Between watching a staunch prohibitionist take the helm at the Department of Justice and states developing new cannabis regulations, 2017 has been a tumultuous year for the cannabis industry. Looking ahead, 2018 might be more of the same. Here, experts share their predictions on what is going to happen in their states.
“Oregon is seeing two unique markets forming. One is of large scale, focused on volume and low price. The other is one of smaller craft, organically produced product. It will be important to service the full spectrum of consumer demands. Production efficiency will continue to be important as pricing pressures increase across the board.” – Dan McAllister, Founder & Head Grower, Gnome Grown
“Colorado needs to sharpen its focus to stay relevant with talent, money and business looking outside for more lucrative opportunities. We predict the difference-maker in this mature, saturated market will be efficiencies, new products, branding and technology. There is so much room for improvement, and ultimately, these are things that make any business stand out. The first legal state is a perfect breeding ground for the best and brightest to take their companies to the next level, possibly leaving a wake of failed businesses in their path.” – Erik Williams and Meg Sanders, Founding Partners, Will & Way Consulting
“I predict that with easier access and education around cannabis we will see more active, healthy and responsible adults integrating cannabis and specifically CBD products into their lives. At Bloom Farms we’re very aware of this trend and are now offering several CBD-rich products to meet the demand.” – Michael Ray, Founder & CEO, Bloom Farms
“After we passed Question 1 in November 2016, the [Joint Select] Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation came up with an omnibus bill that tweaked the initiative. The legislature passed it, but the governor vetoed it. I think there is a decent chance the governor may choose not to implement any marijuana regulation bill [through the end of his term] at the end of 2018. We aren’t hoping for that, but he hasn’t worked with the committee. If he does choose to implement, and the legislature passes a bill in February or March, we might have recreational marijuana sales in early 2019. If not, it could have to wait until spring or summer of 2019.” – David Boyer, Maine Political Director, Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
“Nevada’s cannabis industry is showing strong promise heading into 2018, with many factors showing the potential that groups have been investing into for years, but also with a strong balance of support from the consumers across the state. ... Just from the tourism aspect, Nevada is already ahead of both Washington and Colorado, which leads to tremendous potential to service those huge consumer demands as the market works to evolve in all phases.” – Ranson K. Shepherd, Co-Owner, Pegasus Nevada/Virtue
“With adult-use cannabis sales set to commence in Massachusetts in 2018, we are excited to see the Cannabis Control Commission working diligently to implement common-sense regulations. With the program starting on the right foot, we believe the market will be an example to other states on how to transition from a medical- only market to a dual market. Through my work as a founding board member of the Responsible Regulation Alliance, we are working hard to advise on regulations that impact both current and future participants in the market. We also believe that potential patients who have not visited a physician for whatever reason will greatly benefit from adult-use cannabis sales. All in all, a combination of common-sense regulation, more access for customers and patients, and great operators, Massachusetts can be one of the leaders in both medical and adult-use cannabis sales.” – Joseph Lekach, CEO, Massachusetts Patient Foundation
“As Alaska’s supply continues to slowly catch up to demand, I predict by the end of 2018 we will see average gram prices drop from $24/gram to $16/gram. Alaska will revise its testing regulations to require smaller sampling sizes (maximum 2 lbs. per test) and require individual testing for flower and trim. By year end, the Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board will begin to limit the number of licenses it issues to cultivators and retailers. The size of the state along with limited enforcement resources will play the biggest role in this policy change. Alaska will be the first state to allow recreational on-site consumption in 2018. Strains from Alaska will continue to trend in high 20-percent-plus total THC as consumers are wanting the highest THC content possible when paying higher per-gram prices than the Lower 48. State tax revenue will triple in 2018 as prices drop and legal businesses begin to compete for market share. Legal businesses will see record earnings as quality, variety, convenience and testing advantages take their toll on the black market.” – Gary Morgan, Owner of Southeast Moog Droog
“One thing we are looking forward to, especially for producer/processors, is in January we will launch the state’s new traceability system, which is, as producers know, the seed-to-sale traceability system that we’re converting from one vendor to another vendor. We believe the new system will meet the robust needs of Washington’s maturing marketplace and give us improved data that the Liquor and Cannabis Board is seeking. The market continues to grow in Washington state as new stores will be coming online in 2018. The revenue forecasts for the state continue to escalate, as well. Washington is expected to bring in over $1.5 billion in revenue over the next five years.” – Brian Smith, Communications Director, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board
At Strawberry Fields and Heartland Industries, we like to think of our canopy as the body of the beast, and the root zone as the stomach. If you are growing in perpetual production and not rooting directly in the earth, you should seriously consider what type of container you use to house your root zone for maximum health and nutrient uptake.
