Editor’s note: CBT’s June cover story, “California Cannabis Market at a Crossroads,” prominently features MD Numbers Founders Allen Hackett and Marie Montmarquet, who are on the cover of the print issue. Read it here.
For MD Numbers, it’s been six years of growing—and six years of rolling with many industry changes.
Greenhouse grower Allen Hackett, a founder of the California vertically integrated business, points out that it opened its Salinas grow in June 2016, in the state’s Proposition 215 medical days.
“We never had to stop cultivating while we were getting our license in the county because we had been here paying and abiding by their medical laws [and] rules that they had in place,” Hackett says.
As expected, MD Numbers has dialed in its practices over those years.
“Each plant needs its own amount of space and a certain amount of time in the sun to be able to [meet] whatever goal that you have in your cultivation facility—because people have different goals—whether you're growing for weight or you’re growing for look, smell, terpenes, things like that,” Hackett says.
Strategic planning should go into planting a clone or seed, which is largely dictated by consumer expectations, says Marie Montmarquet, who founded the business with Hackett.
“That's the most important part of building that business, I would say, is really understanding who your customers are, understanding what they're looking for, what profile in cannabis that they are looking for, what genetics they're looking for, making sure you can meet those parameters, your schedule, your grow cycle, making sure that you can forecast, financially, to meet all of your licensing fees and your tax fees,” Montmarquet says.
In addition to cultivating 150,000 square feet of mixed-light greenhouse space in Salinas, MD Numbers runs delivery under the name Marie’s Deliverables (powered by Mountain Remedy) and distribution in the Bay Area. While MD Numbers is focused on catering to consumer preferences, it’s also committed to serving the industry in other ways, such as national operational management consulting, retail/delivery startup consulting and brand creation through the division Legacy Coterie.
Cultivation and Genetics
MD Numbers’ genetic selections include a lot of product from Seed Junky Genetics, Hackett says, including Kush Mints crosses like Gelato x Kush Mints, Biscotti x Kush Mints and London Pound Cake x Kush Mints. Hackett commends these cultivars’ mold resistance, terpene profiles, and “dense and good, hearty” bud structures.
The company will have an 8,000-square-foot facility coming online in Greenfield, Calif., later in 2022, which will be about half indoor cultivation and the rest R&D nursery and tissue culture (TC) lab space.
The TC lab, part of a new division called Greenfield Ops, will be able to house plant material that will serve as mother plants, freeing up greenhouse space and allowing the TC plants—and in turn, their clones—to “grow bigger, faster, stronger,” Hackett says.
“The whole thing about [growing] cannabis in [a] greenhouse is finding ways to eliminate the stresses of the plant,” he says. “So, if it's a cold night or if it's a rainy day or the sun’s not out, and you don't have lights, you try to find ways to keep that plant optimal and comfortable …, and having a good start, is really key,” Hackett says. “So, I think the start for us is key. We process anywhere between 30,000 to 40,000 plants every month in our facility.” He adds that MD Numbers aims to exceed higher-than-average production standards with 75%-85% of those plants.
See Allen Hackett LIVE!
Allen Hackett will speak live at Cannabis Conference 2022, August 23-25 in Las Vegas. He'll speak on the all-access session, "Facility Design - Greenhouse," and will be joined by Flower One Executive VP/Board Chairwoman Salpy Boyajian.
Visit CannabisConference.com for more information and to register.
When paired with hands-on techniques like hand-trimming and advancing pheno-hunting processes, Montmarquet says it’s not MD Numbers’ MO to participate in a race to the bottom on pricing.
“We do try to strive to stay at that higher price point because it’s really the only way for us to make sure that we can get rid of the amount of flower that we have, is just making sure that we can grow what I kind of call ‘passers,’ which [is flower grown in] greenhouse[s] with lights that looks like indoor[-grown flower] and has that bag appeal, and a really beautiful trim and trichome expression,” Montmarquet says.
“Then, those can go into nearly any brand and be sought after, versus if we were just growing mediocre green flower, then it would be a lot harder for our distributors to sell it for their brands,” she adds.
The Power of Brands
MD Numbers is heavily focused on growing flower that will stay in that form when it reaches the end consumer, Montmarquet says, versus selling plant material to downstream businesses to make into cannabis extracts and manufactured products.
“Flower is 90% of the use, and all of our flower stays in flower form,” she says. “Then, our trim is used to process extracts, topicals, tinctures—whatever the demand calls for.”
MD Numbers sells most of its flower and trim to Los Angeles distributors, so its product is largely available in Southern California, Montmarquet says. The trim is also sold to LA distributors, and area manufacturers use it to create other end products.
Currently, MD Numbers doesn’t have branded products. However, the business has sold its own branded products in the past through the Marie’s Deliverables menu. In the third or fourth quarter of 2022, Montmarquet says the company aims to launch brands of its own, which will consist of different flower types, such as smalls and crown nugs, and will be labeled “Powered by MD Farms.”
With MD Numbers’ brands coming online, Montmarquet says a goal is for the company to extend flower availability across California.
So, through which brands can one find MD Numbers flower? Gift of Doja; Paradiso; and High Purpose, a Harborside-partnered operation in San Francisco, are a few that Montmarquet names. MD Numbers also plans to have a full line of house products for Obsidian Dispensary in San Francisco near the end of 2022.
Aiding Industry Operators
Other MD Numbers-partnered brands include those with which MD Numbers subsidiary Legacy Coterie works with on consulting and brand creation.
Legacy Coterie has worked with mentoring social equity operators. One of these is Hard Hitta, boxer Karim Mayfield’s brand with STIIIZY. Another is 40 Tons, a social impact brand that rallied around releasing Corvain Cooper, who was sentenced to life in prison for nonviolent cannabis charges and later pardoned by former President Donald Trump; 40 Tons is now working to release other cannabis inmates from prison. Legacy Coterie has also mentored Alex Asefaw, who is building out Obsidian Dispensary.
Now, Montmarquet and Legacy Coterie Partner Jessica Strange are mentoring and advising prospective applicants and licensees in other markets such as New York and Virginia. (Hackett is originally from Virginia, while Montmarquet is originally from next-door Tennessee.)
In various state markets, some of the things Montmarquet focuses on as a consultant are conveying to clients the upsides and downsides of specific license types and business types, as well as how—and if—companies can adhere to certain laws and regulations while maintaining profitability.
For MD Numbers more broadly, Hackett says plans include to “expand in other locations, consult in other locations, try to grab a piece of the market share in different areas, particularly in areas that Marie and myself have footprints in—Tennessee, Virginia to start—New York, as well ….
“But the market of cannabis was built in California. So, we have a unique insight into how this runs and how it flows and brands and strains and how the market's going to take to different things, so I think that's [a] unique insight [and] we would want to definitely maximize [on] the opportunity.”