fbpx
The Real Dirt on Investing in Cannabis with Narbe Alexandrian

The Real Dirt on Investing in Cannabis with Narbe Alexandrian

how to invest in cannabis

There’s those with a passion for cannabis, and those with a passion for money.

In Narbe Alexandrian’s experience, both have been successful in the cannabis industry. But those with more passion for money rarely stay around as long as those with a passion for the plant.

Narbe is the President and CEO of Canopy Rivers, a venture capital firm specializing in cannabis. Prior to joining Canopy Rivers, Narbé was a Venture Capitalist at OMERS Ventures, one of the most prominent technology venture capital funds in Canada. During his tenure, Narbe helped fundraise for two funds ($520M of capital), sourced and led multiple debt/equity financings, and acted as a Board Observer for several portfolio companies.

Now he has turned his focus to cannabis and securing financing for cannabis startups, and investing in cannabis businesses across the country. Narbe knows a thing or two about what investors are looking for in a cannabis business or startup, and has valuable information to share on new and emerging markets.

From how Canada’s market exploded and businesses scrambled to take advantage, to the step by step process of investing and growing a business portfolio simplified, Narbe and Chip talk about it all in this episode of The Real Dirt Podcast.

Transcript

Chip: Once again you have reached The Real Dirt, and on today’s dirt we have Narbe Alexandrian. Narbe, he is the President and CEO of Canopy Rivers. They’re the largest cannabis venture capital company. They’ve invested in some of the largest cannabis operations in the world. Thanks for joining me today.

Narbe: Thanks for having me. Really excited.

Chip: I love Canada. I love Toronto. There’s so many polite and pleasant people there. I’ve been to Toronto a handful of occasions, and even the police officers that were trying to arrest me were really polite.

Narbe: Yeah, there’s a lot of sorry’s, a lot of thank you’s, that’s for sure.

Chip: Just for the record, I didn’t go to jail, I never have been. It was a totally misunderstanding and they let me go.

Narbe: Awesome. Glad the city was nice to you.

Chip: Yeah. You know I was really excited that you know, we were able to organize a conversation, because you know, cannabis business is the most important part about the cannabis industry. You know, everyone thinks just cultivation, growing weed like you know, that’s all it’s about. But like, that’s only where it starts. And ultimately that’s, the point is to provide that product. But business in cannabis is so much more complex than it used to be.

Narbe: Absolutely. I mean, the beginning piece is cultivation, like you need to grow it out of the ground in order to be able to do all the things that you can to it. So when we look at the industry, we see it as seed to sale of what are all the different steps that are needed to go from the initial idea of I want to cultivate cannabis, all the way to the products that you see on the shelves today, and all the post retail services and products that you see on the shelves for cannabis businesses as well as consumers out there.

Chip: I talk to people all the time, I talk to, especially here in Oklahoma. You know, one of the things about Okla- we were speaking earlier about Oklahoma, and California, and Colorado. One of the really different things here as opposed to other states, is it’s so many mom and pops. And there, there are some like small investment type structure,  and there’s some big companies that have moved down here. But when you look at the stats, there’s 7000, 8000 cultivation licenses issued so far. And most of those people are just small mom and pop people that their only interest in is growing cannabis. But other places, like Canada, or California, or now even Colorado, and kind of the only way you can get involved in the cannabis industry is by, you know, coming at it with lots of capital resources. And that’s kind of where you guys come in, because you tell me kind of some of the stuff you guys have done in the past.

Narbe: So we’re a venture capital vehicle, like our job is to invest capital into the cannabis industry, specifically into companies early on, and watch them and help them grow, hook them into the ecosystem of what Canopy River’s in and its partners, including Canopy Growth have, to put fuel on the fire and get them towards some sort of a monetization event naturally. So, get them big enough that some large company wants to buy them, get them big enough so that they can go public on their own, get them big enough so that they’re just driving cash, and there’s a dividend potential in there as well. So that’s our idea. Like we’re looking for companies that want to grow and can continue to grow. So, there’s two types of businesses out there, successful businesses. One are the ones that want to grow, grow, grow, and then sell the company, and get a financial profit. There’s other types of businesses that aren’t that interested in hypergrowth, or blitzscaling like we call it in the industry, but they’re more so looking for a lifestyle. They’re looking to build a company, get a good income off of it, enjoy it every single day, not necessarily looking at growth at all costs, but more so looking at just simply growing and earning a paycheck off of it, and potentially building some equity into the business over a period of time. The latter businesses, like those businesses that are more lifestyle, they’re harder to invest into because as an investor, you don’t get the same bang for your buck as you do for the ones that really want to pour out oil on the fire, and just keep going, and going, and going. So whenever we look at a company, we’re looking at how they fit into each of those molds, and how we can help them out. We don’t ever say no to a single call or an email or anything of that sort. We want to talk to every single person we can, every single entrepreneur we can. We’re very grateful to have had the opportunity to have seen over 2200 deals come in. So 2200 companies, over 2200 companies, have pitched us to date, telling us what they do, how they fit into the ecosystem, why they’re so different from each other. And through that process, we’ve met over 4000 entrepreneurs, or founders or founding teams that have a specific thesis about where this industry is going. So having that many conversations, and we do a great job of codifying that information, those discussions, in order for us to really understand how things are playing out gives us a lot of domain expertise in terms of where we think this industry is headed. So, love to talk more about that as well, and get a bit more deeper into where things are going.

Chip: Man, you know, one of the things you just said that struck me. You’ve talked to 4000 people who had the confidence and the desire, and to seek investment in order to grow their cannabis business. That just seems like an incredible position to be, like just to be able to like, talk to so many people in the almost the exact same position, even if they were doing, you know, different things from extraction to, you know, business development. Is there something about, I’m really intrigued about the people you talk to. Is there something about them that is all similar, you know, or that’s surprising?

Narbe: Yeah, I mean, I’d say that they all have a passion for cannabis, or they have a passion for money. I see that those are probably the two different pieces that you do see. The best businesses are the ones that are just hyperfocused on solving a problem. So they come to you and they pitch to you and they say, instead of saying, “This is what my product is, this is what my company is,” they don’t start it off like that. They say, “This is the issue at hand in the cannabis industry today.” If we’re looking at a certain state, call it Colorado, they would say, “There’s too many small cultivators out there, there’s too many small retail stores out there. And to get these cultivators to talk to these retail stores, means that there’s a lot of phone calls and emails flying around everywhere, trying to get product on the shelf, and trying to get distribution. And there’s no broker to go through, there’s no channels to go through, it’s very hard to do that. So that’s the problem at hand. Now, our company, our product is to create a marketplace where cultivators can talk to stores, and get their product listed on there without having any friction, without having any human interaction. And they can send samples, they can send mass shipments, so like a wholesale business to business platform.” Those are the types of companies I’m more intrigued with, because they’re actually trying to solve a problem that’s out there, instead of trying to create what everyone else is creating. That’s kind of like, the best case scenario of when you hear a pitch. And then there’s the two other sides of it. You see the one side where people are so invested into making money in this industry that they don’t, they don’t consume cannabis. They don’t understand the consumer of cannabis, they don’t understand the intrigue of it. They build product that nobody really wants to buy, because they just don’t get it, and they don’t make money off of it either. And then there’s another set of, kinds of companies and entrepreneurs that are very passionate about cannabis, but aren’t as willing to do the homework to understand how to build a business around it. So they take bad advice, they don’t really think through their decisions. And they get into deals where they can’t get out of, and then it becomes much harder for them to operate, and much harder for them to grow. And my background has been in technology I spent up close to a decade in the tech industry. And when I see the cannabis industry, there’s just so much sophistication that’s still needed. We’re so early in the game, that it’s pretty intriguing to see where we are. It’s pretty exciting to know that we’re all trying to help this industry grow and mature to what it will become in the future.

Chip: You really did identify my customer, for sure. The passion and the get rich quick person. Those are the people that we commonly come into contact with, you know, their technique, or they love the plant, or they have a healing story about it. They say something like, “Oh man, me and my best friend from Google and Microsoft, we all got together, we had an [9:18 inaudible] on something. And we bought these other team of people in, we’re going to build this big thing. We’re going to exit it out in three years and be billionaires.” And some of them do it, right?

Narbe: Absolutely. And then I think they missed the mark on that, at the most parties. I mean, I’d see a few of them that actually do succeed, and I call those the lucky ones. But for the most part, it’s very hard to do so. So as an investor, like one of the things that we’re so focused on is, can we work with this company, with this individual for a very long time? Because you might see the stories about the Instagrams or like the Canopy Growths that just go from a nothing to a huge company in a short period of time. But those are Cinderella stories in the grand scheme of things, because for most entrepreneurs, it is a huge grind to get to, from the beginning towards building an empire or a huge business. And that period of time takes a long time. I like to use an anecdote of a US marriage. And a US marriage on average is about ten and a half years. Similarly, the period of time between founding and exit of a company, on average is about 9.6 years. So it’s 9.6 versus 10.4 years. when you make an investment into a company, you’re basically getting married to the company, the entrepreneur needs to understand how to work with them. You need to understand what strengths they have, what weaknesses they have, where they want to really focus in on, and you have to really see it as a ten-year relationship that you’re building off of. And if you can’t do that, then it just, you shouldn’t put the money in. And even if it means that you’re missing out on a Facebook type opportunity where you can make 100 times your money, you just don’t want that risk of working with someone you just don’t understand, and who does doesn’t understand you.

Chip: Yeah, bad partner relationships are, if you get into the wrong one of those, they can just be a nightmare, absolutely. Partnerships are often made to break up. I’m glad you really brought that point up. You know, I’ve talked about this with my other partners, whenever we start a new business, there’s always, you know, an understood exit plan for everyone involved. And if anyone wants to pull the parachute cord, they can. But it’s really important that you do that for people, and be very clear at the very beginning. I just had a partner exit from our business, and you know, it was time for him to go. He wanted to get paid, he didn’t quite know how to bring it up. We figured it all out really kind of amicably, and he walked away with you know, with what he exactly, what he wanted. We didn’t quite figure it out at the beginning of the business, because we didn’t know any better. You know, but yeah, that relationship lasted about 10 years, right? That’s a really interesting point you bring up.

Narbe: I’m going to use that point any time I bring up this anecdote again.

Chip: You know, you start out a business, you got these ideas. And you know, of course, like, you know, you’re younger than when you exit it, unless you’re just, it just happens in months. You have these long periods of time between changing your idea of what that business started out to be, to realizing like, what the business is really good at, and focusing on that, and turning it into something successful. And few people, I’ve seen few people that started out with like, the idea that they maintain ten years later.

Narbe: Yeah, absolutely. And things change a lot. People’s personal lives change, their professional lives change, they want to move, they want to, they want to build a family, they don’t want to spend as much time. So, when you’re starting off a business, it’s really important to think about structuring it so that all partners within the company have a way in, and have a way out. So, I’ve always believed that on day one, you shouldn’t be splitting the pie between all the partners and saying, “You own 25%, I own 30%, so and so owns 40%.” You shouldn’t be doing that on day one. Instead, you should be thinking about where you want to end up, and putting everyone on a vesting schedule so that over a period of time, people have to work for that equity. So, if you and I, and someone else, we partner together, and we all split the pie evenly, so 33% each. And then tomorrow, I decide I don’t want to be part of this anymore, I shouldn’t have the ability to walk away with my 33%. Those are some very fundamental aspects of growing a business in the early days that honestly a lot of entrepreneurs miss out on. Again, because the sophistication of this industry just isn’t there. And the onus is really on entrepreneurs to listen to shows like The Real Dirt, and read publications on the internet to really understand the pitfalls that they can avoid.

Chip: Oh man, I should have talked to you like, ten years ago, man. You would have solved so many problems for me. Where were you? So man, I got to say, there’s a lot of confusion in the US here over the Canadian market, over venture capital. Like so many people see that or have this perception that the Canadian market rose and fall with a bubble bust on it, or man, could you give me kind of an outline on what’s happened in Canada? And what’s going on today with the Canadian cannabis market?

Narbe: Yeah, so Canadian legalization was first put on the table in 2016, when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected for prime minister, or our president in Canada equivalently. And at the time, everyone started to race to build a company. So legalization was set to be in 2018. It was 2016 at the time, and if you were a cannabis company, your evaluation wasn’t based on how much revenue you were generating, because you couldn’t sell. It was illegal at the point in time, but it was more so on how fast could you ramp up the the production of the facility, or the manufacturing of the facility in order to get ready for legalization in two years. So, a lot of the Canadian licensed producers, they went crazy in terms of trying to build as much capacity as possible. They would buy all the greenhouses and retrofit them. And these greenhouses would be filled with like, mold and like, the walls would like, be baked in with like, pests and mold. And it’d be very hard to to get, to not have that impact the plants, but they do it anyway. They did find facilities that had no water, they had to ship water in every day, no electricity, they’d have to bring generators in. But it was it was by all means, “Let me pick up the most square footage of cultivation space that I can within the country prior to legalization taking place.” And the idea there wasn’t that Canadian population was going to be booming in terms of the number of consumers that are buying cannabis, but it was more so if Canada is the first G7 country that’s going to legalize cannabis. Well, guess what? There’s another six of them out there that are going to probably follow suit and say, “If a big country like that’s doing it, why don’t we do it in the US? Or why don’t we do it in parts of Europe, or all the European Union?” So, the race for capacity was, what I’d say 2016 and 2017, was characterized that. 2018 rolled around and legalization hit. And suddenly you found out that —

Chip: And that, pardon me, pardon me. That race is really what fueled all the speculation.

Narbe: Absolutely.

Chip: Because people are going into these chutes and there’s like, “Ah, this group just bought 100 acres of greenhouses.” And the reality of it, it’s a defunct nursery, like you’re saying that needs significant amount of work. But that’s not what the market hears, and that’s not what the media picks on. It’s like, “Canadian market is huge,” is what they hear.

Narbe: Exactly, exactly. And a lot of that was driven by hedge funds. So the hedge funds were putting in money into the industry, saying that we will fund the initial asset purchases for a lot of these companies and we’ll give hundreds of millions of dollars. And the reason why they were doing that was, they were forcing these companies to go public. They knew that retail investors out there understood cannabis, understood the benefits of it. And they would say, “I’ll give you 100 million dollars right now, you need to go public.” And the way I’m going to structure it is that there’s no downside for me, because I’m going to own a piece the company. And I’ll also be using financial mechanisms in order to make sure that any downside I get covered, and I’m only working on the upside. So they made a ton of money, but they also fueled the tide of companies. And while the companies they fueled shouldn’t have been fueled with that much money at that point in time, and some of the companies that they did actually succeeded as well. So there’s wins and losses across the board.

Chip: Everybody wants to shine on the bad news, too.

Narbe : Exactly. Exactly. But I mean, I quote Benjamin Graham who is the idol of Warren Buffett, by saying that in the short run the market is a voting machine, with a long run it’s a weighing machine. So right now, we’re at a point where it’s not a voting machine anymore. It’s not about how much capacity or square footage you have. It’s about, what are you doing in terms of revenue? Are you actually selling it to the customer base? And if you take a step back from that ship, there’s two flavors of companies out there. One are the artisanal, premium quality cannabis cultivators that are doing indoor or greenhouse or outdoor, but they’re really weighing in on,  “I don’t care about the yield. I care about creating the best product that I can for the consumer. High THC, beautiful bud, no crow’s feet, like it’s just stuff they can actually sell in the market, and that’s what I’m going to be working on.” And there’s another set of companies that are saying, “I want to be the lowest cost provider. I want to be the person who brings in the can to a curious customer with a $3 joint or a $4 joint, because I have the ability to cultivate at a low cost. I might not be getting the high 20 percentages in THC, I might be getting 20%, or 18%, or 23%. And it might not be the best cannabis you’ve ever consumed in your life, but it’s going to be what gets you into the market. And it’s going to be what gets you into the more premium product afterwards.” Anybody that doesn’t fit either of those two bills is stuck in the middle. And that middle is where you’re selling product that isn’t of high quality, or isn’t at the right price, and you’re just not growing anywhere. So right now, there’s a lot of companies stuck in that middle category, and they just can’t break out of it, because their infrastructure is old. And you can’t create quality cannabis, and it’s old so you can’t be the low cost provider, because you’re paying more than your competitors are in order to make sure that it’s free of pests and molds and heavy metals etc.

Chip: Worldwide, it doesn’t matter how much you put into that kilo or pound of cannabis. It really is how much someone’s willing to pay for it.

Narbe: Absolutely.

Chip: I hear people say it all the time. It’s like, “Oh, I’m organic. I have living soil, like, you know, we put all this effort into it. This is biodynamic, I, you know, have a solar powered greenhouse, we made all this stuff by hand.” And I really appreciate all of that, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the commercial value of cannabis.

Narbe: Absolutely.

Chip: And that’s driven by other factors, you know, every state seems to be different. I’m learning more and more, but you know, here in Oklahoma, a variety is definitely important. More so than any other state, it’s a new state to cannabis, so people are really open to the different flavors and the different names. There is a smaller segment of society that will really pay for the higher end cannabis. Most people want inexpensive but good cannabis. They came from $40 an ounce Mexican import ounce, $100 is, $200, $300 is significantly more than they use, you know, you’re used to paying. So I see exactly what you mean, you know, is here specifically it’s very little at the top and then all the rest of it at the bottom.

Narbe: Exactly, exactly. And if you’re stuck in the middle then who’s gonna be looking at you, right? You’re not the, you’re not one of the cheapest, you’re not one of the best, and then what are you? Mediocre? Who would want to buy mediocre cannabis right? So —

Chip: No one ever said that. “Oh, if I had my choice,  I’d buy some mediocre cannabis.”

Narbe: Exactly, exactly. And then you have other companies as well that are just so key focused on trying to teach customers about everything else outside of THC. So I understand, you understand that when you look at a cannabis bud, it’s more than just THC. It’s about the entourage effect, the terpene profile, and how it looks, and the moisture content of it. There’s just so many different attributes of it. However, you can’t expect the customer to, on day one, to know all of those with that information. You can’t expect them to know that on year five of this industry. When we go and buy a bottle of wine, for the most part, for the most part, the majority of customers don’t actually know what they’re buying. They don’t know what the difference between a Cabernet, and a Merlot, and a Malbec is. Same thing on the cannabis side. You can’t expect for the customer to know this. And so, if the customer is saying that our focus is on THC content, then that’s what you should be focused on. To think that you can educate the customer is a foolish concept in the short term. Like there’s so much going on in people’s lives like, why would they sit down and try to understand how to buy a bottle of wine, as well as how to buy a pre-roll of cannabis?

Chip: You know, that’s something that we really should strive here though. And we’ve, and we’ve done it everywhere to Colorado and here, is customer education. And you said it,  it’s not something that’s immediate. For instance, when the early days of pesticide use started to come up in our store in Colorado, it was one of the states where you could buy any pesticide off the shelf. So it really kind of became up to our staff to educate people on the pesticides they were using. We did that for years. And it wasn’t until the state came out with regulations on it, that anybody paid any attention, or even cared, you know? And we put a lot of effort into it, but you know, it just wasn’t mandated. It wasn’t something they had to do, and they didn’t do it.

Narbe: Absolutely. Keep it as simple as possible. I say this to companies all the time. I say, “Why don’t you just create a cannabis product called 20%?” And it just says it right on there. Or call it sleep, or call it creative, or call it–

Chip: Yeah.

Narbe: Just explain what the product is. And it’s very, very much like a Soviet Union type vibe that I’m putting out there, which saying that, just make, just tell them what it is. Hiding behind the logo and expecting to teach the customer everything that exists. Instead, just give them what they want, and just be obsessed in and hyperfocused on being one thing to the customer. Don’t try to be everything.

Chip: One of the things that is kind of new to the cannabis industry is this idea of brand. In the past, you know, people just grew weed and there was other people that sold weed. And then it came to like, strains and preferred cannabis. But brands are relatively like, you know, new thing to cannabis. Do you see many people coming to you, and saying “We’re gonna make this brand of cannabis that’s internationally known?”

Narbe: Oh, yeah, for sure. For sure. So, we see the industry kind of moving in five waves. The first wave is cultivation, where if you’re one of the first ones there, and you get a heads up on building a greenhouse, or building your facility, and just getting through the experience curve of being one of the first in your state to grow cannabis, then there’s success there. As the industry progresses, it goes into wave two, which is ancillary, the picks and shovels, fertilizers, LED lights, software technology, paraphernalia, vaporizers, etc. Third Wave is CPG, which we’re currently in right now, where there’s brands coming up every single day. I think there’s about 90 new skews of products coming into the cannabis industry per week within North America. So there’s a lot of brands just being hit in front of the customer. The top five players in any given state are changing on a quarterly basis all the time. Wave four is pharmaceuticals, which we’re still not there yet, because it takes time to prove anecdotal effects are actually driven by research. And then the fifth wave is maturation, which means that like Coke and Pepsi, there’s going to be a few large giant global companies that handle majority of the market share. And there’s gonna be small, not mom and pop shops, but mom and pop shops are always medium-sized enterprises, which then take another 30, 40% of the market as well. So right now, we’re in the CPG phase, which is consumer packaged goods, brands that are being created. And to me, there’s a big disservice that companies are doing by creating cannabis brands, and not creating brands that use cannabis, because cannabis itself as an ingredient. It is becoming more standardized and commoditized every single day we go through. So, you need to, instead of looking at it as the product, think of it as an ingredient. Are you trying to help someone with sleep aid? Cannabis can help, as well as melatonin and many other products. Are you trying to help someone to be more creative? Well, there’s sativa strains that are absolutely awesome for stuff like that. So think about what the problem set of your customer is. And just hyperfocus on it. Be the sleep product that your customer wants, and don’t be anything else. And it’s a hard thing to do this early in the industry. That’s the difference we’re seeing between the companies that are growing very rapidly, and the ones that are just the me too’s of the industry, trying to create a copycat of whatever else exists.

Chip: Right. Take something and own it.

Narbe: Exactly.

Chip: Right.

Narbe: Exactly.

Chip: It’s hard to find that niche, that’s for sure. I’ve had it in my grasp a couple of times. It’ll slip out especially in our modern world, how everybody communicates with each other and, you know, using online applications to design you know, everything, and we can communicate with thousands of people. Yeah.

Narbe: Totally, totally. I have companies that I speak to time to time where they say, “Well, I can’t tell you anything unless you sign an NDA.” And I say, “Well, we’re just having an introductory call. Why don’t we just talk about it before we sign anything?” And they say, “No well, if we tell you we’re scared that it’s gonna go away.” And my response to that is, “If you think within a half hour conversation, you’re gonna tell me something that is gonna, that you think that’s not going to be stolen, then I think you’re wrong. Because, not that I would ever do that, but the internet can disseminate information very quickly. And if you get to a big enough size, not too big, but you’re growing, and Forbes comes to you and asks you that question, you can’t make them sign an NDA, you’re gonna have to tell the answer. Or you’re gonna want to tell the answer, or else they’re not gonna run the story. And guess what, all of a sudden, everyone knows what your secret sauce is.” So it’s just all about just trusting the other counterparty, and really taking a step back and just being very honest with yourself and saying, “Do I have something special? Some sort of a competitive advantage that’s sustainable over time? Or do I not? And if I don’t let this go find one. And if I do, how do I hold on to this, and make sure nobody else gets to it?”

