what the party believes in and Joe Biden comes from a different generation. Right?


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. Which is funny, though. He did come from, I mean, he was cool in the late sixties. Not that he’s not cool now but, I mean, he was more of a knock-around guy back then.


Rick Kiley: Yeah. I just want to be clear about a couple of things. So, according to the New York Times article, which I read, basically, it’s clearing everyone, those convicted on federal charges of simple possession since it became a crime in the 1970s, this is not a huge number. It says here 6,500 people were convicted of this crime between 1992 and 2021. So, it’s not a huge number but I think it’s very meaningful in terms of the direction of the government and it goes on that President Biden has encouraged governors of states to follow his example and commute, I guess. Is that the right word? Am I using that correctly?


Jeff Boedges: I think actually it’ll be expungement because…


Rick Kiley: Expunge the sentences. Yeah, that’s right. So, people who were convicted of state charges on simple possession. And those are some big, big numbers, right? That’s where the bulk of the…


Jeff Boedges: Well, you got to figure simple possession on a federal. I mean, you got to be like on federal land or in an airport or something like that when you get nicked. And even just the thought of like there’s people from 1992 who might be in jail for having dope is mind-blowing. I’m like, “Really?”


Rick Kiley: It is mind-blowing but President Biden’s come out, set the clear tone here. I think he notes in his message that it’s been part of racial disparity in the country. People who are black and brown are arrested and prosecuted and convicted at disproportionately higher rates he says.


Jeff Boedges: Four times is the number I’ve always heard.


Rick Kiley: Yep. And it’s a big, big move. And I think it’s a big day and we should say thank you for doing it.


Jeff Boedges: Absolutely. In fact, I want every one of our listeners, I don’t know how many that is, thousands, to send Joe Biden a joint today in the mail. Don’t put your return address on it.


Rick Kiley: Yeah. Well, it’s not possession but I think like mail tampering is a big crime still.


Jeff Boedges: It’s not tampering. It’s just sending weed across state lines, just make sure you drive to D.C. before you send it.


Rick Kiley: Right. Send it from a DC zip code.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. Or just put that on the address, maybe the folks over at the post office is too busy to track that down. And on this particular podcast will be the second time I have recommended sending weed to a politician.


Rick Kiley: Sure.


Jeff Boedges: So, yeah, it’s kind of my whole thing now. Send weed to the folks who need it most. And I’m not talking about like they’re asking for it. I mean, most of the time, if you really need it, you don’t know, you know.


Rick Kiley: It goes on a little bit. I think there’s a couple of things that are important. The other thing that’s going to happen is he’s asked for the federal government to review the scheduling which Jarrod mentioned in our interview as well. The federal government currently classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance. President Biden said it’s the same as heroin and LSD. And in a class more serious than fentanyl. It makes no sense. So, it’s great to look at the scheduling as well. I think that’ll be a big thing that will help march towards federal legalization, which is ultimately what we’re hoping happens. And I think ultimately the road we’re on.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. If we were traveling from New York to California and New York was illegal weed in federal court and then California was legal weed, there’s a real metaphor there. I would say we were probably in New Jersey about two weeks ago but I feel like this has really moved us all the way to the middle of the country at this point. We’ve made, I think, a real step change and a real, just a huge step towards federal decriminalization and legalization.


Rick Kiley: Yeah. I mean, it kind of came out of nowhere too like I got a New York Times alert and I just saw it. I was like, “Whoa.” Like, there was very, very little advance chatter that this was happening at least that maybe I was just paying attention to baseball and not the news.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. You probably needed a doobie after that.


Rick Kiley: Yeah. Those of us who are Mets fans or Cardinals fans are pretty sad.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. But I think you bring up a good point, though, Rick, about the surprise of it and it makes me, of course, always go to motivation. What was the motive here to get that off to really pull that rabbit out of a hat? And I do the lesser generous part of me wants to think, well, the economy’s not doing great.


Rick Kiley: Yeah. It’s true. There’s a big election coming up.


Jeff Boedges: Big election and how do we…


Rick Kiley: Three weeks? Yeah. But I think President Biden’s trying to make good on campaign promises. That’s why we saw the student loan forgiveness happen. He really didn’t talk about cannabis very much. There were certainly no promises there. So, I think there’s a recognition that there’s a progressive part of the party that’s really moving in this direction. I think he’s trying to get on board and stay with the times.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. It’s not Sanders we’re talking about here.


Rick Kiley: No, no. But, I mean, I think it’s a really big step. Just so you know, I just looked it up. So, in one year, just so everyone has the contrast and understanding of federal versus state, in 2017, there were 97 people put in jail for simple possession on a federal level and 20,000 in the state program. So, it’s like three orders of magnitude. There are two orders of magnitude, roughly. Sorry. So, it’s a big difference. And I think if the governors follow suit, at least in the states that have legalized for adult use, I have to think that that would be coming if that hasn’t happened already in some of these states that we should be well on our way and it’s great for social justice.


Jeff Boedges: I would love to know how much and what circumstances these guys would get nicked, though. You know, it’s like how many times that I bring a joint through security at JFK or LaGuardia? You know, it’s like son of a b*tch being…


Rick Kiley: Zero. The answer is zero, everybody.


Jeff Boedges: Oh, well, yeah, the official answer is zero. But I’m going to show you a number on writing it. It’s probably more than zero. But, I mean, can you imagine going to be like I was just going to a business meeting and burn a joint? Is that a big deal?


Rick Kiley: But it was. It was. And it wasn’t so long ago like we were living here in New York and as much as I’m a big fan of Michael Bloomberg as a mayor and everything he did in the city, that was a big stop-and-frisk era. And there are a lot of people just stopped, found to have a joint or a little bit on them, and put in jail. It was an applied practice and I think the country has turned it around pretty quickly, which is it’s pretty amazing. And this is a pretty big move on the turning the cruise ship, if you will, and a really hard turn to make but I think it’s a great first step.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. And it has been a long time since I think I was pleasantly surprised by the government.


Rick Kiley: Yeah. Yeah.


Jeff Boedges: I mean, just on that score alone, I’d be like, “Wow.” I try to remember like the last pleasant surprise.


Rick Kiley: Yeah. That’s probably before that was…


Jeff Boedges: I think when Lincoln gave out…


Rick Kiley: What? The slaves were freed?


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. That’s probably the last time I can remember. Well, I didn’t see it coming.


Rick Kiley: Jeff, you are old but come on.


Jeff Boedges: No, I’m just saying it.