When selecting pot sizes, a few key factors should apply so that the roots/stomach of your organisms have the greatest chance of success with the heaviest, high-quality yield.
1. Increase pot size at different growth stages.
While we wish that we could just place a clone into its final pot size (10 to 20-plus gallons) and send her out to pasture for some effort-free flowering, cannabis roots tend to shoot to the base of the pot and fill the bottom 2 inches of the available soil space, leaving the rest untouched. One way to combat this is to stage up the clone from a clone container to a 12-ounce pot, to a 1-gallon, from there to a 5-gallon and then on to a finishing size of a 10- to 20-gallon container. However, view this as a trade-off with the labor and costs it takes with added plant touches.
2. Place the plants near the top of the pot.
With each potting upgrade, it is important to transplant the plant at the top of the pot, one inch under the lip of the container so the roots have the greatest chance to fill out the entire area of the container’s soil.
3. Bigger is not always better.
I’ve seen entire crops that would have been better grown in much smaller pots with less medium. All that waste drove up the overall operational costs and ended up being flushed dollars. Granted, many other variables exist, but if the stomach of the beast is not healthy, she won't bear quality bud.
4. Handle your plants with care.
Another mistake I see some folks make is how they will move the plants from one room to another. Employees who don’t care all that much about each plant can grab the edge of the pot and move it in a jerky manner, carry it horizontally and cause the canopy to fall over. Ripping any tissue at the plant’s base due to the canopy of the plant bending over is a crucial mistake, and only sets you back while the plant takes the time to heal. Think of giving a prize fighter a spinal injury four weeks before her match. How well will she fight now? About as well as your plant will flower.
When it comes to containers, put some consideration and planning into the different stages of your operation before executing the plan. Design it and tweak it with what works best for you, don't just keep growing by default with the same problems when the solution could be something as simple as pot size.
Richard Kwesell is the co-founder, along with his brother Mike, of Heartland Industries and Strawberry Fields. Kwesell designed, built and currently operates a 90,000-square-foot greenhouse located in Pueblo County, Colo.
David Holmes is founder of Clade9, a cannabis cultivation and genetics company that operates facilities in California, Arizona and Nevada. Although Holmes was classically trained as a mathematician and did research at NASA/JPL, he has 18 years of cannabis cultivation and breeding experience. Some strains he developed include Snake Eyes, Phoenix OG, Diamond Dust and Bract City.
Jillian Kramer is a New York City-based freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the online or print versions of Glamour, Food & Wine, SELF, The Wall Street Journal, and more.
Kerrie and Kurt Badertscher are co-owners of Otoké Horticulture, LLC and authors of “Cannabis for Capitalists.” They have worked with large-scale cannabis producers for more than six years. Kerrie has been involved with plants her entire lifetime and earned certification as a Professional Horticulturist by the 100-year-old American Society for Horticulture Sciences. Kurt brings his 34 years of corporate experience and operations management skills to bear on the business challenges of cannabis cultivation.
Richard Kwesell is the co-founder, along with his brother Mike, of Heartland Industries and Strawberry Fields. They produce 14,000 pounds of medical and recreational cannabis every year in Colorado. Kwesell designed, built and currently operates a 90,000-square-foot greenhouse located in Pueblo County.
Taylor Webb, LEED-AP, is the co-founder of Grow Group (which includes Manifold Design and Development, BCER Engineering and R&R Engineers) and founder/president of Manifold Design and Development. Webb has 20 years' experience in architecture, the last five of which have been heavily focused on the design of state-of-the-art cannabis cultivation and processing facilities. With built projects in Oregon, Illinois and throughout Colorado, as well as designs underway in several other states, Manifold has designed more than 800,000 square feet of cannabis facilities.