Chip: This has been an awesome conversation, man. We’re really just getting into it. And the big thing I want to chat about with you is venture capital, and how it works. So many people have, you know, different visions of it. You guys are considered, you know, the devil of the industry and to some people, other people are totally scared of venture capital, because they think that’s gonna, like, you know, take their opportunity away. Tell me how it works. If I’m a small company, and I want to, I want to get some capital, like, like, how does it work?

Narbe: Sure. So from a very general basis, a company comes in and says, “I want to raise capital.” They present us with a PowerPoint presentation or a deck that walks us through who they are, what they’re doing differently, how they stack up to competition, what their financial profile is in terms of how much they’ve raised, where they got money from, what revenues they have, what geographies they service, what categories they service, and they just basically give us this very introductory high level overview what the business is like. The next step after that is to provide us with a financial model of where they see the future going. The value of your company isn’t in what you’ve done in the past, it’s what you’re going to be doing in the future. So through that mechanism, we get to understand how they see their company evolving. There’s a lot of weight attached to that financial model, even though it is fictitious in a sense, you’re assuming a lot of numbers around it. But we want to understand, A. where the entrepreneur sees the business going? So do they see the business becoming five times as large in five years, or they see it being the same value or the same size for the next five years? And those have different motives attached to them, and they have different mechanisms of investment attached to them as well. And then once we’ve done those two conversations about the deck and the model, the next thing we do is we create a data request. Then we say, “This is the information we need to really understand, take a deep dive into the company.” And once we’ve done all that, as the investor, we proceed with the term sheet that says, “This is what the deal was that I wanted to do. This is how much money I’m gonna put in. This is what I’m going to get back, I might get a board seat, I’ll tell you If I am. What happens if the company doesn’t succeed? What do I get for that? Or what do I not get for that?” And you walk through all the high level terms. The next step after that is an important one for the entrepreneur. And for everyone listening to this show, you need to have a good lawyer in hand because you need so when —

Chip: You say that one again, please.

Narbe: You need to have a good lawyer, because you need someone to walk you through the legal jargon involved in getting to a deal with investors. Because there’s some investors out there, and I’m not going to name names or anything like that, that ask for a lot, that asked for a lot. They want to have all the upside of the business, but want to mitigate the downside of the business. And that doesn’t drive. We shouldn’t be doing that. Again, like they’re not thinking of a ten year partnership, they’re thinking about themselves in that situation. And they could be the nicest, kindest people out there, but you need to really work with a lawyer to understand what it is you’re actually signing up for, and what happens if things don’t work out. I love to really focus in on things not working out, because while everything looks rosy and awesome when you first put the money in, things can change very quickly, you need to be ready for that. So that’s kind the entire thing in a nutshell. After that investment has been made, we work with venture capitalists in general. Work with the portfolio companies in order to help them grow, link them up to other portfolio companies, and other companies they know, their network, help them with hiring by bringing in consultants, help them with legal matters by providing them with resources. And it’s really just unleashing the network that that investor has to help that company get to that next level. Build, build, build and get towards an eventual exit, which is either through acquisition or through a go public event.

Chip: But you make it sound so simple.

Narbe: I mean, I’ve done it so many times. But yes, it seems a bit simple to me. But —

Chip: Hey man, out of those 4000 individuals that have come to you, do you, you got a percentage of how many people you guys worked a deal out with?

Narbe: Yes. So we’ve seen over two 2200 deals, pitches of companies. And of course, like every time someone pitches, starting company pitches, there’s multiple entrepreneurs and operators, and we’ve done 18 deals.

Chip: All right. What’s the odds on that, do you know what the percent is?

Narbe: Venture capital is typically around 1%.

Chip: Okay.

Narbe: You need to see a lot of companies in order to do the deals.

Chip: Okay. Okay.

Narbe: So we’re right around there, just under that 1%. Maybe we’re a bit more pickier than the average.

Chip: I mean, if I do an email campaign, and I get 1%, I’m usually pretty happy about it.

Narbe: Yeah, you know what? I love that topic. I was actually reading up, back in the late 90s, t by email, click through rates were like, 70%. I don’t know if you remember those days, but I got any time I got an email, I’d open it.

Chip: Oh yeah, I’d read it all.

Narbe: It was a very —

Chip: “I got an email!”

Narbe: Yeah.

Chip: Yeah, “you’ve got mail,” right?

Narbe: Now it’s the complete opposite.

Chip: AOL really dominate- I know, absolutely. It’s like, “Please turn off my notifications. Please, please, please.” And I mean, is it just capital that you guys are, you mentioned earlier that kind of sounds like you’re a turnaround slash, do you have a description for what you guys do? Because that’s not what I would think of as venture capitalists. I mean, I know a couple people that do turnarounds. But you guys do a little bit something more than that.

Narbe: Yeah. So we’re not, we’re not turnaround. We’re not a turnaround type of an investor. And I’ll honestly say like, we don’t, we just don’t have that skill set, nor do we want that skill set. We want the entrepreneur to be running the business, we don’t want to run the business ourselves. So the key here is to find the right operator. And I’ll use the anecdote that there’s no eBay for great ideas. If you have a great idea, like a killer idea, nobody’s gonna buy an idea off of you, nobody’s gonna pay you 50 grand for an idea. If you take that idea and you execute on it, then you can sell that company. So it really comes down to the entrepreneur, the operator. What our job is, is to give the domain expertise and the relationships that we’ve developed in the industry, to our portfolio companies, and to friends of the company as well, in order to help them succeed. So, we have a group internally at Canopy Rivers. They’re called the impact team, run by the former CEO of Canopy Growth as well as, he’s a McKinsey consultant, Harvard MBA. He’s created a team of experts in life sciences and regulatory affairs in growth and scaling. And our job is to help compliment the employee, the entrepreneurs that we invest in, in terms of getting to know different people in the industry, getting to know different parties. So I’ll give you an example. If you’re a small cultivator that’s looking for capital and you go to a venture capitalist like ourselves, we would help you find proper genetics to help you with volume purchases on supplies, we’d help you with getting to know retailers and customers in order to sell your products into, we’d help you with everything in and around your business. But we wouldn’t, at any given time, run your business, because that’s not our job to do.

Chip: So it’s more like an accelerator.

Narbe: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s more similar to an accelerator, except that typically when you think of an accelerator, it’s usually very small companies that are built off of an idea. It’s a bit different because we’ve already picked up the company where you have revenues, you have some market share, and you want to go to that next level, that next level, and the next level.

Chip: So you’ve got, you’ve got 18 companies, do you guys have an idea of the type of company that you’re looking for, or the type of return that you’re interested in when you decide, or is everybody different?

Narbe: Typically, for venture capital funds, you’re looking at investment returns about 15% year over year. Every year, your portfolio grows by 15%. But to get that 15%, when you get into a deal, you have to think of it as being a deal, “I can give you ten times your money.”  And if you believe it’s going to be 10 times your money, you’ll probably end up with 3 to 5 times your money, which then will convert to 15 to 20% return on investment. So that is kind of the mindset that you have, “Is this a 10 bagger? Is this going to be 10 times my money?” Because it’s growing very fast, it’s very competitive in nature, and it has, it’s carved out a niche for itself. In terms of where we look into across the value chain, there’s four key areas that we’re really honed into right now, and this changes all the time. One of them is on the brand side, we truly believe there’s no true customer affinity with brands that are out there. The customers aren’t only choosing one brand of edibles or one brand of pre-rolls, and not buying anything else, similar to how you see customers using Coke and Pepsi. The second piece is on the plant science side. We’re really zoned in on how to help take cannabis cultivation to the next level. So it looks a lot like what you see for vegetables and fruit cultivation around the world. The third piece is bio synthetics. Similarly, aspirin is derived from the bark of a willow tree, but you don’t see any willow tree cultivation facilities anywhere in the world. And the reason is that, the enzyme that that tree develops to help you with a headache is made in a lab. And similarly outside of THC and CBD, where the plant does give you a lot of that, the other minor cannabinoids, we have a view that they’ll be created in the lab instead of being created organically on a plant everywhere. And then the fourth area is data and technology. We really do believe that that there’s a lot of value in understanding the mindset of what consumers are buying, and as well as what retailers are buying from producers. And to understand that gives you a leg up in terms of what to develop next, and how to present it in market.

Chip: Are you looking at companies that have $1 million in revenue today and want to grow it? Or $10 million? I guess it’s kind of all over the place, tech companies might not have any sales.

Narbe: Yup, yeah. So our view is that we’re a lifecycle investor, like our smallest check has been 750,000 off of an idea, our largest check has been $50 million. So, we are very open to talking to all types of entrepreneurs and all types of businesses, not necessarily anybody with a certain threshold. To me, it’s great to just learn about how entrepreneurs view a business. So, I mean, I say this a lot to companies that are based out of Latin America, or China, or Europe where they’re looking for funding. And I say the first thing you should do is focus on teaching your prospective investor about your geography, and why it’s different than in North America, and then go into your company at the end of the day, and then that’s key. Like, it’s about the teaching piece of it. You’re a company, you’re looking for investment money, teach your investor why you’re different than anybody else. Teach them about how you see the industry as well, and build that rapport to show that you’re different than every other company that’s out there.

Chip: You know, when I started my first potting soil company years ago, a friend of mine said, “What makes you think you can do this so special?” I immediately was resistant, you know, and as a young entrepreneur it was my second business at the time, I was just literally so bold and brazen, it was like, “Oh, because it’s me, I’m doing it.” And, you know, the market was so much smaller 20 years ago, right? And no one had heard of cocoa fiber at the time, or very little people had. I was on the cusp of a revolution. But to start a business now, it seems so difficult to me, for young entrepreneurs, to be able to come into a marketplace and just immediately be able to compete with people in the cannabis industry specifically that have been doing it a long time, or just have so many resources, you know, behind them. I mean, I started my first potting soil company with literally like, $3,000, right? And I just don’t know if anybody could do that today.

Narbe: I think so. I’d challenge that. I’d say it like there’s never been a better time to start a business than it is today. Like the amount of resources, and podcasts like yourselves that entrepreneurs, young budding entrepreneurs, pun intended, could really listen to, read, understand what the pitfalls were, how people succeeded, how people screwed up, to really just really zone in on what the idea is. There’s an unprecedent amount of data out there about how to start a business that we’ve ever seen in the history of mankind. So compare starting a business now to ten years ago, [41:33 inaudible].

Chip: You’re saying just the sheer access people have to information just accelerates the overall growth.

Narbe: Absolutely.

Chip: And your chance to exposure to any market in the world is readily available at the stroke of your fingers, honestly, right?

Narbe: Absolutely. The [41:55 inaudible] is on the entrepreneur to really sit down and learn these things. And if you have the time of any, you can carve out the time, and I say, if you’re looking to start a business, and you don’t know where to start, just carve out an hour every day, sit at a Starbucks, and just read. Just read articles, read about that industry you want to get into, read about what other companies are doing, listen to a podcast of a successful entrepreneur, and just get your mind going. And it is a snowball effect of within the day, and I’m sure you can attest that as well, that every small move you make, somehow turns into a very tangibly big deal later on.

Chip: Yeah.

Narbe: And you can’t predict that, you can’t. And it gets a bit daunting when you think of the successful people and you say, “How do I get there?” You just have to show up every day and put in your work.

Chip: Yeah, no man, plants grow, man. You put a seed in the ground. You give it every single thing it wants, it gets huge and big. Sometimes you can’t water it so much, or feed it so much, it’s that much smaller. But like, if you get it everything it needs, just the potential for growth is just incredible, and that’s in businesses, and in relationships, and people as well.

Narbe: Absolutely.

Chip: Well, you’ve changed my mind. Okay, okay. I now think that it was harder when I started my business. And now I realize it was. I was literally getting phone calls from Sri Lanka at four in the morning, you know?

Narbe: I love it. I love that —

Chip: And they’re speaking broken English —

Narbe: I love hearing the grind.

Chip: Yeah, it is easier today. Like if anyone wanted to go start a potting soil company, they could look up manufacturers at the touch of their fingers. You know, when I started, I don’t know how old you are, but we’d go to the library. And there was this encyclopedia of businesses and manufacturers.

Narbe: Yup.

Chip: And we would search through it and find like, suppliers and nobody had websites, you would call people directly and build a relationship with them.

Narbe: Yeah just think about the long distance charges you’d incurred just to call them. Nowadays, you have Google Hangouts, and video calls, and voice calls made over the Internet that you’re not paying anything extra for. So, it’s just remarkable how much easier and cheaper it is to run a business.

Chip: Yeah no, absolutely man. The virtual assistants, the on demand workers, the sheer amount of like marketing talent, and graphic talent, and product development talent like you know, you can access all those resources for inexpensive. You just have to know how to like, who to ask and how to ask for what, and anybody today if they wanted to get involved in you know, breeding cannabis, breeding hemp, breeding, you know, high THC hemp, anybody can get involved with a two day at a high level, because they can just, you know, look up people in the industry that want a job, frankly. Somebody in India, or even in Seattle, or Vancouver, and there’s somebody who’s interested in cannabis that, you know, has a PhD in genomics, genetics, biology and wants to help you out, and will over the phone, or over Zoom, right?

Narbe: It’s just a matter of doing it right. It’s just a matter of just picking up the phone and doing it. Not many people do that actually, a lot of people sit there and just fantasize about what their company can do, instead of just learning, and it’s remarkable if you just contact someone and say, “Hey, I just want to pick your brain for five minutes on a certain topic that I have not, going to sell you anything. And I’m not going to ask you for a job. I just want to know what you did in this scenario to get to where you were.” It’s remarkable how many people actually reach out to you and say, “Yeah, I’m okay with that. Let’s do that call.” And you do that call, and that call turns into a follow up call, and that follow up call is half an hour, 45 minutes long, and soon enough, someone wants to give you a job and someone wants to buy your product. And it’s just about putting that process in and getting those at bats.

Chip: At bats. Oh man, I say it all the time, you just got to jump in, you really do. We have all this hesitation and resistance. And it’s product development, or entrepreneurs, you like, want to build this perfect thing and get it perfect and it hits the market and everybody loves it, and you know, you get a home run. But I think it’s more important to have a base it to literally just hop in the deep end and learn how to swim,  right? You get great product development, you get customer feedback, you might get a lot of shit too. If you can get beyond that, like for me anyway, that is my preferred method of launching a product, starting a business. It’s just getting into it, right?

Narbe: Yeah, it is remarkable how much you’ll learn from it too. Like I remember this one time I got an investor, sorry, an entrepreneur that came to pitch me and every time I asked – it was half an hour long – and every time I asked a question, she just dumped a data dump on me of the number of people he surveyed. So I asked a question, like, “Who’s gonna buy your product?” and be like, “Oh, I used Google Search, Google Audience. I surveyed 300 people, and these people said they would pay for it.” I can’t say anything against that. “Okay. So how about the pricing?” Well, as you come up with a price, then you said, “Well, I looked up all of my competitors, then I scraped the web for their pricing, and this is the price that they’re selling it at. And I think that I can sell at this price and get better margins.” “Okay, I got that, too.” And every time I was asking questions, it was data, data data, and you can’t, the data itself, like, it really answers the question without putting any objective opinions into it. But at the same time, the data does have confirmation bias attached to it as well. So as an investor, you always worry about the best data being shown to you, not the bad stuff. But what I’m trying to get to is, if you back your idea and your thesis with data around you, it’s going to be very hard to refute that you’ve done a lot of homework on this. The best pitches that we see are the ones that the entrepreneur’s ready to answer every question, because they’ve sat back and they said, “You know what? There’s a finite number of questions, there’s a known number of questions that someone can ask me over a half hour to understand my business, and I’m gonna be ready for every single question that’s going to come out there.” And there might be some weird one that’s like, “What kitchen utensil might you be?” that they’re not prepped for. I don’t ask that question, but there’s always those random questions that they might not be prepared for, but you need to be prepared when you come into that pitch. And those are the ones, the ones that answer the questions and give you that look like, “Is this as hard as it gets? Because I live and breathe my company, and you think I can’t answer these questions. These are easy.” And those are the ones that you see the passion just glittering in the idea that they’re presenting to you.

Chip: Oh man, I’m smiling just thinking about it. I mean, I know people make the television show comparison to you guys all the time, but it must feel just like that, right?

Narbe: It is except you’re not trying to find those one-liners to stump on the entrepreneur and make yourself look good on screen.

Chip: Oh, that’s funny. You’re right. Well, you know, you gotta sell the story. You guys sound like you’re having a great time.

Narbe: Yeah, you know, I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk with so many bright minded individuals all over the world about how they see this industry progressing. I’m literally so grateful for it.

Chip: We’ve kind of talked about one side of it. We’ve talked about the, you know, the entrepreneur side and kind of how the venture capitalists work. Many people today feel like they’ve had some bad cannabis investments. And there’s more people that have gotten, lost their investment in cannabis operations, than you’d care to know. People enter it often with passion, without so much data, it’s often a brother in law, cousin, best friend type scenario. And you, things just kind of go wrong. All that is changing. Do you have a tip for the investor? On how to be wary, and how not to get involved in a bad relationship?

Narbe: Yeah, I think the first step is that you need to really understand that venture investment, or angel investing, or  investing in a private company, that is most basic level, is a very high risk move. High risk because once that money goes in, that company’s going to spend that money, and there’s no way for you to take that money back out. This isn’t like buying Apple stock where every day there’s a market for it that you can sell your shares to. Instead, it’s a very difficult proposition because you need to wait 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years in order to get your money back and get, potentially getting return. And between that period of time, there’s a lot of areas where companies can screw up and can really change the way the outlook of that company is. So when you’re looking at an investment, and you need to kind of tell yourself like, “I’m okay losing this money, and I’m taking a risk here.” And I’ve always like, financial literature and theory tells you that for these types of investments, you should put no more than 10% of your wealth down into investments such as these, and you hear all too much that people are putting their entire nest egg into an idea that just doesn’t pan out. And this is why governments in both Canada and the US create systems in place where individuals can’t invest in these private companies, unless they’re what they call “accredited.” Which means you have, and it varies by state and by country, but in general, it means you have wealth. You have call it, $5 million of assets in hand, or you’re making a million dollars of cash flow per year. And the government then allows you to invest in these private companies. And there’s a lot of times where companies that take investments from individuals don’t do that work to make sure that those investors understand the risks that they’re going into, and it turns into a bad place. When we look at the cannabis industry itself, it’s a bit different.  You’re seeing different data coming from Main Street versus Wall Street. So when you’re looking at the capital markets and stocks right now, they’re much lower than they were a couple years ago. But when you look at what’s selling in each of the states, you’re seeing monumental growth rates like 10, 15, 20, 50% within a few months. So you’re seeing the industry grow very fast, but you’re seeing companies getting smaller, smaller in terms of evaluation. And that’s just generally the nature of the stage that we’re in, in the cannabis industry, where the ones that are going to win are going to win, the ones that are going to go bankrupt are going to go bankrupt. And because of the, you don’t know which ones are which at this point in time, and because it’s so early, everyone just kind of takes a hit until those winners are figured out.

Chip: Business is so much like gambling. Serial entrepreneurs, we’re gamblers at heart. But you throw in some cannabusiness in it and wow, it sure it sure can make it exciting, that’s for sure.

Narbe: Absolutely. [53:15 inaudible].

Chip: Sounds like a good country song or Jerry Garcia song.

Narbe: Yeah, the returns aren’t as good as gambling either, though. You can’t double your money by betting on red or black.

Chip: Yeah, well, you know, that’s just a fan- it’s a fantasy. Yeah, well, I get it. Man, it’s been great talking to you today. You know, cannabusiness, like I said, is the most important part to the cannabis industry. It’s maturing so much right now. And really come in and [53:45 inaudible] it is really great to hear your perspective on the consumer packaged goods, on cultivation, and where you think the cannabis industry is going, man. I really appreciate you joining me today. If people want to get in touch with you. what’s the best way for them to do that?

Narbe: Yeah, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn, you can email me narbe@canopyrivers.com. So if you’re interested in learning more or talking, happy to chat.

Chip: Thanks for joining us man. I really appreciate your time.

Narbe: Thanks for having me.

Chip: This has been another episode of The Real Dirt, and that was Narbe Alexandrian with Canopy Rivers. Man, it was really great speaking to them about capital investment into cannabis. You know, the only way we can grow is sometimes we get a little help from our friends, or help from others. And you know, don’t let quote unquote, big business keep you down, or think you that you can’t survive in the cannabis industry. Listen to this conversation. You know, we talked heavily about how people with just an idea can get one started. So if you’ve got an idea, man, take that first step. Just try it. If you’re thinking about growing cannabis, if you’re thinking about getting into the cannabis business, man, just hop into it. Just try it, right? Don’t let money stop you. Don’t let time stop you. Definitely don’t let your friend’s shit talking stop you. Just try man, and you know, when you get slapped down, stand up. When it’s not working, examine what you’re doing, and be determined to make it work. If you have the desire, you can stick it out long enough. If you can keep your eyes open, and make sure that you’re right, making the right economic decisions, man, chances are you’re going to do just fine. So thanks again for listening to this episode of The Real Dirt. This has been fun and exciting for me. Please, if you’re interested in other episodes like this, check us out on iTunes, The Real Dirt podcast. You can also download other episodes at therealdirt.com. Please check out cultivatecolorado.com, we can supply you with all of your propagation and equipment needs. Thanks again. This has been The Real Dirt.

The Secrets of the Country’s Largest Cannabis Operations with Nick Morin

The Secrets of the Country’s Largest Cannabis Operations with Nick Morin

commercial cannabis grow

Remember that show Cribs?

You know, that show where we got to take tours through the mansions of the rich and famous and feel bad about ourselves. While it’s been a long time since we watched Master P show off his gold ceiling, there’s a new, better, completely unrelated Cribs that is all about cannabis.

CannaCribs was started by Nick Morin through his company the Grower’s Network to show us all what it’s really like inside some of the largest and technologically advanced cannabis cultivation operations across the country. But it isn’t all green ganja and piles of cash in these operations.

What you don’t see on CannaCribs is the behind the scenes details that Nick gets from the head growers and owners of these operations. From the shady investment dealings that growers fall into like overfunding and inexperienced fund managers to the stressful work that goes into maintaining a large scale cannabis operation, Chip and Nick dive into it all in this episode of The Real Dirt Podcast.

More about Nick

Follow and Subscribe to The Real Dirt Podcast:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/therealdirtpodcast/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/therealdirtpodcast/

Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-real-dirt-with-chip-baker/id1173559750

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1tC6OyqCJfUWsmGYovqlQP

Get great deals on grow gear:

CultivateColorado.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cultivatecolorado/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cultivatecolorado/

Transcript:

Chip: Once again you have reached “The Real Dirt.” And on today’s dirt, it’s a very special episode. Today, I’ve got Nick Morin from Canna Cribs. Now, if you haven’t seen Canna Cribs, you’ve got to check it out, great YouTube channel. It’s absolutely one of my favorites, it’s one of the best production in our whole industry. And if you haven’t seen Canna Cribs yet, you’re missing out. Thank you so much Nick for joining me.

Nick: Chip, thanks for having me. I really appreciate your time.

Chip: Nick called me up a couple, a month or two ago, and said he was going to start a podcast. And we’ve exchanged a bunch of information and talked back and forth and you know, I’m really excited to hear about your podcast. You’ve just launched a new podcast and you know, we just immediately got along on the phone. ‘Cause like, we do the same thing. You know in some manner, is we get to go talk to ganja people all over the country and world and find out, you know, what they’re all about. And get to go into gardens that we may, people just dream about. What’s it like having this dream job, Nick?

