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From Red Bull to CBD: Reinventing Energy Supplements

From Red Bull to CBD: Reinventing Energy Supplements

best CBD supplements

John Zolikoff came out of the motorcycle and action sports world. He worked for 15 years at Harley-Davidson and Austrian sports motorcycle maker KTM.

During that time, John worked closely with Red Bull back in early 2000 when energy drinks were entering the market.

After experiencing the health benefits of CBD several years ago, and on a mission to find healthy energy that he could take any time, anywhere, John started ZOHKO in 2018. He pulled together scientists and doctors to create ZOHKO Energy, which is on the cusp of creating a new energy category.

ZOHKO Energy combines CBD with eight power-packed ingredients to boost energy, mood, motivation, and focus, all while the adaptogens strengthen immunity and help fight stress.

Here’s an exciting episode about branding and developing a company with a CBD expert. Remarkable insights await from John Zolikoff on how ZOHKO developed their brand, used unique marketing strategies, how they target their market and sell their products.

Download The Episode Companion For This Episode

Some Topics We Discussed Include

4:53 – Transitioning from motorcycle and sports world to CBD
8:24 – A light bulb moment on CBD
13:31 – Pushing through the CBD industry
18:05 – Branding ZOHKO energy
21:42 – Your brand is your avatar
33:52 – Sales channels
35:32 – Keeping the CBD business rolling
38:05 – Where to find them​

People Mentioned / Resources

Connect with John Zolikoff

Connect with  Chip Baker

Transcript

Chip Baker: Hey, this Chip of The Real Dirt. In today’s dirt, I want to talk about branding and developing a company. To talk to my good buddy John Zolikoff about his company, ZOHKO. Now it’s a CBD energy supplement company but the reason I wanted to have John on so he could talk to people about how they develop their brand, their branding strategy, how they develop their customers, how they sell the product, just all the like little things that it takes to bring a product to market. 

Now many people cannabis or hemp farmers, all they’re interested in is you know, growing lots of ganja which I’m totally fine with that. But many people realize they need to have some sort of added value product or they need something more than they can grow or they can produce, and so a branded or a formulated product is the perfect way to do it. You know, if you’re interested in hemp, you’re in Interested in CBD, if you’re interested in ganja, this is going to be a great great great episode. And we literally like you know you can use this format and develop your company kind of based behind it develop your brand, kind of behind it. So sit back and enjoy this next episode of The Real Dirt with Chip Baker and John Zolikoff

Hey, this is Chip from The Real Dirt, and on today’s dirt, I have my good buddy John Zolikoff come to you live from Sarasota, Florida. Say hello, John.

John Zolikoff: Hey, everyone. Hey Chip. Great to be here.

Chip Baker: Oh, man, the birds are chirping in the background. I hear you a little puppies going on. Just looks and sounds like an incredible place to be right now. What’s going on in Florida, man?

John Zolikoff: Well, it’s a it’s a good place to to be isolating for sure. So we’re close to the beach as you can see. Got great setup here so we’re hunkered down, good place for ZOHKO headquarters to be trying to support everyone and you know, Sarasota is where– So as you mentioned, we’ve got eight puppies right now.

Chip Baker: Oh, yeah, we can’t. I can’t really hear them. I hear the birds. They sound great. They’re very pleasant, John.

John Zolikoff: Yes. So we’re surrounded by nature. So that’s we’re enjoying this is how we’re gonna heal ourselves, right?

Chip Baker: Oh, man treat is just looks and sounds incredible. I’m also in a self isolating format, as you can see grooming myself so well.

John Zolikoff: I shave for you today!

Chip Baker: Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s great. What do you mean I think I shaved?

John Zolikoff: My Sunday best–

Chip Baker: My Saturday sweatshirt on, even though it’s Monday right now.

John Zolikoff: And that’s how we met. Was that baby bathwater–

Chip Baker: Yeah, baby bathwater on a Saturday or a day that felt like it anyway. 

John Zolikoff: Yeah, exactly. 

Chip Baker: Yeah. So John, the reason you know I have you on The Real Dirt is John, you’re one of the founders or the founder of ZOHKO, which is a CBD and energy supplement company. John, you’ve started several other businesses in the past, and you know this is a new venture for you and so many people are thinking about getting involved in a CBD or cannabis business or already have some sort of CBD or cannabis business and you took a slightly different approach to starting your business then then maybe many other people. And you spoke about it at all and how you kind of got involved with it but as the brand you want it to develop this brand. Because in previous businesses you didn’t necessarily own you know, own what you were doing. It was someone else’s brain. So, again, I’m glad we can chat with you about a day. Hey man, how did you kind of come up with this idea of to start a CBD energy supplement? 

Transitioning from Motorcycle and Sports World to CBD

John Zolikoff: Well, so as you said, I, you know, going back I came out of the action sports world so I was in motorcycles I was with Harley Davidson and then KTM sport motorcycles, and KTM has a relationship back between the founders in Austria with Red Bull. So back in like the late night 1990s and early 2000s when Red Bull was just coming into the market. We were doing crazy partnerships with them, you know, with like all that extreme sports and you know skydiving and motorcycle races. So I was in kind of in that group and saw like, I mean Red Bull created the category right before that there were no energy drinks and so then all sudden. I was also kind of in that extreme world of, you know, riding motorcycles and jumping out of airplanes and you know, so we want to [inaudible] Back in the day now I’m just the old guy with all the puppies and kids and grandkids. I saw what all that energy and what energy drinks and you know that how much people would pay for that energy and then also seeing the brand.

Chip Baker: So you learn from some of the major brands and a completely kind of different arena though it’s not healthcare or it’s I mean it’s a much more consumer oriented product than a healthcare product. No I’m talking to my ass.

John Zolikoff: Oh no for sure. So I come in straight out of university actually even my, my thesis, I did it on Harley Davidson. So I had a motorcycle. I bought a Harley when I was in college. I ran a business back then a bartending agency. 

Chip Baker: So you were a fan. 

John Zolikoff: So I was uh, yeah, so and I talked them into sponsoring my thesis and so that was what I love to do. But then about 13-14 years ago, I met my wife, as women will do they, they change you and she’s from Brazil, but she’s also a vegetarian and very much into sustainability. And so it was and then also I started my family and so it was this shift in my life I swore when I met my wife that I would never give up eating meat. And that took about a year to become a vegetarian because she was a really good cook. But more and more, I’ve become healthier with my life and the benefits I feel great. 

So with the energy drinks that we’re doing all the time in the motorcycle world it wasn’t hard to figure out that those are bad for you with all the chemicals and sugar but [inaudible] were much. Still, then you get into than I was into coffee and that’s how I kind of raise my kid was just drinking coffee all day to keep up with my– he’s 12-year-old years old now. But I was always looking for this natural energy and something I can feel good because otherwise, you feel like you’re always like stealing from the future, your future longevity for your industry today, right?

I was always looking for this natural energy and something I can feel good because otherwise, you feel like you’re always stealing from the future, your future longevity for your industry today. – John Zolikoff

Chip Baker: So you are you already looking at an energy type of supplement or you’ve been thinking about it for years and the CBD just it was the lightbulb moment?

A Light Bulb Moment on CBD

John Zolikoff: Yeah for the CBD for me was you know I’ve been into hemp and cannabis for years and but I had this chronic pain in my shoulders that came like out of nowhere. And and it hurt a lot just to raise a you know, higher than shoulder height. And we went through the traditional medical tests, MRIs and x rays and cortisone shots which you can’t do multiple times, but none of it helped. And then finally the doctors like I don’t understand it, can’t figure it out. And you just have to live with it. Maybe cut back on this or whatever. I tried to– 

Chip Baker: But you didn’t cut back in the weed? 

John Zolikoff: No, I didn’t [inaudible]. But just smoking the weed didn’t stop–

Chip Baker: Didn’t do it. No, it doesn’t. And that’s the thing is CBD is anti-inflammatory–

John Zolikoff: That was the medicine. And so a friend recommended it. And it was, I think it’s called ACDC. And, you know, within a day it cut the pain in half. And by the end of the week, like it was down to 10% of what it was before. So that was powerful for me personally. So then the —

Chip Baker: A major believer–

John Zolikoff: Exactly. And knowing as the market became more legal, at least enough that I wanted to look into it. And so then I sought out how could I find like the experts and the best– and then I found you, so but, you know, so that was like the next step [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Here’s how John found us as we were in the corner, smoking weed in a circle. So those large smoke cloud coming up between us and John recognize the smoke signal. And, Hey, man, what are you guys doing?

John Zolikoff: That’s exactly how it happened. And I think we played that out a few different times. But then we’re also you know, at that event, there were a number of really knowledgeable and experts in the new market in hemp, CBD and cannabis. I remember some really good advice that you gave, and some of it was, I was like, Okay, well, California is opening up. I would love to have my own.

Chip Baker: You want, you thought you wanted to grow it?

John Zolikoff: I wanted to do a farm. Yeah, exactly. And so you start calling me farmer John, I think was and somehow–

Chip Baker: Farmer John Oh, I said, Oh, John over there. He wants to be a farmer, farmer John.

John Zolikoff: And somehow I just didn’t, you know, I couldn’t see like, you know, I haven’t grown up in the field, right? I don’t have that kind of expertise. So something there– And I remember you also saying that they look at, there’s an opportunity now, but as soon as the big companies come in, it’s going to get, you know, the prices will just get gutted, like, soy and everything else, right. So, that made a lot of sense. And then you said that, the real places to focus on CBD, which is legal, and across the country and to, and to create a brand, you know, to– So, I mean I think two years later here, maybe from that discussion, but it was appreciated, is great advice. And–

Chip Baker: Hey, man, this is a perfect time for us to stop for a break here. We’ll come back and we’re going to talk about like, your next step, you had the idea, and how did you want to do it differently than you had before? All right, here’s The Real Dirt. We’ll be back in a moment. 

