Colorado-based Honest Marijuana Company takes an all-natural and sustainable approach to cannabis, a business model that has earned it a loyal customer base and consistently high wholesale prices, according to Founder and Head Grower Anthony Franciosi.
The small indoor cultivation facility specializes in soil-grown, pesticide-free, all-organic cannabis, using plant-based nutrients and sustainable inputs to fuel the growing process in a way that has the least impact on the environment. Average wholesale prices in Colorado have dropped 23 percent in the past year, according to Cannabis Benchmarks, but Honest Marijuana Company’s craft-style nuances fetch it $2,000 per pound, and it often sells out of flower, Franciosi says.
“Our idea is we let the genetics shine and just use the best ingredients we can to try to create the most wholesome product,” he says.
The way the plant eats determines whether it is organic or nonorganic, Franciosi says. Synthetic fertilizers use materials that are already broken down in their ionic form, so the plants can uptake those nutrients in a force-feeding process—but that process doesn’t allow rich life to form in the soil. For Franciosi, the key is to allow the soil’s microbiome to do the heavy lifting for cannabis growers.
“A lot of our products—our nutrients—when they go into the soil, they’re not fully broken down, so the soil life has to break down the nutrients … in a way that the plant understands,” he says. “If you use the biological systems to let the plant do what it does, it in my opinion creates a tastier product.”
And not only are the flavors better, Franciosi adds, but the ethos behind the product is better because you reduce your environmental footprint. Fertilizers often flow into water streams, which can negatively impact the ecosystem. “We use really good stuff so that it doesn’t harm the environment, it doesn’t harm our bodies and it also creates a more unique product overall that has more terpenes, more cannabinoids and tastes better,” he says. “We think it’s just a win-win all the way around to just try to do it the right way like that.”
Honest Marijuana Company uses nitrogen-sealed packaging to achieve food-quality freshness, Franciosi adds. It places a small amount of liquid nitrogen in each can, which displaces the oxygen that can cause degradation of the cannabinoids, the color of the plant, the flavor and the smell. This stops the product in time when it is in its best form, and ensures the customer receives the product in the same way that they would if they were to grow it themselves.
Honest Marijuana Company packages its products in nitrogen-sealed cans to lock in food-quality freshness.
The company has a skilled grower on staff who has done curing for 25 years and has mastered the process, Franciosi says. The cannabis is hung to dry until the moisture recedes into the center of the buds, and when the stems become crispy, the plants are put in a sealed container to cure. “What that does is … brings the moisture back out into the buds in a really even way so when you’re using it for vaping or smoking, … it has that perfect texture … you’re looking for.”
Although new technologies are being developed to aid in the curing process, such as curing chambers, Franciosi prefers doing it the old-fashioned way. “We do it all artisan-style with somebody in-house … —that’s his whole value to the enterprise is how well he knows how to cure cannabis.”
Another factor in Honest Marijuana Company’s high price per pound is its size, Franciosi adds. “We don’t have very much of it, is the truth. Our farm is really small and [is] staying small, staying craft.”
The facility harvests about 100 plants at a time and usually only two strains at a time, he says. The company has amassed a customer base of people in Colorado who have recognized Honest Marijuana Company’s value. “We’ve created a loyal following in the state of people who really like what we do, like the flower, [and] know that when they open those cans, they’re going to get that consistency and the quality that Honest Marijuana brings,” Franciosi says.
The company will continue to focus on its quality and processes and charge what they need to in order to keep growing the best cannabis they can, he adds, drawing comparisons to the wine industry. “Wine’s been a commodity going back centuries now, and you still see that distinction. It’s not just all about cheapness and highest alcohol content—it’s about smaller wineries [that] have distinct soil types, … distinct processes. They do things a certain way that connoisseurs of wine can understand and are willing to pay for—maybe not all the time, but sometimes you get the nicer bottle.”
Franciosi sees the marijuana industry heading in the same direction, with customers looking for more nuanced experiences and the extra care taken to create high-quality products.
“The prices are definitely going to keep coming down,” Franciosi says, “but at the end of the day, the neatness of the product and the love you’re putting into it—people are going to be able to understand.”
Honest Marijuana Company’s Honest Blunt, a hemp-wrapped, cigarillo-style blunt that is all-natural, organic and filled with the company’s in-house material. The blunts are rolled with a refurbished cigar machine and packaged in a sealed tin.
Read our 2016 interview with Anthony Franciosi here.
Photos courtesy of Honest Marijuana Company