Jared Helfant opened a dental practice in southern Florida about 10 years ago, and quickly noticed the ascendant opioid addiction epidemic. It wasn’t just Florida, either; opioid prescriptions were ravaging broad swaths of the U.S. After arming himself with research, Helfant and his family turned toward the cannabis industry for a way forward.
He’d seen the need for pain management, an urgency for anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties—to say nothing of the anti-anxiety benefits of certain medication for patients who aren’t super confident about their semi-annual trip to the dentist. The more he learned about cannabis, the more he saw a solution.
When an opportunity came up to buy a farm in Monterey County, Calif., Helfant and his family jumped at it and set to work growing a small business in Salinas into a vertically integrated cannabis company. They called it Sparx Cannabis.
“Because I’m a dentist, my whole career I’ve been very patient-oriented,” Helfant says. “I kind of used that same method in our cannabis company, making sure that everything we’re doing is the highest-quality grow and very safe for the consumer, very consumer-friendly.”
California regulations, of course, are not as restrictive as Florida’s medical cannabis program. The state’s booming cannabis industry affords space to research the plant and learn about what works (and what doesn’t) in a far-reaching cultivation operation.
Sparx Cannabis runs two grow facilities—Harkins (20,000 square feet) and Sparx Farms (40,000 square feet)—in Monterey County. The company is planning a 40,000-sq.-ft. expansion at the Harkins facility, which is currently in its fifth harvest. The Sparx facility, which opened about three months ago, is outfitted exclusively with solar power and reverse-osmosis water technology.
“Like with any business, there’s always a learning curve,” Helfant says. “Luckily, we brought in the right people who have done this before and know more than us—to really help us and bring us in the right direction. You always bring people in who are smarter than you.”
To boost the reach of the Sparx team, the company acquired distribution licenses that will allow for packaging, storage and wholesale opportunities of cannabis products.
“The distribution license in California is the glue that enables you to do many different things when it comes to selling cannabis. We acquired a distribution license in Del Rey Oaks, Calif., and that enables us to sell directly to dispensaries using our own sales force. We’re currently building out a front-end online system that will enable dispensaries to order online, schedule delivery online, actually see our inventory live online.”
With distribution licenses in hand, Sparx’s team is hoping to tap into a broader vision of what cannabis can mean to the California market.
“One of our biggest goals as a brand is to be very community-focused,” Helfant says. “Our motto is ‘Everyone, Everyday.’ We try to make sure that we remove the stigma and stereotypes associated with cannabis, by showing how it fits into that motto. We want to show that cannabis could be used with your brother, your boss, your coworkers; we want to show how it fits into everyday life.”
The company is about to launch its 100 Acts of Kindness social media campaign, in which team members will showcase altruistic acts in the Monterey County community. “We want to inspire other people to be kind and give back to the community and give back to others,” Helfant says, mentioning that the team would be volunteering at the Food Bank for Monterey County in Salinas on May 17.