Nick: I just would say I’m extremely grateful to be working with my team, you know, my bestfriends and going out and filming these stories, telling these stories now on the podcast. It’s a dream job and it’s something that you know, as a little kid I never would have imagined I’d be here today, but it’s pretty special at this point in time in this industry, as we’re evolving rapidly.

Chip: I know we have a lot talk about. But like, let’s talk about Canna Cribs. How did it start, when did it start, like tell me about it.

Nick: I’ll take you to the exact point in time. CannaCon Seattle, I was talking with my friends that own uh, Glass House Farms in uh, Carpinteria, California. You know, it was dinner, it’s after the trade show. As many people do after a trade show, you go out for dinner and drinks and we’re just brainstorming. And when you get those energies, you know, across the table going and some good ideas, Canna Cribs was born. You know, I wanted to create a Youtube series. And I was really inspired by Marijuana Mania by Berner, and Strain Hunters and their team, and I wanted to come up with uh, kind of my own version of garden tours. I think Growing Exposed was coming up around the same time as well. So you know, I was chatting with, you know, Graham and their whole team over there. And we came up that – it sounds like you got the intro going, so yeah, that’s, that’s it right there, man. So we flew out there shortly after, actually flew to Tucson and picked this up which was a surreal experience in itself right there. I put together my team from University of Arizona, you know, some friends from college, some friends that I’ve worked with, and then some acquaintances kind of one degree away in Tucson. And we flew out there, filmed our pilot and as they say, the rest is history.

Chip: I’ve actually got it on right now, “Glass House Greenhouse Commercial Cannabis Growing Operation in California,” Canna Cribs. I really love this episode, I love everything about it. Like it’s so like, highly produced. I’m a TV junkie, I love format. And like, just the way that you guys have produced this whole series, it like, mimics you know, several other of my favorite type of genres. The like, you know, fix and flip style genre, where they’re either it’s an old junk car they find, the barn find, and turn it into —

Nick: Right.

Chip: You know, something. Something great. Or like, you know, a house, where like they buy it, and they like, fix it and flip it. You’ve got a lot of the like, elements in the editing with that. It really like, draws people in. Man, I also love all of the, the product placement that occurs in this episode and other episodes. It shows the products that people are using, but it’s not like an over the top infomercial advertisement. ‘Cause we all know it’s like, advertising helps pay for it all. It’s very discreetly done, it’s done well.

Nick: Yeah. You’re exactly right. The product placement and advertising, it allows for us to go out there and film. And you know, a lot of people don’t know this, but it’s not like we’re charging farms tens and thousands or you know, a hundred thousand dollars to go out to film. It’s actually no cost, vast majority of the time. So the farm doesn’t pay anything, and we of course have to pay our crew and get out there. And you know, you know this very well, Chip. Youtube gives us zero dollars in advertising. I can’t even spend money on Youtube to promote our show so, it creates an environment where you have to be very scrappy. You have to be wise and extend your dollars through organic content. And the thought leadership behind the brands, the products, the services that these growers are using, it’s a pretty straightforward model where these are the products that their success is built on. Those companies you know like, let’s say soil companies. You know, your background and growing media, and every episode there’s a different growing media. And these growers rely on that product for their success so it’s a really natural fit where we get to educate fans all around the world. We get to help promote the grower through the episode. And then the vendor has an opportunity to promote their products naturally, because we don’t place products that aren’t naturally used at the farm.

Chip: And you can tell the authenticity of it due to that. What was your background in cannabis previous to this?

Nick: So I just say, a lover of the plant. I’m relatively —

Chip: You’re an enthusiast. You’re a cannabis enthusiast. Excellent.

Nick: That’s exactly right. So I started consuming young and you know, I have two older brothers and that probably helped a little bit. Yeah, I actually started Growers Network and Canna Cribs shortly after, during my senior year in college. So, this is my first foray into the, into any professional industry, really. I started a couple communities while I was at the University of Arizona. So I guess I do have a background in kind of grassroots community building from the ground up. And then you know, I have a passion for both cannabis and also technology, and the marriage of the two of those things, as well as marketing and community building, it’s kind of where I live today. And what I’m super passionate about you know, when it comes to sharing very special stories that will impact the history and our future, everyone in this industry with the rest of the world. And just kind of showing and proving that there is a way to have you know, legal, compliant, and really good cannabis at the end of the day that saves lives and builds businesses.

Chip: You came to this as just an enthusiast. You had a surface knowledge of how cannabis operated, how it grew, the production of it all. Did you have some misconceptions that were immediately proven inaccurate when you started doing Canna Cribs?

Nick: I would say that like, everyone on our crew including myself, we didn’t really know, we didn’t really know what went into a commercial sized grow operation. You know, we might have had friends growing here and there, more you know, underground and maybe at the hobbyist or kind of that caregiver scale. But, to walk into a commercial grow operation and see that scale, it was incredible. So I’d say, maybe less misconceptions but more just, you know, kind of what’s behind the curtain. Having the opportunity to share that with the world is really special.

Chip: You talked about the stories, you’ve mentioned that a couple of times. Do you have a favorite cannabis story, or favorite episode that you made?

Nick: Oh my gosh, that’s a tough one. Choosing between your babies —

Chip: Oh I just keep pressing the memo, hey I just started man, I just started.

Nick: I love it. I love it. Yeah, no, I love the question, Chip. So I’d say you know, one of the stories that I probably enjoyed the most telling and also was the most moved by, was Scott Reach of Rare Dankness. He’s gone through a lot of personal turmoil and you can listen to his story with his health, and how cannabis really healed him and gave him an opportunity to you know, run a business and support his family. So, a lot of that comes up in you know, throughout the episode and you know, it’s not every single episode that that story is going to be exactly the same. You know, each episode kind of has a unique, I guess unique story to tell. But with Scott and Rare Dankness, before we went out there you know, we did some research. We always like to do some pre-production research to come up with some story points and kind of build out what the episode’s going to look like before we set foot on set to film. You know, his personal fight with cancer and how cannabis really helped him personally with his fight with cancer, but also his background with breeding and as a geneticist. And through his other companies, he’s building, in my words, he’s building a cannabis empire. It doesn’t stop with just House of Dankness, it doesn’t stop with just Rare Dankness, he has a seed company around the world, he has a new nutrient line. So, one thing that I really resonate with and connect with is the entrepreneurial spirit of these cannabis grow operation owners. And there’s a lot of different types of commercial grow operations, but that episode with Scott, it really shined through, all the different things he had going on, and I loved it.

Chip: He’s really built an incredible room. If anybody’s out there who wants to see great, great, great cultivation grow room, look up that episode. Which episode is it? I’m looking for it now.

Nick: Episode six, it was right after Honeydew Farms in Humboldt.

Chip: Episode six, man, totally. Episode six, Honeydew Farm. The first Canna Cribs was the Honeydew Farms one.

Nick: Oh really?

Chip: And I’ve spent most of my life in Humboldt. I moved there ’97, and still have a property, and farm, and business there today. I heard that there was some, you know, because it’s a small community, so I’d heard that there was some like, thing being filmed, Honeydew Farms. And it was out, so yeah I went and checked it out. That was my first exposure to you. And then of course, I watched all the rest of the episodes.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah, it’s bingeful content. You know, it takes you about a weekend to watch all the Canna Cribs and Deep Roots, and we have a couple you know, new projects on the horizon. But, you know, if you ask me the favorite episode to film as far as where I was, it’s hands down, Alex Moore’s Honeydew Farms in Humboldt. It was my first time travelling there. And I mean, honestly Chip, I felt like the time froze. You know, our cellphones weren’t working. You know, we just had our cameras and we were kind of like, paused in this beautiful forest and his property is pretty amazing as well, you know, on a river basin. It was, it was magical. And we stayed in Arcadia?

Chip: Arcata.

Nick: Arcata, Arcata. So we stayed in Arcata and you know – or no sorry, I apologize. We stayed in Eureka.

Chip: Eureka.

Nick: Yeah, we drove up about an hour and a half up the hill and then an hour and a half back down to our hotel each day. So, we had to wake up super early and we went to bed pretty late each night, because we were battling sunlight. You know, most the farm’s outdoors so we had to film very efficiently with the daylight there. So, part of that was probably some lack of sleep that added to the effect. But, it was amazing. We went out to the waterside as well at the end of the episode. We went to the Redwoods. Everywhere we go, Chip, we try to characterize the region. We try to give the audience a glimpse into what it’s really like. Not just in the farm, but the surrounding area. Because we have around 150 countries around the world watching our Youtube channel, right? So, if someone’s in let’s say, Russia, and they’ve never been to Humboldt, I kind of put it on our shoulders like as a responsibility, to tell them what it’s really like, and to show them that glimpse of the world. And Humboldt is such a beautiful place, and I, I’m actually going to be, right after this interview, I’m actually interviewing two brothers that cofounded Lit House Farms in Humboldt, Big Al and Chris. And then last week, I interviewed Nat at Humboldt Seed Company for the Canna Cribs podcast. So, I love Humboldt —

Chip: Yeah, I know Nat. I’m actually like, growing his seeds right now, Auto OGs.

Nick: Oh nice. Okay.

Chip: Totally, totally. Yeah we got like ten thousand Auto OGs we’ve planted in the past like, two weeks.

Nick: Wow.

Chip: They’ll come out some time in October.

Nick: Well, I’m always finding a reason you know, trying to find a reason to go back so if you still have property, if you have friends up in Humboldt, I’d love to film them some time.

Chip: Ah man. I love it out there. We’ve got so much stuff going on up there, you know. It’s an incredible, geographical environment, you know. It’s a really rough political environment, you know. There’s just a lot of people that do not support legal cannabis and try to stand in your way at every point. It’s really unfortunate because there’s so many small farmers over there that can really bring and grow the best cannabis in the world. They’ve got like, the experience and the time, and the understanding, and the desire, and the heart to do it. But you know the, so many you know, at so many levels, the county and the bureaucracy, and the county is against what they’re doing. How many people in the county, they totally accept it. Right, many of the board of supervisors totally accept it. But, it’s just a fight you know, for anybody trying to get a legal cannabis operation there. And absolutely anybody who has gone through the worst to get one because, it’s not at all, easy there. It’s not at all easy there. So yeah, let’s hope that the industry survives. But yeah, I’ve got tons of connections up there. I’d totally hook you up with anybody you want to, if you can’t figure out who to talk to. You know, I started a potting soil company up there years ago, Royal Gold Soils. I sold soil to everybody up there for years. And currently, my new soil company, Grower Soil, I’m not in California yet. I’m mostly just focusing on you know, the midwest and the east coast. Yeah, I’ve got tons of connections all over man. If you ever want to go see anybody, just ask. I might know them.

Nick: Thank you. And that’s what I love about this industry when I first started out you know, I was working with my bestfriend and roommate at the time, and current business partner, Nate Lipton of Growers House. And he had a spreadsheet of growers, right, that are commercial growers that buy from Growers House. And I was originally, and I still run Growers Network today, all the work you know, a lot of the conversations around Canna Cribs up to this point. But the first company, and it is the production company of Canna Cribs, it’s called Growers Network. And it’s an online forum. We have about 11,000 members all over the world. And just people where they can go, and connect, and learn from each other. And I was just originally handed a spreadsheet of the top contacts from Growers House, and I just interviewed for ten months. You know, I picked up the phone, and the Lean Canvas methodology in the startup world, it’s called Customer Segment Testing.

Chip: Sure.

Nick: So, I just picked up the phone and called the you know, a hundred growers and listened to their paying points and you know, how they learned how to grow cannabis, where they were at in their career you know, super seasoned or new, what hurdles they were jumping over to become a legal professional grow operation. And at no point did I say, “Oh, join Growers Network,” or, “Oh,” like, Canna Cribs didn’t start at that point. So in the very beginning, my first ten months in this industry was just network building and acceptance amongst growers that were complete strangers. And what you just shared with me right now has been my experience up to this point, just generosity and open arms and

welcoming into the industry. So thank you, and thank everyone out there that helps to you know, nurture this industry.

Chip: You know, it’s interesting you say that. ‘Cause there’s really two sides to the cannabis coin. And well, you know, it depends on which coin you’re talking about. But the knowledge coin that we’re talking about, there’s two sides of it. There are the guarded people that won’t let you in, and are closed off, they don’t really want to talk about it so much. A lot of it’s leftover from prohibitionary you know, thinking. Some of it is you know, the propriety knowledge, they think what they have is like, the best. There’s often ego associated with all of that, but that’s one portion of the community. And then the whole other portion of the community, like 75% open. Talks about it, invites you over, wants to know what you’re doing, ‘cause they want to know if they’re doing it right or wrong, right? Are absolutely like, enthusiastic about what they’re growing and want to make it better. So it’s real interesting, it’s not an even coin flip that most people in the cannabis industry that I come across, and I’m a, you know, both us are kind of a unique pawn in the pyramid, but you know, but they openly want to tell us what we’re doing. And tell other people, and talk to other people openly.

Nick: Yeah.

Chip: It’s just a great place to learn, that’s for sure.

Nick: Yeah and right now, you know, I like that you said it’s a great place to learn. Right now, trade shows up to this point were kind of like, the in-person exchange of like, information, and knowledge, and contacts and products, and services. And now that they’re all shut down, what I’ve seen is a huge influx of traffic to our Youtube channel. And to our, you know, Growers Network Grower Forum because people can’t meet in person anymore. So I mean obviously, no one planned for this. But for the content creators out there such as yourself and you know, my team, we’re really in a pivotal point right now where, and that’s why I started this podcast is, we need to kind of ramp up, you know. We need to, you know, create more content and share more stories because there’s not a whole lot of in-person outlets right now. We’re kind of leading that charge and I kind of take it upon us to provide, and kind of have that responsibility to provide that knowledge and information exchange.

Chip: You know, cannabis, the way you learn about it and the way people learn about it now is through this open source. It’s through Youtube, it’s through Google, it’s through this open network of people like, bragging, or people just completely enthusiastic about cannabis. You know, it’s so much different than say, let’s take a trade like, photography. Or marketing, right? With marketing, if you’re interested in marketing , you can go online, and you can buy like, you know, two dozen Frank Curran courses, you can buy like, you know any type of how-to Youtube advertisement, or how-to Facebook advertise or how-to content. But the cannabis industry isn’t like that. Can you shed some light on why you think that is?

Nick: Well, I think you said it a little bit earlier Chip. You know, a lot of people, I’ve heard it on your show as well, there’s a lot of growers out there that in their mindset, and in their belief, they’re growing the best way, right? There are so many processes that go into

growing cannabis. I’m not a grower myself, you know, but in filming these large scale grow operations and then telling these stories, I’ve learned a whole lot about you know, growing cannabis organically. Growing cannabis you know, kind of boutique indoor. Growing cannabis outdoors, you know. 36,000 plants at Los Sueños Farms. So, what I have found is it’s extremely fragmenting on how to grow cannabis. There are so many unique ways and the beautiful part to me, is there’s not one right way, you know? Like, you can grow soil, you can grow soilless. You can grow you know, indoor with LEDs, or indoor with HPS. And there’s all these, right path, left path that you can take throughout the entire grow cycle. And I want to educate the world on all those different options. And in each scene in Canna Cribs, if someone’s listening to this and have not seen a Canna Cribs episode, we always start with genetics. We go through propagation, and we follow lifecycle of the plant all the way through kind of seed to sale, if you will. So throughout each scene, you know, I have not filmed an episode that has completely replicated a previous episode. You know, everyone’s doing propagation a little bit differently. You know, they’re doing veg a little bit differently. So to your question, I think it’s fragmented. You know, email marketing is email marketing, right? There’s some tricks to the trade, but it’s an email at the end of the day. But you know, growing a plant, there are so many different unique ways to do that, and furthermore, there’s always new ideas, right? There’s always someone with an innovative idea and when they share, it’s the rising tide for every grower in the world. And then, kind of you know, fuel to the fire here, new products, right? You are a product inventor. You are a product genius and innovator, and when you, Chip, bring a new product to the market, it opens up a Pandora box of all these new types of cultivation methodologies. So, I think it’s fragmented because there are so many different ways to grow the plant.

Chip: Man, you really hit the nail on the head there. There’s absolutely no one way and that’s just the beauty of ganja, of cannabis, THC or hemp, right? It can grow in a million different spots.

Nick: That’s the resiliency to the plant itself, right? I mean, it’s pure for a reason. I love your saying, plants grow us. You know, we don’t grow plants. And I got to pinch myself right now, ’cause it’s so surreal to actually be on your show, talking to you about that. But, I completely agree. This plant’s here for a reason, it’s extremely resilient. And the fact that it can be grown in all these different, you know, unique ways to the region, to the grower, you know, to the product. It’s here for a reason.

Chip: You started Growers Network 2017, 2018, something like that?

Nick: Yeah, so the end of 2016 going into 2017, I’m a senior at University of Arizona, I did about ten months of research, just trying out what business model to start. You know, I had my hypothesis that I wanted to do something in the community space, get my background, and I thought there was a model there to build a new breed of online growing forums, which is Growers Network today. A little bit more of you know, I pay all my respects of course to the forums that got us here today, like the Grass City and Overgrow and all those amazing forums. But I wanted to do it a little bit differently and provide a safe place for the professional growers that were trying to transcend out of let’s say, a house grow into a you know, 300,000 square foot greenhouse. Like, how do you do that, you know? Who do you talk to, you know, where do you go to learn? Those are the kind of questions that

I was trying to ask these growers and that was what Growers Network was born out of, was that research.

Chip: Man, it has changed since 2016. I mean compared to 2020, right now as we record this episode, it’s August 2020 here in Arizona. I’m in Oklahoma, we have seen cannabis become legal all over the country in the past four years. We have seen, like you know, trends in cannabis happen. We’ve seen governments legalize it, we’ve seen Ponzi schemes associated with it. When you started this, at some point you started to get like, a vision of what was happening. Your perceptions of it in 2016, how did they change from your perceptions of it today, knowing all that change has happened?

Nick: Let’s just start with vendors, for example. Equipment suppliers, manufacturers. So in the beginning days, let’s say 2016. You know I went to my first trade show was a maximum yield show with Nate and his father, my mentor, Pauly. And they’re with you know, Growers House, and we went there to talk to vendors and walk the shows in San Francisco. And, it was all new to me. This professional side of the industry that I just didn’t know existed, you know. You know, as a connoisseur, or a consumer, or advocate in high school and college, I just didn’t know that this whole professional industry existed. You know, I was kind of naive to that. So, since then, I have seen a lot of new products hit the market. I’ve seen consolidation of different companies. Like, take Fluence for example, with you know, OSRAM coming in, and take Hawthorne, for example, and Scotts Group coming in and acquiring Davita. And you know, I listened to that episode on your show, and I loved that one, by the way. And I’ve seen that consolidation happen in a short amount of time you know, past five years on the equipment side alone. On the grower side, you know I’m always trying to pick the next market to go out and film. And I definitely will reach out with you about Oklahoma you know, once it’s a little bit safer to start flying. I definitely want to bring the Canna Cribs crew over to Oklahoma and film some farms out there. But what I’ve seen is, you know, a lot of expansion, you know. It expands into a new region, new state, and then, it kind of restricts down. You know, it’s a period of time where it grows, grows, grows, hits that apex and then, consolidation starts to happen. And kind of that market equilibrium starts to happen, right? The supply and demand starts to balance out. So I’ve seen that happen over the past five years which is pretty incredible. I’ve seen you know, Canada come online and some other parts around the world, Colombia for one, that’s really you know, kind of blowing up and they’re part of the world. So, it’s exciting, and at the same time I’m honored to be able to help document that history.

Chip: Who could have predicted cannabis at Canada would have just skyrocketed and plummeted so quickly?

Nick: Right.

Chip: You know, who could have predicted that Oklahoma, once one of the most conservative places about cannabis in the country would become the best and most premier place you know, to cultivate cannabis in the country? Nobody thought that was going to happen.

Nick: Right. So let me —

Chip: It’s incredible where it’s turning.

Nick: Yeah. Let me ask you this, Chip. So what can we learn, as a country, what can we learn from Canada’s missteps so we don’t follow in the same footsteps?

Chip: Well you know I think we’re already doing the exact same thing. We just weren’t able to have publicly traded companies that could directly trade cannabis on the NASDAQ, right? And any like, insulary type businesses that were allowed to be publicly traded, those were all you know, over the counter, OTC trading stocks. So I think that is really what kept the US investment schema from exploding. But essentially, we still have the same exact elements that were going on in Canada, that are going on here, going on here today. Which are just like, some incredibly savvy people that know how to manipulate the market. That know how to manipulate venture capital groups or family offices. And you know, for instance, the typical cannabis “investment.” There’s two types. There’s one, it’s just like, me, you, and my brother all get together and we decide we want to do a cannabis operation so we throw in our money and make it.

Nick: Kind of the friends thing —

Chip: Friends and family thing. The bootstrap. And man, sometimes like, you come up with millions of dollars that way to start your operation, people call you corporate cannabis. But it’s not, it’s just you, me, and your brother putting it together. And then there’s the venture capital model or the investor model, we’ll call it. And it stems on you know, somebody like you who wants to put in a cannabis operation. Or somebody like me, who wants to put in a cannabis operation. And we develop a business plan, we develop a proforma that’s you know, fictional that we decide, “Yeah we think it should be this way. And we’re going to make this much money over this period of time.” We develop an operational cost, and schedule you know, points of time where we make profit, and investors can get paid back. And people can paint incredibly accurate pictures like that, but then they also create these you know, inaccurate portrayal of what’s happened. And that’s what went on in Canada. Right, it was an inaccurate portrayal of how big the market was.

Nick: Right.

Chip: And so many people went into the marketplace and estimated it to be like, ten times bigger than it actually was and just drove that whole investment strategy. Right, so like that happens here in the US, but it usually happens in two different ways. It happens from the person that’s actually trying to like, get financed or get investors. And they over-exaggerate but you know, knowingly over promise, you know, they don’t either know they can do it or they’re being promised by other people who don’t fulfill their promises. Or you know, however that pans out. And so then, it collapses, right? And then the other way it collapses is when a venture capital group comes in and they you know, the way that venture capital groups work or many of them work, is their funds and they’re someone who like, who’s running the fund and they’re getting paid a percent of the fund that’s spent annually. And they’re constantly going out, like, searching for more capital. And they’ll do stuff like this, so like go` to you Nick like, “Hey Nick, are you interested in cannabis?” Just say yes, just, you know, say yes.

Nick: Yes.

Chip: “Okay, yes you’re interested in cannabis! And you’ve got ten million dollars that you want to invest in cannabis this year?” Just say yes.

Nick: Yes.

Chip: “Well, I’m not going to get you to sign any [inaudible] right now. But, we’ve got all these cannabis operations that come to us. We’ve built a hundred million dollar fund, and if you want to contribute to it then you know, then you can contribute to it. Just deal by deal, you know, basis. You interested in that, Nick?”

Nick: Sounds good to me.

Chip: “Sounds great.” Okay so now, they go to the next guy and they say the same thing and they’re like, “Oh hey man, we’ve already got ten million dollars,” right? You know, “don’t be left behind.” And they hustle all of these people for the investment. Which you shouldn’t say hustle, because everybody’s willing to participate, ‘cause you love cannabis, you’ve got a lot of money and you want to invest in it, right? Like, nothing wrong with that at all. But, the person managing the fund is where it comes into play. ‘Cause now, they’re pressured to spend your money, because that’s how they get paid, right? They only get paid from your investment, is if they find an investment for you and you’ll go through ten before you say yes on one.