Hey, this is Chip, I hope you’re enjoying this episode of The Real Dirt. I just wanted to have a little public service announcement out there in these trying times. I just want to encourage everyone to have a little bit more tolerance with people around them, with their family, with their friends, and the people they interact in the world. You know, it’s gotten to be an incredibly small world lately, and we all realize that we’re in it together. So the next time that you feel a little stressed or you see somebody else stress, just take, just take a second. Relax, and if you can, roll up the largest join that you can. And then enjoy another episode of The Real Dirt. Thanks again, we’ll get back into it. Right now. 

All right, and we’re back with John Zolikoff. We’re talking about how John has started a CBD energy supplement company. So John, you had this idea and, you know, kind of– Take me to the steps of like, what kind of happened? What was the next thing that happened? You had the idea, and you decided you wanted to make some CBD products.

Pushing through the CBD Industry

John Zolikoff: Yeah. So for sure CBD. So we partnered early on with obviously we were starting with CBD and we searched out the best sources for that. Being able to go all the way back and trace the genetics and make sure that we’re getting full spectrum. So we got all the cannabinoids and so that was the foundation. But then also, for me, it was important I wanted to create supplements that people could really feel like from the beginning and so, the idea from the beginning was also to come up with engineered or formulated products with intentional benefits so, energy was the obvious one and the starting point. 

We searched out a group that is like the best in formulating performance supplements. And so, it was a little bit, I think, a different approach than most people. So product development was key. We wanted to include energy ingredients, but also adaptogens, which even now is, even more, I think timely with adaptogens are great at boosting your immunity and fighting stress and in fatigue. So, that was important. So coming up with the right formula was key, then sourcing the full-spectrum CBD then finding even the manufacturer. Our formula is unique it’s a like a liquid, so it’s like a maybe see here it’s got oil in there, so it’s MCT oil plus the CBD, but then it’s got seven other ingredients so there’s Caffeine, Dynamine, which is a Kucha tea leaf extract and gives a nice even energy that just kind of tapers off at the end versus kind of that nervous energy with a crash that a lot you’ll get from energy drinks. 

Chip Baker: Oh, hold on. Let me get some coffee.

John Zolikoff: Well, we got you got ZOHKO on the way. I know guys like it but yeah, exactly. So instead of that big, you know rush and kind of, you know jittery effect. This is a nice even the combination of the caffeine and the Dynamine and the hemp just really works nicely. Then so we’ve got lots of B vitamins and Rhodiola which like the Russian astronauts and cosmonauts and athletes have been using forever. Through Ginsengs, Spirulina, MCT Oil and it’s a vegetarian capsule. There are certain things that are really important for me I wanted this to be something that I was going to take. I mean I basically since I got my first samples a year and almost a year and a half ago, I’ve more or less given up coffee. I like the taste but this is just so much easier and I know that I’m getting all these other health ingredients on top of it but for example, vegetarian capsules were important to me being a vegetarian. 

So that was a big thing. I designed it for what I was looking for. Making sure people– a lot of people talk about their CBD, that they’re that it makes them tired or drowsy and they can’t take it during the day with [inaudible] You can get your 25 milligrams of CBD in each capsule, and you can go to work and be focused and, you know, the Dynamine–

Chip Baker: I usually take two. Just saying.

John Zolikoff: And that’s why each one has 100 milligrams of caffeine and all these other ingredients, but they’re, it’s the right amount that you can stack it. So that’s the official recommendation is not to exceed 400 milligrams of caffeine of the day. So we say don’t take more than four. But the Dynamine is really a neat ingredient. It’s new on the market, and they promote it. They say, EMF, I think it’s EMMF. So energy, mood, motivation and focus, which right now, like especially we’re all working at home. So how do you keep your head straight while, you got kids and puppies running around? Or if you’re trying to focus and create your new thing, right, it’s great for that. So that’s on the products side and we’re really happy. I mean, you’ve had it people really like it–

Branding ZOHKO Energy

Chip Baker: So you wanted to formulate the product, right? You didn’t want to do a white label product, you wanted something specific for you, you want to stand out. So you got a formulator you had the idea, right? You wanted something different. And how did you approach the brand side? How did you develop because many people don’t even know what a brand is. I guess that’s all up for debate. It’s more than just a logo. How did you approach the next phase?

John Zolikoff: Yeah. So this is what we ended up with, which is so ZOHKO energy, CBD plus energy. I have launched as you mentioned, I’ve started a lot of different companies and I’ve done kind of the branding and always just on my own right. Then just kind of didn’t take a disciplined approach to it, and go through a process and so knowing that the market was going to be so competitive, knowing that looking at the market and really, not to offend anyone, but if you look at the CBD market, there’s just like it all like–

Chip Baker: Charlatans and homespun bullshit and people just want to get rich quick, I’ll say it

John Zolikoff: Yeah, there you go. But no one really looking at it from like a consumer products perspective, right? Like how to really connect with people and like it’s always it’s CBD, the CBD this CBD that, hemp the you know, it’s just like, and even our first idea was like Blue River Hemp. Right? That was that would have been [inaudible] the process that would have been the first that would have been in and then we would have just been competing with every other hemp company to try and be the most trusted or the most whatever. So, we worked with branding for the people, a great group that so we invested first before everything in the brand and that process that we went through, forced us to identify our customers. So it was we came up with three or four avatars, but all around kind of active outdoor adventure type people. And then, you know, you relate to them a little bit differently, like I’m Gen X, I’m 49 right? So I kind of grew up in all this action, extreme sports stuff. But now like I mean–

We invested first before everything in the brand, and that process that we went through forced us to identify our customers. – John Zolikoff

Chip Baker: Now you’re beat up. 

John Zolikoff: I’m beat up and I need yeah, lubricate–

Chip Baker: My elbow, my arm, my shoulders–

John Zolikoff: Exactly. But this now gives me– This gives me energy, and it gives my body like the lubrication to go out and charge and do things than I used to, or not at the same level. It is so focusing on who was our target demographic. And for me, it was just kind of like looking. I’m just going to kind of do almost like the Red Bull in a healthy energy, right? And what’s great is like, so you get a bottle of this, it’s 30 servings, right? That’s like 30 energy drinks in your pocket, or 30 double shot, you know, Starbucks double shots like that.

Chip Baker: That’s a month supply.

John Zolikoff: Exactly. And so for me, like, I would always go to like these trade shows or even when I traveled, I’d go buy those little Starbucks double shot four packs. Yeah, totally. I would put those in my– every everywhere I went, I put those in my luggage because that was my best way to just get my caffeine and my energy to go and now I have this solution. 

Your Brand is Your Avatar

Chip Baker: Yeah. So you mentioned avatars early, you’ve had a couple of different avatars. Let’s explain to people what that means.

John Zolikoff: So that’s where you sit down and you describe the psychographics and the personality, the activities how people [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Of your perceived customer even. 

John Zolikoff: Yep. The media they consume, the places they go just how– so that you can speak specifically to them. What we’re finding is the formula. I mean, there’s so many people that want natural, convenient energy. And so our avatar was actually kind of this young like originally like 18 to 30 year old. 

Chip Baker: He’s made one avatar. 

John Zolikoff: The first one is that one avatar, so it was pretty, it was a younger one than what we’re finding it to be but so and we called him Travis like Travis Pastrana, if you know action sports, he’s like the original, extreme sports guy. And so you as a group we built out this whole page that describes everything about Travis.

Chip Baker: Who Travis’s what he looks like, what he drives, what he what he does?

John Zolikoff: Yep, we now have like four different avatars. So there’s Travis and you come up with names so that people can relate to a little bit better but so now there’s four. So that was the avatar part then you also wanted to come up with the Archetypes. It’s also like the personality of the company like are you like a National Geographic? Are you like the most trusted you know are you like IBM and so there’s this whole through the process. They give examples of other the personalities of other types of companies. And you pick you decide what you want your– So for me, what was really amazing for this was like, we spent a lot of money invested but it was so refreshing to be able to just like dream up who I really wanted my customer to be, right i mean like this.

Chip Baker: So the importance is this is like if you know what your customer is and what they look like your potential customer what they look like and then you start to imagine what they’re going to be attracted to the colors that they’re going to buy the colors that they’re using, the language the copy the content, the sales letters, all of that comes from this avatar. Alright, how do you speak to Travis? Right? How do you lore Travis to come over the ZOHKO–

John Zolikoff: Yeah. And then you start to build off of that. So the archetypes I mentioned. So ours is you know, kind of fun loving and there’s like adjuster, adventure adjuster, there’s two but so that’s part of the process, but then also, we had to come up with a name right? So like Blue River Hemp and then there was someone had you know, I mentioned earlier that like the CBD, as you get older, kind of lubricate. It helps with all your joints and everything just feels better. So one idea was, you know, Life Loob, which sounds a little bit too looby. But there was this whole process of trying to name storm and then come up with a– 

Chip Baker: That’s for a different avatar. 

John Zolikoff: Yeah, so Life Loob didn’t make it. So, ZOHKO, it’s funny I have been called ZOHKO. My last name is Zolikoff so not exactly ZOHKO. For 20 years I’ve been using ZOCO, which is kind of short for Zolikoff company for different projects and consulting. My good friend and my son’s godfather who is the director of motorsports for Red Bull, and he’s an investor in ZOHKO, when I was sending them, I think an invoice for something and had that Zoco name on it as he was involved in this name storming process or this naming process and he goes, he goes, Hey, man, and for me, it’s kind of like seemed a bit egotistical, you know, like I just haven’t. I’m not put my name on things kind of, but I love the name. I just love the sound of it. 

Chip Baker: Yeah, that was a great name. 