Rick Kiley: Anyway, I don’t want to hold up the interview any longer. I know that the intro is not directly related but I do think just to remember on-premise consumption is something that is going to be happening legally in the New York market. The laws are carved out for that. And as we see the progress get made in one area, we see progress in others. And I think the work that Mark is doing and the events he’s putting together are a little precursor for that. And I think everybody should check it out and check out his organization, Spleaf, if you’re interested.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. And if you’re in New York, check it out.


Rick Kiley: Absolutely. Cool. Thanks for listening, everybody.




Rick Kiley: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of The Green Repeal. I am Rick Kiley joined by my co-host, as always, Jeff Boedges. What’s up, Jeff?


Jeff Boedges: I’m wearing a sweater today, man. It’s cold.


Rick Kiley: Well, it was called this morning but it’s going to get up to 60.


Jeff Boedges: 60. Wow. Here we go. I’ll take my shirt off for the walk home.


Rick Kiley: Nice. Everybody likes a shirtless man walking around Manhattan. It’s really…


Jeff Boedges: Just hope I don’t end up in a squad car again.


Rick Kiley: It’s the dream. It’s the dream. Well, today, we have a really cool interview lined up. We are welcoming Mark Rafailovich, founder and owner of Spleaf, which is a minority and LGBTQ-inclusive company. Born in Uzbekistan, Mark and his family emigrated to New York as refugees from the former Soviet Union, and then he was raised in the most diverse town in the world, Jeffrey? Corona, Queens. He found his passion for getting people together, learning from their various cultures. And shortly after graduating college, Mark started a gourmet edibles and events brand, Spleaf, which took off quickly on his Instagram page. Since 2018, legacy operator, Spleaf, has been producing an array of various hospitality entertainment pop-ups in the gray space, wooo, which were curated to the modern-day professional who happens to be a cannabis consumer. Spleaf’s mission since day one has been to normalize and destigmatize cannabis use in everyday settings, while also having cannabis replace alcohol as a new social lubricant. I’m not sure we’re ever going to fully replace it but as a nice alternative is what I like to think.


After successfully hosting over 40 events that included experiences from nightclub shows or to tea parties, Spleaf has opened the eyes of many to the idea that cannabis can just be another element of the already familiar New York City social scene. Mark, welcome to The Green Repeal.


Mark Rafailovich: Thanks so much, guys. Really happy to be here.


Rick Kiley: Awesome. We are really thrilled to be talking to you because we love events. We love the on-premise, we love bar life, and are excited about what’s going to happen when that collides with the cannabis industry. Before we jump into that, you do have a very interesting background, emigrating from Uzbekistan.


Jeff Boedges: You’re the third person we’ve had on the show, though, from Uzbekistan, no, wait.


Rick Kiley: No, no, not the third. Yeah.


Mark Rafailovich: Really?


Rick Kiley: I think you’re the first.


Jeff Boedges: I would love teasing now, man.


Rick Kiley: Yeah. This is our 61st episode. Can you imagine that? That would be like 5%, something like that, already that would be a pretty high percentage. But I’m just curious if you give us a little insight into what was your early life in America for you.


Mark Rafailovich: Well, the life that you would expect of an emigrant family coming in, not really knowing what’s what and of all places, New York City, to have to learn things real quick. So, the School of Hard Knocks is certainly one that taught myself and my immediate family. So, it was the optimists would say that it was interesting and very educational. So, I mean, we grew up in poverty. You know, we’re in a low-income area. And it exposed me and my sister, who is only four years older than me to your run-of-the-mill kind of bad neighborhood type of stuff. So, that made us wise up really quickly. And our parents were the type that though being great parents, they also wanted us to learn and really know what’s out there to make sure that we don’t fall into not doing things just out of fear.


Jeff Boedges: Bad situations.


Mark Rafailovich: Right, right, right, exactly. So, they knew that we were smart enough to not fall in with the wrong crowd but they also were liberal enough to let us walk to school at a very young age and coming back home on our own and that kind of stuff. So, it exposed both of us to a lot of experiences, lots of different types of people. But I don’t want it to all sound bad. I mean, obviously, like in the introduction to Corona, Queens, right? It is known, if it hasn’t been replaced by another town, as the most diverse area, the most diverse town or area or municipality or whatever in the world. So, the cultures that I met people from all over so that kind of felt good too to know that I’m not the only emigrant around. And not the only emigrant from my country. I mean, I’ve met people from my country. I met people from countries bordering my country, which I didn’t even know about. Yeah. So, it was educational. It was educational for sure and it helped me, like, really know how to socialize with people from different backgrounds.


Rick Kiley: Got it. Yeah. That’s very helpful when you’re building relationships. So, that’s a great thing. So, then tell us about how you got involved in the world of cannabis. And I remember we had a chance. You spoke with me on a panel at the NECANN conference in Albany recently. If I recall, it was at a younger age than many. So, I was just curious as to if you give us a little story about how you got exposed to cannabis and then maybe talk about how that introduction turned into an entrepreneurial endeavor.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah.


Jeff Boedges: And it seems like that would have been one of the things your parents were warning you about.


Rick Kiley: You said they would.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. Well, they certainly did and I didn’t listen and I’m kind of happy that I didn’t. And then they kind of got it. They were like, “All right. There’s no need for us.” I mean, we’ll warn him but he’s smart enough to…


Jeff Boedges: Not going to live your life.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, yeah, it was at the very early age of ten that I got exposed to it. It’s me and my buddies. We just finished elementary school, fifth grade, and one of us had an older sibling who, I mean, it was all around. I would walk down the hallway of my apartment building. I would always smell it but I didn’t know what it was. And then I finally got exposed to it and I was like, “Okay. This is cool.” We rolled up a blunt in the playground. And I remember it was like the last day of school kind of thing. And you know how typically people don’t like there’s a large number of people that the first time they smoke, they would say that they didn’t do it right or it didn’t hit them or anything like that?


Rick Kiley: Yeah.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah.


Mark Rafailovich: Not the case. Not the case for me.


Rick Kiley: Well, you probably weighed like 75 pounds or something. Ten years old? Yeah.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. It was crazy. I mean, I was a wild kid. I’m still a little wild but I would like to think that I’ve tamed myself through the experiences. Back then, there was no taming me. So, we were doing all kinds of crazy stuff. But I remember that when we smoked that blunt, it was a sunny day in the summer but it looked to me like it was snowing. Like, I thought that there were snowflakes coming from the sky.


Jeff Boedges: Right?