Nick: They’re pressured to –

Chip: And then they invest your money, yup.

Nick: And that kind of, it hurts the companies that might be overfunded because then that ties to unrealistic expectations that they have to deliver upon. And that could lead to the demise of their company, and also, the fund. But at the end of the day, the managing partner of said funds has already you know, received their —

Chip: They’ve already been paid.

Nick: Yeah.

Chip: They’ve already been paid. And you know –

Nick: Seems like a flawed model.

Chip: It’s a totally flawed model, but the reality is that you’re so rich, Nick, that you’ve got these ten million dollars that you need to like invest annually. So like, it’s you know, the Canna Cribs is a multi-billion dollar operation now, and you have to lose these ten million dollars every year, right? It’s an oversimplification of how it’s going down. But like, you spend the money and then you move on to the next project, right? And you are, you’re DC manager moves on to the next project, ’cause they got another bunch of people like yourself that got ten million dollars that they want to invest, or have an annual amount every year that they need to invest. So they keep up their legion, and man, that just pumps a bunch of like, a bunch of crap out there, you know. Projects that should be a million dollars turn out to be twelve million dollars. Greenhouses that should be three, four million dollars turn out to be ten million dollars. Indoor rooms that are two million are ten million. And they overspent and I know several of these people that have gotten caught up in this, and they’re my friends. And like, they thought they were doing the right thing ’cause it’s, you know what sounds great? It’s when you say something like this, “We’re building the most highly technical, advanced environmental control system in the whole cannabis industry. I’m going to be able to control my environment and the microcosm. I can control every square inch and I’ve got the data that’s going to be able to back it up.” And you know, that sounds great, right? Well, you know, it’s also like, cost you like millions and millions of dollars to do it. And you may end up you know, growing slightly better or more weed over it but the ROI, I’m spending twelve million dollars on a greenhouse that should cost a million dollars. It’s just you know, it’s not there. It’s not going to be there. And that’s how these things collapse. They’re not built on business, they’re built on investment. And now they’ve got all this operational cost, because it takes two people a hundred thousand dollars a year to run the software that gets all this great data, that they have to pay another whole accounting firm to read it, right?

Nick: Right.

Chip: Right, well.

Nick: You have, having gone through all these examples with your friends and people you know, what you know, cautionary advice could you give?

Chip: Man, the big pang is don’t really believe this investment business plan. I’ve got an investor like, you know, I’m an investor. Like, don’t think that the old way of doing it, the way that you probably thought that was the best way, the way that’s mostly used is the best way. And now, things have changed. And I believe that the investors want to be involved in cannabis right now, it is an essential business. And the opportunity, the advantage is on our side. And it is, an investment where it’s a good, reasonable return, you know, based on profit margin and standard accounting practices. Like that’s a, you know, that’s a good investment.

Nick: Right.

Chip: Right? Like some of the investments I hear about, like the return rates are just so high. The expectations are just so high, you know. It’s just, they fall apart, you know? And the best advice is to say, “Look if you’re going to have an investor, they should be an investor and you should think about it like you’re borrowing money.”

Nick: Right.

Chip: And otherwise, you have a partner. And if you’re going to get a partner, you need to bring in someone who has something other than just money. If they’re just a capital partner, and then don’t have operational stake in the business, man, there’s just so many details there over who gets paid, who does away, and there’s operational agreements that can

define all that stuff. But as soon as you have a silent partner that has invested all of the capital, like, things often go south, right? The paperwork’s not done appropriately, the investor becomes like, upset that you know, the cannabis isn’t performing appropriately. And you know, they’re hearing all these other ideas and they see Canna Cribs, and got all these ideas on how they should improve their scene. And it just often falls apart, right? So like, beware of your investor, is absolutely the best, the best advice. And man, form some solid partnerships. If you’re interested in growing world class weed, well you know what you’re going to need, is you need a world class extractor team. Because all of the weed that you grow, you’re not going to be able to produce into world class weed. So, go find an extractor that you can partner with. You know, hey, if you’re an extractor and you want to make world class weed, go find a grower and go partner with those people. And instead of bringing like this outside investment, like so much of it can be done with inside the community, and probably with like people that you know. But you know, it just takes, you got to get rid of the ego and solely think about the business. And think about the business that you can build together, as opposed to this get rich quick scheme that often comes through with this investor type platform. And I hope I’m not insulting any investors out there, and I mean, I’m one myself and I have other friends that are investors and I think they’d understand what I’m saying here, is you have to be savvy. You have to be savvy on the investment, and you have to be savvy on —

Nick: On both sides.

Chip: And hey, let’s take that on the other side. Just last week, a friend of mine called me up and he’s like, “Hey man. I’m thinking about putting money into this cannabis operation.” He threw out some rate of return, it seemed like a normal rate of return, you know, like a little bit better than bank money. But I looked it all up for them, and I look at their PLs, their BLs, I look at at the proforma, I looked at the location, you know. I checked them out with their state, and these guys were totally full of shit. And they just built this proforma to fool the unsavvy investor. And hey man, my friend he’s a savvy investor in the tech industry. But he doesn’t know anything about cannabis, right? And you know, we just went and looked at the guy’s like, proposed cost for growing a certain amount you know, a large amount of weed, and realized like, “Oh, he’s only spending 40,000 dollars a year growing weed. Like there’s no way he can grow 4,000 pounds,” you know. So like, also —

Nick: It goes on both sides, right?

Chip: It goes on both sides. Like —

Nick: It’s a booming industry right now, and I think with any booming industry it attracts so many apples. And some of them will be bad apples, right? So being cautious, savvy, and as you said, building a world-class community and network of people that can, you can rely now. Like, your buddy calling you whether it’s an investor investing into a cannabis grow operation or a grower calling you and saying like, “Hey, like, should I, should I take this money?” Um, I think that’s so vital to have people that you trust, you know, not part of the deal. It does not have [inaudible] that can you know, help mentor you.

Chip: Yeah, that’s true. And you know, I actually started a consulting group this year, kind of based on that exact principle. Is that you know, I have so many resources in the cannabis

industry and can easily like know or figure out a problem, someone’s already had it in just a matter of moments.

Nick: Yeah.

Chip: And, and we developed this, this, it’s called Greener Group, Greener Consulting Group. We developed this consulting group and you know, with the thought of like, “Oh we’re going to be able to like, help growers, retractors or owners like you know, solve some of their cultivation problems.” And for we immediately started getting calls for was from investors, from state and local governments. Because they need this information. From banks, they don’t know how to bank with cannabis people but want to, you know.

Nick: Interesting.

Chip: And you know, I actually have the connections to one of the guys. He works for us in one of our lead consultants at Greener Group and that’s exactly what he does. He helps banks integrate into accepting cannabis clients as clients, cannabis growers as clients. So there’s this interaction that can happen now that hasn’t happened in the past where you can ask experts. Where you can you know, talk to people that actually know the cannabis industry. And not just your great accountant who’s going to be leery, ‘cause he doesn’t know the cannabis industry or thinks it’s just a widget, you know. ‘Cause it’s not. It’s completely not a widget. So yeah, here’s my little rant, man. You got me talking today. It was supposed to be an interview for you, man.

Nick: Haha, well here’s the cool thing. I want to invite you onto the Canna Cribs podcast.

Chip: I want to come dude, yeah absolutely. Let’s schedule it up anytime, man. And absolutely, I’m going to promote your podcast. I’m stoked that we can be working within the same field and not have to feel that there’s a competitive nature going on.

Nick: Yeah. I’ve built Growers Network and Canna Cribs on collaboration over competition, right? When it comes to content, whether it’s you know, the Grow and Expose Youtube channel, or you know, your podcast. You know, fans around the world, they can listen to our podcast back to back. They can watch our Youtube videos back to back. So, it’s all about collaboration. And I want to say thank you again for you know, opening up your show for me today to join and share a little bit about what we’re doing. And being part of that, I believe you said 75% of the industry of being welcoming and accepting of newcomers like myself.

Chip: You’re no newcomer now, man. That’s for sure. Hey, Nick, I really want to thank you for joining me today. I really appreciate talking to you about all the stuff you’ve done and it’s been a great conversation. We’ll have to have you back on again.

Nick: Definitely, yeah. Thank you and for everyone on your team, keep working hard. I know it’s a really funky time right now, and it kind of sucks that we can’t go to trade shows and see each other and break bread over dinner afterwards. But, I’m looking forward to those days again and in the meantime, let’s podcast it up and you know, YouTube it up.

Chip: Sounds good man. And if you listened to this episode, enjoyed it, and would like to hear others, please download The Real Dirt at The Real Dirt podcast on iTunes. And absolutely subscribe, subscribe, that’s the only way we get to grow. You know, if you’re paranoid, or if you just want to listen to it on website, you can do that too. You can go to therealdirt.com and just stream it right there. But, uh, love you guys, thanks for listening, I appreciate each and every one of you. I always appreciate your comments on Facebook and Instagram. I feel like my growing network of friends just manages to expand every day. Just know, I’m a real person and you can always reach me. And this has been, The Real Dirt.

Growing Organic in California’s Cannabis Industry

Growing Organic in California’s Cannabis Industry

organic cannabis in california

From soil problems to government crackdowns, there’s no shortage of issues that growers in California have to deal with.

Jeff Bord is an entrepreneur, importer, grower, and consultant to start ups and cannabis companies trying to improve organic production and profits all over the world. As California’s legal cannabis woes continue to grow, Jeff has been helping growers in the state fix their problems and get in compliance with the state.

From regenerative farming practices and balancing soil chemistry to some simple techniques to check your work, Jeff has a ton of experience in cannabis cultivation that has helped growers all over the state improve their grow practices and stay within the state’s guidelines.

A lot of common start-up problems that are consistent with scaling can be easily overlooked by new business owners or growers trying to scale their operation. Jeff specializes in helping businesses stay on top of OSHA and a whole new world of laws and regulations with organic cultivation practices.

In this episode of The Real Dirt Podcast, Chip and Jeff talk about growing organic cannabis in Humboldt and how things have changed since California legalized, the serious conflict between growers and prohibitionists fighting legal cannabis businesses, common grow issues that California growers deal with when trying to grow organic and more.

For anybody interested in the strict world of organic cannabis cultivation, regulation and the diverse problems that business owners and growers can face in newly legalized industries, this is the episode for you!

The Highs and Lows of the Hemp and CBD Industry with Dan Ramsay

The Highs and Lows of the Hemp and CBD Industry with Dan Ramsay

colorado hemp and cbd supplier

Without the supply chain, there is no supply. That’s what Dan Ramsay specializes in setting up for hemp farmers across Colorado.

Dan Ramsay is a Hemp Supply Chain Specialist. He talks hemp all day every day (almost) and is a leader on the Western Slope of Colorado, helping hemp farmers accomplish their goals in various facets. Specializing in product fulfillment, education, and end product sales since 2015, Dan has had a pulse on the hemp industry in the heart of Colorado’s hemp country.

Currently, he’s the General Manager at the Natural Order Supply rooted in Grand Junction, Colorado. Natural Order Supply has been at the forefront of the hemp industry since 2015 and founded by a group of cannabis professionals and growers. Natural Order Supply advocates for and provides sustainable farming products that help farmers grow with confidence.

In this exciting episode, Dan shares his success story with their hemp business, how to cope with these hard times, and their advocacy to expand the awareness of cannabis and hemp benefits.

“As a company, as a person, my ethos has always been real education based in this industry.” – Dan Ramsay

Some Topics We Discussed Include (Timestamp)

18:53 – Getting involved with hemp

26:01 – Pandemic and hemp overproduction situation

36:56 – Fluctuation rate of some CBD products

40:11 – Hemp market’s downfalls

55:29 – Cultivation throughout the country

1:06:07 – Price per point of CBD

1:11:54 – Natural Order Supply’s future in the hemp industry

1:16:13 – Connect with Dan

People Mentioned / Resources

 

Connect with  Natural Order Supply

Dan Ramsay

 

Connect with  Chip Baker

TRANSCRIPT

Chip Baker: Hey, welcome to another episode of The Real dirt with chip Baker today I have Dan Ramsay from Natural Order Supply. Hey, thanks for coming, Dan, how are you doing today?

Dan Ramsay: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me, Chip.

Chip Baker: Oh man, I tell you in these COVID episodes, I’m able to talk to so many more people because, man we’re all just hanging out at home on zoom calls anyway, huh?

Dan Ramsay: Yeah, you know, there’s a lot more those talks just, one to one but but not in face. Or a bunch of screens at once.

Chip Baker: Pretty much had to turn off all my video. Audio seems to work for here at The Real Dirt studios but the zoom videos haven’t gone so well. Apologize for any fans out there any listeners who also have felt the poor quality of production and we’re going to try to pick up that and hey, we’re kind of starting today here with Dan. And Dan is a leader in the hemp and cannabis supply industry. He operates a supply store in Grand Junction, Colorado, the Natural Order Supply. And even though Dan sells stuff for all things growing, he have been focusing on hemp for the past several years.

Dan Ramsay: That is correct. It’s definitely been our niche and kind of the specialty where we feel like we’ve been able to, to fall in with a little bit of luck of you know, time and location. With just being out here located in Grand Junction, Colorado, there’s been a lot of hemp since we we 2015 out here.

Chip Baker: Yeah, and Grand Junction is one that has one of the best climates for growing outdoor cannabis in Colorado.

Dan Ramsay: It’s really a nice location just right up from us here in Mesa County. We’ve got you know, Palisade which is Colorado’s wine country and, you know, Grand Junction, always at the top for the most registered farms in the state or in the country. Especially when you look at the county surrounding us out here between delta and Garfield County, there’s just there, it’s been a good place to find hemp farmers in a country that hasn’t had them for so long.

Getting Involved with Hemp

Chip Baker: Yeah, so So Dan, how’d you get involved with hemp?

Dan Ramsay: So yeah, we’ve launched a Natural Order Supply. I come from a company called 3C Consulting and then working with some candidates and business investors who called Green Lion Partners we launched Natural Order Supply which I took over you know operations of in 2015. And you know, the first employee I got in Natural Order Supply was the first registered hemp farm out here in the area. So we started talking hemp when there wasn’t, no one had closed a sale yet with just the idea of the excitement. And as the years went on, it seemed like, given that like Grand Junction being in Colorado, there’s a moratorium on high THC so we don’t have any medical or adult use cannabis stores in Grand Junction. 

So I think it might have been a hotspot given the good climate, the land available. And kind of the lack of other cannabis entrepreneurial opportunities that might have just kind of made it a little hotspot. So pretty quickly, my goal was focusing on wanting to sell to businesses into farms that there was a rumor in 2015 that some of those marijuana entities were coming kind of towards our side of the slope, but we kind of shut down at that time. And every year as it grew, I found this niche in this new community, and I love the agricultural part of it. And that combination of what we’ve learned from growing in closets and how it translates to growing outdoors.

Chip Baker: Yeah, you know, that sort of the state is really responsible for a lot of the hemp genetics that are around the country right now. I mean, I believe the Wife came from the area and–

Dan Ramsay: Like Cherry Blossom–

Chip Baker: Yeah, Cherry Blossom. All of that stuff came from over there, right?

Dan Ramsay: Yep, we see a lot of that. And it’s like advocacy has been around here for a long time. And it’s always interesting, though, to see some of those genetics and other parts of the state back in the country and moreover, but then it’s, you know, back in expo days, as we travel a little more, it seems like there’s so many varieties that, it’s amazing how each state can find their own little set of new names or different varieties so quickly in this industry, but it is fun to see that some of these original base genetics have really made it throughout the country and being grown in different, you know, geographic regions and seeing how they’re doing.

Chip Baker: Oh, yeah, absolutely, man. I see the Cherry and the Wife all over. I see it. You know, Maine I see it in Vermont. I see it in Oregon. I see it Tennessee Kentucky. They were really the first to hit the market is high CBD hemp products. And over the years people have been able to do add on and interbreed with them and develop stuff for their local geography. I’ve never really liked the way that the Colorado Cherry or the Wife grows. I like vigorous plants. Those are they’re a little delicate, but they’re grow really well for Colorado. They grow really well for Oklahoma and windy areas. They’re they’re smaller plants. And you know, when people look at an individual plant, they’re like, oh, man, what’s that plant, but like you look at a field of it. It’s a totally different story.

Dan Ramsay: Looking at those genetic And they get whether they get bigger kind of stayed kind of short and stocky on some of those, you know, we’re really just harvesting became becomes such a thing too like some of those yeah, and I love that huge plants I love it when they set the hammock between plants. But boy sometimes harvesting takes a little while and when you’re looking at 50 acres, 100 acres all of a sudden and trying to get something that can be standardized and mechanized, it’s always easier said than done with genetic choice at this stage of the game, which is how reliable we see those genetics in the field and how, especially since kind of seeds came to town it was 2016, 2017 to 2018 it was really the clone wars. 

And we made a lot of discussion and sales around bulk clones, and how to be in more of a nursery than just to grow in a lot of sense. Because when all of a sudden you’re starting 10,000, 100,000 million-plus plants, which we’ve worked with clients, and then all those numbers in, there’s just a lot more to consider as he started scaling up from, from everything about, like, operational approach to costs, but then you get them out into the field. And it’s those clones seem to be pretty consistent. So some of those first fields, I thought we saw more of that predictable growth out there, versus in the last year or so, where, you know, really, after the Farm Bill passed in 2018, last year was like, seeds were king. You know, there’s a handful of people doing at least where we are, just because I think the labor and operational costs the uniformity of timing and everything seeds make sense. But the stability of them is still a–

Chip Baker: Still in the process still in development? 

Dan Ramsay: Yeah, exactly. 

Chip Baker: Totally. Yeah, you know, another part I have many projects, many business projects, and other projects. I just to launch this year, but due to COVID and the hemp industry, we haven’t quite launched it yet, which is Certified Seed Bank. And it’s a seed bank that we’ve done the prep work ahead of time and certified that all of our vendors have a quality product. Because this was a story we heard from people over and over and over and over and over again like they got hermaphrodite seeds they often bought feminized seeds, but half of them were male, or a chunk of them was male, or the phenotypes were all over the place or they did perform, or they had high THC in them or no THC or no CBD or whatever the problem was. And we saw a need and marketplace. 

Pandemic and Hemp Overproduction Situation

But man that federal hemp the last year really kind of flooded the market. And then COVID hit here, and we just haven’t really launched that business yet. I’m going to put it off till next year, but uh yeah man how has [crosstalk] COVID and the overproduction in our marketplace, how’s that affected, you guys?

Dan Ramsay: You know, I wish I could be more like optimistic instead of realistic about what happened between–

Chip Baker: Oh, this is The Real Dirt. You got to give them real.

Dan Ramsay: Yeah. I tell you what, last fall we got flooded market. You know it started flooding into came came pretty hard. You know that all of a sudden these clients you know most of the clients in 2019, 2018, 2017 a lot of that product was sold before January. And, you know, we were planning and I was working with clients about their new plans for the next year almost pre January, you know, just a little bit in December and then we get hit the ground running up the new year. 

But last year, yeah, it got flooded. You know, and I think there’s multiple, you know, reasons that that might be we just grew so much, you know, so much was grown, like so many acres. And so when I went to the Texas hemp convention this spring I couldn’t walk to another booth and not just be like, you know, like the amount of flower that was for sale and the amount of biomass that like everybody was, whereas a lot of those industries trade shows and just a year or two back you’d walk in and finding people who had the raw product for sale in one form or another was a, I stepped into the industry. 

And now, it was just like, you know, you could walk ten booths in a row and have ten comparisons, and everybody’s kind of like racing to the bottom, we’re telling you why they’re the best. So, just not a whole lot of sales. And then once that, you know, I think a lot of people being that it’s a young industry, and it’s AG, we just kind of sat there and we’re like, hold off, it’ll recover, and that moment of like, just watch the market, which is probably a good idea for your company at the moment for 2020 is just watching and seeing and learning. 

So February seemed like it was pretty; it was hard to make sales. I didn’t know a whole lot of clients who were making sales and a lot of times we were already planning commercial farms at that point with people, and they wanted to plan, and so we saw a pretty big industry, shipped I think of farmers who stepped out this spring and did replant. And then on that same aspect, all of our propagators or, you know, who do seed production or new clone sales, they just got to that point where they were like, don’t worry sales are going to catch us because there’s some prevention pretty good money made in propagation in the last few years. And hemp for sure just selling clones and selling them back east and selling them in state and it’s pretty lucrative part of the industry too if you can get that niche. 

But then this year, just the amount of new farms, they were only a few new farms. Last year, Colorado went from having just under 1000 farms at the turn of the year to having 2700 registered farmers, so 17 new farmers that came if not more considering the few that had dropped out the year before. But this year, I think everybody who went COVID hit everybody who was on the fence to replant or to start a new farm. Kind of just got conservatives on hold my money. I’m just going to sit back and not do this. So I think a lot of my farmers that I’m working with right now had genetics going into this year there wasn’t as much of genetic sourcing as there would be in an average spring of people stepping into the industry.

Chip Baker: Well, so many people just lost their ass to last year. So on the fence man because I mean literally we saw the prices go from the high point of 2019 at $50 a pound for biomass, all the way down to like I had someone say they take $1 a pound and January of this year. You know, and I mean that they had a million pounds. 

Dan Ramsay: And those million pounders though, the issue was they went to the larger extractors and extractors were like, sure, we’ll take a million pounds. And then all these smaller farmers that have you ever to some of these larger ones all of a sudden, didn’t have that outlet were like, Hey, we please, we can go to them. They don’t always give us the best price. But we could you know, that [inaudible] has been there for the last couple years for at least the bigger extractors out here on on the western slope have been able to buy local for the years previous. I’ve been having these all of a sudden someone’s like I produced a million pounds, we produced a million pounds in 2018. 

Or if they did, you know, they were there on the fly. But the idea that that that just kind of been, you know, turns the market so when somebody’s saying hey, I’m not only going to sell this for $1 pound, I’m going to take over the sales that would often have reached 50 smaller farmers even you know I’m saying or something [crosstalk]

Chip Baker: Oh, yeah, I mean, and it was the federal legalization of it the Farm Bill that brought like some really professional farmers. And at the same time, a lot of hemp farmers just hit their stride, kind of all at the same time. It was really a perfect storm.

Dan Ramsay: It was and you know, when you look at agriculture in Colorado, we are definitely like cannabinoid terpene farmers like, we just don’t have that, that infrastructure for grain or fiber, just like when you look at going to California or you know, heavy agricultural state where they’re like, oh, we’re just gonna do a couple minutes, 700 acres and like well, 700 acres, or 250 acres again, and unestablished market is that’s a lot to produce. Even if you have a lot of it not work out perfectly new and lessons you’re still gonna end up with a lot of product to move in a young industry. 

And it’s an interesting industry because hence unlike high THC, cannabis it’s like an open market you can sell it anywhere. You can sell it in gas stations, grocery stores you can find those outlets you can sell it anywhere. Whereas like marijuana that the fact that what you produce has to be sold in the state in the stores, it keeps a kind of a kind of sexy you know kind of elusive and suddenly you have to go there to get it and when you get it, hopefully, your budtender, tells you the right thing and helps push you in the right area so that you get what’s going to be the effect you’re looking for. 