John Zolikoff: And so he encouraged that, and so then we had to figure out so ZOCO but then you have to get the domain name right so there’s this whole process and so it shifted to the ZOHKO.

Chip Baker: And that’s the other thing about making up, then the the spelling of it is you got the .com and we can see that and tons of stuff these days. It’s hard to get the .com so if you spell your own word–

John Zolikoff: I mean, ZOCCO was like out of the box– [inaudible]

Chip Baker: [inaudible] Percent. Yeah, of course. 

John Zolikoff: When we got ZOHKO– 

Chip Baker: I bought The Real Dirt. 

John Zolikoff: Yeah, you are The Real Dirt. 

Chip Baker: Yeah, totally. 

John Zolikoff: That was kind of how those [inaudible]

Chip Baker: I just found out that some of my haters call me The Real Dirtbag, but I believe it’s just because you know, that dude’s a jackass and like, you can’t– probably know who you are.

John Zolikoff: He’s probably more into tea bagging. Anyway–

Chip Baker: Definitely, he’s definitely a Tea bagger, which Hey, man, if you’re in a tea bagging, and I’m not gonna, like, you know, like down you for that, that’s your own sport, whatever you want. 

John Zolikoff: That’s also a different avatar. 

Chip Baker: Right? It’s a different avatar. I’m not going to judge you over your tea bagging but like, you can’t be an asshole about it when you do it. Right. Totally inappropriate John, let’s get back to branding. So the thing I love about the avatar is now you get to take that avatar to every person that you do business with. So your website guy, your label guy, your packaging guy, you get to go take him Travis avatar be like, Hey, this is our customer.

John Zolikoff: Yeah, so it’s even more than that. So the avatar definition was part of building the brand platform and that’s the whole process. So that’s not only so we we created the avatar– so we were working through a whole process over the course of about six weeks. And it was laid out step by step. 

The avatar definition was part of building the brand platform, and that’s the whole process. – John Zolikoff

The avatar was part of it as the name storming and then like one of the main guys, design guys, they came up with a storyboard, after you know, was another step of the process where you know, they came up with images that would help us like narrow zero in on on the logo and things like that. Out of nowhere, the dude came up with a techno zebra so there’s this really cool storyboard that’s got this the zebra with like headphones on and sunglasses and, and somehow that evolved into what we have and but it’s interesting. So Zolikoff is my last name, I always when I spell my name, it’s Z as in zebra, right? Because B and Z and all these other so like It’s just–

Chip Baker: I might spell an axe occasionally but–

John Zolikoff: Yeah, so this is you know it looks really nice on swag I made it. It stands out it doesn’t say hempright it doesn’t say CBD it’s something that people are can really relate to we have a lot that we can do. You know they were very–

Chip Baker: You’re not pigeoned into like a one product, you can do whatever you want and add CBD to it instead of just being pigeon holed into a CBD company. 

John Zolikoff: Exactly. CBD is an ingredient, right. 

Chip Baker: CBD is a main ingredient.

John Zolikoff: It’s not a whole product or a whole experience. And then the group took you know, as we work through the process, the first thing was to get our labeling because we needed to you know, we had product. We had about dozen different things all you know on parallel timelines–

Chip Baker: You developed your brand story, you developed your avatar, you developed your labeling, your bottling your packaging, like how long did it take in order for you to actually get sellable product. How many months did it take?

John Zolikoff: So we really launched ZOHKO on an island in Croatia, in June of 2018. We had product we had the energy capsules by the end of December. 

Chip Baker: June, six months. Okay.

John Zolikoff: And I would say that’s a pretty condensed I mean, I was pushing–

Chip Baker: That’s great. It’s hard for me to get a product in the market and within three or four months like that, I’m struggling to get in through it in four months [inaudible]

John Zolikoff: And for me, it was all new, right? Like, I have I have an engineering like a general engineering degree. So I I’m used to doing projects and business development developers but you know, just the labeling right every step it was like you have to learn a new a whole new set of notes right but you do that all the time–

Chip Baker: Oh man, you know, I mean once you get through a couple products, it’s not the same but it’s definitely something you have to think about in food and supplements those are absolutely different fertilizers but yeah, it’s just you know, huge you know, just rules you have to follow when you put the packaging together. So man–

John Zolikoff: [inaudible] fine with them, you know, we set up warehousing right. So you had to you know, with CBD only so much– fulfillment Yep, exactly.

Chip Baker: So, you contracted out your manufacturing. Well you have your formula, you’ve got your package, you contract out the manufacturing, they put it in your package, and then they send it someplace else to fulfill it.

John Zolikoff: Yes, yeah, exactly. So we have a third party warehouse that we work with ship offers. They’re a great partner in Colorado. But not everyone’s– it’s becoming more easier and open more free now, but not everyone wants to deal with CBD right. So, that was part of part of the step. So fulfillment, right and then selling right so then, you know, website is the most obvious but then and I’ve set up a lot of websites and web shops, and never even really thought us extra time about the processing, processing and banking, as we know is such an issue with CBD, cannabis and hemp. But the last [inaudible] has– I’ve we’ve gone through three or four processors already and not for any good reason they just like decide to shut down. Our first one came in I think it was US Bank decided they were gonna just go into CBD market after and then after four or five months and they were great they’re super low price and funded in a day but then yeah they pulled out and I heard that like it affected like 4500 accounts are something crazy. 

Chip Baker: Wow yeah

John Zolikoff: This was like an April last year and like everyone you know, trying to find it at the same time. So I come more from like traditional sales and marketing kind of brick and mortar or motorcycles, bicycles–

Sales Channels

Chip Baker: So your sales channels mostly ecommerce or do you distribute to retail locations?

John Zolikoff: So we were doing some retail. Our retail strategy is similar to our demographic right our avatar, so we’re going on after outdoor retailers independent retailers. So fishing, you know [inaudible] all the CBD companies are not right now–

Chip Baker: Sale boarding shop, paragliding shop–

John Zolikoff: Yeah, and that’s where the energy products gonna come in we were actually a 30 count bottle is a big, big commitment to make so we’re actually coming out with three packs and special packaging for that channel and the response has been really, really good so far. So that’s going to be rolling out I don’t want to get too much into– I’m really happy with the packaging. I’ll show you the next time. You’re gonna love them. So that’s the retail is like this, you know, outdoor, you know? So we got e commerce, we’ve got outdoor retailers and then the third that we want to go with these three packs. We think that there really is a mass market for healthy convenient energy. And so that’s where– 

Chip Baker: Like 711 market? 

John Zolikoff: That convenience store is going head to head with five-hour energy. 

Keeping the CBD Business Rolling

Chip Baker: All right, I think I think so too, man. John, long, long the way you wanted to quit I’m sure. Along the way you’re like– man, what kept you going to bring this product fulfillment?

John Zolikoff: The response from the customers is fantastic. Well, I love the product. Everyone around me loves the product. It’s something in the past, my most recent business before was children’s bikes, which was a lot of fun. And it really changed a lot of little kids lives and that was so this evolution from kind of like burning petrol gas for recreation to this more sustainable and healthy to where I really want to help people and CBD you know so we have an expanding line we’re going to have a bomb you know, topical coming out as well. We have plans for more functional blends after the energy but I think energy really is our flagship it’s where we’re hanging our hat but I think this whole that people can make more memories they can do more with their kids they can do you know, they can get their relief and their CBD and still be have energy to get through the day. So that gets me I like I’m organic, you know, vegetarian. I want to be natural and how I treat things. And I just think this is what the world needs more of. And so adaptogens and CBD–

Chip Baker: So you said you had a heart for it man. Did you ever have a down moment? Did you ever have a moment where you didn’t think you’re gonna do this?

John Zolikoff: Yeah, for sure. So the last year has been frustrating because it’s been learning ecommerce, and we’re trying to learn it and build it and fly it and prepare and all that at the same time. And, we are lean, you know, we have a lot of people helping on the project, but I don’t have you know, I’m working, you know, from a home office. So there are a lot of times that you can– yeah, so I guess, just believing and as anyone that brings a product, I mean, you have to have the belief, like it’s already exists right. You just have to know that it’s the right thing and just keep going. 

You just have to know that it’s the right thing and just keep going. -John Zolikoff

Where to Find Them

Chip Baker: That’s awesome advice for any business owner. Thank you, man. Hey, John, how do people get in touch with? Get in touch with you? How do people order the product? Are you on Facebook, Instagram? 

John Zolikoff: Yep, so zohko.com, and we are on Instagram and Facebook – Zohkoholics. Just search on ZOHKO, you’ll find it. 

Chip Baker: Okay.

John Zolikoff: So yeah and the idea was just to help people live their lives more fully, and give them energy to be able to get out and enjoy and now it’s I think it’s a it’s what our bodies need to help you know, CBD helps your body–

Chip Baker: It’s what the body craves. 

John Zolikoff: Exactly. I mean it gives it what it’s need to fight whatever is out there, it is what it occurs. Yeah.

Chip Baker: Awesome, John. Well, hey, thanks for joining me today, man. I really enjoyed hearing the birds and talking to you about branding and developing a new product line and new company.

John Zolikoff: Yeah. Well, we’re happy to support you guys. So anytime you need energy anytime the dogs over there need some and yeah, we’ll keep you updated as we get out there. Appreciate the time, always great seeing you. I missed your smiling face.

Chip Baker: Now, man. Well, here it is.

John Zolikoff: It’s beautiful.

Chip Baker: Cool, bro. Thanks again. Hey, this has been another great episode of The Real Dirt. If you enjoyed this episode, please download others at The Real Dirt podcast on iTunes. You can also download them on therealdirt.com That’s right. That’s our own website. We have a blog, links to our Facebook page, The Real Dirt podcast as well as our Instagram page, The Real Dirt podcast, please participate. Please tell us how you like this episode, please tell us about the episodes that you’re interested in. And once again, thank you for lending me your time. It’s The Real Dirt!