Mark Rafailovich: But aside from that, it was a good time, man. We had like a little party and playing video games and being kids. We just happen to, you know.


Jeff Boedges: Get stoned.


Mark Rafailovich: Be smoking weed pretty early. But I never really touched it after that until I was 16. And then I had a really close friend of mine who we were thick as thieves and and started doing that in his backyard. And ever since then, didn’t really look back. That’s when I started to be a habitual cannabis consumer and I just really enjoyed it just for the same reasons that most people enjoy it, those who do.


Rick Kiley: Sure.


Mark Rafailovich: So, yeah, I mean, it exposed me to an alternative to alcohol. And the B.S. that they’ve been saying that it’s a gateway drug, it’s totally untrue. I mean, it didn’t get me interested in many other things. I mean, psychedelics, that was in my college years.


Rick Kiley: For those of you who can’t see Mark, I think there might be a meth lab behind him, though. I can’t tell.


Jeff Boedges: No. I mean, that’s…


Rick Kiley: No, no. Sorry. It’s not.


Mark Rafailovich: No meth. No meth for me but, yeah. So, it started making me a lot more creative and having all kinds of cool ideas until to a point where I had another friend of mine in college who introduced me to how to make edible. And from that point, the hustler in me, kind of kicked in and I was like, “Oh, okay. You can make this into food.” So, there’s other ways. And then again, the hustler in me at that time I was in college always looking for a way to make an extra income or what have you just started selling brownies on campus and really gourmet brownies like I knew that there were the other guys who didn’t really care and everybody just wants to get high but I always like to think that I would put a little extra detail.


Rick Kiley: Wait a minute.


Mark Rafailovich: Wait a minute.


Rick Kiley: In college, there was a market for a really gourmet pot brownies versus regular pot brownies?


Jeff Boedges: Were they priced the same as the crappy brownies? Or were you getting a premium? Because all things being equal, I’m definitely going to take the gourmet brownie.


Rick Kiley: Sure. But I never had any money in college, so I would go with whatever is cheapest.


Jeff Boedges: This is true.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. Yeah. And I did have competition. There was a little bit of a turf war so to speak. Yeah, this kid was like, “Hey, man, don’t sell brownies on this campus or don’t sell these days or whatever.” And I’m like, “Dude, like I have an alternative. What you have and what I have are different.”


Rick Kiley: Stay off the West side. The West side’s mine.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was like that. I was like, “Seriously? This is brownies we’re talking about.” Specifically, I wasn’t selling anything else.


Jeff Boedges: And how many brownies we’re talking about here? I mean, there had to be a pretty big market. It’s New York City.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah, there was. And it was just on my campus like I didn’t really have much of a network outside of college and I did have an expansive group of friends. So, I can’t remember but I knew that I was selling them for like, I don’t know, $10 a pop and I would wrap them in like wax paper but like fold it as if it’s like a chocolate bar. And then back then, everybody knew me as Spleef because I smoke spliffs all the time and they would say, “Spleef,” like they’re happy to see me. And it was a stupid thing but it stuck. And I kind of made a – I started branding these too because I kind of taught myself the import… I was going to school at the time for media communication arts, and they would teach us about branding and the importance of marketing and all of that. So, I kind of applied. I would make my logo handwritten on every single one of these wax paper wrappings. So, people recognize that this was a Spleef-branded product. I mean, this is at a college 20-year-old, like let’s f*ck around type of level. But it stuck out.


Jeff Boedges: So, I got to dig into it. I know we probably shouldn’t because they’re playing a bigger fish to fry here. But like so were you making every day or was this like Saturday is Brownie Day or how was the production?


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. I had like a production day where I would make enough to last a week but then demand started increasing. So, I started to have to do it more often, and I was still living at my folks’ place and my dad really didn’t like the smell of when I was infusing the oil. I don’t know if you guys ever infused. It’s like the old-school way of infusing oil on a frickin pan with some…


Rick Kiley: Yeah.


Jeff Boedges: I wasted the better part of a quarter ounce by just throwing the leaf into a thing of brownies.


Mark Rafailovich: Straight in.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. Straight in. That was college and there was no internet when I was in college. So, there was no place to learn. I was just like, “This is probably how you do it.”


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah, right, right.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. Didn’t really…


Mark Rafailovich: And I’m sure that when you did it that way, it did mask the smell of it too because you have the chocolaty aroma in there.


Jeff Boedges: But, yeah, but when then you would eat the brownie and smile and your teeth would be all green, it wasn’t great because it looked like you had put oregano in there. It wasn’t good.


Mark Rafailovich: I’ve had those, man, and that kind of gave me more motivation. I’m like, “You guys want to have this old-school stuff or you want to try something that’s a little bit more?”


Jeff Boedges: Sophisticated.


Rick Kiley: Luxury.


Mark Rafailovich: Sophisticated. Yeah.


Jeff Boedges: I think it’s hysterical, though, that you were cooking it in your family kitchen.


Rick Kiley: Yeah. I was like, “What kind of dorm room had an oven?”


Mark Rafailovich: No, no. No dorms for me. I was a city college kind of kid.


Jeff Boedges: Were you wearing your mom’s apron? That’s what I really want to see. You have like an apron on that says like “Betty Crocker” or “Kiss the Cook” or something like that, that be great.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. No, it was a really cheesy $0.99 store-bought apron but I was definitely wearing it because I didn’t want to get my fly outfit crappy.


Rick Kiley: Yeah. You don’t want brownie schmutz on your fly outfit, Jeffrey.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. Well, look, if you’re selling premium brownies, you can’t go walking around looking like you got hit with the chocolate factory.


Rick Kiley: So, organic brand building led you to create Spleaf. When did you say, “All right. I can make this a legit business. Well, I can make this a gray area but going to get started.”


Mark Rafailovich: Right. Like, actually take it seriously as a business. I remember distinctly I put it down. After college, I was like, “Okay. I’m done with this.” I got a degree in film production and I was in television and in films like as an assistant editor in the post-production right out of college. So, I was like, “Well, I don’t really need to do this anymore.” But then I met a girl and she was really awesome and very, very talented as a chef. And I said, “Maybe I should just mess around and see like maybe I could back this up and sell it to like my coworkers or whatever.” Because, again, I’m always a hustler. And at that time, she gave me a list of ingredients and said, “Go and get me these and come back.” I’m like, “Wait. Are we not doing it the way that I did it before?” She’s like, “No, that’s pretty basic. We’re going to do something different.”


