Many business savvy and well-funded individuals are looking to get a piece of the legal cannabis pie as legalization begins to dawn on the country. But simply having a business model, a licensed grow-op and some investment is not enough to ensure success in an industry that is surely about to explode.
Can corporate cannabis ever match craft quality? And if so, how? Before we go into this more, we must first outline our definitions of craft vs corporate cannabis. In a previous post we talked about the results of a poll in which we asked the cannabis community of patients and connoisseurs what they believed the defining qualities of craft cannabis were. The results were strong and showed a distinct definition that included small batches, organic growing methods, and a grower with an authentic passion for the plant and process.
If this is the definition of craft, then it would make sense that the definition of corporate is the opposite. That means a corporate growing operation would be considered large scale in a facility designed for mass production, and also might use non-organic growing methods for the sake of cutting costs or because they simply don’t know the best practices for growing organically.
So what can the LP’s do to improve the quality of their cannabis to meet the standards of craft upheld by the community?
First, you must stay humble. Understand that you are a fish out of water. You might have been a guru in the industry you hail from but unless you’ve been living a double life as a pot grower for the last ten years, you probably have a very basic understanding of cannabis. You may see all the potential cannabis has to help people and serve the market, but as you invest your time and money into this industry you must recognize that you yourself are green.
Take a step back before diving in. There are people who have been immersed in cannabis for decades. They have earned their proverbial green thumb. They learned everything about the needs of the plant through the best kind of teaching, experience. It takes more than just a horticulture degree to grow cannabis. If you want to produce the best cannabis on the market for patients and consumer alike, go with the pros, not just the academics.
Learn From The Best
The best growers are the ones who do it for themselves and have been for decades. They have passed on and shared their techniques with each other, helping each other develop and perfect their craft. This growing community is rich with expertise. Their on-going consultation will be nothing but invaluable to your operation as they come from the core of cannabis. They will be able to guide you through the complex nature of the plant and the subtle language of the community.
Reach Out To The Patient Community
Your customer is more than just a number, they are patients and members of the growing cannabis community. Patients may become connoisseurs after discovering medicinal cannabis and begin to learn more about their medicine. Connect with these people, show them that you are also human, not just a big corporation ready to get a piece of the pie. They will tell you stories that will move you, and share the struggles they face because of the state of the cannabis industry. You can work with them to destigmatize medicinal cannabis by representing their best interests. Remember the patient comes first, always.
Stay Authentic And Passionate
You have to be as passionate as the veterans of the industry in order to meet the standards of craft quality. Learn to love the plant and understand the impact it has on people. If you can connect to a few cannabis patients on a personal level you will truly see how medicinal cannabis has been able to change lives and that the cannabis industry goes beyond just potential recreational policies. This is a delicate and complicated plant that almost has a personality of its own. Treat it with care and it will reward you. Money shouldn’t be the only motivation, it will come on its own, cannabis was called the cash crop for a reason. The true passion must lie in the product and the commitment to quality and standards. When the quality is top tier, the money will come naturally.
While cannabis will have an incredibly high demand, and suppliers must work to be able to meet the needs of the patients and the demand of the recreational market, understand that cannabis is too finicky to produce en-masse. Some cannabis patients have suggested using multiple growers who are responsible for tending to less than ten plants each. This way you can ensure each plant is getting the individual attention it needs while still producing enough to meet the needs of the patients and the demands of the market.
Thinking smaller does not just apply to the grow size, but also the amount of packaging used. Many patients report that they feel like LP’s are using far too much plastic and packaging materials. Craft quality cannabis considers the overall impact, not just the profit margins or harvest yield.
It may seem counter-intuitive to be told to think small, but many leading brands have taken a “think small” approach and have seen success. Patagonia is a prime example of this. When they saw the environmental impact of their business they actively worked to decrease it by reducing or eliminating factors that attributed to wastefulness and unsustainability. Reducing the amount of packaging and waste can scale down cost as well as your carbon footprint.
Get Your Hands Dirty
Be willing to do the work. Getting to know the industry takes effort. How can you create and grow craft quality cannabis if you don’t understand the plant as deeply as the craft growers? You can hire experts and advisors, but you yourself need to get down and dirty. So roll up your sleeves and participate in your own education. Work with experienced growers and patients alike who can show you the roots and dynamics of the actual cannabis market. Connect with your peers and consumers. Take heed of their guidance and you will be on your way to growing outstanding cannabis.
When you start a cannabis business you have to be in it for the right reasons. There might be a boom in the industry, but not everyone will survive. Consumers are almost more informed than the producers and they cannot be tricked into accepting less than the best. They will go elsewhere or do it themselves if they have to. If you want to capture sustainable demand, you have to understand the community, become a part of it, and learn from it. Cannabis enthusiasts can spot a fake, so don’t be one. Dive into the plant, the culture, and community. Once you realize how complicated cannabis is, you will begin to see the gaps in the industry that you can work on filling and maybe even achieve craft quality.