About HI Blog

Numb with Numbers – County-Level Retail Markups
October 29, 2015
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About HI Blog

High Intelligence is about better understanding emerging State-Legal Cannabis Markets.
Straight Line Analytics is about helping you see the shortest path to achieving your goals in those Markets (or, at least, one shorter than that which you currently travel).

I believe that data, when made freely available by public institutions, should remain free for those wishing to explore the meaning and value it contains.

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board has, for example, been proactive in making quite a few data resources available that describe different aspects of the emerging State-Legal Cannabis market in Washington.  I am both impressed with and appreciative of the efforts of a number of groups to make the WSLCB traceability data more accessible (free) to all.  These include the Cannabis Transparency Project, OpenTHC, 502data, xylem.exchange and others.

There are vendors charging for access to similar data presented through custom interfaces and there are vendors purporting to pull insight from and, thereby, add value to such data.

I am one such vendor.  Why then do I hold (strongly) my belief that such data should be free (and freely available)?  I believe that having freely available data levels the analytic playing field.  It allows anyone with access to an abacus, slide-rule,  calculator or spreadsheet a chance to improve their understanding of the market of interest. I also believe that the laws of the state of Washington relating to the use of business-specific information supplied by the state in response to public requests should be followed. I don’t particularly enjoy some of the spam I get related to my LCB applications … do you?

I believe that vendor fees are best charged when value is being added to the consumers of such data and by the insights allegedly derived from them.

Increasing the ease of accessing such data certainly adds value.  However, that value exists largely because the format developed by Biotrack to produce the public version of the traceability database is both opaque and grossly under-documented.

Given Biotrack’s passive aggressive work product, efforts to broaden basic access to these data definitely add value and are appreciated. 

It is just unfortunate that they are even necessary.  Most people simply don’t have the skills or time necessary to write effective SQL against an inadequately documented database that is already large enough to require 64-bit addressing.  Biotrack knows this.  Biotrack also knows that placing “matrix variables”, themselves internally delimited by commas into a comma-delimited extract is not a prudent action from the perspective of those wishing to use the data in any downstream application.  But I digress.

I also see efforts to broaden access to these data as noble in that they democratize access to the data, enabling many more creative (and critical) eyes to peer inside.  This is good both in helping the industry to police itself and also in helping to better inform law– and rule-makers in their industry-related deliberations.  That is added value which I believe should be available to the masses  at little to no incremental cost.  That is one reason that I’ll continue to support efforts such as OpenTHC , the Cannabis Transparency Project and, of course, those of CASP.

Where I see truly high value-add from all of this data stuff is in the application of quantitative methods to reveal information residing within these data and to turn that into a deeper and more accurate understanding of this industry and of it’s underlying dynamics. 

Once clarity is reached in such understanding, the fun begins. Actionable business intelligence and business improvement/ optimization become possible.

That is a clarity that I strive to bring to my clients, and that I will strive to impart (in part) to the readers of HI-Blog.  It is my hope that my ability to do that will make them (and you) better-informed participants who will, as a result, compete better in this industry.  At it’s core, that is the goal of my efforts – to help my clients (and readers) to succeed.  

If you are not a direct participant in this industry, my goal will be to make you a better-informed observer.

It is your comments and your feedback that will be the primary determinant of how well I am able to accomplish these goals.  Please let me know what you think.  I thrive on constructive criticism — and know that nothing I do is beyond improvement.  Help me to get better.  Help me to help you and to better help my clients.

I plan to be marketing my services to help businesses thrive in this increasingly  complex and competitive industry.  Thriving through Understanding – seems easy-peasy.

This blog is intended to share a window into some of the aspects of Washington’s State-legal Cannabis industry that are not necessarily obvious on the surface (e.g., on dashboards), but are crystal clear when the data are understood at a somewhat deeper level.  Some will even, perhaps, be of practical utility.

My initial goal will be to post something new here at least once per week.  I’ll generally shoot for a Friday posting each week. 

For now, I don’t have any sort of automatic notification of new postings, but suggestions already received suggest that I likely will in the near future.  If you want to be placed on such a list, use your real e-mail when posting comments on this site (or PM me with a request to be added).

I welcome your comments and the discussions they will spawn.

Dr. James MacRae    (Jim)


  1. How do we sign up for your weekly newsletter/posting?

    • Jim says:

      For now, just leave a comment and a valid e-mail with it. I’ll start collating a list of those folks (I’ll include everyone that is waiting for my “First Year Summary” document) and will manually let that list know when I post something new. … Once I figure out how to “automail” people with new blog postings, I’ll implement that for folks that want it.

      In the short term, I’ll likely also add to the HI BLog posting on 502Cannabis Google+ Forum with announcements of new postings (with a link) … let me know if/when that grows old.

      I’ll try to post at least once a week, so adopting a weekly “let’s look at Jimmy’s Blog” tactic will probably work for most.

  2. Congratulations Jim! you have the full support and endorsement of CASP. best regards, Dominic

    • Jim says:

      Thank-you, Dominic.

      I still fully intend to post “policy-related” things up on the CASP site when my investigations take me that way (such as my upcoming “outing of the labs” if, indeed, any of the labs are still in need of “outing”).

      I’ll know more about WordPress at that time, as well …. so you won’t have to hold as much hand as you were before.

  3. Shawn DeNae says:

    Your data collecting and crunching skills are so very appreciated, Jim. I love your charts, too!
    Thank you

    • Jim says:

      Danny Danko, Esq says thank-you, Shawn
      (“in-joke” for the R-5 Cooperative)

      I thank-you in advance for your help in keeping Danny in check on this blogsite.

  4. Neomosha Nelson says:

    Jim, thank you so much for filling this void. I look forward to your postings and working on projects in the future.

  5. Amy says:

    Thank you Jim – you may never know how much you’ve helped this industry and how much you are appreciated!
    (and please add me to your emailing list!

  6. Maryam Mirnateghi says:

    Thank you Jim!

    This is earmarked as one of my go to reads… I’m looking forward to your weekly postings and would like to be added to your mailing list. The information and insights you offer are invaluable to the cannabis industries, the stakeholders, the consumers and the communities of Washington.


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