Jeff Boedges: Good, good. “You’ve done some good work here but here’s what we’re going to do.”


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. And I was like, “Oh, okay. Well, I thought mine was gourmet enough,” but this girl is really talented. She’s just one of those who is creative with everything. So, I give her the ingredients and then I just go for a walk and then come back. And she brings me the bake, which is something that there was a title that I gave it because it was a brownie and a cake together in a 3 x 3 square. So, you had a brownie layer and a cake layer on top with some frosting and some like she gourmet-ed my gourmet and created a completely new pastry and I started to just build everything out of that. And so, when I was doing some side, I had a little side hustle at a restaurant. I met another guy named Ash who said, “You really got something here, man.” You know, like, “I’ve never had an edible that’s so delicious and so beautiful looking.” I was just sold like regular and this was, what, maybe 2010, you know? So, the culture just wasn’t really here. And even the stuff that was even around on social media back then didn’t show you like California was a little bit more ahead of us was doing as far as pastries was concerned.


So, as far as I knew, this was like a very, very, very unique product. So, this guy saw that in me and he was very business minded and said, “Dude, like you should really turn this into like a real, real business.” Marketing on Instagram was like my first way of doing it. And because I went to film school, I applied my knowledge of how to capture things very beautifully and would photograph these very well. And that just started taking off. People would start hitting me up on the end, and no longer were these just college friends of mine. These are just like people I don’t even know. And I figured, “Well, what’s the risk?” I’m selling cakes here. You know what I mean? It’s not like I’m advertising weed itself. So, it was like he taught me how to do a profit and loss report and like inventory management and all of that stuff. And I started really applying these business practices of any small business would have to apply to theirs. So, from that point on, I really started taking it seriously, started really like having an array of products. I started adding different kinds of pastries to it.


And then I was like, “Well, I wanted something experiential.” Like, I have a product but I want an experience like an event to go along with the brand. So, I had a two-sided business ever since then where products are being sold on a day-to-day to put my brand in the hands of other people while hosting monthly sit-down infused dinners. At the time, it was 2015-2016, infused dinners started popping up all over the place where you would have these chefs, chefs from coming out of their restaurant world and hosting private dinners and realizing that it’s just a lot more lucrative for them than to be working in this stressful environment of a restaurant and having to be at the whims of a restaurant owner. Here they are having an opportunity to have their own little thing. So, being that I was not a chef but I had a chef working with me, that was kind of the dynamics there where I would host these events and I get to actually host the events while the chef is in the kitchen whipping it up. And again, being that I had the brand flowing into the people’s hands every day, it made it easier for me to promote the event where it’s like, “Well, if you like this, come to this dinner party.”


Rick Kiley: All right. Hang on. I want to talk about the events but I do have a question about the product. So, college years, gourmet, edible brownie, $10 a pop. This triple layer cake bake brownie frosted goodness thing, how much did that start going for in 2010?


Mark Rafailovich: Those were $20 a pop, I believe.


Rick Kiley: All right. So, you doubled your price. Okay. Nice.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. I mean, it was in better packaging. I had like these reptile-embossed boxes that were really shiny and whatnot. So, yeah, they were certainly worth it.


Jeff Boedges: The Faberge egg of edible. Yeah.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. At least at the time.


Rick Kiley: Nobody’s owned that yet. It’s good. You want to be the Faberge egg of edible.


Jeff Boedges: For sure. And in fact, I think we should start some kind of Faberge egg that’s edible.


Mark Rafailovich: You’re onto something.


Rick Kiley: Interesting idea. That’s what I want in my Easter basket.


Jeff Boedges: Right? I mean, Easter would be a hell of a lot more fun when you get to that ham and that potato casserole. Is it just me?


Rick Kiley: I think you’re taking us off track. I think there are also only like 39 or isn’t there only a limited number of Faberge eggs, or am I wrong about that?


Jeff Boedges: I don’t know.


Rick Kiley: Okay. But then you could create, yeah, the edible that there are only like 40 of. Make them really rare.


Jeff Boedges: All right. We are now…


Rick Kiley: Now, we’re into some weird bizarro places. Okay. So, the extensive product line then so you started with this gourmet bake thing. Are you focused entirely in that edible range with your brand? Is it just edible products?


Mark Rafailovich: Then. At that point, it was. Yes. And at that point, it was just baked goods. And then I had this idea to, you know, I was like, “Okay. Dinners are a little bit stressful. I want to have different kinds of experiences where people can socialize.” So, the first of those events, I branded Spleaf sessions and the first of those was I took over a loft and created a cafe experience and then a candy shop experience right after that. And I said, “Okay. Well, candy shop, now I need candy. How do I make candy?” And then I discovered some people were making like gummies or hearts, like lollipops or candy with tincture. So, then I started developing and started adding candy and then eventually fell into the drinkable product, the tincture itself. Once I invented that, where I invented it, but once I started applying that to my production, that gave me yet another idea to start making drinks with it.


Rick Kiley: Got it.


Mark Rafailovich: And from that point on, it came from, “Oh, let’s do a different experience each time, say a cafe or a candy shop,” and now it turned into a cocktail bar and give a cocktail bar experience now with the ability to infuse beverages, which was really, really went from edible to drinkable. And that’s how I stayed sort of…


Rick Kiley: Yeah. And we’re getting that in one second. I have one more question. But all your products that you’re creating, be it the cocktails, tinctures, candies, etcetera, are you owning the whole sort of supply production side of things or are you sourcing anything from farms or extractors? Or like are you using other tinctures like that other guys are using or are you producing all of it?


Mark Rafailovich: I was producing everything aside from the actual flower because I definitely did not have the ability to grow it. So, I was still sourcing the flower but everything was being produced by me at the time.


Rick Kiley: Right. You’re making your own tinctures.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. Exactly.


Rick Kiley: Got it. Cool. Awesome.


Jeff Boedges: Can I ask a couple of quick courses? So, unlike the dinners, you’re doing multiple courses, I assume.


Mark Rafailovich: Yes.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. And then so…


Mark Rafailovich: There were generally just three or four courses, nothing crazy with like six, seven. I’ve seen ten-course dinners now.


Jeff Boedges: Is every course infused?


Mark Rafailovich: Yes.


Jeff Boedges: Because I got to feel like by the time you get done eating, you’re feeling pretty good.


Mark Rafailovich: Not even by the time you’re done anything like by the…


Jeff Boedges: By the second course.


