Burlingame Rotary Club
Founded in 1925

High Gear Bulletin


Zoom Meeting - Wednesday, April 21, 2021

High Gear Editor: Guy Smiley

The meeting started at 12:15.
Dennis Zell led us in the pledge
Bobba Venkatadri wished a happy 95th birthday to Queen Elizabeth and gave thanks for her service to the world.
He followed with a quote from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
Bobba reminded us that the 85-year-old self-proclaimed “simple monk” has dedicated his life to the service of humanity, promoting a universal “religion of human kindness.” He gave a a brief recap of the Dalai Lama’s life and work, reminding us of the importance of finding peaceful solutions and being kind to one another.
Guests of the Club
Alex Rowland, our speaker
Michelle Marheineke, from the Peninsula Healthcare District
Bridget and Matt Zell
Lyle, of “Lyle’s iPhone”
There were a few announcements and updates.
Happy hour will be Friday @ 5. You should take a minute to drop in and say “hi” and give a toast to National German Beer Day. The regulars always welcome everyone. It’s a fun way to get a bit of fellowship with Rotarians and wind up the week. They’re usually on for about an hour. You can Zoom in anytime.
Our Spring Golf Tournament will be Monday, May 3. We’ll have a fund-a-need at registration, but not doing big sponsorships. The focus really is just getting people to come out and play. The Fiesta Cart will be roving the course with pre-Cinco de Mayo treats and libations. Please spread the word to your friends and family.
Our holiday party do-over will be at Filoli on June 27, 4-6:30—please join us and bring friends. Registration is open on our website.
Delia Montano’s husband, Genesis, continues to improve. He’s still in the hospital, but is doing much better. Delia thanks all of us for our prayers and asks that we keep them coming.
We skipped breakout rooms this week.
Dennis gave us an update on Allcove Teen Mental Health Center, a Peninsula Healthcare District initiative. It's a mental health project that seeks to catch mental health issues early and get people in treatment. Dennis is leading an effort to rollout drop-in clinics to provide mental health and other support services. The project is being done in collaboration with Stanford. This is an exciting program that promises to make a material difference for our community.
Dennis’s presentation, and Chery Fama’s follow up, were very interesting, however several of were distracted by what was coming next…
Little known to Dennis, his invitation to talk about Allcove was primarily a smokescreen.
Following this, Mark Johnson was introduced as the guest host of Newscast+. More subterfuge.
Mark quickly pivoted from Newscast+ and handed over “the mic” to Mike Heffernan, who began the slow reveal of the 2020 Wade Macomber Award winner. Poor Dennis looked on curiously, with the rest of the club, as Mike talked about acorns being the wee beginnings of might oaks. His face was priceless when Mike advanced to the following screen with a photo of Little Dennis with a giant smile. Mike, accurately, noted that most baby photos don’t look like the grown up. This one was UNDENIABLE!
Dennis was taken COMPLETELY by surprise! A tribute to the crack Wade Macomber team, and stealthy work by Bridget and Matt Zell—nicely done! Also, thanks to Mike Heffernan for putting together the fantastic presentation and narrative.
See PDF of the 2020 Wade Macomber Award presentation here.
Wendi Upchurch introduced Alex Rowland, our speaker. In 2016 Alex co-founded NewTropic with a vision to redefine the standards for cannabis manufacturing.  NewTropic does everything from sourcing, processing, extracting, infusing, packing, and shipping cannabis. 
Before founding NewTropic, Alex had been starting technology companies since the mid-1990s, largely focused on enterprise software, media, and associated technology sectors. He started looking at cannabis back in 2012 and 2013, once Colorado and Washington, Oregon were making noises towards legalizing cannabis within the borders of those States. He jumped into the market when California looked to be on track to pass Prop 64 which was going to legalize cannabis for recreational consumption within the State in 2016.
Alex explained that one of the big challenges in California is that it's essentially a dual licensing system. You have to get local permission or local entitlement to conduct commercial activity around cannabis before you can get State licensing. They started the process in December 2017 and it took them all the way until January 2020 to get through the local entitlement process, to design the building, to get it permitted by the building department, to start construction, to outfit the building, to specifications determined by the state, and our consultants, and ultimately to get that building commissioned and up and running. It's a very, very time intensive and very expensive process to get through that. They launched that facility up in Santa Rosa in January 2020, and have been operating up there now for about 15 months.
What NewTropic does is, essentially build all the products that you would see in a dispensary. They make everything from a simple as taking flower and packaging it in mylar bags or in jars, to more complicated activities like making pre-rolls, hydrocarbon extracts which are essentially extracted oils coming off the plant, to topicals, to tinctures to vaporizer cartridges, just about every product you see other than ingestible. They don't bake edibles or beverages at this point, although they have plans to do so. NewTropic provides products and services to brands, retailers, and other wholesalers all over the State.
According to Alex, the market is exploding. It grew from $2.8, $2.9 billion in 2019 to $4.4 billion in retail sales last year. It looks to be on pace, to grow another 30 to 35 percent this year. It's a very, very big and growing market, and California is the largest market in the world. It probably ranges in estimates ranging from 12 to 15 billion dollars annual market in California alone in retail sales. It's just most of those sales are still occurring in the black market through illicit channels. NewTropic’s job, largely, is to help convert all of those illicit buyers into legitimate buyers by driving the unit cost of these items down into the ground and making sure that we can compete successfully with the pricing and the black market, with all the overhead of our taxes and regulations and all the other expense we have to go through to make the business work.
A lively Q&A ensued.
Alex was presented with a Polio Plus certificate for five vaccinations in his name.
The meeting adjourned at 1:20pm.
Link to Recording
Watch the recording of the Zoom meeting here.
Order a Home Flocking
The flocks have been flying! Below are photos of our first two flockings. Details about home flockings and order info on the website.
May 05, 2021 12:15 PM
Autonomous (Self-Driving) Vehicles
Autonomous (Self-Driving) Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are coming! Or are they? Only time will tell. In the event that they do come, there are enormous economic and societal issues that will have to be addressed. This talk will be a discussion of what autonomous vehicles might mean for our lives, for government coffers, and for the environment. Many jobs will be lost, many will be created! Their net benefit depends crucially on just who owns them!

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Upcoming Events
Program Committee Meeting
Zoom Meeting contact Rotary@nolamarketing.com for access
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Program Committee Meeting
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Member Birthdays
Greg Mendell
May 5
Scott Williams
May 5
Pierre Bouquet
May 13
Michael Mahoney
May 17
Mike Matteucci
May 17
Marc Friedman
Madalyn Friedman
May 26