All right, well, I hope you enjoyed that episode, man. You know, John’s internet reception broke up a little bit. He’s down in Florida, but I loved hearing the birds chirping background and then there at the end the dogs you know so much about the podcast for me, is an audio escape when I listen to it and when I make these things that it is a little bit of escape for me. In these times we all need a little bit of escape and whether it’s a rolling up a large hemp joint or a large ganja joint or a small bong hit, or listening to The Real Dirt like and right now it’s about a great time to do it. So if you haven’t already, please subscribe to The Real Dirt podcast on iTunes. That way, you can catch up to all of our latest released episodes, and you can hear the 70 episodes behind. Also, join us on Facebook and Instagram The Real Dirt podcast and man look for all the special offers and whatnot we got coming in the future. As always, I appreciated your time. I know you’ve got lots more stuff you could do today. But instead, you chose to at least spend a little bit of time with me. So thanks again. You’ve been listening to The Real Dirt with Chip Baker.

Subscribe & Review

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Grower on Grower with Little Hill Cultivators Pt 2

Grower on Grower with Little Hill Cultivators Pt 2

This is a continuation of Grower on Grower with Chip and Jeff of Little Hill Cultivators. Full transcript is below.

Chip:
Thank you for joining me again, here with The Real Dirt, with Chip Baker. On today’s episode we have a Part 2, with Jeff from Little Hill Farms, in Trinity County, California. You can follow Jeff on Instagram and you can download this episode, and others, at iTunes, Spotify, and just right off our website, therealdirt.com.

Chip:
In this episode, we continue our conversation with Jeff. If you didn’t hear the first part, go back and get the first part first. You can listen to the second part and it totally makes sense. We just kind of babble and talk about weed. But, it’s a really great, great episode. We talk about the economy, and the business of California and Oklahoma, maybe some predictions that we have. We talk about drip irrigation. This second part of El Jefe in Oklahoma, it’s going to be great. So sit back, fire one up, and enjoy this episode of The Real Dirt.

Chip:
We’re back, Real Dirt had to take a small, little break there. You know, the dogs bark out on the cannabis field and you’ve got to go at least hear what they have to say. You’ve got several dogs out there huh?

Jeff:
Yeah. I have one main dog, my main dog Sammy, a German Shepherd.

Chip:
Sammy, don’t fuck with Sammy.

Jeff:
She’s always on the lookout. German Shepherds are great watchdogs, because they want to watch, and they have a loud bark. When they’re charging you barking, it’s intimidating, even if they’re the biggest sweetheart ever.

Chip:
She’s not though.

Jeff:
She’s a sweetheart to people. If you’re on four legs though, she’s not a sweetheart.

Chip:
Don’t tell the-

Jeff:
Oh yeah, no, she’s a killer.

Chip:
Yeah, tell them she’s a killer.

Jeff:
Yeah, she’s a killer.

Chip:
She’s a sweetheart to Jeff.

Jeff:
But yeah, they post up in the window. If they’re in the house, they’re going to post up in the window and look outside.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff:
Wait for a squirrel or a burglar to run by.

Chip:
So we were talking about Oregon, and the collapse of the Oregon market. I think it’s similar to what’s going on here with Oklahoma. So, let’s keep chatting about that. Everybody moved into Oregon.

Jeff:
Everybody moved to Oregon, got legalised-

Chip:
California growers, growers from all over the country.

Jeff:
Cheaper land-

Chip:
Cheap land, beautiful place to be.

Jeff:
Good, good, good climate in southern Oregon.

Chip:
Good soil, great climate.

Jeff:
Yeah. And, they blew it out when they legalised. People were counting on that crop to pay some bills, especially with the massive expansion. And it collapsed the market, the price was just about cut in half.

Chip:
Man, I heard as little as $100 on trim pounds. And I also heard $190 trims, light depth pounds.

Jeff:
Yeah. I never heard quite that low, but damn, that’s … You’re losing money at that rate.

Chip:
Actually, the people that were making these $190 pounds, they … Large commercial nursery, one of the largest in the country. And, they had a $90 production rate a pound.

Jeff:
Wow.

Chip:
So to them they were like, “Ah fuck, we usually make 12%.” Right?

Jeff:
Well hey, that’s capturing the economy of scale.

Chip:
Yeah, that captures the economy of scale. But you know what? They actually have converted up, as so many Oregon growers converted.

Jeff:
So, that’s actually contributed as well, because of the pollen increase.

Chip:
Well in many ways it’s contributed, because many people quit growing-

Jeff:
They quit growing ganj.

Chip:
… ganj, went into hemp.

Jeff:
Growing tonnes of hemp.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Poor selections of seeds.

Jeff:
Yeah, well.

Chip:
And, dubious genetic sales people.

Jeff:
Oh, yeah.

Chip:
Right? There’s several examples of lawsuits going on right now from Oregon.

Jeff:
That’s created a lot of upset folks-

Chip:
Lots of upset folks.

Jeff:
… in southern Oregon.

Chip:
Yeah, totally.

Jeff:
That’s also contributed to the lower amounts of pounds circulating the ecosystem.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. Everybody switched … So many people switched to hemp, especially the smoke-able hemp idea.

Jeff:
Right.

Chip:
Which has yet develop. It will develop, but so many people switched to that. You know, you’re going from something that’s $50. I mean, I saw $13 pounds. Someone wanted to buy $13 pounds of hemp the other day. Right? People think they’re going to get $700 for smoke-able hemp. You know, you can’t just take extractable quality hemp and say it’s smoke-able, just because you want $700 for it.

Jeff:
Right.

Chip:
So similarities between Oregon and the Oklahoma market, is the low regulations. Right? No checkups, you can do pretty much whatever you want. Here’s a loose list of rules. Nobody ever comes up to check your shit out. It’s what happened in Oregon right?

Jeff:
Pretty much.

Chip:
They only had 900 licences when the market collapsed, 900 cultivation licences were when the market collapsed, for 3 million people in the state of Oregon. Right?

Jeff:
They thought they were going to blow it out, cash in real quick.

Chip:
There’s thousands here man.

Jeff:
Then they collapsed the market.

Chip:
There’s thousands and thousands of cultivators here. Most of those people are small, and don’t have the historic knowledge. But out of the thousands, even if there’s 1%-

Jeff:
Yeah.

Chip:
… that got their shit together, they could grow the whole market.

Jeff:
They could.

Chip:
Right, right? I actually don’t think now, Oklahoma is a place to be, if you’re coming in or want to set up a new cultivation. I really don’t think Oklahoma is the place to come. I mean, people can do stuff and make money everywhere. But if you’re not already here, or on your way here … I don’t know man, all the prices have changed properties. Right? All the regulations now are harder. I mean, it’s still in its early days but it’s going to bust, 100% for the cultivator, at some point in the next three years.

Jeff:
That seems like it’s only inevitable.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff:
You ride these waves, you’ve got to be in front of it.

Chip:
Yeah, totally, totally. Meanwhile, people are going to actually totally crush it until that happens.

Jeff:
Yeah.

Chip:
And the people that got it together, it doesn’t matter if they sell $500 pounds or $200 pounds, they’re still making profit.

Jeff:
Right. What that collapse will be, it’ll send the herd. If that happened, that’s why the price went back up. In California’s different forces thinned the herd a little bit, lowered supply.

Chip:
Right.

Jeff:
And price is back up to very nice levels, maybe 2015, 2016 levels, maybe even higher for some people.

Chip:
Yeah, I know man. I hear people selling $3000 pounds at Indoor there in California.

Jeff:
Yeah, for the primo, that’s pretty sweet. Now we’re talking 2010 levels.

Chip:
Yeah, totally.

Jeff:
Man, 2010.

Chip:
Yeah man, 2010, that’s about when got your start.

Jeff:
I was growing, maybe, eight prior to that.

Chip:
Right, right.

Jeff:
Starting the big leagues maybe.

Chip:
Man, let’s talk about your first garden Jeff.

Jeff:
600 Watt light.

Chip:
If you were in modern day Oklahoma, you could … For $2500, $3000, have a commercial licence and start out just this way.

Jeff:
My first garden, they didn’t have grow tents back then, but that’s basically what I built out of 2x4s and plastic.

Chip:
Plastic, yeah.

Jeff:
Got a carbon filter.

Chip:
Did you have to make that?

Jeff:
No, they were available.

Chip:
They were available at that point.

Jeff:
O2, six inch fan, cooling the 600 watt light, air cooled. Popped a bunch of Sweet Tooth #3 seeds-

Chip:
You got from Canada, Mark Emery?

Jeff:
I got from … No, no, England.

Chip:
England, okay.

Jeff:
It’d hold 9 or 10 ounces, pretty happy with that.

Chip:
Oh yeah? One light?

Jeff:
Off of 5 plants, off of 600.

Chip:
You thought you were the man.

Jeff:
It was a good plant, I found out. I realise now, is I grew the right strain. That thing, nothing was stopping it.

Chip:
No, totally, great, great grower, great grower.

Jeff:
A good plant, I’m surprised it hasn’t come back yet. Maybe I’ll bring it back, I’ve got some seeds somewhere.

Chip:
Oh yeah, I don’t remember it being that great.

Jeff:
Man, I had one pheno … Because I grew a lot of them over the years-

Chip:
Good grade, but the quality-

Jeff:
Oh, it was pretty frosty, fruity smelling, good density.

Chip:
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, you need to break that back out.

Jeff:
Yeah, I think it would play. It yielded really, really well.

Chip:
So, you just planted out some seeds, kind of random seeds.

Jeff:
I mean, I kind of researched it, but-

Chip:
All right, this is exactly what’s going on in Oklahoma right now.