Mark Rafailovich: By the third. By like dessert, you’re already kind of faded. And then the thing is, people would smoke in addition to, you know, while they’re waiting in between courses. You see this all the time in infused dinners that people would smoke. And I’m like, “Why?” You know, because then you’re going to take away from the total effect of the meal. And then the meal is going to hit you after you already smoked and then you’re going to be…


Rick Kiley: Right. It’s like drinking the $100 a bottle of wine after you’ve already had four glasses of wine. You know, like you’re not necessarily going to appreciate the greatness of it.


Jeff Boedges: So, my next question really relates to that. So, are you taking the different infusions and creating like an entourage effect where you really kind of not only are you curating the courses in the food, are you curating the buzz? So, it starts off as one thing and then you go to a different type of infusion that you’ve created or a different type of extraction. Is that something that people do?


Rick Kiley: Yeah. Are you uplifting at the beginning and then giving people couch lock at the end, I think?


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. Or maybe…


Mark Rafailovich: You know, I’m sure that this has been the goal for some to do it that way but that’s kind of hard. I mean, the effects of THC are going to be the same no matter, I mean, it’s really just a matter of how you dose it, right? Now, if you wanted to get a little bit more advanced, then you start mixing it in with other cannabinoids like CBD to balance it out. So, let’s say this course one, 5 milligrams of CBD and 5 milligrams of THC and then course two is just THC. But I didn’t do all of that. At the time when I was doing dinners, I just want to clarify that dinner was like my entryway into having events.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah. And I knew it’s a little bit of a rabbit hole. I’m just curious like how people are doing it. That’s why it was more like a science of the infused dinner than it was…


Mark Rafailovich: I got you. Some people keep it interesting by adding actual terpenes to the…


Jeff Boedges: To different items. Right.


Mark Rafailovich: To different courses and that’s more of a flavor type of thing versus an effect, various psychotropic effects. I mean, I’ve been to many dinners and not many really do it that way. What they do to make it their own or special, or what have you, would be the actual menu itself and how the food is prepared and perhaps, again, just like adding terpenes to add the flavor from the actual plant.


Rick Kiley: Got it. Right. So, the reason we connected for the NECANN conference is because I was leading a panel on the future of on-premise cannabis consumption. And we talked and I learned about you and the work you were doing with I think what I really want to focus on is these sort of I think you even self-described it as like a modern-day speakeasy type event where it really focused on the cocktails and the beverage consumption method. Can you talk a little bit about your approach to creating those events with the drinks, with THC cocktails, and how you’ve gone about bringing those to life?


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. So, as I said earlier, what birthed that idea was when I created the tincture for candy making and then realized that I could actually just add that for drinks. Well, I like to keep things interesting always. I like to stand out. You know, in my – I would still call it market research, though is limited because how much market research can you do in a gray area as far as experiences go? But in my market research, it was that the cool thing was these dinners that you’re having an edible experience but you’re not having it in the way that you typically have it, which is the packaged product, usually a sweet, and turning it into savory. That was the thing. And I said, “All right. Well, let me go beyond that a little bit and think outside the box,” and realize, “Well, you don’t have to eat it. You can drink it.” The inspiration there was, again, like, I wanted to have events where people can actually walk around and socialize and take in the various elements of an event. And so, it’s a lot easier to do that, especially indoors because I was renting venues that would not be necessarily cool with people smoking inside.


Rick Kiley: Shared smoking. Yeah.


Mark Rafailovich: Right, exactly. And then being that I wanted to veer away from eating it, well, what’s the other way you can consume it is drinking it and you can actually have something in your hand walking around, you know, something cannabis infused in your hand while you’re walking around rather than eating it. And we were doing that as well with like hors d’oeuvres so we would still have hors d’oeuvres being passed around and those being infused. But, yeah, so that was really the motivation is I wanted to have an event where people can consume something that they’re not eating or smoking but still cannabis-infused. So, that’s really where it came from.


Rick Kiley: I mean, I know we talked about this at the conference but I think everybody at least that’s talking in this little trio here is a big believer in the growth and innovation coming out of cannabis beverages in general. You mentioned the tinctures. I’m just wondering, can you go like one level further for me? When you’re crafting cocktails, are you doing it yourself? Are you working with like a bartender mixologist? And then are you creating like pre-packaged things or is it like I’m taking the tincture and I’m mixing a cocktail for you at this event and serving it to you? And maybe like, how much variety are we offering here? How is that working?


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. So, I mean, in the initial start, it’s a small team. So, I just did some research on finding nonalcoholic just mocktail recipes that would be in-season as well. So, having the taste of the season and curating just basically testing them out, trying them out, adding our tinctures to the drinks and mixing them together, and then thinking of the best glass for presentation, garnishes, everything that mixology entails. So, all of these, the events would generally have four, actually, I think it’s always been four. Sometimes it’s been three but it’s always been four or three, nothing more, nothing less of a variety per event. And that every event would have a new cocktail menu. And I was doing them on a monthly basis. So, that was fun and a lot of creation. But, yes, they were not pre-packaged beverages that we were serving, at least at the time. I mean, now we do have a packaged product as well that we offer as like, well, you can get a cocktail and you can get a beer but it’s not a beer.


But the same thing. It’s like you can get something that’s a mixed drink or you can get something that’s a packaged drink. Back then it was just all mixed drinks on a very sophisticated level. And, I mean, talking about throwing in lavender and other like edible flowers and egg white and all that cool, fun stuff that you see at a cocktail bar charging you $18 to $20 a drink.


Rick Kiley: I always stay away from the egg white drinks. I’m just not a fan. That’s just a personal choice, though. Just me.


Jeff Boedges: I like the foam.


Rick Kiley: Jeff’s a foam guy.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah, a little bit.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah, me too.


Jeff Boedges: There’s a nice body to it. It’s a mouth-feel thing.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah.


Rick Kiley: All right.


Jeff Boedges: Also, I like…


Mark Rafailovich: Agreed, Jeff.


Rick Kiley: Okay, to each their own. And so, this bottled product, is this your own brand or is it…


Mark Rafailovich: Yes.


Rick Kiley: Okay, cool.


Mark Rafailovich: Yep. So, that took us a long time to develop because I wanted to have a product that’s on the same level of sophistication and standing out as the rest of them. So, that meant first and it needed to be carbonated. I didn’t want to just have some kind of a flat juice beverage with texture in it. Anybody can do that. I wanted to do it a little bit different.