Byron Ballantyne, PE, senior MEP engineer with BCER Engineering, has more than 10 years' experience designing mission-critical facilities. Over the past four years, he has worked on more than 15 cannabis cultivation and processing facilities—ranging from 5,000 square feet to more than 200,000 square feet-which feature water-cooled chillers, energy recovery systems, bulk CO2 storage and automated fertigation systems.
Douglas Dunkin, PE LEED-AP, is the co-founder of Grow Group and President/CEO for R&R Engineers–Surveyors Inc. Dunkin has more than 25 years’ experience managing R&R, focused on providing survey, site due diligence, entitlement support and civil engineering design for land development across the Rocky Mountain region. Building on a 30-year history, R&R has worked on several retrofit and new-built cannabis cultivation and processing facilities in multiple states.
Kenneth Morrow has been writing cannabis-related articles and books for more than 20 years. He owns Trichome Technologies, a cannabis R&D company. He also is an award-winning grower and breeder. He has made contributions to many of today's extraction methodologies and holds multiple patents. He consults on all cannabis-related subjects. Find him on Facebook at: Trichome Technologies or Instagram: TrichomeTechnologies.
Robert Eddy has 25 years’ experience managing state-of-the-art research greenhouses, growth rooms and growth chambers at Purdue University and Dow AgroSciences. He’s specialized in developing plant growth methods that are repeatable, reportable and scalable. His e-pubs on optimizing greenhouse production of corn, rice and Arabidopsis have been downloaded more than 50,000 times around the globe. He is currently a consultant with CEA Consultancy, advising vertical farms, hydroponic growers and cannabis operations.
Jolene Hansen is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area. A former horticulture professional, she is a frequent contributor to the Horticulture Group publications owned by Cannabis Business Times’ parent company, GIE Media.
Rino Ferrarese is the COO of Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions, one of four licensed producers in the state. He has experience as a compliance officer working in FDA-regulated industries under the guidelines of current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) for the production of prescription, Over-The-Counter (OTC) and homeopathic human drug products. He is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt and ISO auditor. Ferrarese also works with Elite Cannabis Enterprises developing and submitting competitive medical marijuana license applications for clients across the United States.Thomas Schultz is president of Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions. He is a Wall Street lawyer and investment banker turned pharmaceutical executive. In 1996, Schultz completed an IPO-oriented merger of the last major producers of witch hazel, the EE Dickinson Company and the TN Dickinson Company. He assumed leadership of Dickinson Brands Inc., the resulting firm, until 2014. By 2003, Schultz had led the buyout of the EE Dickinson interests and managed the acquisition of Humphreys Pharmacal Inc., a company that marketed witch hazel to Central and South American markets.
Dr. William Torello has over 35 years’ experience in the plant and soil sciences and has published more than 100 scientific and industry research papers in the areas of plant nutrition, organic fertilizer development, plant environmental stress, biological control of plant diseases and evaluating new plant varieties and cultivars. He works for Clade9 out of Los Angeles.
Kyra Reed launched Markyr Cannabis, a digital marketing and social media strategy agency, and Women in Cannabis, a support group for women entrepreneurs in cannabis, with four chapters in Northern California-in 2016. Reed’s cannabis clients include growers, manufacturers and software companies. She has spoken at cannabis conferences in California and Washington, D.C. Reed has also launched one of the largest Facebook groups for women in cannabis and Kadin Academy, an online business academy that educates women entrepreneurs in cannabis.
Dean Guske has more than 30 years of experience in taxation, accounting and business consulting. Guske’s firm, Guske & Company Inc., specializes in real estate and cannabis. He strives to develop successful tax strategies for cannabis industry entrepreneurs. Guske holds a master’s degree in taxation from Golden Gate University, is a licensed CPA in Washington and is part of the Washington Society of CPAs, where he serves on the taxation committee.
Cannabis Business Times’ interactive legislative map is another tool to help cultivators quickly navigate state cannabis laws and find news relevant to their markets. View More