Jeff:
… what I wanted to grow.

Chip:
Right.

Jeff:
Yeah.

Chip:
200,000 medical licences have been issued. Did you have a medical licence back then?

Jeff:
No.

Chip:
No. I was right on the cusp of all that.

Jeff:
But, I got one shortly after that, but it was still two or three years down the road. I actually decided it was worth it.

Chip:
Right, and you got 10 ounces.

Jeff:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chip:
Smoked it all, I’m sure.

Jeff:
Yep.

Chip:
Yeah. I think you smoked me out on some of it. No, we probably didn’t even know each other then.

Jeff:
We didn’t know each other.

Chip:
Right. So, that was your first grow.

Jeff:
Yeah.

Chip:
Did you immediately have this idea that you wanted to do it for a living?

Jeff:
No, I never thought I would go full time pot grower. I always … I was in school, I was doing that. But I was definitely into it, bare minimum on a hobby level. I mean, that’s really what I learned to do in college. So as time moves on, you move into a … You decide, “Okay, I’m going to … My friend’s got this house for rent, I’m going to go rent this house out-

Chip:
Grow in the back bedroom and the garage.

Jeff:
… yeah. Either pull it off on that first crop, this one was in the basement. Pull off that first basement crop or go broke. I pulled it off and I said, “Okay, that worked.”

Chip:
The margins were so high then-

Jeff:
Oh, you could afford-

Chip:
What was weed selling for back in 2004?

Jeff:
$4000 a pound-

Chip:
Yeah, right.

Jeff:
… to my friends.

Chip:
You could … That’s a modern day 3 pound a light price.

Jeff:
Right. So yeah, and I wasn’t getting a pound a light. But you could afford that learning curve.

Chip:
At $4000, yeah, totally.

Jeff:
Yeah, at $4000, you could afford to make some mistakes. The market wasn’t so saturated, that if you had some lower quality stuff, you couldn’t sell it. The market wasn’t saturated at all, so if you had weed, even in California, even in northern California, you could sell it.

Chip:
Yeah, yeah, no matter what it was, no matter what seed.

Jeff:
Strains, nobody knew that.

Chip:
Right. See, that’s exactly what’s going on in Oklahoma right now.

Jeff:
Yeah.

Chip:
You can grow whatever you want, pretty much. Lots of indoor auto flowers. Right? And I’m not sure if people are selling weed, but you know. My wife’s dispensary baker’s medical. She’s buying top notch weed for re-sale, indoor weed, it’s not auto flower.

Jeff:
Yeah.

Chip:
That shit is great. Right? It’s some of the best weed in the world, even.

Jeff:
Yeah.

Chip:
You sold some of it.

Jeff:
Yeah, if you’re a skilled grower you can grow indoor anywhere.

Chip:
Yeah, totally. Our vendors come from other places and actually say they think their cannabis, ganja, is improved because of the humidity. They were going to really dry, dry locations. And they think that the quality is improved because of the increased humidity.

Jeff:
I bet it has.

Chip:
Right? Going from 20% to 40% is a big deal.

Jeff:
Yeah, you can change the morphology of the plant too. It will grow a little different, you might find, “Oh, I like those broad leaves. I’m getting better growth rates.”

Chip:
At what point back then … Like, looking back on it, was there a point where it wouldn’t have worked out, if the price structure was different?

Jeff:
I mean, I hit the ground running, because I had done a lot of research. I pretty much had my first grow all planned out.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff:
I knew how the plant worked, I knew potential pitfalls, I had a good, let’s say, recipe I was following.

Chip:
So, it wasn’t a wing and a prayer.

Jeff:
No, I had put quite a bit of work into it.

Chip:
So, you got your recipe from the grow store I bet, or from a buddy.

Jeff:
I got it from online.

Chip:
Online? Okay.

Jeff:
It was a real simple, organic soil mix.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff:
And a couple of additives, that are pretty low MPK, but helped the soil out a lot, like plant ferments. And, it was kind of hard to overfeed, hard to underfeed, I didn’t really have to worry too much about that. I just gave the plants water, kind of learned about that. And, just growing a really vigorous strain that was a producer. Growing from seed also, I didn’t have any pest problems. So, it kind of all came together on that first grow.

Chip:
And you took clones.

Jeff:
I didn’t take clones off that first crop, but I did, I planted more seed and I took clones off of that crop.

Chip:
Did you make seeds on the first run?

Jeff:
No.

Chip:
No. What you’re saying is, if it had been $2500 a pound, or $2000 a pound, you still think you would have gone forward with it?

Jeff:
I still would have been okay, just because it was successful. You know, there’s so much more access to things now. One nice … I just kind of lucked out. I came into it at a good time. Really, at the end of the good time, because even the bay area got saturated with every rookie indoor grower trying to sell some weed.

Chip:
Totally.

Jeff:
It hurt the general quality of weed.

Chip:
It did go down. I mean, when weed was scarce-

Jeff:
The price.

Chip:
… you got both super shitty weed. But that ended up being in a marketplace, where it was either you could get it or you couldn’t get it.

Jeff:
Right.

Chip:
And then you got the fucking best ganja.

Jeff:
Definitely. Things are relative. And, some batches you’d get were better than others. But, it was just at the beginning of the name game, and people knew what Trainwreck was-

Chip:
Urkle, Urkle.

Jeff:
Urkle wasn’t quite there yet-

Chip:
But it was the next one, yeah.

Jeff:
… but it was coming. That was the big next one, was the Urkle. The Granddaddy, The Grape Ape, those purples became huge in the bay.

Chip:
Right.

Jeff:
That’s what everybody wanted, and boy, by that time that’s what I was growing.

Chip:
Right. What was that first purple strain?

Jeff:
Urkle.

Chip:
Urkle.

Jeff:
Yeah.

Chip:
Urkleen. Yeah, wow, difficult grower, Urkle.

Jeff:
Yeah, I didn’t yield too much, quality was outstanding though.

Chip:
If there’s any Urkle growers out there, tell us the best way to grow Urkle.

Jeff:
There’s a couple of tricks.

Chip:
Okay.

Jeff:
I’ll tell a couple.

Chip:
Okay, okay. Everybody sit back, put your rolling papers down, and pick up your pen and paper.

Jeff:
If you’re growing a really, really squat [inaudible 00:15:01]-

Chip:
Like Bubba or Urkle.

Jeff:
Yeah.

Chip:
Something that doesn’t stretch out your flowers.

Jeff:
Something that’s not going to stretch, you’ve got to veg it. You’ve got to keep humidity up.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff:
As you veg it, keep humidity up through the stretch, to get those branches to stretch out. The leaves are going to get huge, because it’s so humid. We’re talking 70%-80%.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff:
De-leaf all those giant fan leaves, because you’re going to get no light penetration. Prune up everything underneath, because it’s just going to be larf, those strands larf out real bad.

Chip:
And they have this inner leaf too. That’s the leaf that’s close to the stem, off the branches. That’s the real bottoms.

Jeff:
Right.

Chip:
Of Urkle or Bubba.

Jeff:
So, do all those things, keep your humidity up. Cut your humidity at week 3, after stretch, and don’t overfeed. Let the leaves go from dark green to light green. Not super light, but you don’t want that dark, dark green colour, or your nugs aren’t going to swell.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff:
You’re going to end up with these little, small, sort of grape nuglets. It’s not going to burn right, it’s not going to taste good. But if you let that go from dark green to a nice rich emerald green, by backing off on your nutrients, you’ll find that the buds swell. And you end up with these big golf ball, rock hard nugs, and that’s where you’re going to get your weight from. And, it’s going to smoke better, because you didn’t overfeed it the whole time. It’s going to be really tasty. You’ll have become a more skilled grower, because of learning those small manipulations.

Chip:
What’s the perfect canopy density for Urkle?

Jeff:
For Urkle, I’d day 9 under a 600 was always good. Of course, I would top, which would make the plant wider, but it would even out your canopy.

Chip:
And, you’re flowering these when they’re 16 inches, 18 inches tall?

Jeff:
You know, 18 inches, after you’ve topped, let the rest of those tops reach the canopy. Strip off everything that’s not there, 18 inches, they might finish at 24 inches. But, you’ve got 6-9 culls a plant, 9 plants a light.

Chip:
Are you still pulling off the bottom third of the branches and leaves in this scenario?

Jeff:
After you top, if you just take the very tip and give it maybe another 2 more weeks of veg, you’ll notice … Well, a lot of the side branches will reach the top of the canopy. If that branch isn’t reaching the top of the canopy, cut it, because it’s never going to.

Chip:
Good point. And you mean top of the canopy by like an inch or two from the rest of the plant.

Jeff:
Yeah. If you’re looking at the plant from the very top down, if you can’t see the growth tip, cut it. Because it’s not at the top, and it’s not going to be seeing the light.

Chip:
Right.

Jeff:
And then, you know, trim up those branches to get rid of any other side branches off those. You should have a few nodes, 4 or 5 nodes on each top. Then flip it, and-

Chip:
Flip it.

Jeff:
… you’ll end up a half ounce, maybe quarter ounce, just depending on how you’re doing things per cola. That’ll add up.

Chip:
There you go. Not a particularly heavy yielding strain. You know, I like the other technique of it though. Right? The one plant per square foot in a 3-5 gallon pot. Grow it until it’s 18 inches, 24 inches. Bottom off, I mean pull off the bottom 1/3 and flower it. Right?

Jeff:
Cut down on veg time a little bit.

Chip:
Barely little, you just end up with more plant. The density of your garden increases, and those little nuggets on the Urkle, you get that same perfect nugget over and over again. It’s also, in my experience, easier to make them purple, you had more purple when it was like that.

Jeff:
Interesting.