So, it took a while to figure it out. And I had a buddy of mine who knew a lot about beer making. And you can kind of apply the same practices of beer making to carbonated beverage making as well, in the sense that there is a period that you have to just let it do its thing. In beer, it would be fermentation, right? And then with this is just the carbonation process and the nano-emulsification that happens within the keg. I can’t speak to the science of it beyond that, but all I know is that I was grateful that I knew a guy who really understood that. So, we got the kegs and the…


Jeff Boedges: I can’t just take a glass of seltzer water and throw in some flavor. I have to actually let it emulsify.


Mark Rafailovich: Well, I mean, you can, but the thing is, to be able to put it into a bottle, you’re going to lose that carbonation immediately. So, it’s about knowing how to get it in the tank and then out of the tank, straight into the bottle and cap it to be able to…


Rick Kiley: Don’t you always do that? You open up a carbon and made a beverage, taking it like, that’s some good nano-emulsification.


Jeff Boedges: All with that. I mean, if it doesn’t have good nano-emulsification, I put it down.


Rick Kiley: Duh, gross. Yeah, that’s what I said.


Mark Rafailovich: No, actually, that’s more likely what you would…


Rick Kiley: I’m sure.


Mark Rafailovich: That would be because a lot of times, if you’re not doing it right and you’re trying to infuse cannabis into a beverage, more often than not it’s going to have that weedy kind of flavor.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah, that was giving me my next question.


Mark Rafailovich: And you’re going to have to mask with a lot of sugar and all of that stuff. And that’s not something that I did. It’s more of a seltzer than a soda, kind of in between, but yeah.


Jeff Boedges: And does it have a weedy flavor? Or is it just something more complex?


Mark Rafailovich: I don’t think it does. And people typically have told me they really love the flavor. It’s very simple ingredients and slightly sweetened with our already infused honey that we throw into the cake, and then just a little bit of natural fruit extract, pomegranate and cherry, whatever.


Rick Kiley: I’m going to go out on a limb here and I’m going to say something. I think people want a hint of weedy flavor because I feel like our brains want to know that there’s weed in it. It’s like when you drink a drink and you’re like, you can’t taste the alcohol, it doesn’t feel like a real drink. You’re like, I think, I don’t know. This is a supposition on my part. Research will show. I don’t know what’s going to happen with it, but I feel like you kind of want to taste– I think some people want to taste what they’re consuming.


Jeff Boedges: I think it’s over the board because I was used to be that way. But the edibles that I’ve been having lately, have almost no weed taste in them. Or I’ve become.


Rick Kiley: Immune?


Jeff Boedges: Immune to it, but I’m just like, oh, that’s yummy. I’m not like a big candy guy, but I’m like, that’s a good thing and yummy.


Rick Kiley: Yeah, I’d be curious when it applies to drinks. And I think, so I don’t know if you remember this, Mark, and I’m just going to ask you this question, but when we were speaking on the panel, we had Keith Villa with us, who is the creator of Blue Moon, and he started Ceria Brewing. And they were being very purposeful about their desire to create cannabis beers that mimicked sort of the level of buzz that you would get from drinking alcohol.


So, it’s cannabis buzz, but it was like if you had a can of beer, it’d be the same sort of level of buzz. And I’m curious, are you being prescriptive when you’re making these cocktails? Is that part of the formulation, like one drink should equal the amount of cannabis buzz that you would get the sort of alcohol equation? Is that part of the thought process at all?


Jeff Boedges: You mentioned three or four drinks per event so that’s about what I would think if you were going out to dinner would be like the top-end limit for the average human.


Mark Rafailovich: Well, I meant that there’s a menu of four different drinks. But yes, to answer your question, it is like that. We did want to microdose the drinks because, well, there’s all kinds of consumption going on at our events too. It’s not just the beverages. You’re going to have the beverages, you’re also going to have an hors d’oeuvre that’s microdose. Then there’s a dab bar, and then of course, you’re going to smoke in the smoking lounge. So, it’s a whole lot of cannabis that you’re consuming that if we off the bat already put a high amount in the drinks, then we’d be running into all sorts of trouble.


Rick Kiley: I’m seeing snow in the summer just thinking about it.


Mark Rafailovich: That was really the reason for it.


Jeff Boedges: All right. That should be one of your brands.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah, and some people, when we hear about…


Jeff Boedges: Sorry. Go. I talked over you, Mark. My apologies.


Mark Rafailovich: Oh, no worries. I just got distracted, too. I was just saying that when I would describe this kind of experience to people, they would get a little intimidated too. It’s like, oh, well, there’s weed and everything like whoa, whoa, that’s a lot. But I would assure them that it’s you get a full buzz out of getting a little bit of everything rather than having one thing and already being satisfied.


Rick Kiley: All right. So, one question, because I think we know the legal framework, of course, that’s coming out in New York, there are licenses for on-premise. But one of the sort of no-go zones that has been very public is that the government, when it comes to the legal cannabis market is really anxious and prohibiting the sale of alcohol and cannabis in the same places and I think because they’re wary of the combination of those two being used together. The question I’m going to be asking, you can say I choose not to answer, I plead the Fifth or whatever, but I’ve heard that there are people who are doing cannabis-infused alcohol, cocktails as well. Is that happening at all at your events?


Mark Rafailovich: Not at my events.


Rick Kiley: Okay. All right.


Mark Rafailovich: Not at my events, yeah. That’s really one of the appealing factors is that it’s an alternative for people to be in a social setting and even have a drink in their hand that will make them feel something, but that something is not the effect of alcohol, it’s the effect of cannabis.


Rick Kiley: All right. Cool.


Mark Rafailovich: But yeah, the fact that people do infuse. In fact, I knew this one brand that was really on the come-up here in New York called the Weedskey which was a cannabis-infused whiskey. They were really doing their thing. I don’t know what they’re doing now, but…


Jeff Boedges: I don’t really like, oh, well, yeah, one big skey that comes up and it’s got four blunts on it.


Rick Kiley: I thought it was like an 80s movie, Weedskey.


Jeff Boedges: Weedskey, yeah.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah.


Rick Kiley: All right.


Mark Rafailovich: I wasn’t a big fan of the name either.


Rick Kiley: Yeah, it’s not the best, but…


Mark Rafailovich: It was a thing for people who really wanted to get messed up.


Rick Kiley: It’s really on the nose. Like, I get it. So, when it’s coming to your events, who’s coming to them? How do people learn about it? Is anyone able to go? Is there a secret password? Why have I not been invited yet? Like, these are all the important questions.


Jeff Boedges: Well, Rick and I don’t get invited to many parties, so it’s okay that we weren’t.


