In most states where recreational cannabis is legal, it’s also legal for adults to grow their own. Only Washington, of all the green states, prohibits home cultivation, and that’s resulted in a weird sort of disconnect between cannabis consumers and those who grow the plant.
Washington dispensary weed
The average recreational cannabis aficionado in Washington goes into the pot store and buys a little weed, without ever giving much thought to the question of from whence that herb came.
Turns out there are lots of dedicated cannabis farmers in the Evergreen State, and they’d love for you to be more aware of their existence – and, who knows, maybe even develop a little brand loyalty.
CannaSol’s sun-grown cannabis
There are already some nascent stars in Washington’s cultivation scene. One of those is Jeremy Moberg, the visionary behind CannaSol Farms. Moberg was a wildlife biologist. If you wanted to point to a single person most responsible for the existence of Washington’s sun-grown marijuana industry, Moberg would be at the end of your finger.
Back in 2013, Jeremy made a pitch to the Washington State Liquor Control Board. He included PowerPoint photos of big greenhouses in the Netherlands.
We just wanted the Liquor Control Board to understand that sun-growers were just as capable of cultivating under secure conditions as indoor growers, and that our methods had been proven over time to create quality product that was on par with anything you could produce under controlled environment agriculture conditions. – Moberg.
You see, conventional wisdom has always held that growing good outdoor weed is well nigh impossible in Washington, due to the state’s northerly latitude. During the middle of summer, everything’s just fine, with the sun high overhead, supplying the critical light spectrum needed for cannabinoid development.
But the problem arises in the autumn, when – at Washington’s latitude – the sun stays so low in the sky that plants are starved for the light they need to mature.
By the time the day-length dips below 12 hours, inducing flowering in cannabis, it’s generally too late in Washington to bring outdoor cannabis to a satisfying finish.
Moberg uses light deprivation (using thick plastic tarps) earlier in the season to trick the plants into thinking it’s autumn when it’s still summer. By giving them shorter days, this artificial nighttime triggers flowering while the sun’s still high enough in the sky to produce proper lighting.
Indoor growers have been rather successful in creating the perception that their product is superior to outdoor weed. There’s no doubt that indoor flowers maintain a beautifully pristine appearance, but when it comes to actual potency, Moberg said sun grown holds its own.
Jeremy, who has formed the Washington Sungrowers Industry Association, employs about 30 people on his 21,000-square-foot grow in rural Okanogan County. He grows about 180 strains of cannabis. It’s the biggest sun-grown marijuana operation in Washington, and one of the 10 biggest producers in the state overall.
Monkey (Grass) business
Monkey Grass Farms, the first Tier II licensed producer and processor in north central Washington, is a family owned, indoor grow located in Wenatchee. After the passage of cannabis legalization measure I-502, founder Eric Cooper sold his medical cannabis dispensary and started the company.
The whole family is now involved in the care of the plants, from cultivation to packaging and delivery. They’ve been up and running since April 2014. Nine family members are among the total of 23 full-time employees.
Rachel and I were wary about the name at first. We wanted people to take us seriously. But one big advantage of the Monkey Grass Farms name is that people remember it once they hear it.
So we kept the name Monkey Grass Farms and branded it to the best of our ability, so that we weren’t just a funny name but also a recognizable name. – Katey Cooper
Monkey Grass does both cultivation and processing.
The processing required a lot more hands than we thought we were going to need. There are people who have to package, label, transport, everything. We do all of our own labeling here, because every strain is different in testing.
The market in recreational is very driven by THC right now. Not as many people are interested in the non-euphoric high-CBD strains.
The Pineapple strains that we grow, as far as THC levels, those have been the highest for us. We get a lot of people asking for our Rainbow strain as well, which is kind of fun since those two strains (Pineapple and Rainbow) go with our branding. – Rachel Cooper
Zoots suits me
Some Washington edibles makers, such as Zoots, headquartered in south Seattle, do their own cultivation. Zoots products are created from cannabis grown right in the warehouse, as I learned when I visited the operation.
When I first arrived at the building which houses Zoots’ operations, I wasn’t even sure I was at the right place. The nondescript warehouse had no signs revealing its occupants. It looked like just about every other building in the neighborhood – which is probably the idea.
But there are some exciting things going on inside those walls. Premium cannabis infusions are produced in the candy factory. ZootRocks, ZootDrops, energy drinks, lozenges, and brownies all contain THC from cannabis grown right in the warehouse by Db3 Corporation, the company behind Zoots.
When I visited with co-founder Patrick Devlin and his nephew Kelly, I got the thrill of viewing the most cannabis plants I’ve ever seen growing in one place – 1,500 of them, to be exact.
This grow room, one of two main ones, uses the “Sea of Green” method: lots and lots of smaller plants. The room has 60 1,000-watt metal halide lamps, with 25 plants per lamp, for a total of 1,500 happy-looking young ladies.
After I’d spent a few blissful minutes ogling the green beauties, the thrills weren’t over. I got to see the second grow room, this one using the deep water culture method, in which one BIG plant per light is grown.
Getting To Know You: It’s not unusual for some dispensaries to host a “Meet the Grower” event. These are very worthwhile in helping to re-establish a connection to the source from which your cannabis springs.
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