Chip:
Because-

Jeff:
Yeah, we didn’t even talk about that.

Chip:
We didn’t even talk about the purpleen.

Jeff:
That’s a thing too.

Chip:
Yeah, totally.

Jeff:
Yeah.

Chip:
Like these Purple Punches here, outside they’ve been brown, not purple, because it’s so hot. Right? Indoors, they start to turn up purple as soon as you start to flush them, if you’re growing them hydro.

Jeff:
Yeah. I’ve never grown the strains, I know it’s popular but-

Chip:
Oh, I thought, I never heard this.

Jeff:
I’m just aware that it’s been really popular, a beautiful plant, beautiful bud.

Chip:
It’s great weed, it’s tasty. People call it Purple No Punch, and that’s true, even though it has really high THC levels. It is known not to get people super [inaudible 00:20:09] if you smoke it all the time. Or, if you’re just a super chiefer.

Jeff:
Yeah, we were just talking about that. It’s got the purple terps-

Chip:
You’d love this weed.

Jeff:
I would, because it’s tasty.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff:
And it’s got the stretch from OG, which everybody’s always just wanted a purple plant that stretches. So, you don’t have to veg it for six months, just to get it to size, which has been the yield killer on those purple plants, you’ve got to veg them forever.

Chip:
Totally.

Jeff:
They got the terps, they got the plant structure. Even the THC is higher than what a Granddaddy will put out, but it just doesn’t pack that punch you’d think an OG would.

Chip:
Absolutely. It is not as strong as you want it to be, for sure.

Jeff:
It’s all those terp plants.

Chip:
I’ve been looking for that purple OG for years man.

Jeff:
Me too.

Chip:
I’ve been looking for it, we both are. We planted a few different company seeds, and a few of our friend’s seeds.

Jeff:
Yeah?

Chip:
Still haven’t found the purple OG. If you’ve got that OG that’s purple-

Jeff:
I think I saw it at Emerald Cup one year. Some Oregon grower showed me a jar. I should have just asked him for a cut, I just figured he as going to say no, but I should have at least tried. But, he had it man, he had some purple nugs with the OG, sort of gas nose on the back end, but purple up front.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff:
The nugs looked proper, smelled proper. I asked him about the plant structure. If you’re out there, Oregon grower who was at Emerald Cup, maybe three years ago-

Chip:
If you have that purple weed, contact Jeff.

Jeff:
Contact Little Hill Cultivators, see if we can’t work something out, if you’re in the California regulated industry, that is.

Chip:
Yeah, absolutely. Hey man, lots of regulatory people listen to this show. Definitely listen to my … Some Maryland regulators, some Oklahoma regulators, some Colorado, some California, some Oregon, some Washington. All these people have reached out to me. They listen to what we have to say. They find that this show and others like it really allows them to hear and understand what’s going on in the cannabis grower’s thought pattern or business. They reach out, they’ve reached out to us man.

Jeff:
Well if that’s the case, lend me a few-

Chip:
Oh, okay, here’s the mic.

Jeff:
… I’ve got a few gripes.

Chip:
Here’s the mic. Hey now, here’s what I want to say before you start griping. I know you guys are all working incredibly hard, in a really difficult environment, but we’ve got some problems.

Jeff:
Yeah. I know you guys have been overworked, in a lot of cases. But just the way the regs go, as a cultivator, I can’t bring my crop to market. I’m in a remote location. I have to get a separate transport licence, which I’ve done, so I can transport my product to market. You know, that’s fine, but some of the regulations for this self-transport only licence are the same as if you’re a full on distribution. You know, the most expensive thing that I have to pay for this transport licence, which doesn’t bring any revenue. The cultivation does, but the transport licence is just transporting, I’m not running a separate business.

Chip:
You’re just hauling your weed to market.

Jeff:
I need to find liability insurance, which I don’t need for cultivation, but I’m required to have for transport, of a million dollars. It’s really difficult, and it’s really expensive to find a carrier.

Chip:
[inaudible 00:23:37]?

Jeff:
I mean, the licence is a $200 licence. But I’m going to end up spending $5-$10 grand on insurance every year, for a $200 licence. For us little old 10,000 square foot mixed light cultivators. I think that’s a bit excessive. There’s certainly some other ones-

Chip:
Do you think this is a regulation money grab?

Jeff:
Well it’s not a money grab, because a licence is a $200. Fine, that’s the cheapest licence there is in the whole structure. But to require me to have the same insurance as a full-on distribution … They’ve made some other sort of concessions, where I don’t need … Literally, my premises is a woodshed with a filing cabinet. Nobody needs to go in there besides me, there’s no product stored there, so I don’t need security, I don’t need cameras. I mean, we’re talking about a filing cabinet here.

Jeff:
So in that sense, that was a good worth, realising that’s a bit excessive to protect a filing cabinet. But on the flip side, the insurance is not easy to get, plus it’s incredibly expensive, that I don’t feel I need. Who knows? Maybe it’s good business sense to do it. But at this point I’m just-

Chip:
Well, you do need liability insurance. But hey man, that people want to charge you … And you got it for $5000 a year?

Jeff:
Yeah.

Chip:
Well, you got a good deal on it. Because, many people pay $12,000, $18,000.

Jeff:
Wow.

Chip:
Right? You got a good deal on it. It is hard to get, it is expensive. People are taking advantage of the cannabis regulatory market, for sure.

Jeff:
Sure. Yeah, I had to go through a few companies to figure that out. Definitely some of them were definitely looking to cash in real quick. If I have more than one licence on the same property, cultivation licence on the same property-

Chip:
This is all California mind you.

Jeff:
… yeah. I can’t have one immature plant area and distribute plants to all those licences, to those separate gardens, or however. I have to have a separate nursery licence, which because of my county’s wisdom, I have realised I’m not zoned for. Because, they associate nurseries with retail nurseries, traffic showing up, people coming to buy plants. A retail business. They’ve deemed my cultivation as inappropriate. Now … Which forces me to either put up a silly wire fence all throughout my immature plant area, to keep the spaces different. So I grow X amount of plants for each licence, they’re in their own licenced area.

Jeff:
It’s just stupid. If the licences are on the same premises, or the same property, you should be able to … Under one entity, you should be able to grow your immature plant area, your nursery veg area-

Chip:
Dude, you’re talking immature plants, no buds, hardly any THC.

Jeff:
Yeah. Hardly yeah, not a measurable amount anyway.

Chip:
Right. The economy of them is small.

Jeff:
Right. So yeah, there’s-

Chip:
Little money in it.

Jeff:
… just let us … There’s no money in it.

Chip:
There’s no money in it.

Jeff:
My other choice is to buy from a nursery, and buy specific plants for each licence type.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff:
But then that costs me more money. You know?

Chip:
Right.

Jeff:
Or, I put these silly fences up, dividing up my greenhouse immature plant area. Put these silly fences up, that’s just over-regulation.

Chip:
That’s over-regulation.

Jeff:
You know, they could all be grown, tracked, through one licence, and then distributed through these other licence types. They’re all owned, they’re all the same people, the plants are flowering out right next to each other. I think that’s a bit silly, especially if you’re being forced to have a nursery licence, which is another whole headache. On top of that, you don’t even intend to sell plants. Again, you’re intending to run it as a separate business, it’s simply for me. You know?

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff:
You know, there should be some type of separate way around this, so that I can just grow plants for myself and distribute them to different licence types, through different licences on the property. For example, if I have two 10,000 square foots in a 10,000 square foot mixed light, or just the way the property is divided up. A lot of people end up with multiple licences sometimes.

Jeff:
I think that’s my main thing right now. If I was more prepared, I could have come with a list. But, I say looking into what regulations are not necessary, or their intended purpose, it’s not achieving their intended purpose. It’s important to look at. They have been receptive toward some things. Big reason why a bunch of farmers in Trinity just started their own trade organisation, to start having a louder voice.

Chip:
What’s that organisation?

Jeff:
The Trinity County Agriculture Alliance. We just started, I’m a founding member-

Chip:
TCAA?

Jeff:
TCAA. Yeah, that’s why we finally got together. It’s been really hard to group together Trinity farmers, just because we’re spread out a lot. A lot of folks are real opinionated, but we all agree that this is the best for everybody. You know, so far so good. It’s really neat to be at the start of something. Hopefully, that will have an impact on … Not just Trinity regulations, but state regulations.

Chip:
Yeah. That’s great man, we’ve got to work together. We’ve got to get together and have our voices heard. The people that I often see that are speaking for the cannabis community, they don’t really know what they’re talking about. Many of the people are uneducated, they’re not actual farmers, farmers are busy farming. So, they just repeat some of the words they hear farmers say, and they might have the best heart in the world, but they don’t realise, “Oh.”

Chip:
Here in Oklahoma for instance, “Oh well, once a plant is over 18 inches tall we’re just going to call that a seedling.” Right? They don’t know any better, that’s not exactly what that means, or that’s not the terminology. But now legally, here in Oklahoma, when a clone is over 8 inches tall it’s now called a seedling.

Jeff:
Interesting.

Chip:
Totally.

Jeff:
You know, definitions are going to be different in every jurisdiction, and fighting for what that definition is.

Chip:
Yeah.

Jeff:
A mature plant, an immature plant was a big one in California.

Chip:
Yeah, totally, totally.

Jeff:
They wanted to call a certain height mature, and that just doesn’t work if you’re growing from seed, because it hasn’t declared it’s sex yet.

Chip:
Yeah, yeah.

Jeff:
A lot of issues that maybe they didn’t realise, but it seems like people were screaming at them, “You can’t do that! You’re going to put my business plan out, based on something that’s not a real thing!” I mean, there’s a lot of different ways that people want to grow and when you start over-regulating, you start limiting how a farmer sees fit to do his job and that really sucks.