Rick Kiley: We’re not cool. It’s all right.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah.


Mark Rafailovich: No, you guys are totally invited to every single one of these. In fact, you could even do a live recording at an event. That would be kind of cool. But to answer your question, it’s like, yeah, right. There have been events where podcasts would be going on, and our guests would be more than happy to participate and all that kind of stuff. They’re very, very open about the way that the fact that they consume, it’s not like one where, oh, I don’t want my face in any of your media, even though on technically in a gray area.


Rick Kiley: Right.


Mark Rafailovich: And neither people in corporate. So, to answer your question, the kinds of people that are there are young professionals, for the most part, but professionals, both in the corporate sector as well as the creators. So, you have just as many artists and musicians that are professionally doing what they’re doing as much as you have the 9 to 5 sort of banking, finance, what have you, teachers, educators, all kinds of folks who the general age range is 20s and 30s, but certainly, I’ve had folks in there in the older crowd coming by and enjoying themselves too.


Rick Kiley: I’ve been both of those age ranges.


Mark Rafailovich: Which I thought was really great. Yeah, it’s…


Rick Kiley: And how are people learning about it? Is it mostly word of mouth and through your Instagram? Is that it?


Mark Rafailovich: It started from that, but I was building a mailing list for a long time and for people to get my products once I developed into a real business, had a website, people were able to order off the website. So, it’s mailing lists that I’ve compiled over customer data that I was able to market.


Rick Kiley: Got it.


Mark Rafailovich: Mainly.


Rick Kiley: All right.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah.


Rick Kiley: And so, then we’re starting to get to the end of the time. So, I’m getting in a little fast and furious here. But are the products for sale at these events? Or do I buy a ticket to attend and then everything’s all-inclusive? How are you working that part of the business? Because I really wasn’t aware of the separate sort of store side and then the event side of it, how was that happening?


Mark Rafailovich: So, yeah, my full line of products would be available for sale through the event guests. And there is a whole market that’s just a part of the event experience where folks want to shop and I curate that market, hand-selecting. Other brands, local New York brands in the cannabis and non-cannabis space that want to showcase their products to my membership base.


Rick Kiley: That’s cool.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. So, in addition to my products being there, I will also have other people’s other brands, other vendors actually selling it in the market.


Rick Kiley: So, it’s a bit of a pop-up experience vibe, but there’s a retail component to what’s happening there as well.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah, exactly. And I just really want to stress the fact that it’s not a shopping event because you get a lot of these in the cannabis scene where it became this event, but there’s nothing going on aside from the retail experience. They just have a whole bunch of vendors lined up and it’s a market. The market is just a tiny part of the experience where it’s a full-on party, like just has a market, yeah.


Rick Kiley: All right. That’s cool.


Mark Rafailovich: So much.


Jeff Boedges: We have to go check it out because…


Rick Kiley: Absolutely. And I love the idea of recording there.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah, I think for sure, but I’ve got so many questions that I want to get because we’re events people, Mark, and so, we’re going to be like, I want to know what the food is, what the service ritual is, all of those things. My mind goes right to the granular side, and I just want to be able to watch and see it unfold.


Rick Kiley: Yeah, our people ordering bottle service with sparklers, like that’s a big question because that happens in nightclubs.


Mark Rafailovich: No.


Rick Kiley: No? Okay, good.


Mark Rafailovich: I’m so against that, man. I am so against that. I would sell tables. So, in my nightclub event whereas brand it as weed soiree, the idea there is to replicate a nightclub experience but replacing, of course, the alcohol consumption and replacing the douchery, the whole flexing on everybody, buying a $5,000 bottle, looking like– I hated that in nightlife. So, in addition to changing the cannabis scene, I wanted to change the nightlife scene, too.


But, yes, as event producers, you guys do understand that you need to have multiple revenue streams coming in. You can’t just depend on ticket sales alone. So, that’s where bar sales would be and the marketplace and then getting vendor fees, sponsorships, all of that kind of stuff. It’s part of it.


Rick Kiley: And you got to make all that other stuff, work harder when you eliminate the douchey money. So, kudos to you for that.


Mark Rafailovich: Right.


Jeff Boedges: There’s a big margin on douchey…


Rick Kiley: But I think you draw a lot of people. I mean, if you just said no douchery, you’re going to draw a lot more people. I mean, I’m in.


Jeff Boedges: It’s a quick site music. What are we listening to at these things?


Mark Rafailovich: Oh, great question, Jeff. So, I’m a burner of sorts. I haven’t actually had the pleasure of being at burning man, but I’ve been to many smaller burns to the burn, the kind of music that plays that, this kind of function is what the deejays that typically would play that. And so, we’re talking deep house and melodic house, all electronic. It’s always electronic because I don’t know if you guys have ever gone into that kind of music, but it’s just really, really good composition.


Jeff Boedges: We are all over the board.


Mark Rafailovich: And such the tone is really well.


Jeff Boedges: We’re all over the board. I don’t dislike the music. I can’t say that I’m definitely not the foremost aficionado on it, but if I went in and that’s what you were playing, I’d be a hell of a lot more comfortable there than if you were playing country. I’ll just say that, so.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. It’s a great time. And then, I pair that with live performances, so we would have aerialists and fire performers. We’ve had a samba band that was completely different from what I normally do, but we had a samba, a full band along with flamenco dancers and all that kind of stuff.


Jeff Boedges: Oh, well, that’s great.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah, it’s a whole show.


Jeff Boedges: What does going to one of your events cost? And I’m assuming it’s you pay one cost to get in and you get your basic stuff, and then the store stuff is extra.


Mark Rafailovich: Well, no. So, the way that I did it is I would keep my ticket prices relatively low to get people in, but then…


Jeff Boedges: Everything’s on the cart.


Mark Rafailovich: It’s not all-inclusive. If you say, there are little upgrades that you can purchase, say, an open dab bar bracelet or an open bar bracelet or whatever, but those are extras. So, the last event that I threw, the ticket price was $65 at base and how a lot of shows would do it, I kind of followed that model where you have the first release price and then the second release price, third release price the day of. So, the prices vary depending on…


Jeff Boedges: When you buy it.


Mark Rafailovich: On your timing of getting the ticket, but yeah, it was as low as $65 to get in. And then the drinks are not expensive either, they’re $10 the top for the mixed drinks, and then $5 for the bottled beverages.


Rick Kiley: That’s less than a cocktail in New York City, everyone.


Jeff Boedges: For sure, yeah.


Mark Rafailovich: Absolutely.