As soon as all of a sudden CBD was in every gas station, I was making the joke like he saw CBD here now, I guess next to the Mountain Dew like all of a sudden, like even the retail outlets and advertently kind of sell down the value of it. Not meaning to, but just by the lack of education and presentation for a new market that’s trying to establish itself, I think as far as CBD goes.

Chip Baker: Yeah, absolutely. Well, hey, listen, Dan is a perfect place for us to take a break. When we come back. I want to talk about we talked about the farmers and the supply side. I want to talk about what’s going on within the consumable sides of CBD, and hemp. 

Hey, we’re going to take a quick break. This is Chip and Dan The Real Dirt. We’ll be right back. 

Hey, this is Chip from The Real Dirt. You know, I’m always starting new businesses. I’m a serial entrepreneur. I’m a little addicted to it. And I want to tell you about a new project of God, Greener Consulting Group. We see so many consultants throughout the industry. And some of them know what they’re doing. And some of them don’t, but almost no matter what it is, they have one specialty. And they might not have the specialty you need a Greener Consultant Group. We’re conglomerate of many different consultants all over the country. We have specialties from extraction, to municipal advisement, to venture capital. We kind of have somebody who is an expert in the industry, they can talk to you about whatever your problem is. And mostly we can solve that problem in just a day or two. 

So hey, if you got some time, check us out greenerconsultinggroup.com. Look us up on LinkedIn and Facebook. And yeah, hey while you’re out there, you might sign up for The Real Dirt on iTunes. Please subscribe. That’s how we get bigger is when you subscribe. So hey, man, thanks. And we’re going to get right back into this interview with Dan Ramsey.

Fluctuation Rate of some CBD Products

Hey, Dan, all of this overproduction on the biomass side on the flower side of it. How is it from your perspective, have you seen it affect the end-use products the thatchers, the edibles, the tinctures, the soaps, the shampoos, is that market increased any?

Dan Ramsay: I think that market it’s likely that it doesn’t seem to fluctuate as much from the price fluctuation we’ve seen, you know, as this year is continued, we’ve seen quite a few of those tinctures and topicals and things, at least go down a little bit in price to the end consumer. But you know, there isn’t always [crosstalk] Not much, it’s a good place to be. And I think that’s where there’s like a little bit of longevity for the smaller the larger companies that are vertically integrated so that they can actually be getting revenue on the accounts they grow once it’s like turned into a product

Chip Baker: You mean for farmers to make an added value product. 

Dan Ramsay: I’m saying for farmers and just the whole company as a general right like because once you farm it and you like extract it in house and you have a branded product you can get on the shelf, then all of a sudden, there’s a little embodied margin there for both the farmer the extractor and the retailer. You know, it all kind of because it works together. So I do think it’s getting going to be separated a little bit more just because so much of the industry has been weeded out right now for a better word to say

But I also think that like people are starting to tone down a little bit of the silliness with the in consumer products. Maybe I’m wrong, but some of the silliness is just seemed like you know, we like I’ve got a package of it. CBD macaroni and cheese, and you’re like Who are these people? You know, like, I don’t know where that was, and it seemed like in 2017 if you could think it up and put it into it, CBD had a little bit of an image on your face now–

Chip Baker: I have friends with CBD toothpaste and CBD shampoo. [crosstalk] they’re good at it. You know, they previously made shampoo and toothpaste but like you know–

Dan Ramsay: And that helps because they already know this niche market. I think that knowing a real niche in CBD is the key to be like resell tinctures that help people who don’t feel good, is rough to be like, Hey, we work with athletes. We work with toothpaste and people who have now been like, Where does CBD fit in the dental industry. It’s a niche community and you find the right people there and you can thrive there. But I think a lot of the companies that came out trying to define their voice and being general have just had a hard time being in like a CBD shop just another tincture on the wall right.

Hemp Market’s Downfall

Chip Baker: You know use a square bottle. That’s one of the downfalls to the whole industry too is that in high THC cannabis and medical marijuana, medical cannabis, adult use cannabis, a lot of it’s vertically integrated. And if it’s not vertically integrated, it’s in this tight community because you have to have a license of difficulty, a difficult license in most states other than Oklahoma. And where hemp is harder to grow here than high THC cannabis. But it’s allowed a bunch of co-packers and white label people to come into the marketplace. And that in itself is just like homogenized the marketplace that the you know the same guy is making The tinctures is the same guys making all the edibles, the same guys making all the gummies. And how are you going to differentiate yourself when you’re making the same gummy as the guy across the street? Right? You got the same blockchain as a guy across the street.

And I think that’s been one of the like downfalls of the industry, even though it’s helped so many people start and progress. I think a lot of those people are gonna fall out right now because they were co-packers of other products, and they hopped on the CBD make a billion bandwagon. And I think we’re going to see a resurgence. I think we’re going to see more on farm products, more specifically made products, like you said, more engineered niche products. And that’s going to, that’s the industry maturing.

Dan Ramsay: Yeah, I think so. I think there was a minute where a couple of these companies saw that accelerated growth and pretty quickly we’re like, Hey, we can crank out they want so much once they build a brand and they’re an established company that the ability to white label just seemed like the next– 

Chip Baker: No brainer 

Dan Ramsay: All of a sudden we went from being like just a couple white labelers or its is till, it’s like you know MJBizCon last year it’s like every, you can white label anything and can have a business it’s like the 133 booths down right and and i think that like you said, that’s gonna you know, the markets going to mature quite a bit this this year over having some hardships and we’ll see people who are in the industry for real and when we look at some of those, like cottage industries, more like craft beer or something and farm raid, like I’ve got a company here I work with Colorado Biodynamic that has a coffee shop and palisade where they have a consumption lounge and they sell the CBD, they’ve got their couple products but you know, smokeable flower and their topicals and they do all these things that are related there. So it really has a niche in the feeling that it’s all interconnected real nicely. And you see that kind of craft feel and mentality that you get back in the day from craft beer, you know?

Chip Baker: Sure, sure. Something that we haven’t been able to get with craft cannabis or craft high THC cannabis. It’s interesting. How like, well one it’s always interesting to me how there’s so much division over hemp versus high THC. I see it as all one plant and I know it’s hard but wow man hemp has really led the way for high THC in so many ways and you know, the products that consumption lounges man the commercial agriculture, the use of plastic culture, the use of aerial spraying with drones like all that’s happened with hemp first instead of high THC.

Dan Ramsay: You know hemp is gonna really look at that economies of scale. And as things get bigger, it’s like how do you really turn this in and the fact that hemp has all these uses when that will eventually come to the from the plant. And THC, a lot of those are their niche, right, they know exactly what they’re doing. They’re in these and they’re in these niche stores that still have a pretty nice. 

So I think when we see federal legalization, we’ll see a lot more of these practices being in, from hemp added to marijuana, but a lot of that has to do with regulations. Like, I think a lot of people in marijuana would like to do some types of cultivation that we see with hemp, but based on the square footage, they can have the plants, they can have, and state by state. It’s just enough that there’s no standard. And so once we see that, you know, kind of almost race to the bottom of cultivation of what people can do with the smokeable flower. You know, I project that we’ll see a lot of those same strategies just being implemented right into to the high THC platform as well.

Chip Baker: Yeah, we spoke about Oklahoma. You know, Oklahoma’s one of the only places in the country that you can scale and grow high THC cannabis in the same way that we’re seeing people grow hemp. One license, one easy set of regulations, and you can literally grow as much as you want. It’s been a testament to how much we’ve been restricted over research and development, because a man like in Colorado you can only plant so many plants, you can only have so many plants.

Dan Ramsay: And metric nose

Chip Baker: Yeah and metric nose. I mean we literally just planted 9500 seeds of 12 different high THC cannabis varieties the other day. And we’re of course are fino tracking and keeping track of all of this stuff but like there’s no regulations that say we can’t do it and a portion of the seeds I know they’re not gonna make it I’m just growing them to for R&D purposes and in other states that would be so difficult to do because tracking, keeping you know, destroying them. People think that you were trying to sell them on the private market. But here just the way that they’ve approached it, it’s just really good for high THC cannabis. We’re able to do all this R&D. And we got to culture stuff down here, I want to get this pivot stuff down here, tons and tons of hoop houses like field grown like acres, like you can do all of that here. And you can’t do it with hemp here.

Dan Ramsay: As soon as you step out and you start really getting those acres that we get that whole new like, controlled, uncontrolled environment. You know, things that have come out here from like pests we haven’t seen because hemp hasn’t been planted in a while to out in palisade last year there was you just if you did the little wine tour bike loop, if you were to like ride your bike around, you’d see 20 different fields of hemp and how much got seated out. 

Like a lot of people have lost even when we talk about more factors that kind of made 2019 painful for the hemp industry combat harvest was how many harvests I know that were seated out even before like the early frost. But yeah, stepping outside and all sudden getting into the hoop houses. But once you start planting like, you know, acres on pivots, there’s a whole little new set of approaches that need to come into each one of those stages where we’ve been able to give the plant time and energy that it will take all your time and energy if you don’t plant it, right.

Chip Baker: Oh, yeah, absolutely. You know, we’ve got about an acre under plastic culture. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, you may have seen it. We call it plastic culture, and it’s an implement that you run on a tractor, and it creates a bed out of the natural soil. And then it lay down some fertilizer your irrigation line and then wrap it in this really thin layer of plastic that acts as a mulch. And it’s incredibly effective for planting vegetables and weed abatement. It’s how like tons of organic foods and vegetables are grown. It really helps with water conservation. 

But I was just in this field this morning, and we were just doing some, like, it’s only an acre. So we were lightly steaking it up, right? In a trellising wine vineyard type of style, something that you couldn’t do in 20 acres, right. But in an acre, I can do it. But as I’m walking through it, I’m thinking about like, Oh, it’s time for all of these leaves to be picked off. And it’s like, dude, there’s no way that can’t happen in this. There’s not there’s no way that I’m going to send people out here to de-leaf, you know, the way up to center people out the bottom anything, you know.

Dan Ramsay: And then weeding has been a big thing because people love growing these monster plants and you know, put them on huge centers, but then on suddenly while you’re waiting for that plant to like cover that area, [inaudible] see weeds take over with your beds, you know, you might have more isolated watering, which is great for lots of reasons, but still just that meeting. And then also I’ve actually been talking with people who are trying to figure out some of the answers to like trellising some of these larger fields in some with a different way of trout just because of like out here. It’s like the wind, you know, because as soon as you’re at the mercy of the weather, is you’re like, oh man, it just needs a steak like you’re saying like it needs a little help because you can do so much work. But then it gets to the end where it’s got all that weight you want on it but you know those that fall weather’s for real most places. 

Chip Baker: Yeah, here in Oklahoma it’s a diverse weather system. The wind is no joke, that’s for sure. And you either have to like plant your canopy density has to be like an incredibly thick in order to guard against the wind because the wind will self prune the plants and keep them smaller here for sure. But if you don’t a wire them up, string them up, steak them up in some way. Like last year, we had a half acre field those literally all growing sideways. It’s just always this breeze. So it’s always just growing sideways.

Dan Ramsay: I was at a farm, a client just the other day where there were a couple bigger plants that had migrated Don’t just like the side of the roots, you know, and you’re like carrying Oh, and you’re like, Oh, isn’t that good? But it’s like, you know, once you start seeing that you’re like, how does it recovers the time we wanted stress but like, yeah, it’s like pulling them off. So, that’s kind of the next like, as we step out door and starting to say, like, wait, maybe a little bit smaller plant, maybe an auto flower, maybe more densely populated, and what’s going to get that being no raw plant matter per, cubic foot type thing or square foot, and as we kind of try to start realizing some of the these areas, that it’s got take some trial and error. 

So it’s good to hear like in Oklahoma, that they’ve created an area that’s with less regulation and has more ability for that R&D to get out there, at least just from a knowledge standpoint of we know what’s going to be effective here because, you know, I don’t can’t tell you how many people last year also had a like a, you know, early beat by curly beat top virus came through and we worked with the extension office here at like CSU and with so many clients just trying to identify some of these new diseases that we hadn’t seen or what we thought it was, you know, I thought it was tobacco mosaic virus thought it was, you know, you walk down through these and then to the end, and you’re like, Well, you know, and I’ve seen some, you know, it’s like, it’s now pet mosaic virus. Yeah, so it’s similar, but you know, they’re just things you haven’t seen, and it’s just such a different approach from growing in a controlled environment. 

Chip Baker: Now, yeah, it’s kind of the kind of the beauty of it all though, man is that hemp and cannabis is a new frontier for farming right now. Here ability to be able to do research in the area or develop technology or, it’s right now is the time for all of that.

Dan Ramsay: I always like to say that the learning for agriculture started in like 10,000 BC. So we’ve been learning for a long time all but like, education and, and transformation of knowledge was so slow, right? Every year, it slowly got faster until all of a sudden we got to like, and as we continued in the 19th century, early on to just like, keep pushing hemp aside and marijuana aside, it was like, we pushed cannabis out right when technology was really coming in. So now being able to take all this technology we’ve learned in the last like five decades and start saying, Wait, how do we apply this to what we know? We don’t have to jump all the way back. You know, we can jump right forward with a lot of the but I think one of the things I I really enjoy about this industry is that classic, what we can learn from other industries. Yeah, where there’s just so much,

Chip Baker: So many aha moments still to be had. You know, so many aha moments. It’s a great place, man. Certainly not boring, that’s for sure. Hey, Dan, let’s go. Go ahead, Dan. 

Dan Ramsay: No, you can go ahead.

Cultivation throughout the Country

Chip Baker: Man, I was gonna ask you, not boring man. What do you predict is going to happen here this year with the hemp industry. I mean, so many people haven’t planted that had in the previous some big people planted this year, some small people did but like how do you see what’s going on with current cultivation throughout the country? And how do you think it’s gonna affect the market?

Dan Ramsay: So I know in Colorado, there was, as you said, quite a few people who lost their ass man. It was just And got out of the game. So I yeah, I would predict that we have, you know, a good half of the market that grew last year in Colorado isn’t growing this year and those who were like, thought they were gonna blow it up. And do you know, hundreds of acres are doing 50 acres and people who were doing like, you know, everybody told me way back, instead of and was like, we’re going to focus on quality instead of quantity. 

My big question, as far as that is, how much our reserves do we have as far as like, biomass oil, flower that’s like stored in a way that it still has it’s all viable, so that the market once harvest gets here in a couple of months, most of that biomass I think, is kind of depending how it was stored, but I think there’s going to be a bad taste in the mouth for 2019 hemp season. It’s like the feel of it. And sometimes, people make decisions bound with feelings more than they do. But given that I’m in here I like to project that 2021 we’ll see a completely different situation because we will have like move through a lot of that inventory and the people who are around are people who aren’t here by accident and —

Chip Baker: Absolutely, it’s gonna mature the market for sure it has already like pushed out to get rich quickers.

Dan Ramsay: Completely. And the people who are like willing to put in the hustle work and and find a way when you can’t, it’s kind of one of those if you can sell in this market. If the water goes up a little bit, you’ll know how to swim. So I think there’s a lot of potential here the markets there, those in products are still selling. I just think that like we literally overproduced by whether it was one year or like a year and a half or where– 

Chip Baker: Most people can’t store the product, like you were saying, like, most people think that they were like, Oh, just hold on to it, uh, hold on to it, I’ll hold on to it, but like the product degrades, and they, some of them are out there still think they’re gonna sell their product from last year.

Dan Ramsay: And we used to be able to you used to be able to do in the good old days, you do more splits, right. So like the farmer [crosstalk] 

Chip Baker: Nobody wants to do split [crosstalk]. 

Dan Ramsay: Nobody is so like, now you have to pay more money to get it into oil and more storable form. But, you know–

Chip Baker: But hey, for our audience here, splits are a term we use for co-processors or toll processors, where you’ll split a percentage of the end product. And you provide the biomass. So, it may be a 50-50 split, it may be a 60-40 split, it may be a 70-30 split, you may be making crude oil or you may be making distillate or isolate or whatever on this split. But basically, I would give my product to an extractor and they just give me back a portion of it and extracted material.

Dan Ramsay: Exactly, well said, a split. And but that was a common move, right, like in the industry here was that people would get their product in the back, oh, we’re gonna do the split. Because, when you get, especially as a farmer, if you get one paycheck a year. It’s pretty rundown by the time you get back to October again. And so like shelling out capital to be able to process your material is not something who can’t sell it, the idea that they’re gonna invest more money into this business that they’ve already found on successful ah so i think a lot of that material is gonna go by the wayside and I know lots of people who are like I’m a storage shed you know with 20,000 pounds a hand and you’re like oh. 

Okay and then like in 2000, but at that point, and then I think the come it’s going to mature. And the cannabis industry is always one that loves your due diligence from a business standpoint. So as we have more established growers who have more established supply chains that can show that and a more established story that fits them in products. A desire for whatever it is they’re aiming for those niches will be defined, and I don’t think people are going to walk back in time as much as to buy that old inventory. They’re looking for you know that to make some, but I could be wrong there’s a couple of products you know companies out there that are happy to make shit products and just sell them. And [crosstalk]

Chip Baker: The technology can afford it because that is a thing but like the more the more the biomass degrades the less material you get out of in the long run less extractable material. So the harder it is for people to make money on it, or make the extraction [inaudible]. And now it’s August, I mean, all the early stuff, all the autoflower stuff, it’s starting to come out right now, like in the US and all over the country in the next two months. Like harvest is here.

Dan Ramsay: Yep, I’ve got clients harvest in this week for autos. And they’re sitting on product from last year too. And so but only a few of them. A lot of them and as I say that the last month has been been good for a lot of the clients I’ve talked to who have been able to move products that have stayed in here, you know, who are probably not as much biomass but people move in like smokeable flower and move in oil, or Delta 8 so hot right now. That’s so hot right now, Delta 8.

Chip Baker: That’s a sticky wicked, but it is.

Dan Ramsay: Mastered it is. Yeah. But it’s just like it kind of and the cannabis industry, I sometimes say is a bunch of early adopters. You know, like, the whole industry is like, we’re all early adopters of the industry, even our users. So as soon as we come up with a new technology, or a cannabinoid, CBG like, I’m interested to see how much CBG is harvested this fall, because I know a lot of people that went that– 

Chip Baker: Think they planned it out.

Dan Ramsay: For sure.

Chip Baker: Right. You know, interestingly we just plant out a bunch of autos for extraction this year. And we just got our first extraction results. And this is a butane extraction method, it’s for the medical market. But we’ve got 7% CBG in our extracted product. Something we’re like totally surprised that the seed producer that gave it to us they’ll don’t think they knew. Or they did mention it to me. Right, yeah. But we saw 19% in the flower that came out of the field and then that turned into an extracted 69%. But yeah, then the CBG was, up at 7.68%. Pretty, pretty surprised and impressed.

Dan Ramsay: Yeah, no, that’s, and that’s it. There’s a niche market for that, you know, and then the high kid side, that’s great. On the hemp side, the CBG is attractive because of a lot of those CBG strains don’t spike the THC as much. And while we’re waiting for– And then there’s some regulation coming in this, supposedly from the government in November, about the way that THC is going to be kind of measured on a national level. 

So, when we’re back in good old expo days, I feel, which seems like years ago, but it was January December. It seems like there’s real big talk about, like, do you really want to grow, these strains that could be higher with that risk for getting there and avoid content and just how it’s going to be enforced and interpreted.

Chip Baker: Oh, it’s all just started, man. The the terpenes the different cannabinoids. I mean, we’re talking about Delta 8 THC right now that’s extracted from hemp. And most people are familiar with Delta 9,and you know, there’s just so much research to be had in the coming years. It’s just really exciting. And, you know, necessity is the mother of invention. And part of the necessity is farmers trying to figure out like, how they can have that special niche and be able to be successful in the marketplace.

Dan Ramsay: Completely. And both the farmers and the market-defining itself and consumers defining what they want. But like I said, I think a lot of its just early adopters. Everybody’s like, Oh, [crosstalk]

Chip Baker: So, can you make a price prediction on price per pound this year?

Dan Ramsay: I you know, I think I’ll shy away from that one, just because–

Chip Baker: Can you tell me what you thought the low price per pound last year was?

Dan Ramsay: I thought people selling for like, I didn’t hear that dollar, but $10 a pound was pretty common and I heard people sell it for like seven stuff, you know the price per point of CBD, right?

Chip Baker: Sure. Hey, explain that. Explain that. Let’s talk about that. Explain what that means.

Dan Ramsay: So if you grow a pound of hemp, and we test it and has 10% CBD content, we pay $1 per point because when we extracted the CBD is what we’re after. So that would be $10 per pound. So if you grew for the molecule, plant, you have heard the molecule and you can get a little bit more technical, but that’s for the most part. The best way to realize that like not all hemp grown equally and that sometimes I feel like I have a 15% or 18% and and so much of what you know out here in Colorado I’ve seen just a lot more people who are doing you know biomass and extraction also really trying to leverage their greenhouses for flower. And that believing in that smokeable flower market which is I’ve seen 100 hundred dollars a pound up to like [crosstalk] probably seven you have seven or I mean they go all the way up there. And I the people I know who have been able to sell seven in those larger ones have established relationships and had a little bit more–

Chip Baker: And they’ve got a Primo smokeable flower– that’s the thing [crosstalk]

Dan Ramsay: It is and that Primo like hemp is like becoming a real thing like getting that next quality. Like cannabis, the cannabis industry has got a lot of pots knives in it like that quality is like really important. And so it’s It surprises me to have people being like, I want to evaluate putting you know, LEDs in my hoop house to for this hemp and you’re like, we just want to get every little, just trying to find every explore the different capital costs to get every little inch closer they can to being on the top shelf. So that’s–

Chip Baker: That’s cannabis in a nutshell man people. You know people, ganja, farmers, cannabis farmers throughout the known universe, all have incredible pride in what they do. And sometimes their egos get in the way. Our egos get in the way I’ll say and sometimes you’ll find those like really hidden gems that are just incredible and word to the wise when you see those people with really great, great, great great cannabis skills just shut up and listen man, take some advice in and really listen and see what they’re doing and check the ego a little bit at the door, you’ll learn line and you’ll grow better.

Dan Ramsay: For sure. That’s one of the things I get quite a few clients that will come to me because we do a lot of like product evaluations and just like little cost benefit analysis stuff to first your clients and when they come in– We all want to find that quick fix like you know, will the LEDs like increase my yield and make it that much better? I’m like, well not if you mess up the other parts. Like a whenever you’re growing and you meet somebody who’s done it well you better take pride in it because like a controlled environments. 

Like biomimicry, you’re mimicking the earth, like it’s a pretty there’s a lot going on here between the temperature the, the way your air and all of its changing and dynamic as the plants grow into the humidity at every part of it. And so to be able to move with a plant through that phase and control those variables and the way you want to you probably should shut up and listen to that person.

Chip Baker: Oh, yeah, man, it’s so simple. There’s only four pieces of magic that make cannabis grow and that are genetics, water, soil, and sun. Pretty much like you can manipulate those in many, many ways. But those are the four things you have to have. 

Dan Ramsay: [crosstalk] You need some [crosstalk] that photosynthesis just by [crosstalk] time, augmented I’m just saying like, in the like, have to happen, though. 

Chip Baker: You have to have Oh plants gotta go synthesize. 