Chip:
It’s hard to SOP. All these people that, “I SOP, I SOP.” It’s hard to SOP.

Jeff:
There’s no right way to do it, sometimes-

Chip:
Especially indoor gardens. You can do it that way, but an outdoor greenhouse like that-

Jeff:
Yeah, it seems like the system borrowed from Colorado.

Chip:
… it’s hard.

Jeff:
It was built on indoor principles, and indoor generalities. And then, you try to apply that to a guy like me out in the hills, it just doesn’t apply. Especially the big plant growers, they want to grow big plants and they should be able to do whatever they want, or however they’ve crafted their skills. That’s big plants for a lot of people. It just makes harvest, and track, and trace a real pain in the ass.

Chip:
Yeah. I’m not a big plant fan.

Jeff:
I like to walk amongst them.

Chip:
I like to walk amongst them.

Jeff:
It’s been a few years since I grew big plants.

Chip:
I’d like to have one or two here or there.

Jeff:
But without plant limits, I see the wisdom in having more plants, for sure.

Chip:
Yeah, totally, totally. It’s ego though. Since I was a little kid, “I want to grow a big plant.”

Jeff:
Hey man-

Chip:
You’ve heard that, and everybody said it.

Jeff:
I still want to grow a big plant.

Chip:
Yeah. All you have to do is do it once or twice though and you’re like, “God damn!” I mean, we had a 10,000 square foot harvest outside, short, late season plants, everything was 2 or 3 foot tall. Really high density, great yielding technique for bumper crop or late season ganja. It took us less than 12 hours to harvest it all.

Jeff:
Wow.

Chip:
I mean, we’ve had small, 40 pound, greenhouses that have taken 5 or 6 days, because there were these big plants all roped up. You know. You start at the front plant and start working your way back. It’s just labour intensive to do it that way.

Jeff:
It is. It’s intensive for resources as well, water, nutrients.

Chip:
Oh yeah, those big plants just suck it up.

Jeff:
They suck the water up.

Chip:
They suck it up, suck the nutrients up, suck the water up.

Jeff:
Yeah. But-

Chip:
What’s the ideal size plant for you? You were kind of talking about his earlier.

Jeff:
I don’t know. I’d say 4 ounces to maybe 6 ounces.

Chip:
Yeah, I love those.

Jeff:
For me.

Chip:
And you’re talking greenhouses, outdoors?

Jeff:
I’m talking in greenhouses. Indoor would be different, it would be much smaller. It would be probably 2-4 ounces.

Chip:
I like 2 ounce plants indoors. I like 1/4 and 1/2 pound plants in greenhouses, light dep, early season and late season. And then, just 1-2 pound full season plants, that you’d plant in June and pull at the end of the year.

Jeff:
Yeah, 1 pounders and 2 pounders are pretty easy to deal with.

Chip:
Yeah. Small, but the bud quality is great.

Jeff:
Yeah.

Chip:
You don’t have to dump a tonne of nutrient or water it to make it big enough to … You know, you don’t get these huge, honker nuggets that harbour mould. Right? They look cool on the surface when you get them, that big 4 foot nugget just isn’t as high a quality.

Jeff:
Nope.

Chip:
Right? As the smaller nugget. You know, you just have to give it all that Nitrogen to make it grow like that man.

Jeff:
Still, it’s nice to walk in an orchard, but for efficiency-

Chip:
Oh yeah, no doubt man. Nice smelling trees, I get it. The ease of it, I get it. The people who got that shit down, they’ll argue and swear by it. There’s people that got it down, for sure.

Chip:
Did you hear my latest episode of The Real Dirt with Chef Anna, with the pot?

Jeff:
I haven’t finished it yet.

Chip:
Okay. Yeah, big audio file.

Jeff:
He’s growing them indoor though.

Chip:
He’s growing them indoor. What do you think about growing autos indoor.

Jeff:
Growing autos indoor seems like a complete waste of time to me.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Why is that?

Jeff:
Because you can make plants flower whenever you want indoors. You don’t need them to automatically flower.

Chip:
Right. Many people grow them because they think it’s easier.

Jeff:
Okay.

Chip:
You still have to wait 90 days.

Jeff:
You still have to wait 90 days. I mean, you could grow a seedling and flip it immediately.

Chip:
I’m going to give you a couple things my customers tell me. “But you don’t have to have a timer, with auto flowers indoors.”

Jeff:
Well then, you’re just wasting money.

Chip:
How’s that?

Jeff:
Because you’ve got your lights on all day.

Chip:
Oh yeah, that’s right. That costs twice as much to flower it, if you’re running your lights for 24 hours instead of 12. What about, “I don’t have to worry about light leaks.”

Jeff:
Why not? I’m sure auto flowers can [inaudible 00:35:53] too.

Chip:
No, no. I think that is a legitimate thing that people say, they can build rooms without having to worry about cross-contamination of light.

Jeff:
Okay. Yeah, well …

Chip:
It’s not that hard to build a light die room.

Jeff:
It’s not that hard to plug up light leaks.

Chip:
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

Jeff:
A little duct tape here and there.

Chip:
Well, “It’s just so easy. I don’t have to worry about knowing how to grow it, it just grows itself.”

Jeff:
Same could be said about regular light cycle genetics.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). You can grow it under 18-24 hours light until it’s 18 inches tall, and then turn to 12 hours light.

Jeff:
Pretty simple.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). “This auto flower, it’s really great weed.”

Jeff:
I wouldn’t say it’s really great weed, I’d say it’s pretty good.

Chip:
It’s pretty good.

Jeff:
It’s suitable.

Chip:
It’s suitable.

Jeff:
It’s good enough. The good ones are good enough to sell as flower.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff:
They have potency, they have good looks.

Chip:
“The yield inside is incredible.”

Jeff:
No it’s not. That would be my reply to that.

Chip:
No it’s not. Because yield does equal time and cost.

Jeff:
Sure.

Chip:
Right, right. “I can flower this in just 90 days.”

Jeff:
You can flower pretty much any clone in 60.

Chip:
Yeah, totally. One of my favourite things to say is, “You’re just 90 days away from your biggest crop ever.”

Jeff:
It’s true.

Chip:
It’s so true. And, you are just 90 days away from your biggest crop ever. If you have any problems growing the biggest crop ever, just get in touch with us at Cultivate Colorado, Cultivate OKC. Look at us online, we have everything you need. And if we don’t have it in one of our locations, we’ve got it in another location, and we’ll send it right to you.

Jeff:
Good plug.

Chip:
Yeah. Well, you shop with Cultivate Colorado.

Jeff:
I have used them, for my very minimal hydrostore needs.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff:
Flood tables, I just bought some lights.

Chip:
Good plastic stuff.

Jeff:
I couldn’t find any used lights. I just missed one guy selling his … Basically got in his room and was selling all his lights for cheap. And then as soon as I buy the lights new, I see another person selling 50 lights of exactly what I needed, for cheap. I had to pay full price.

Chip:
End up paying for new lights, wow. I’m a proponent for buying new lights. I like to buy new cars too. Buy that shit new, use it up, throw it away, start over again.

Jeff:
Man, I could have … I don’t mind the savings on that, it’s-

Chip:
And what kind of lights are you running?

Jeff:
What did we get? Gavita’s 600-800.

Chip:
Oh, the flexes.

Jeff:
The flexes.

Chip:
Oh, that is my all time favourite light right there.

Jeff:
I got a little bit lower ceiling height in my one greenhouse. I could go full 1000s, and they come with a hood that will spread the light out more.

Chip:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff:
So, we’re going to put that reflector … I shouldn’t say hood, it’s more of just a reflector nowadays. But, that was my first purchase of double ended lights since 2019. In this greenhouse grower, it didn’t have any double ended lights, all this time. I always thought it was pretty funny.

Chip:
Yeah. You’ll buy an LED one day.

Jeff:
I’m sure it’ll come eventually. Hopefully when the price comes down, if not sooner. I’ve replaced by T5 bulbs with LED T5 bulbs, which is definitely a winner over those damn florecents.

Chip:
Yeah, but man, $1,700 for a light that covers the same area as that $650 Flex, I can’t do it yet man. I mean, I don’t see the quality difference. I don’t see the power … There’s no power difference, there’s no heat difference.

Jeff:
Yeah.

Chip:
Right? You know, I don’t see why you would want to pay … And I sell this type of stuff.

Jeff:
Right.

Chip:
I don’t see why you’d want to pay $1,700 for that. Right?

Jeff:
Yeah. I mean, 5 years from now it’s going to be half the price, with all the technology.

Chip:
I hope 5 years from now it’s $400. But man, they’ve really artificially kept the price of lights high. The price of lights today are more expensive than they were 10 years ago. You know?

Jeff:
Yeah.

Chip:
Right, yeah, totally. We used to have $100 light packages.

Jeff:
Magnetic ballasts, were not that expensive.

Chip:
Magnetic ballasts, screw in bulbs, right. Cheap reflectors.

Jeff:
Even the price on digitals came down, it was pretty affordable.

Chip:
Yeah man, I think we still sell $110 digital ballasts right now.

Jeff:
Wow.

Chip:
Right? At cultivatecolorado.com, cultivateokc.com. You like my little plugs don’t you?

Jeff:
Put in there, it’s your show.

Chip:
It’s my shit dude. I know, I used to feel guilty about it, but I’m like, “No, come shop with me man.” And really do, please, come shop with us. We need your business, we rely on your business, we want to continue to be in the industry. The way we do it is with new customers.