Rick Kiley: For all of our listeners outside of the city, yeah.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. And it was to offset the fact that you had to pay what you would pay. It’s a higher price point than when you would pay to go to a nightclub. Generally, go to a show at a nightclub, you’re talking like $40, $30 at a base, maybe upwards of $50 and $60 like day of, but then the drinks are going to be like $20 a pop, and that’s like your most basic one.


Rick Kiley: Yeah, unless you’re buying a table, which they’re making you buy two bottles at 300 bucks.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. It’s nuts.


Jeff Boedges: Do you have 65 bucks?


Rick Kiley: Yeah, I do. I think we also know the owner.


Mark Rafailovich: You guys are comped.


Rick Kiley: All right, I appreciate it.


Mark Rafailovich: Just believe me. Come on.


Rick Kiley: No, we’ll totally come to check it out. We’re really excited. So, I really have one more question before we get to the end here, but now that New York is legalizing for adult use, I’m just curious as if you’re thinking about or have any plans to move from the gray area into the legal market. Are you…


Jeff Boedges: You should have a permanent venue.


Rick Kiley: Are you pursuing a retail license and on-premise license or manufacturers, brand license?


Jeff Boedges: That’s the name of the venue, Summer Snow. That’s the name of your club, by the way. I just made it up for you.


Mark Rafailovich: Summer Snow, I like it.


Rick Kiley: Yeah, it sounds like a cool brand, though.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah, because you’re first…


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. I was like, wait a second, hold on, people might get the wrong idea.


Jeff Boedges: True. In the club environment, yeah, sorry. That may we have to stay away from.


Mark Rafailovich: Well, the answer to your question, being that my brand, what I want my brand to be more represented by is the experiences and less so by the products. For as long as a license will not exist for exactly what I’m trying to do, there’s no way that I can pursue one.


Rick Kiley: But there are on-premise licenses out there, but I think that would be owning a cannabis lounge.


Jeff Boedges: It’s a brew pub.


Mark Rafailovich: An actual brick-and-mortar location, right. And those are not being rolled out in New York, like consumption lounge of licenses, those aren’t even part of that initial release. The initial release is…


Rick Kiley: But the carve-outs there in the law when they get around to it.


Mark Rafailovich: And when it happens, I certainly will pursue that because I mean, come on, we all know what happens if you don’t. The ones who actually have one will be haters and will make sure that you get shut down. That’s really what comes down to. It’s not even about, I mean, yeah, it is the authorities in there. They’re going to…


Mark Rafailovich: Well, you don’t have…


Jeff Boedges: There’s not a lot of haters in this industry though, man. I think everybody’s like to chill.


Mark Rafailovich: Oh, you’d be surprised.


Rick Kiley: Wait, like, but I think you…


Mark Rafailovich: There’s a lot of haters in this industry, like in any industry.


Rick Kiley: There would be that opportunity where you’d end up becoming like a cannabis party promoter in that world. Like you’d run your events through one of those venues and…


Mark Rafailovich: Exactly. And the idea there is, like with alcohol, there are catering companies or other event promotion companies would have a special kind of liquor license that would allow for them to sell on a temporary event-based basis. And I think that what would happen is that once they roll out consumption lounge licenses, I would probably need to get one of those, even though I don’t have a brick-and-mortar location, and then get a special micro license that would allow me to do that kind of thing where it’s not on-premise, it’s not my own place, but I have one, I have a license which will allow me to do it in other places.


But like I said, I mean, that time will probably not come for at least another two or three years, I would imagine, because only next year is when they’re going to start really rolling out the retail licenses. And then after that is when they’re going to start looking into the micro licenses, the delivery services, where strictly just delivery, you don’t have a dispensary, or just a delivery service and there will be a special license just for that. So, things like that, yeah, I’m keeping my eye on it. And as soon as those become available, I’ll certainly be pursuing one for sure.


Rick Kiley: Awesome. Great to hear. So, if people want to find out about you, about Spleaf, about the events, about your products, where should they go?


Mark Rafailovich: Well, you can stop by our website, SpleafNYC.com, S-P-L-E-A-F N-Y-C dot com, as well as our social media on Instagram @spleaf.nyc. And yes, I mean, as far as our website is concerned, people that want to be in the know, sign up for a free membership that just gives them access to certain things that are only members only, as well as getting the announcements of all the events that are coming up.


Rick Kiley: Awesome. Cool. Last thing, just we close every interview this way, we sort of use this podcast to look at where we are in the legal framework of cannabis in the US and curious if you have any thoughts when you think cannabis might be federally legal in the United States of America, federally?


Mark Rafailovich: A great question, man. I think if that time is coming, it certainly seems that way with the current administration.


Rick Kiley: I was shocked that Biden decriminalized.


Jeff Boedges: It was like, you need some wins, bud. He got to do something.


Rick Kiley: Yeah, I mean, no one thought that was going to happen and then it did so kudos.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah. And as we know, when we look at the trajectory of even on state level, you start with decriminalization if you haven’t already gotten medical first. Once you see decriminalization, you know that it’s going to keep going in the positive direction from there. So, I think…


Rick Kiley: So, what’s your over-under?


Mark Rafailovich: Hopefully, I’d say five years, I would assume. Five years is when we would start. Within the next five years is when we would start.


Rick Kiley: Halloween 2027. All right.


Mark Rafailovich: Yeah, before the 2030s.


Jeff Boedges: Yeah, okay, that’s fair. I’ve got one more question for you. How can we get Putin to get some weed? I think he needs it. And I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that he just needs something to chill the f*ck out.


Rick Kiley: Well, it’s been another wonderful episode of Green Repeal, everybody. Wow.


Mark Rafailovich: No comment on Putin. He’s listening.


Rick Kiley: Yeah.


Mark Rafailovich: Oh, man, good. I’m a Soviet man. My family’s information is probably at his disposal, so I’m just going to go ahead.


Jeff Boedges: Well, that’s my thought that you might have some insight there.


Mark Rafailovich: No idea, man. No idea there. I have no idea what’s going on in cannabis over there, but…


Rick Kiley: Yeah. Well, Mark, it has been great talking to you. Great chatting with you once again. And I hope we can get out to one of your events and even maybe record an episode there. That sounds like an awesome idea.


Mark Rafailovich: For sure.


Rick Kiley: All right, man.


Mark Rafailovich: Thank you, Jeff and Rick, for having me on, guys.


Rick Kiley: Yeah, cheers.


Jeff Boedges: Been our pleasure, man.


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