Dan Ramsay: [crosstalk] You guys got it. But and whether you are already to CO2 or not, but no, I like you’re saying there’s only these couple. These only five kind of like variables or constraints of sorts. And, but what’s fun about growing is like the plant grows every day, the bigger the roots, the bigger it grows next day and it grows exponentially. And like, how does that change what you did last week? And so, asking those and we’ve got a digital solution we’re working on, that we’ll be bringing out here soon with like an app that we’re building to try to answer a lot of these questions. But that’ll be next year. We’ll have to just hop on and chat again, you know about that. But I love those questions. I think that’s a really fun part of the growing is the fact that you’re like, it’s really simple. You’re like, yeah, until it changes every day.

Natural Order Supply’s Future in the Hemp Industry

Chip Baker: Yeah, Dan, one of the things that you guys are doing a lot of is education, and you just brought up this app. But what we haven’t talked about is like your education outreach, and you know what your plans are in the future for that. So tell me about that man.

Dan Ramsay: Yeah, so, as a company, as a person, my ethos has always been real education based in this industry. Tons of it’s needed. We, last year as a company started a monthly event we call on Here for Hemp, that was just real hemp centric events that we did monthly, where we brought everybody from, like the Department of Agriculture to talk about their handle, what they do when they do a walk through, it’s like talking about pest control. Or we also brought in like just parts of the industry of people from like, the banking, the insurance side, all those business components that are needed, because just because you started a farm, that’s, you need the whole business behind it as well. And there’s so much that can be gleaned and learned and needs to be done there. 

So we did that all the way up until this last February when COVID decided like no more events. And but those were in-person events where we had the last one we did in February was a champ event. That’s like Colorado’s hemp advancement management plan. But that one you can actually see a recording of that one on the, our YouTube page at Natural Order Supply or at the I believe it’s posted on the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s like notes sites for when they came in and kind of talked a lot about just the process of transport, how do you register that was a big question, actually. This last year was when they pull you over, how do you be like, here’s my form that says this is what it is and people believe you and how does that work when you drive around Colorado to leave Colorado. 

So we like as much as we love the cultivation and the plant. We see the bigger industry. We’re aiming to really make our impact. And so, you know, starting in September, we’re going to start doing our Here 4 Hemp events, again, with a webinar series, but we’re going to offer, we’re going to have ten different cannabis professionals or city professionals from Grand Junction because we work a lot with it. We work as the economic department there and different like sometimes it’s good to get somebody from the fire department to come in or depending on what the conversation is we really like to talk about to those city officials and regulators.

But we’ll be doing alike probably a 10-minute local webinar held in our store with a ten person event that’s about as big as you can blow up events right now. And then having a webinar, we’ll be inviting people such as, like I said, regulators and educators. Where people will be able to hop on in and join and see both those webinars which will be posted to our YouTube site but also if they wanted to be able to hop in and enjoy the conversation or apply to come and hang out is one of the ten people in the store and get some swag, and enjoy–

Chip Baker: Man, that sounds like a great idea. We’d love to help you out with that real dirt has really tried to push many of our interviewees, webinars and educational programs and the only way that we’re really gonna do better at this cannabis thing, this cannabis life is to educate ourselves and others about it. Yeah, okay, definitely. Let’s work together help you get that information out.

Dan Ramsay: Yeah, that would be great chip. We appreciate anything we can. It’s amazing what you can learn with the worldwide web too. When you jump into from a different place and you know, I’ve been hopping on webinars left and right and forgetting about them too. Yeah, the nature of the COVID world, it’s like I sign up on my calendar but it’s just so different than the expo world that I think we were used to in the networking for a company like ours used to go have booths and do quite a few shows. But all changing. Yep, exactly. 

Where to Find Them

Chip Baker: Well, Dan, it’s been awesome speaking to you today about hemp, the future hemp and what’s going on with you guys. Over at a Natural Order Supply in Grand Junction. Hey, if our listeners want to get in touch with you or research you more, how do they do that?

Dan Ramsay: You know, it’s pretty straightforward. We’re at naturalordersupply.com. That’s the same book for our our online. Our social platforms as well as Natural Order Supply or and if you go to our website there, you’ll see it’s all hemp centric, there’s an area in the top right button to click to join our next event on our website. So, yeah, that’s just the best way to, to reach us online and hit us on the website or search for us on social and we’re on all those platforms sharing what we’re learning and we’re real excited to step into pushing as much of our education that we have and keep in local, digital this towards the end of this year and all of next year. Really watching that.

Chip Baker: Awesome, man. Well, hey, that’s great. Dan. I hope we hear more from you. We want to definitely help you out with some of your webinars and education in the future. So listeners, look for more natural order solutions, Natural Order Supply, hemp webinar with Dan Ramsey. Dan, thanks for joining me today, man. I really appreciate it.

Dan Ramsay: Oh, thank you Chip it’s been great.

Chip Baker: All right, this is The Real Dirt. Thanks, guys! All right, Dan. Thanks. Thanks, man. That was a great, great conversation we just had.

All right, that was Dan Ramsay with Natural Order Supply out in Grand Junction, Colorado. Man I’ve always loved hemp since I read Jack Harrows book, The Emperor wears no clothes I was just fascinated turned on with this. This history international history they’ve been going on for thousands and thousands and thousands of years of hemp as a textile, cannabis as a medicine and the the interaction in a relationship that that humans have with it. And let us not forget the hemp has only been a legal cannabis has only been criminalized for just a small portion of the time that we as humans have been using it as a product and man now is really the time for hemp to come back to the world for cannabis to come back to the world. 

And I truly believe, and I have seen that cannabis can save the world. And the best way for cannabis to save the world is for us all the planet and consume it. So no matter if you’re consuming CBD gummies or if you’re smoking a large high THC joint or maybe a dab, man while you’re doing this, just think a little bit about the other people on the planet and how maybe hemp and cannabis can help them and help your relationship with them and unless try to pursue that. 

This has been The Real Dirt. If you liked this episode, please subscribe on iTunes, man I need more subscribers. It really would make this thing go is the subscribers on it. Hey man, check me out at cultivatecolorado.com, Cultivate OKC supply. If you need any equipment in the country in the world, give us a call, check out our website, sign up for a commercial account. And we offer awesome pricing to people all over the globe, awesome shipping from people all over the globe. And we’re really, really, really there to help you.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve started a new project Greener Consulting Group. Check us out greenerconsultinggroup.com. We’re a full-service cannabis advisory company, and we have dozens of different cannabis consultants and advisors all over the country in the globe that could help you out with your problem. It’s easier than you think. So look us up. And hop on for the free advisory call.

Hey, thanks again. It’s been a great Real Dirt; this is Chip Baker. I enjoyed this episode so much. Look for a bunch of new episodes coming out here saying. Thanks again, Real Dirt!

The Innovations of Solar Power in Cannabis Cultivation with Brendan Delaney

The Innovations of Solar Power in Cannabis Cultivation with Brendan Delaney

massachusetts cannabis laws

Talk about taking sun-grown to the next level.

Brendan Delaney is the cultivation director for Solar Therapeutics in Somerset, Massachusetts. They were the first cultivation facility in the US to use solar power to grow their cannabis.

A singular mission drives the company’s experienced management team, dedicated board, and passionate investors: to provide industry-leading wellness and alternative therapy products with a smaller energy footprint. By owning their micro-grid assets consisting of solar arrays, battery storage, and co-generation units, they will offset at least 60% of our carbon emissions.

In today’s episode, find out how Brendan uses solar power to grow cannabis and sustain quality alternative therapy products while using a self-generation of energy.

“Having a wide variety really drives sales here, and I think having unique strains is really appealing to some people where legal weed is a pretty new thing.” 

– Brendan Delaney

Some Topics We Discussed Include (Timestamp)

2:40 – Be an efficient grower and environmentally conscious

6:32 – Starting cultivating commercially under Prop 215 rules

10:07 – 25b Pesticide Regulations

22:31 – Keeping the Menu Fresh

25:23 – Selecting Phenos

31:42 – Trimming Weeds

38:09 – Different strains for wholesale and retailing cannabis

43:39 – Cannabis in the pandemic crisis

46:06 – Where to find them

56:34 – Grow tips

 

People Mentioned / Resources

Connect with  Chip Baker

TRANSCRIPT

Chip Baker: Hey, this is Chip with The Real Dirt podcast, you have reached yet another episode of The Real Dirt. While things have been a little erratic, since we’re an international pandemic, and whether you think it’s a plan demic, or a pandemic or the plague, it’s definitely a reality for people throughout the globe. And I just want to man, give a heartfelt shout out to all of those who are having problems these days due to our international pandemic. The COVID has definitely, man, and it’s changed the world. It’s changed us. It changed how we do business. And you know, it’s kind of changed how I’ve done podcasts. We don’t have podcasts in person anymore. It’s been actually kind of hard to get people to do podcasts. I’ve got an internet connection that’s a little slow. So we’ve been changing our technology constantly trying to get really good, good information with you guys. 

But today I’ve got, man, Brendan Delaney. Brendan, he’s the cultivation director for Solar Therapeutics in Somerset, Massachusetts. And they’re one of the only countries using so I mean only companies using solar power to grow their cannabis. Now, many people like myself do have supplemental solar power. You know what our operation in California, we have 60,000 watts of solar, I believe in it. It supplements, it ties back into the grid, they call it. So we’ve got a bunch of panels sitting on the roof of a barn and it’s generating power every single day. Instead of us actually using that power, we’re generating it back into the grid. 

So we’re responsible for helping people obtain their energy needs through our solar connection. And as soon as we get our license there in Trinidad, California will be growing cannabis by the sun. Ironically, they’re in greenhouses, light depth, greenhouses, but we’re going to be powering them partially through solar power with 180,000 watts over there and 60,000 watts of solar. Wow, it really does feel good to be sustainable. And I really look forward to speaking to Brandon here in a moment. 

Be an Efficient Grower and Environmentally Conscious

You know, it’s all the little things that you get to do in your grow that makes yourself an efficient grower, as well as environmentally conscious, and there are many things that you can do to help yourself, reduce your costs as well as being great stewards of the steward land. Several years ago, one of the manufacturing plants, I decided to take it upon myself to reduce my waste significantly. 

So I called up all of my manufacturers, all of my shippers and I asked them all if there was any way that we could reduce our shipping and packaging and not surprisingly, several of them said, Yeah, that’s great, you know, the packaging costs so much, how can I reduce the packaging and they reduced their packaging cost I kept paying the same price to those guys. I didn’t ask him for a discount. But I tell you where I made my money was on disposable off all that plastic and all that cardboard and all those materials that were coming in. We were going, and we were dumping significantly less into the landfills. And over time that really has paid off and it’s made us feel good, and you know, you can do all kinds of things to help any cannabis operation be sustainable. 

But look at your waste stream, look and see everything that you’re throwing away in the trash, look at all your recyclables, look at your water, and just try to clean all those up just one little piece at a time. You know where we need to be the most responsible business owners in any industry because we are so heavily looked at. And I encourage each and every one of you to do just that. Decide how you can make an impact in the change and really strive to do it as a company, and you’ll see an economic advantage to that. So without me babbling on here, we’re gonna get right into it the next episode of The Real Dirt if you like this episode and other, man, you can download them on iTunes, subscribe, go to Spotify. We’ve even got a YouTube channel now. So love you guys and sit back, roll up with a fat one, and here’s The Real Dirt.

All right, here we are with The Real Dirt on today’s dirt. I have Brendan Delaney of Solar Therapeutics in Somerset, Massachusetts, say hey, Brendan.

Brendan Delaney: Hey guys, how are we doing?

Chip Baker: Oh, man, thanks for joining me today. You guys reached out to us on our channel and expressed interest in talking to us. I’m so glad you did. You know we get many many responses from people over the channel, and I’m always happy to talk to fellow growers. Thanks for calling us, man.

Brendan Delaney: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it. 

Chip Baker: So man, we’re kind of actually from the same hood. Huh, Brendan, you’re in Massachusetts now. I’m in Oklahoma now, but you kind of cut your teeth in California.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, that’s correct. Started cultivating commercially actually up in Shasta County in 2010 ended up making my way over to Trinity County. And we’re doing some largest scale permanent farms over there before I took the job here, about a year and a half ago.

Chip Baker: All right, you move over to Trinity Pines.

Brendan Delaney:  I’ve definitely been through the pines, but we [inaudible] Douglas City, and I have a spot in Junction City as well.

Starting Cultivating Commercially Under Prop 215 Rules

Chip Baker: Sure. Yeah. A great little inside joke for us, huh? Oh my God, what a crazy place. Listeners, you can look that all up for yourself. So yeah, check it out on Google or if you think you got to grow. Yeah, took a look at that. Look at that. Right. It’s amazing. So You started in 2010. Right, when it was still on the cusp of 2.0 legal cannabis in California. You started operating under the old medical cannabis rules, right?

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, yeah, we were operating under Prop 215 for a couple of years out there and finally made the switch to getting actual permits. But you know, a little dicey there for a little while. But as long as you’re smaller than your neighbor, you’re good, right?

Chip Baker: Yeah. Well, you know, I tell you that was the beauty of the 215 laws. Now, many people for 20 years said, Oh, it’s bad. It’s an awful law but man because it was vague. It really allowed the medical cannabis market to really really grow throughout California. It allowed so many like cities and states and municipalities to copy the law. And also like, you know, people trying to sue over the law realize, Wow, it’s so vague. It’s well written for [crosstalk].

Brendan Delaney: There were a lot of gray areas to say the least. 

Chip Baker: Yeah. For those of you don’t know, in California 1997, medical marijuana was passed with this bill called 215. And that’s what Brendan and I are referring to as 215 rules. And back then, all you kind of had to do was have like, a book of patients. And you’d have like a handful of different recommendations and some letters that said that you were growing on behalf of them. And then there were some great counties where all you do, you just had to have your own prescription, your own recommendation, and you could have unlimited kinds of growth checks or balances.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, and then you just spray-painted green cross on some plywood for the helicopter. 

Chip Baker: Exactly. And Hope for the best. It was definitely free for all. It definitely, man, it kind of tainted a little bit what was to come with legal cannabis and regulated cannabis. Man, what was it? What was the major difference? You saw from going from that environment of 215 to a regulated environment like, I mean, you had a little baby step first you went to Trinity County. And then you went over to Massachusetts, which is more heavily regulated.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, I mean, Massachusetts is definitely the most heavily regulated state in the country in terms of cultivating cannabis. Which I think is a good thing. It holds you accountable for doing things in a different way. 

Chip Baker: Absolutely man there needs to be some roles

Brendan Delaney:  It kind of keeps the, the BS artists out of it.

25b Pesticide Regulations

Chip Baker: That is true. But I mean, just the pesticide usage alone has really leveled the playing field and, you know, you could just spray and pray with whatever you wanted and make like the worst grower be successful.

Brendan Delaney: For sure, yeah, they, the 25b Regulations, are pretty intense. And it really anything other than like citric acid is a form of pests is not really allowed here, and the testing process is extremely rigorous here. We’re on the go for sure here. 

Chip Baker: Wow, that makes it complicated.

Brendan Delaney: Oh, yeah, it does.

Chip Baker: Right. So you can’t use any pesticides just know– you can change the pH of the surface of the leaf, basically.

Brendan Delaney: Pretty much Yeah, yep.

Chip Baker: You can wash the plant off. Maybe?

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, I mean–

Chip Baker: You’re shaking your head. Wait a second. I don’t know if the water is legal or not.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah. Well, it depends on what’s in the water.

Chip Baker: So no, soap?

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, no, soap. Yeah. And they’re constantly changing the regulations. But, you know, I guess that is a good thing when, some of the stuff that is used is pretty [crosstalk]

Chip Baker: Oh, absolutely. And it makes you like, you know, have to be really at the top of your game. I mean, I’m really impressed. I mean, here in Oklahoma, that they’ve actually the way the laws are written is nothing is legal. There are no pesticides that can be used. But they have a really low tolerance of pesticide levels here. So the reality is you can use anything as long as you know no one catches you using it on the spot and then it doesn’t test below these really minimum regulations where like in Colorado, they give you a list. They’re always updating your list, Oregon–

Brendan Delaney: They’re actually they’re introducing fifth– I believe in the next three months they’re actually fifteen pesticides or fifteen substances to the banned list here in Mass and from what I understand is other states are going to start to accept the levels that Massachusetts is using which is having for heavy metals, we’re looking at 200 parts per billion. Which is, you know, there’s heavy metals in pretty much every–

Chip Baker: Yeah, absolutely. Wow. So do you think they’re being over-restrictive on some of that?

Brendan Delaney: Yes and no. So the pesticide stuff. I mean, there are some things that I feel that benefit the farmer and should be allowed, and then there’s some that definitely shouldn’t be allowed. Like, there’s some stuff that’s so widely used. And you don’t even really know what it’s doing to you, or what it could do to you. And then, you know, it gets in, it’s in the groundwater and you’re not just affecting your customers, and you’re affecting your neighbors and all that type of stuff.

Chip Baker: Sure. Yeah. We use some strict protocols, and we don’t have to spray pesticides. We are fortunate enough that we can, and we use stuff biological controls [crosstalk] and some other stuff but with the right application rate knowing how to apply at the right time like really being able to grow your culture is beneficial biology, and that’s how we have dealt with it, but man I’ll tell you some people they have problems with that with fungus and mold residue.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, yeah, I am. It really makes you step up your game and really has your standard operating procedures to where you’re running a really clean facility. You know, you have to hold your employees, hold your employees to those standards. So you’re not ending up as sure. A lot of people have their own home grows and may have mold or may have mines and not stuff trash–

Chip Baker: Okay, can right, what’s the– Is there a common pass for Massachusetts? Is there something difficult for people to control? 

Brendan Delaney: Fungus gnats pop up here pretty regularly. I’ve heard of broad mites but I mean the main thing is pm here.

Chip Baker: Yeah, pm everywhere almost. Right? It’s not as rampant in Colorado, but you know, the drier environment there. They were really really for thought sealed brooms, and you know, there’s also a wide list of fungicides.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah. We just use prosthetic tubes to construct citric acid And neuron a pretty strict regimen on that up until like week two a flower, and then we release biologicals for the end of the plant’s life.

Chip Baker: Released biological so benefits the best–

Brendan Delaney: Not for mold but– for anything else that would pop up for mites or anything like that.

Chip Baker: Right. Wow, you guys have a thousand lights. I mean, that’s roughly 25,000 for canopy, huh?

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, so this is phase one. We have three grow rooms right now, and a mom room. We have two more grow rooms with about 245 lights in each room, but by the end of the build-out there will be about 5500 grow lights here, 150 in our mom room.

Chip Baker: Oh, wow. That’s massive. So, uh, you guys, you guys use solar supplementation for all of this?

Brendan Delaney: We do we have here, so part of our microgrid is a large solar field.

Chip Baker: So you’re feeding back into the grid, it’s a [inaudible] system? Yeah, that’s exactly what we have in California too. You know the batteries are cool and great and on off-grid they’re awesome, but the batteries in themselves are really toxic too, and you really got to spend a hefty amount of money on the table to be completely solar efficient. Just to be able to enter ties back into this into the grid that really makes it applicable for everybody. Everybody should be doing this.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, we have full solar on our roof here. The rivets are 70,000 square foot buildings and then a few acres Outback solar field, but the rest of our microgrid is made up of natural gas generators.

Chip Baker: All right. On the site?

Brendan Delaney: Yep. We create all our own power here. Ed can speak a little bit more than me. He’s a little bit more well versed in that stuff but– 

Chip Baker: Sure, yeah, we’ve worked with several self-sustainable people with wind generations with solar in Colorado and an Oklahoma. Natural gas is, you know, it’s huge in both of those states, and so many people have unlimited natural gas usages. We’ve put in really huge hundred thousand watt generators. It’s amazing when you get the power for free, the fuel for free, what you can really do with everything else.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, where our units are pumping out. A few megawatts here.

Chip Baker: Oh, wow, man, that’s great. So was this– Do you know if the solar aspect was used in order to get your license? Was that something you guys like really push for at the very beginning?

Brendan Delaney: It’s something that we’re proud of for sure.

Chip Baker: Yeah, I’d be proud of it too, man.

Brendan Delaney: It’s definitely something that sets us aside from the other facilities in the area, for sure.

Chip Baker: So we were just in Massachusetts. Oh, man, it wasn’t 19; it was like the very end 18, December 18. Drove around, checked it out. It was just starting to come online back then. Tell me what the laws are like and what’s going on in Massachusetts. 

Brendan Delaney: Well, let’s see. So we started off actually as a recreational facility. We just got our medical license last week.

Chip Baker: Oh, awesome. Congratulations.

Brendan Delaney: Thanks. Appreciate it.

Chip Baker: Yeah, we’re all medical, even in California where there’s rec. We’ve got a medical license there, and we got medical here in Oklahoma. We just decided to stay on that side for now.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. The rec market here in Mass is pretty, pretty crazy. 

Chip Baker: Oh, yeah. I’ve seen some lines–

Brendan Delaney: There’s definitely days where we got lines for sure. But as far as the laws go for rec is, I would say it’s similar to a liquor store. You show your ID. You got to be 21. And there’s a certain amount of product that each person can buy. That’s pretty much it. The permanent process here in Mass is lengthy to say the least. A lot of–

Chip Baker: Has limited licenses?

Brendan Delaney: There are. We’re not Massachusetts isn’t, hasn’t reached capacity yet.

Chip Baker:  Okay. Right.

Brendan Delaney: It’s a few year process to get your [inaudible] on your site and your facility permitted and licensed to actually go through. 

Chip Baker:  Right. Yeah. I mean, that’s kind of how it is, most of the states other than, you know, the good ones. 

Brendan Delaney: I mean the price per pound here in Massachusetts is by far the highest country wholesale. Oh, yeah. And so it’s–

Chip Baker: Are your wholesale prices or the state average sale prices published. Can you say it?

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, for sure. For sure. Wholesale price–

Chip Baker: How much is a pound to wholesale weed?

Brendan Delaney: 4500 bucks

Chip Baker: That’s pretty high. I was going to say 5500 bucks.

Brendan Delaney: I mean some of it gets up there, some of it does get up there there’s not very many people cultivating license large scale facilities in the state. More coming online you know that not not every day but you know every month there’s a new one and there’s definitely some bigger ones being built out. But we’re setting ourselves up to be definitely one of the largest.

Keeping the Menu Fresh

Chip Baker: Well, [inaudible] with going into 5500 lights you’re definitely gonna be one of the largest, one of the largest in the country. So with the, man with going that much weed? How many different strains you guys got? How do you manage all those different strains?

Brendan Delaney: Um, so that’s a, I ended up bringing brands some pretty unique genetics from the west coast out here. Just some stuff that I had been working on in the years passed. I also work with a few different genetics companies, Humboldt Seeds. I work with Symbiotic Genetics and Compound Genetics. Have some good ties there. So anytime there’s some new, new hot stuff coming out, I usually get a pretty good plug from those guys and we’re working on, right now we’ve got about 26 strains here. Not all of them are on the shelves. We haven’t even flowered all of them out yet. But you know, this last harvest, which we finished about a week ago, was 12 strains, all from the west coast.

Chip Baker: Right? Sure. Yeah. Yeah, we’ve got some of the Humboldt Seed genetics and their Auto OG. Got a bunch of that going in? Next month I guess.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, they got some good stuff for sure we just harvested a, we did a bunch of their Asphalt Plant, which is I guess they renamed it as All Gas OG. And then also their truffle tree which both came out really good, super gassy, pretty high on the THC, but some legit stuff.

Chip Baker: So you guys are still looking for stuff you still plant seeds? 