Jeff:
They have knowledgeable staff, I’ll say. As a customer, I can talk to … When I’m not talking to Chip, I’ll talk to his guy, Jacob, I believe. He knows what he’s talking about, so I can ask him a question and get some real information. He’s not just going to try and up-sell me. He’s going to try and give me what the right thing is. Or maybe, make me aware of some technology or new thing I haven’t seen yet, because I’m not-

Chip:
Yeah. He talked me into these drippers, as a matter of fact. Because, they’re the ones we sell the most of. You have to think about that, “Oh, what’s everybody buying? Okay, I’ll use these too.”

Chip:
It’s been an excellent, excellent episode here, chatting with you. I feel like we’ve covered such a range of topics. But, we didn’t quite get it all, we might have to have … This might even be a Part 2 or Part 3-

Jeff:
Let’s do it.

Chip:
… type of podcast here. So yeah, thanks for coming. I really appreciate it man. Thanks for your input on my drip system, and not calling me out for using synthetic nutrients.

Jeff:
Hey man, I don’t judge. Do how you see fit. As long as the ganja’s good at the end of the day. My ideology, I don’t hold other people to that ideology.

Chip:
Yeah, I know, agreed man. There’s just a time and place for it all.

Jeff:
Just grow good weed.

Chip:
Just grow good weed, there it is.

Chip:
Thank you for joining me on that Part 2 of the El Jefe podcast. El Jefe, Jeff from Little Hill Cultivators in Trinity County, California. He always has a lot to say. I’m sure him and his crew are sitting back listening to this right now. Thanks for coming out and talking ganja with me, it was a great visit we had a couple weeks ago. I always like to see my friends from other states and other cannabis markets, and hear what they’ve got to say. You know, they give me a few pointers here and there, on what they think I should be doing differently.

Chip:
So, always a great exchange of information. Thank you for lending your time and listening to this episode. Next week’s episode is going to be incredible. So, I want you to go to iTunes right now, subscribe, download all the episodes you haven’t heard, and engage with us on Instagram. Shoot me a DM, shoot me a private message on Facebook, The Real Dirt Podcast. We’d love to talk to you, we’re doing this because of you. We want to spread the knowledge of cannabis, hemp, medical cannabis, and adult use cannabis to the world. This is such a great, great, great way to do it.

Chip:
So thanks again for joining us, and see you next time on The Real Dirt.

Grower to Grower with Little Hill Cultivators

Grower to Grower with Little Hill Cultivators

The Real Dirt is known for interviewing some pretty great cannabis growers. But this episode isn’t really an interview.

Jeff from Little Hill Cultivators has been an almost regular guest on The Real Dirt, and one of our most reliable sources of insight into the current California cannabis industry. As a long time medical cultivator, Jeff transitioned into the recreational industry as well after legalization in California.

With any new legal cannabis industry there is bound to be some red tape, but California just about takes the cake, and wraps it up in red tape. Comparatively, Oklahoma has just about none.

Barriers to entry for cannabis growers

We can all agree that there needs to be some barriers to entry for cannabis growers in a legal industry. But each state varies on how many barriers they set up.

Oklahoma legalized medical cannabis in 2018, with sales taking off without a hitch in 2019, faster and with more growth than any other state. This is because they had almost no barriers to entry, and even made it easier for out of state cannabis growers to come in and get started.

Up until the end of August 2019, any potential cannabis entrepreneur could move to Oklahoma, live there for 30 days, get residency and pursue state licensing. Now (post August) anybody trying to enter the Oklahoma medical cannabis industry from out of state must live in-state for two years before getting residency.

California on the other hand restricted anybody from getting a recreational cannabis license that didn’t already have a medical cannabis license and operation. On top of that, the application fees were insanely high, with additional charges for obtaining the license after approval.

Talking grower to grower

Talking about growing cannabis with somebody who just started or even has been doing it for a few years is nothing like two veteran Northern California cannabis growers getting together. There’s no beating around the bush, just Chip and Jeff talking about each others’ grows, what they each do differently and why.

We all know some growers that think they got the best set up, grow the best ganja and won’t hear a word that says otherwise. It takes years of learning, seeing other grows and assessing your own problems that you can really sit down and talk, grower to grower.

And this episode is just part one.

Stay tuned for part two

In part two of Grower on Grower with Little Hill Cultivators, Chip and Jeff continue their conversation about California’s strict regulations, Oklahoma’s growing industry, drip irrigation, industry predictions and more.

Follow us on Instagram (@therealdirtpodcast) and Facebook (@therealdirt) to stay updated on the next episode’s release and get fun cannabis content in the meantime.

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The Future of Cannabis Trimmers with Cullen Raichart

The Future of Cannabis Trimmers with Cullen Raichart

The industry is expanding, and so is your grow. Sometimes you can’t hand trim it all.

It’s sort of a badge of honor to be worn in the cannabis community when you only trim your cannabis by hand. It shows you care enough about how your buds turn out that you are willing to take the extra time to go through each bud by hand to ensure quality.

Of course you can trim poorly and still get bud that doesn’t look great, but in most cases hand trimming produces the best looking final product.

But with more and more commercial grow operations popping up across the country, there is a growing need for commercial harvest solutions. And when a dozen sets of hands for trimming starts to add up, a machine cannabis trimmer becomes more enticing.

Machine Cannabis Trimmers 

A big reason people tend to avoid machine cannabis trimmers is because they are just that, a machine. How can a machine have the same soft, gentle touch of human hands? How can they ensure the buds aren’t getting sliced to pieces from the metal blades in the trimmer?

Science.

The fact is, machine trimmers have come a long way since their inception, and you can now get a machine trimmed bud that looks just like a hand trimmed bud without damaging it or knocking off trichomes. And speaking of the inception of machine trimmers, Cullen Raichart is responsible for just that.

Cullen founded GreenBroz Inc, the first company to produce dry flower machine trimmers for the commercial cannabis market. What is so unique about GreenBroz is how they have designed their trimmers to be so gentle that they literally put their money where their mouth is to prove it.

Compared to other trimmers that tumble the buds around and beat them up to get the leaves off, GreenBroz’s design gently circulates the buds as they are lightly brushed to remove the dried crisp leaves from the service without harming the rest of the bud.

The Future of Automated Harvest Solutions

This week’s episode of The Real Dirt is a deep dive into the story of GreenBroz and Cullen, and where the future of harvest solutions is headed. As the industry continues to grow and expand, so does the acreage that cannabis takes up. More plants means more hands, or in some cases, just one machine cannabis trimmer.

Automation is a natural result of capitalism, and ignoring it won’t make it go away, as much as we would love to keep hand trimming forever. But that doesn’t mean a machine trimmer can’t be an extremely cost effective and impactful in your grow. It’s just your decision to make.

Roll some fo your freshly trimmed buds up and listen to this week’s episode of The Real Dirt right here (top of page) or on your favorite platform.

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The Culture and Business of Ganja in Jamaica

The Culture and Business of Ganja in Jamaica

Ganja is as much a part of Jamaica’s identity as their beautiful turquoise water and white sand beaches. But how is it, really? 

This week’s episode of The Real Dirt takes a departure (literally) from the U.S. cannabis industry and culture. While I may have been on vacation in Jamaica technically (and physically most of the time), I had to do my part as an amateur connoisseur to sample the local ganja.

Several times in fact.

Because as an educator it is my job to inform you of the differences in cannabis around the world, I made sure to do my due diligence.

Getting Ganja in Jamaica

To be honest I was actually concerned I was going to have trouble getting some ganja when I got to Jamaica. I definitely should not have been concerned.

I wasn’t even on the resort’s beach for an hour before I had my first interaction. A man rows up in an old wooden canoe, with a box full of trinkets and knick knacks dangling on the outside of it for tourists to buy.

But it was what he had hidden that I was after. “I got anything you need,” the guy said to me. Emphasis on ANYTHING. Bam. It was that easy. Or so I thought.

This guy tried to sell me what had to have been at most two grams, for $80 USD. That’s right. Eighty dollars, American. Maybe it was a jerk move on my part, but I had to laugh a little bit. It should go without saying I did not purchase my ganja from that man.

Luckily all I had to do was throw $40 to my bartender and he gave me about an 1/8 of sweet, seed-filled ganja. Before you say it out loud, yes I was ripped off. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers, and I was basically begging strangers for some weed.

How is it?

Just to get all the details on the table; over my week long stay, I would purchase a little over seven grams of flower, a half gram of Jamaican hash and a red velvet cake edible from four different sellers. You bet I finished all of it before I flew out of there.

Now when it actually came to tasting it all, each batch of flower was different. The first bud was full of seeds, probably close to 20 in the 3.5 grams or so that we got. The second bud came still on the branch, with a cola at the top and smaller popcorn buds down the stem. The third flower we got looked the best; it had a nice trim, not many seeds, and the best smell out of the batch.

what is jamaican ganja

All of the flower was dark. Compared to the US where you see a lot of light green or purple flowers with vibrant orange hairs, Jamaican ganja did not have much of that at all.

Smell wise, the buds were more earthy and grassy than anything, but there was a subtle sweetness to each bud when I gave them a squeeze and broke them open.

While I expected to cough up a lung, I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth the smoke was. The buds were a lot stickier than most Colorado buds, and without a grinder it took me a while to roll my joints. Once they were rolled and lit, the joints burned pretty evenly, and I rarely had to relight a joint.

The smells and flavors reminded me of the reggie I smoked in high school when I didn’t know any better. Maybe it was the nostalgia, or the fact that I knew I couldn’t get higher quality bud if I tried, but I really enjoyed the ganja I had.

Inside the Culture and Business of Ganja in Jamaica

In this week’s episode of The Real Dirt, I talk to Chip about my experience in Jamaica, sampling the local ganja and my experience of the cannabis culture in Jamaica and how it compares to the US.

After our talk, get a full, in depth discussion with Jessica Baker and Dr. Lakisha Jenkins, who works in the medical cannabis industry in Jamaica. From private market culture to legal market progress, get it all in this episode of The Real Dirt Podcast.

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