Brendan Delaney: We do. Yeah. Our clone room is where we just, our clone rooms, we’re constantly germinating you know looking for different finos and just to keep our menu fresh. Having a wide variety is something that really drives sales here and I think having unique strains will be appealing to some people where legal weed is a pretty new thing.

Chip Baker: So how do you bring those new strains in on a facility like yours? How do you get R&DM to decide that you want you’ve selected this fino and you want to bring it in, how does it start?

Selecting Phenos

Brendan Delaney: So we germinate seeds, we sex them, we try not to stress them out too much. Once they’re sexed, they get tagged and numbered. And then we’ll flower out. You know, we’ll do maybe two lights. So two to four by four lights is one tray. So we’ll do one tray for each fino, and we’ll take it to flower and see where it ends up. And if it’s something that we like we keep it and keep the mom and then keep those genetics fresh. 

Chip Baker: Do you guys have a separate R&D room or is it just go into your main room? 

Brendan Delaney: Well, right now it’s just going into main rooms, like this. Typically, I wouldn’t do 12 strains in a room but we were really trying to find our stable genetics here. We’ve only, this has only been our second harvest. So we’re still kind of fino hunting to find, find those gems, you know.

Chip Baker: Yeah, absolutely. Well, that’s, it’s so funny you say you wouldn’t put more than 12 strains in the room there. It’s very West Coast. I only have a handful of strains. In Colorado, everybody’s got 77-80 strains. It’s just so many men it’s just hard. It’s just hard. As a grower, I just would rather have a few.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, I actually have some seeds going right now. They’re starting to show their sex from compound compound genetics, what they’re sending out looks pretty amazing. They’re working with some of the larger breeders out there. Now they also know labs, which does tissue culture cloning. So they [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Yeah, I know those guys. Yeah, I’ve been trying to get them on the podcast for a minute. Dan.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, my buddy Tez has been working there for a little while longer. Tissue culture cloning is something that’s pretty new to Mass. We would be one of the first that are doing it on a large scale. 

Chip Baker: Can’t even get some of that stuff. 

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, there’s some products that are used that aren’t allowed in Massachusetts yet. So–

Chip Baker: Right. So that’d be IBA, IAA–

Brendan Delaney: Sure. Yeah. So I mean, hopefully, if we start working with Node labs full time, maybe we’ll be able to educate a State [inaudible] first doing it out here.

Chip Baker: Well, you know, micropropagation has so many, you know, possibilities, you can just do so much with it. That, you know, one of the problems that you always have bringing plants into new environment is how to make it into scale and how to bring it to scale how to like say, Okay, I planted out a tray, you know, which could be 10 or 20 seeds, and you chose one and like, how do you bring that one grade genetic to scale? 

Brendan Delaney: Ah, yeah, I mean, we have a very large farmer here. Our mom room is three tiers, about 150 lights. The footprint of the room is 3000 square feet. So when we go up three, we’re looking at close to the 9000 square foot canopy for the mom room. And I just have multiple moms instead of having a few of each strain we have 30.

Chip Baker: Yeah, totally I will do the same way– [inaudible] hundred moms.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, exactly. We’re always filtering them out every three months to really keep them fresh. That’s pretty much it. I mean, we are– the propagation team is pretty badass. We did 3000 cuts and them, which are routing right now. That will fill up our fourth room.

Chip Baker: You guys use arrow routers or cubes or what do you bring in?

Brendan Delaney: We’re using cubes right now. 

Chip Baker: Which, Rockwool or Oasis? or rock wall? Yeah, rock

Brendan Delaney: Rockwool, two inch cubes–

Chip Baker: The best thing to do man is the best hands down product on the market two inch Rockwool cubes, right? 

Brendan Delaney: Yeah. Easy peasy.

Chip Baker: It is for commercial operations for large scale operations? It’s just really hard to beat how easy and inexpensive it is.

Brendan Delaney: Sure, yeah. I like the two inch cubes. I like a little better they get, but the roots get a little bigger, well, fatter than usual–

Chip Baker: Yes, when we moved to Oklahoma, we set up a clone nursery, and this was just last year, 16 months ago, or something. And, you know, people weren’t used to buying clones. They were used to bond plants and forage pods. So it took us about six or eight months to like, convince people like no, you need two inch I don’t want two inch, I want four inch. No, you don’t want four inch because here’s 50 plants–

Brendan Delaney: Wait, where’s the pot? Yeah,

Chip Baker: Exactly. And I even did that to people. I was like, Oh, well here look. I’m going to give you these two inches for cheaper and I’m going to give you the pots, I’m going to give you the dirt you go home and do it. But you know, they just move so much better. In two inches than four inches you can put 50 cubes in a box and uh, you know, you only get 18 four inch pots in a box and they last longer you can automate the watering, you know, you’re just, there’s just so many great things about two inch Rockwool and clones, that’s for sure.

Brendan Delaney: For sure. You know, then, eventually if we are doing tissue culture, it’ll be just to keep our mom fresh.

Chip Baker: So with 1000 lights, how do you guys trim, how do you trim all that weed?

Trimming Weeds

Brendan Delaney: So right now we’re, we’re using Green Bros.

Chip Baker: Oh yeah, great.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, we got a crew that right now they’re de stemming and then they’re just running everything through the Green Broz, and the small stuff goes our labs not set up completely yet but the small littles will go right to the lab to make hash and then into rosin, but yeah the Green Broz Model M is pretty badass, super gentle and user friendly.

Chip Baker: Yeah as simple as can be, take it apart, put it back together like, you know there’s hardly– easy to clean easy to clean like i mean you know, if you if you lose something on it, you can easily replace it and man like those guys just really have built a great great great product and products. They’ve got some great products out there.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, they’re de-stemmers are pretty badass too.

Chip Baker: Alright, I haven’t seen that in action. I’ve seen it, but I haven’t seen it in action.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, it works great. I mean, you can throw a live material through there to make freshly frozen or, you know, you can buck your dry bugs off and throw them right in the Model M. It’s a pretty streamlined easy process and that Model M does about 14 pounds an hour once they’re bought.

Chip Baker: Oh, wow, that’s great.

Brendan Delaney: That’s one person really and then the trim that comes out the other side of the trim in kief is like ready for pre rolls. But it’s pretty much ready for the pre-roll machine.

Chip Baker: So you guys are drying and processing all types of ways, you dry it, you trim it green, you fresh frozen it and you kind of have to do it all on a scale operation, the scale yours.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, we do fresh frozen. We will be doing fresh frozen for the littles. We don’t trim anything green here. I like the dried trim method a little bit more. I think it really is the terpene profile keeps [crosstalk]

Chip Baker: It’s way better to dry weed with leaves on it.

Brendan Delaney: Hell yeah. I feel that. But you know what, that scale it’s tough when you’re drying a few thousand pounds every two weeks. It’s just a 24 seven gig and you know you don’t obviously don’t want to speed the process up too much because then you lose your quality. And you know there’s people that are drying their product in a day with heat dehumidifiers and all that stuff, but you really lose–

Chip Baker: So much, man and you just kill it–

Brendan Delaney: You lose so much. Yeah, exactly. I end up with a bag full of hay.

Chip Baker: Yeah, well, usually it’s me saying that. So Brendan, I’m glad you’re saying it today too. Because if you’re just rushing to market to sell weed quickly to make cash, that’s fine. But don’t claim you got the best weed right?

Brendan Delaney: Hell no, it’s not all about that THC number, you know, we need the whole entourage effect there.

Chip Baker: Yeah, it is. so in Massachusetts, you have to list the terpene as well as THC on the label?

Brendan Delaney: No, we don’t. But Solar Therapeutics will be. We’re doing full boards on all of our flowers. And we’ll definitely be including a full terpene profile. But I think it’s a little bit about educating the customers here. About terpenes the Massachusetts market right now is literally the product, the flower that has the highest THC number, is the flower that sells it doesn’t even matter what it looks like–

Chip Baker: [inaudible] is Colorado too. Oklahoma, is not so much like that yet. It hasn’t really hit like people do so weed, you know, on the wholesale level as like, Oh, it’s 27% Oh, it’s 32% or whatever. But the customer isn’t really buying it that way. It’s still so new and it’s not really enforced so much. The THC percentages, so, you know.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah. I think in Massachusetts as the market matures a little bit like things like terpene profile and bag appeal and flower having a legit nose is gonna be something that more people look for.

Chip Baker: Well, we definitely need more education on all that and you know, that’s one of the reasons that California and the West Coast have such great weed is because there’s so many discriminating customers that call bullshit on poor weed and that I know what it looks like, you know, but mostly–

Brendan Delaney: All right, if you don’t smoke [crosstalk]

Chip Baker: Get out it’s like, if it’s not the best up there then it’s really hard to sell it and the rest of the country is not quite like that. You can still sell almost everything you produce.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, I mean, I think that’ll change with a little bit more education but also like, you know, new strains, like large variety, once people start to see some of those really, really exotic strains or gassy strains then–

Chip Baker: That’s what they’ll like. So do you guys, is all wholesale, do you have a dispensary?

Brendan Delaney: Do we have a dispensary on site here. We actually have another one that will be opening next few months. The whole COVID pandemic and kind of put a halt on a lot of stuff out here.

Chip Baker: Everywhere. I can’t find four inch bolts for a month. Ridiculous. I have a project I need like 404 inch bolts and I couldn’t find them for a month.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, I moved my cot into my office and I just posted up here for a few months but yeah. Our second location is in the process of we’re in the permanent process. And hopefully be open within the next few months. 

Different Strains for Wholesale and Retailing Cannabis

Chip Baker: So here’s something I’ve been interested in, is you guys are wholesales, you guys got a really big grow, you wholesale and you retail it. What are the different types of preferred weed? What do you guys like to grow? What do people like about wholesale and what are the retail people like?

Brendan Delaney: I mean like I was saying before I think the retail part side of this is all about variety. If we have 10 strains on our menu our sales go up, if we have too big we go down. So keeping the menu fresh is a big thing. You know we have relationships with others. dispensary, other people that cultivate and we have some good working relationships with some of these other people and they’ve helped us out with wholesale so you know, we will help them out in the future when we’re really cranking here. And also, having some of their strains in house here at our dispensaries is a huge plus for marketing and again keeping the menu fresh with what they’re growing they can, you know, keep their menu fresh with what’s coming out of Solar Therapeutics.

In terms of growing it I mean, as long as it’s not finicky and is resistant to mold and throws down. It doesn’t matter to me as long as it finishes in under ten weeks.

Chip Baker: Alright. So the wholesale market, it’s still the variety still, pushes that you can still sell variety. It’s not like you know, it’s either gas or fruit on the West Coast. But–

Brendan Delaney: It’s the same here. 

Chip Baker: It’s the same there. Okay. 

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, I mean there’s some strains that I’ve chosen to grow here which will do more like a majority of that with the intention of wholesaling larger amounts but also keeping some in house but wholesaling you know, some big chunks.

Chip Baker: Right. So you don’t have a favorite? Come on, you got a favorite.

Brendan Delaney: I mean, I’m digging the Asphalt plant that we just cut down. We’re also doing this across that I brought out which is Critical Mass and Pink Champagne. A little bit lower on the THC but I definitely got some CBD in it. Some high CBD in it. Which is cool for a, it’s pretty mellow but it’s nice.

Chip Baker: Yeah, we love smoking CBD, but only when they blend it with the THC. 

Brendan Delaney: It’s not worker weed right?

Chip Baker: Man, I smoke a lot of weed. Sometimes maybe I don’t need to be that high, so like you blend a little CBD in it and mix it yeah. I still get the flavor right but it’s still good to smoke a large joint. And the CBD is medicinal. So you get the great medicinal cannabinoid without just you know, getting obliterated.

Brendan Delaney: Right. Yeah, I’m actually a partner in a CBD processing company out of Sacramento called the Blue Bus Collective. We’re doing all different CBD products, as well as processing for some of the farmers out there.

Chip Baker: Yeah, I man, CBD has got a great great place in the cannabis market in some ways it’s really helped out THC. Pardon that bong it was way too big. But yeah I’m definitely I believe in the blending of the cannabinoids, I believe in the full spectrum application of it I believe in all the terpenes, the separation the isolation of individual molecules is too Western for me, man. You know–

Brendan Delaney: I hear you.

Chip Baker: Right, but I mean, I support it wholeheartedly, and we’re involved with hemp seeds and hemp seeds consulting, and you know, I’ve got hemp clothes and hemp stuff throughout our lives, and you know, we love it. But yeah, man, I’m a ganja guy for sure.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, we’ll get your information. We’ll send you out some samples after we’re done here.

Chip Baker: Oh yeah awesome, man. Yeah, I’d love it man. We take anyone listening out there and we take samples of all products, The Real Dirt that can be sent to 666 Buchtel Boulevard, Denver, Colorado 80210. We got a great rolling tray recently.

Brendan Delaney: Nice Nice. Yeah, we’ll send you some swag. 

Chip Baker: Yeah my guy Travis would love to see everything there. Right Travis? He’s nine right now.

Brendan Delaney: Perfect, perfect.

Cannabis in the Pandemic Crisis

Chip Baker: So, man, what do you see for the future here in Massachusetts and in the country? Do you see an increase in cannabis use because of current stay at home guidelines. And how do you think federal legalization might affect you?

Brendan Delaney: I mean, I definitely see an increase in use. And I feel like as legalization moves forward state by state, like the taboo of cannabis kind of being worn off. And it’s also more accessible. Like we have a lot of customers here that are a little bit older. And for them like being able to walk into a recreational dispensary and buy a product without having to worry about maybe where it came from or getting in trouble. I think it’s really open cannabis to a lot of people that may have been on the fence about using it before.

Chip Baker: Yeah, you’re right, man.

Brendan Delaney: As far as federal legalization goes, I’m not, I don’t really know where that’s going. It seems like it will happen soon. But who knows? That’s it. That’s the tough one.

Chip Baker: Yeah, well it’s coming all around in the East Coast now. I mean, you got Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia. I mean, so many states on the East Coast are now like talking about legal cannabis. You know, it’s exciting to see it.

Brendan Delaney: I mean, a bunch of our neighbors are probably hopping on board here in the next couple years. So we’ll see. We’ll see about that.

Chip Baker: Yeah. Well, you guys are pioneers, man. I’ll tell you. I’ll give you a salute for being one of the first there and being on the forefront of sustainable production and self generation of energy. You man, it’s just one of the brightest things you can do. And yet they, man really thank you guys for putting all that together.

Brendan Delaney: Oh, man, I appreciate it.

Chip Baker: Yeah, I’m sure you’re an unsung hero on that, but it’s something you got to want to do. You know, nobody’s forcing you guys to do it.

Brendan Delaney: Put the labor of love.

Where to Find Them

Chip Baker: Labor of love. Oh well hey, I love cannabis and I hope everyone who listens to the show loves this show Brendan thanks for joining me you got any way that our listeners can follow you guys or catch up with you if ever they’re in Massachusetts?

Brendan Delaney: Yeah @SolarThera on Social Media

Chip Baker: Say that again.

Brendan Delaney: It’s just @SolarThera on social media, Instagram, all that type of stuff, and that’s pretty much it.

Chip Baker: Oh well, there is it man. Awesome. Check him out @SolarThera

Brendan Delaney: @SolarThera or solarthera.com

Chip Baker: There we go. Yeah. Check out Brendan and everything cool they’re doing up there in Massachusetts if you’re ever around Somerset stop by their dispensary. And hey, man, buy a joint and give it away to somebody when you show up. Thanks a lot for joining us The Real Dirt. Thanks, Brendan. Hey, appreciate it. Have a good day, man.

Brendan Delaney: Thank you.

Chip Baker: Have you thought about a weed story, Brendan?

Brendan Delaney: I’ve been thinking about it a little bit.

Chip Baker: No Holds Barred. I mean, you know, Hey, let me ask you this question first. This will determine, hey, do I have your permission to reproduce this in any way I see fit?

Brendan Delaney: That might change the story. I mean, I was just thinking about, like, the times when I first started doing this and it really was the Wild West, you know, like, hiding from helicopters. And, you know, this is when camp was still around out there and like getting busted or going to jail. I mean–

Chip Baker: Yeah, run it from the man–

Brendan Delaney: I got the bulletproof vest here. Yeah, it’s from living near the pines.

Chip Baker: Stray bullets

Brendan Delaney: It was a wild time out there and you know, you meet some amazing people, and like, it was great for, to have the, you know, the more conscious grower community out there come together and meet some amazing people out there and, but I just times like driving truck beds full of flower down the highway and hoping you didn’t get caught, but the wildfires too. Last year it was just like I stayed during the evacuation and I couldn’t leave my house for 21 days the firing got right up right up to the next property over and that was the car fire ended up burning like 365,000 acres and it’s just you know, you don’t really sleep much and then you get it get out the other side and everybody’s okay and that’s what it’s all about but–

Chip Baker: Yeah, totally. Alright, so here’s, give me like one of the craziest grower stories you remember like to tell from Trinity and now you got one I’ll give you one of mine too.

Brendan Delaney: I’ll think about that you go first buddy.

Chip Baker: All right. So guys, when I first, when we first got there 1997 we were trimming for some other people and we went to trim with these people and they had these other women there, and they were telling us about Humboldt. They were like, Oh, yeah, man, you gotta be careful who you go to work for because there’s some crazy people up here. And she told this story about how her and another girlfriend went to work on a guy’s trim farm. They went through like seven gates and each gate to take the guy like an hour, you know, to get out and so they get down to the bottom and you know, he’s like, it’s kind of starting to get weird. And he keeps mentioning the gates and I will never get out. Turns out all the gates were unlocked when they went to leaf. And the guy had just been fake locking them and telling them all these crazy stories. So there’s some crazy people out there. That’s a pretty G-rated one. But you know, there’s–

Brendan Delaney: I mean, especially up there, you’ll meet all types. I mean, I had, not to mention any names, land owner that I ended up rebuilding his farm that was being saved and didn’t really know too much about him. When I took the position and it turned out he was batshit crazy. [crosstalk]

Yeah, the batshit craziness is fucking rapid in Trinity. But he used to show up in the middle of the night with an AR and like headlamp on, and he would just be pretty hell-bent on taking half of the product with an [inaudible] in the middle of the night. This was like a pretty common occurrence. So by the end of it, I learned just to kind of be sarcastic when she didn’t really take too well. But I mean just, you know, stuff like that. And we, I mean, we had neighbors that were like definitely on the math taken apart a carburetor, taken apart engines, all hours of the night and like huge Tent City camps up there. And it’s I mean, it’s the Wild West for sure, certain parts of Trinity are still–

Chip Baker: There’s no law enforcement. I mean in Humboldt, they would say stuff like and in Trinity too, Oh after 6pm you got to take care of your own problems. You know–

Brendan Delaney: That’s pretty much what it is. I mean, there’s certain parts especially out you know, near the reservations that they don’t even go.

Chip Baker: Oh, yeah. I mean, in Humboldt they don’t go to the reservations. They don’t go to areas with you know, the organized Eastern European crime gangs. They don’t go with the Mexican crime games like, they’re, they just you know, the previously in the past law enforcement would concentrate on the easy pickings usually like hippies with long hair, you know, smoking out trying to be Rasta.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, I mean, the problem now is their law enforcement’s under they’re not really funded for cannabis. They’re out there outgunned and outmanned up there, you know, they don’t know if they’re walking into like 50 people with automatic weapons or fucking RPGs or whatever, there’s some wild motherfuckers out there.

Chip Baker: Well, hey, I’ll tell you also, that the police are pissed there because they can’t rob us like they used to. And they would go in. Yeah, they would go in, you know how it works. They go in, they would literally rob you of all your pocket, knives and tools and all that stuff. And you might never get charged. You know, they take all your shit dude, and they are pissed that they can’t go Christmas shopping anymore every day. Because that’s how it was like I got a new set of snap arms, I’ll trade you for that motorcycle or whatever.

Brendan Delaney: That’s a nice new dirt bike. It must be stolen. We need to fucking take it into evidence. 

Chip Baker: And most of that stuff never showed up in evidence. They just stayed in their pocket. That’s for sure. Yeah, man, I tell you, I was on the 36 at the gas station. And I’m listening to this guy talk about spinning, putting cash in his lawn. And the guy behind the gas stage is like, Oh, yeah, man, you got the nice lawn. He’s like, Oh, yeah, all the cash I get. That’s all I’m not gonna report it. And I’m like, thinking this guy’s a weed grower. He walks out and the guy’s like, yeah, that’s the fucking local deputy sheriff. Right? bragging about the money he’s stealing from people and how he’s putting it into his lawn?

Brendan Delaney: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, I have friends that got rated in the, you know, the question that they’re asked most is like, where’s the stash?

Chip Baker: Where’s the money? Where’s the money? Yep, totally.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, they don’t care about anything else. They’re trying to fucking buy their kids nice Christmas presents with other people’s money. 

Chip Baker: Absolutely. Well, man, unfortunately with legal cannabis, a lot of that stuff is gonna disappear. And the crooked cops come up there just to shake down people and like, you know, the crooked mentality that’s, you know, at the drug enforcement, you know, groups and individual sheriff’s offices and police departments, it’s gonna fade, right?

Brendan Delaney: I mean, it’s a legitimate industry now with legit money in it’s a taxable crop at this point. 

Chip Baker: Well, in California, Northern California is the only place in the country where legal cannabis hasn’t really, really benefited people yet. It’s benefited individuals. But everyplace else, it wasn’t really a cash crop already. And in Northern California, that was already the history; it was already cash crops. And it’s actually pissed a lot of people off because they used to grow weed, eat, quasi illegally in their backyard and rake in like 50,000 hundred thousand dollars a year on the side by not doing much. And now that’s all gone. So they’re pissed and the cops are pissed because they can’t rob you for your pocket change. And then like the prohibition is they’re pissed because they lost and then there’s the non-back yarders who are all good for freedom and everything as long as they don’t have to look at it or smell it. You know?

Brendan Delaney: Exactly. Out of sight, out of mind. 

Grow Tips

Chip Baker: Out of mind. Alright, so you gotta grow tips for me. I need a grow tip.

Brendan Delaney: I got you. The best nutrient for a plant is the Gardener Shadow.

Chip Baker: Okay, I’m not familiar. Tell me about the Gardener Shadow and how it’s the best nutrient for the plant?

Brendan Delaney: It just means the more time you spend in your garden, the better your plants again.

Chip Baker: That’s right. You actually have to hang out with them and touch them.

Brendan Delaney: Oh, yeah. 

Chip Baker: That’s great, man. You know, we’ve been building a ton of stuff here in Oklahoma and with the COVID hit, we really hadn’t had employees so we just been building stuff. So, I like to build everything from scratch. For the past several months, we’ve built a 40,000 square feet worth of hoop house. You know, irrigation, we’ve got a couple acres it’s actually in the ground and fences. And today, I actually got to grow weed.

Brendan Delaney: Nice, man. Congratulations–

Chip Baker: Yeah, plants are in the ground like that stuffs happening but like today actually trellis some weed and it wasn’t just like mechanics. It wasn’t drip irrigation or posture, tarps or shade or irrigation or pump or tractor or whatever it was–

Brendan Delaney: This past week we’ve been we’ve been commissioning Argus fertigation system, so– 

Chip Baker: Oh, nice. Nice. 

Brendan Delaney: So it’s a big one. So we’ve been finishing the build out on the fertigation room and really diving deep into our guests which is a badass company. I can’t say enough good things about Argus Controls and, and their fertigation equipment is definitely upper echelon.

Chip Baker: Totally, Argus, [inaudible] those are, they’re all the leaders right now in cannabis.

Brendan Delaney: Yeah, we’ve vetted out all three but settled on Argus–

Chip Baker: Yeah, that [inaudible] too expensive for me, man.

Brendan Delaney: I guess, I don’t really– we were gonna work with them. But Argus seems a little more user friendly.

Chip Baker: Yeah. I mean, you’re gonna have problems with any of it but the Argus and the Netafim are absolutely the most user friendly.

Brendan Delaney: I mean, the support staff at Argus is fucking unreal. 

Chip Baker: Do you like them better? That’s what it boils down for me to do business with people often as I go, like, this guy’s got me. 

Brendan Delaney: You want to do business with good people that live up to what they’re they’re pitching so– 

Chip Baker: Yeah, it’s important. Well, hey, Brendan, thanks for the gardener shadow. I think that was a great one. I like the slightly different one. Thank you. And hey, man, I’d love to do a part two with your development guy on all the other sustainable stuff you guys are doing. And if COVID ever lets us get a rest. You know, I’m gonna get on the road again. I’d love to come and see you guys.

Brendan Delaney: Oh yeah man. We’d love to have you.

Subscribe & Review

Thank you for tuning in to this episode of The Real Dirt. Don’t miss an episode, click here to subscribe on iTunes and let me know what you love about this show.

 

The Real Dirt on Oklahoma Cannabis

The Real Dirt on Oklahoma Cannabis

oklahoma medical cannabis news

Oklahoma ain’t no joke when it comes to cannabis cultivation.

Chip has been living in Oklahoma for the last year, and has gotten to experience first hand the trials and tribulations of cannabis cultivation in Oklahoma.

Since legalizing medical cannabis in 2019, Oklahoma has exploded with cultivators, dispensaries and license holders. In fact, Chip argues that Oklahoma holds more licenses than every other state combined. When it comes to Cultivation, Nevada might have Oklahoma beat. But for total licenses including processing and dispensary licenses, Oklahoma sits at the top.

This week’s episode of The Real Dirt is a catch-up for our listeners on why The Real Dirt has been away for a while and what Chip has been up to in Oklahoma. Here’s your hint: it involves growing a lot of ganja.

Plus Chip gets into the dirty details about the pros and cons of growing in Oklahoma, how the industry there compares to California and Colorado, and why he thinks Oklahoma is a great place to grow cannabis.

[Transcript Below]

Stream on Apple Music

Stream on Spotify

Stream on Stitcher

Follow us on Instagram

Join our Facebook GROUP!

Some Topics We Discussed Include (Timestamp)

4:07 – Growing cannabis in Oklahoma

11:13 – Outdoor cultivation in Oklahoma

18:05 – The pest pressure

21:04 – Preventive measures for infestation

27:58 – Challenges in growing in OKC

 

People Mentioned / Resources

 

Connect with  Chip Baker

TRANSCRIPT

Chip Baker: This is Chip from The Real Dirt. Once again, you’ve reached another fabulous episode of The Real Dirt with Chip Baker. I’ve been a little slack lately guys, and I want to start the episode off by just, oh mankind of apologizing and also just a little we’re all in this COVID scenario together and it’s just kind of been a little difficult to put out some podcasts. We tried to do some zoom recordings, but man, if you guys heard those or saw those, they just sound awful. And you know, I really liked the sound. It was incredible. 

We put a lot of work into the post-production and into the overall production of the show in the past and Wow, man, that zoom connection just didn’t quite work for me, maybe really easy to do it. But we’re going to try to get some more audio episodes going here and maybe change a little format a bit. You know, it’s hard. Previously we’ve had like the past three years on The Real Dirt podcast. If you’re just new to the podcast, go check out some of our older episodes on iTunes or Spotify, The Real Dirt podcast, please subscribe. You can get some old material that’s new to you. 

We spent an incredible amount of time doing production and really learning how to make a great quality podcast. When COVID hit, we went to zoom recordings partially because we didn’t want to, we couldn’t be close enough with people to make a podcast. Now regardless if you think this is an epidemic plan Dimmick, fake or real, I’m a pilot, private pilot. And the first thing that I really learned in aviation is, if you take chances, odds are you’re going to die. So aviation is always about being perfect and correct. And even though there is a feel to it, there’s a considerable amount of math and exact and preciseness to everything with aviation. But the big thing is don’t take chances on, and you know, I’ve put that in my life, my business, and that’s what we decided to do with COVID, too. 

We thought we could just have a radio, just phone interviews or zoom interviews, and man, it just hasn’t really worked out. So I’m sorry, I had anticipated putting out about 25 episodes by now, 50 episodes by now, and I think we got 12 or 13 in the can so pretty much failed on that one. But you know, we got to, wanted to crank it up today, and have a little porch session on Sunday is often a relaxing day for us. As many of you know, we now live in Oklahoma. Previously we lived in Northern California for about 25 years 20 years, and on and off still it spent a good amount of time back there I love the place, and you know we moved to Colorado and set up some great grow stores Cultivate Colorado, Cultivate Garden Supply and moved down here to Oklahoma this past year to kind of do the same thing. Expand the grow shops, expand Cultivate Garden Supply, expand distribution of my potting soil growers, coco growers soil and in Oklahoma has been really really really really great for us. But you know, it’s a unique environment. 

Growing Cannabis in Oklahoma

And we’ve learned stuff everywhere we’ve gone and grown in the country in the world about cannabis and how it performs. And Oklahoma has its unique set of challenges and advantages. And you know, we were learning every day. I was on Oklahoma medical patients thread the other day on Facebook. And someone was commenting on maybe all the bad weed is because all the bad growers and there’s a lot of novices and new growers here in Oklahoma, I definitely don’t think it’s all bad weed, but people are really just learning how to do it. And we don’t really have the culture here in Oklahoma. The ganja smoking West Coast, Colorado culture, it is a little different here. 

But people will get better at the craft, and they will learn, and honestly, I think Oklahoma is really set to produce some fine quality weed in two or three years from now when all of the smaller growers have had a little bit of success, and they’ve gotten better, and they started talking to their friends, and they’ve seen better weed, and they’ve sold more medical cannabis in the shops and the shops tell them what they want and local genetic starts to develop, or local cultivars become in demand. When all those things happen, better quality cannabis is going to get here. 

But you know, the thing about cannabis is and in anything, is when you have multiple people working on the project, you get exponentially better, and in Oklahoma, there are more cultivation licenses than anyplace else in the country. Now, I would bet there’s more. I mean, someone could check that fact, if someone knows this fact, let’s hear it. But I don’t, I’m just going to make it up. Okay. I bet that there are more legal cultivation licenses in Oklahoma than in the rest of the country combined. That’s right. 

 

There’s just a few thousand in California, like just a few thousand in Colorado, and those are the states we think about the most I don’t even think there’s 2000 in Oregon. So, there’s a considerable amount of people growing all at once learning all and what man they’re going to get exponentially better. As long as they dropped the grower ego and realized that they could, there’s probably someone doing it better than them they can probably do it better the exponential learning that’s going to happen over all those six 7000 commercial growers and when I say commercial growers here in Oklahoma you can have a two-light grow and be a commercial grower you just apply for the license it’s a great environment to work that in. 

So I think it is going to get considerably better and fast and in a couple years Wow, man, Oklahoma’s going to have some great weed. So besides the sheer number of new people to this industry, there are a lot of experienced people like myself that have moved here, and I’ve been growing cannabis all my life and only recently got back into medical cannabis. It is a difficult environment in many aspects. I mean, I’m from Georgia where the humidity is high every single day you know there’s not a dried day in the year. It’s subtropical down there. The humidity is not as bad here as in Georgia. I mean at our farm, we have 50% average humidity frequently. And 50% humidity 90 degrees temperature and for outdoors and that’s a really great environment for ganja plants. 

They really like that. Yes, so does the mold. The mold and mildew start to grow at that 40 to 50%. It’s the perfect environment for it, but it’s also the perfect environment for cannabis to thrive. And from my experience, the terpene levels of the outdoor greenhouse cannabis here are far superior to what I’ve seen in Colorado simply because it’s just so dry. It’s just so dry. Yes there are days like today where the humidity is high. It’s been raining the past few afternoons and the humidity has gotten high at night. In the 70s you know the state is very diverse though and you know if you’re on the eastern side, east of Oklahoma City far more water, far more moisture. 

If you’re on the western side of Oklahoma City, far drier way more high plains. And right in the middle, you get a lot of rolling hills, and there is lots of farmland where vegetables are grown. And there’s even some sort of grape and an olive culture here in Oklahoma too, which are indicator species for cannabis. So you know, the humidity is not impossible here, and I’ll tell you if you think the humidity is impossible to grow cannabis in, while Florida has quite a large cannabis industry currently, and you know, they have their difficulties, but they’re able to do it, and it’s totally possible not only possible. 

But honestly, cannabis likes those 40-50% humidity ranges, and that’s what it is in the coastal areas of Humboldt and Oregon too, or Colorado, California, and Oregon is in the coastal areas you get that perfect 40% humidity and yeah rages a little bit at night, but that’s the kind of the beauty over there is it drilled consistently in temperature might only drop a few degrees. The daytime to the nighttime makes an incredible, incredible cannabis growth. That’s what y’all those huge, huge, huge plants you see those are West Coast plans. Rarely do you see any other plants like that in other areas, even though I have seen some large plants in Michigan, the same large plants. 

Outdoor Cultivation in Oklahoma

The big thing about outdoor cultivation here in Oklahoma is latitude like we are so low down here that our light cycle is completely different from all of our strains. All the strains that we’re mostly getting are West Coast strains either bastardized in Colorado. Hey, I don’t mean to hurt feelings. One often Colorado and you know, Colorado has its own special element too, but they’re almost all indoor. The West Coast has so much outdoor that if strangers developed there, they’re often we’ll go outside or greenhouse or light up you know, regardless were like the Colorado strains they may never see that or may never see it at volume. 

Wow, man, these strains. Most of the clones most of the seeds have a really different reaction down here than they do up at the 38 to 41st degree north, plants grow in that latitude. It goes all the way across to like Afghanistan, India, we were all on this ride that same ridge and the light cycles just kind of perfect for cannabis in that region. Right, you can plan it. There’s long enough light in the early spring in order to get the plant to vegetative growth. The summer has the right amount of light. Also, to keep it in bed into, you know, August, mid-August, and then it’ll initiate a flower. Initiate flower. 

Now the interesting thing is this is all like in 30 minutes, 45 minutes of darkness that’s going on because that’s how cannabis flowers are darkness. So it’s just, you know, a few minutes more light, a few minutes later or a few minutes more like a few minutes earlier, it really does affect the plants that were growing the genetic stock we have, which I think is a huge opportunity for Oklahoma. Don’t get me wrong, mostly the plants aren’t growing and traditional veggies and flowering manners that we’ve seen at higher latitudes. Even in Colorado, the plants act really similar. They’re a little earlier. And here’s what I mean, so, the farther South you go, the earlier your season starts to begin, but also the earlier it ends even if you have good weather.

This is due to the fact that cannabis is mostly you know flower by light cycle, night cycle specifically, and I found that most cannabis will flower at under 14 and a half hours of light. You get under that, and most of the modern cannabis will flower. Now I know there are some people out there that are claim all this other stuff about photoperiod cannabis, but I’ve just been growing this stuff my whole life you know, it’s there’s absolutely a critical nightlife for every single strain and then there’s also a series of stressful or events that can also cause the plant to go into flower when it’s around that critical nightlight. For instance, if you’re in a one-gallon pot and you’ve got a four-foot tall plant, and it’s in early July here, it will probably flower. I would even say in late June, and it will probably flower due to stress factors of being in that root bound small pot and light cycles changing. It’s right there on the cusp. Right. 

Mostly what we see here in Oklahoma is that you can plant outside two to four weeks earlier than you know we would have in Northern California. And that also the plants are coming out two to four weeks earlier in the fall time. There are tremendous advantages to all of this, Oklahoma, and there’s no canopy size, no plant size, you just get your limit and go under your regulations of security and fencing. And you can grow as many plants as you want. So, the idea is I’m going to grow these huge 5-10 pound plants, you know, no one it’s really unrealistic here in Oklahoma. And honestly, in other places, it’s just such a pain in the ass to grow those big plants. That small plants are definitely the way to go here. I would bet the quarter half, the quarter and a half-pound plants the one pound plants are probably perfect for this environment. 

It’s so nice here early in the spring that so many people want to put clones and plants out. I mean, we had our first harvest of tomatoes in April. Before April 20th, we were eating tomatoes and cabbage and chard and onions. And I mean you know, it’s we started growing in February here our vegetable garden but that light cycles just off. But it does offer you an opportunity in the early spring just to put plants out and flower them immediately without them growing you get a sea of green outside. You don’t have to tarp it with the natural light cycle. And in many strains, you can force flowers by just bending them under 24 hours of flight and then putting them outside in that early spring. You know, I would suggest March is probably the best month for this in some strains just won’t work, but you know, we’ve seen like several strains just start flowering and not stop here. And of course, those are probably bad also for full season planted production here and in Oklahoma. 

The Pest Pressure

The other real limiting factor here that’s been brought up is the pest pressure. And I mean the pest pressure is pretty, pretty strong here. But it’s not undoable for outdoor cultivation and for indoor cultivation, but for outdoor cultivation, you’ve got a series of pests that want to devour your plants every day. I mean, there’s rabbits and rats and deer and mice and grasshoppers and looper worms, cabbage worms, tomato, hookworms, tomato worms, garden worms. I mean, these guys are so destructive, it’s unreal. There’s definitely powdery mildew, and you know botrytis as well like you know there’s more humid down here you get those big buds, and those big, dense buds and the botrytis likes to grow inside them. 

So there are numerous problems, but man, all those things I just mentioned are really you can control them. Numerous biological products you can get at cultivatecolorado.com and cultivateokc.com or go to your local supply store. DiPel is a bt product, almost any bt product I think works. DiPel is considered like the commercial one is what people use for you know, corn and whatnot. We mix it at a really strong rate far stronger than they call for it. I don’t think you can overdo it with the DiPel because you are just colonizing, you know, the [inaudible], I think, is the BT. So the more you spray, the more volume that you put in per gallon, just, in my opinion, increases your, the ability for the bt to grow on the planet. 

You know, you’ve really got to get this stuff early too, you really want to get it growing on the stem, you know, early on the plant’s growth, you want to make sure that it’s on that first little bitty flower that comes out in pre flower. I would suggest you know, making sure you got a really good collonation started a week or two before flowers—great, great, great strategy. You can hear the wildness here, huh, man, lots of bugs. Hear them, grasshoppers, they haven’t been terrible much of a problem for us, but grasshoppers will also eat all the leaves off your plant, so they are locusts. 

Preventive Measures for Infestation

We try to do a lot of mechanical control for IPM. We make sure all the grass is cut, we till as much of the ground, we disk as much of the ground around our outdoor gardens as we can. And we do these organic preventative sprays in it. It really does help, and they’re also like the things that you can use that aren’t harmful that you know don’t show up, in the end, use cannabis products. You have to do and preventatively though you can’t just start seeing the problem and spraying, and it’ll never work. You know that goes for powdery mildew. We suggest people spray regalia for that and just start your plants. Young and you won’t have a problem. If you see it, then you’re going to be battling it. And that’s, you know, that’s just how it goes. Every state differs on what pesticide products they can use or pest control measures they can use. 

 

Oklahoma’s, it’s actually pretty strict when you actually look at the letter of the law or talk to the Department of Agriculture, but just the way they test for it isn’t strict enough. So it allows for lots of variation and a lot of variables. People have all kinds of strategies on how to use certain pest control method measures that won’t test, and they’re in test, and I don’t suggest or advocate any of that just, you know, try to follow the law and have a proper Integrated Pest Management Program, which always includes these elements. Mechanical, well identification. 

One, you got to identify what you got. Okay? And it’s not that hard. You don’t have to like to get to the encyclopedia. You just Google it, you got to think about it. More than likely, if it’s a soft-bodied insect, you can treat it all the same way. If it’s a hard-bodied insect, you are treated kind of all the same way. You know, we like the biological controls. I won’t even get into the pronunciation of everything. But botanic guard and DiPel are some of our favorites. You can get all these cultivatecolorado.com online, just look us up, give us a call, Cultivate Colorado, Cultivate OKC just walk into the store and say, Hey, Chip said I need to come and get some DiPel because I’m going to have worms grown out of my buds here in the next month. Can you help me out, and Chris will say Oh, yeah, bro. I got a packet of DiPel right over here. We’ll be glad to help you out, show you how to spray it appropriately. 

But right now is absolutely the time to get on that DiPel and get on your biological controls for flower production. I can’t say it enough, man do preventative measures. And the best preventative measure is identification to walk through your gardens. Look, if you think you got a problem, look at it, don’t overanalyze it, but think about it and then say hey man, I do have a problem here. And I need to control it and then use the identify the proper controls, we always suggest mechanically, and that is absolutely the number one thing to do. If you have one plant that’s riddled with the infestation of something, just kill the plant and get it out, man. As soon as you see a leaf or a plant that has bugs like, man, start thinking about it now. I’m not saying go chop your garden down, even though I have more than once, and I just recently did it too. You can easily control outbreaks of many different types of pests with just removing the worst plants in your garden, trimming back all the leaves of the infected areas of the other plants. One it reduces the overall surface area so that when you do some sort of biological control, then you have less surface area to spray. 

Then lastly, is the biological control now whether what method you use to kill the bugs, it’s all you know, you’re all just trying to disturb their biology or disrupt their life cycle. I suggest trying to stick to all organic methods, or methods involving bacterias or other molds to combat the problems. Other things that many people use are H2O2 where botrytis or powdery mildew are concerned. With a direct spray, a spot spray directly on the affected area works excellent. I don’t suggest dipping your plants in it after you harvest it. It just harms the color of the look, the taste, all of it. I mean, H2O2 is caustic, and you can see it when you put it on your skin. It turns white; it does the same thing to your nuggets except it just turns on brown. 

So if you need, if you’re concerned about botrytis, man, it’s actually better to spray the plants down a few days before you harvest it. Let it dry completely in the plant-like absorb it. Far better off doing that. So identification, mechanical and biological controls, that’s how you deal with almost any pests. If you have any questions, you can always call us up at Cultivate Colorado, Cultivate OKC, chat with us online, ask online join our Facebook group, and we’d be glad to help you.

Oh man, Oklahoma is windy. Oh yeah, it’s windy here. It’s windy here in Oklahoma. Now some places aren’t as windy as others, but those places had the humidity. So if you want the lower humidity, then you’re going to have to suffer through a little bit of wind, and I picked kind of a ridge location for our farm specifically because we came through here when was flooding last year and all the places that weren’t flooding, well, those are probably going to be pretty good places. 

Challenges in Growing Cannabis in OKC

In the place we got, the farm we got a real real good farm, but it is a little windy. Not as windy as others, not as windy as being in the South or on the plains out there, West of Oklahoma. But the wind is definitely an issue. You definitely have to stake up your plants take up your pots, make sure you really double pot down your greenhouses like you really have to go through the effort, you’re more of a mariner here I think with all the wind and the rope and the knots and the like bracing then you are farmer almost. The things you’ve done to combat the wind, greenhouses, shade houses, big plants in front of small plants, perimeter fencing using tree lines to break the wind like we’ve taken a number of strategies to make this work and it has to some degree. But man, you know when it’s 114 degrees, and that wind picks up wow you better be on your irrigation man because it will melt some plants. Stray, melt them. 

So I mean it’s definitely a difficulty to overcome, but it’s part of the game, and every place you go has its own set of rules or its own circumstances, and here in Oklahoma there is the wind and the heat is definitely two of the major ones that’s for sure. But Amen, people have been breaking wind, haha. People have been disturbing wind flow using wind blocks of some sort for millennia. 

The other problem we’ve had here in Oklahoma is getting good employees man getting good people that can work. We came here last year and man there’s only a handful of cannabis people here, to begin with. Most of the people here are new to cannabis. Some of them just don’t know if they want to be in it or can do it. And we’ve had a little bit of a problem finding employees. So hey, if you’re in Oklahoma, if you are fit and willing to work outside in a greenhouse, outdoor environment, man, you know drop us a lineman. You can email me at chip@chipbaker.com. And we’ve been taking resumes and applications for a moment. But we’re really looking for some good people that want to learn about the operation, workup and stay with us for a number of years. That’s generally how we do all of our operations. 

In Cultivate Colorado, I got people to work with me for ten years. Cultivate OKC, I mean, Chris has worked with me for more than ten years. Overall, Chris helped me develop all the product lines, they helped me source all the raw materials, they’re using and all the testing and now he’s the manager at Cultivate OKC. So yeah, if you’re interested in employment, if you’re interested in being part of a great team, just drop me an email chip@chipbaker.com. I am specifically looking for hard workers people with backgrounds in mechanics and electrical and construction and irrigation and farming, vegetable farming, yeah give me a call, if you’re interested, man, we’re good people and we want to bring some great people on. 

Well, that’s about it for today’s Real Dirt Sunday edition. It’s a sun starting to come out now we have a nice bog later this morning, so it’s getting hot here on the porch. You’ve heard all the birds and the roosters and other insects in the background, a little piece of Oklahoma. If you liked this episode and others, please download and subscribe, go to iTunes right now, look up The Real Dirt podcast and subscribe. 

Hey, I want you to check out all of my websites. If you’re interested in coco fiber, man, growersoil.com. We make the stuff in Colorado is the highest quality coco fiber potting soil on the planet. I put my heart and soul and wallet behind that statement. We all made inside it treated it like a bakery. Everything’s broken out, manufactured in one day and patched up the end of the chance for cross-contamination and bugs is almost minimal. I mean, it is fresher than a hostess pie when you get it that’s for sure. Cultivate Colorado, Cultivate OKC, Cultivate Garden Supply, cultivatecolorado.com. You can order anything you wish for your hydroponic indoor-outdoor garden local deliveries throughout Colorado and Oklahoma commercial deliveries throughout the known world. 

For instance, man, we just had a deal going on in like Malawi, or someplace like that. And you know, everybody was a little nervous about it. But yeah, we got a good shipment of stuff shipped over there and helped some hemp farmers get started, man. Hey, I also wanted you to check out my new project, The Greener Consulting Group. I’ve developed a consulting group, The Greener Group, it is an accumulation or it is a team of the top experts in the industry and we can solve anyone’s problem if you’re having if you’re going into the cannabis industry. Man, you should really think about talking to us about a two day deep dive. If you’re in the cannabis industry and you’re having some problems with it, it doesn’t matter if it’s banking or IPM or umpiring, or I’ve got an expert that can help you out. And it’s really really, really reasonable. You’ll learn more in a day spent with us than you will in 5-10 years failing at it on your own.

So, a great place to stop growers group, growersconsultinggroup.com. Of course, I have to mention bakersmedical.com, our Oklahoma dispensary and cannabis operations where we operate a clone nursery, a commercial clone nursery, and a dispensary. The dispensary has been closed for a minute but opens soon. Hey, I want to thank everyone for listening. I appreciate all your help and support. We’ll get a couple more of these porch episodes going and maybe get more real dirt on some more stuff. Real Dirt!

Subscribe & Review

Thank you for tuning in to this episode of The Real Dirt. Don’t miss an episode, click here to subscribe on iTunes and let me know what you love about this show.

 

Social Share Buttons and Icons powered by Ultimatelysocial
error

Like The Real Dirt? Please spread the word :)