Alright, let’s talk about cannabis – not just as a plant but as an entire experience. You might think of it as just another agricultural commodity, but trust me, it’s way more than that. From growing it in tight spaces to the intricate dance of flavors, this journey is as wild as it gets. So, grab a seat, pack a bowl (if that’s your thing), and let’s roll into the world of commodified cannabis.

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The Cultivation Game:

Remember the good old days of jury-rigging a fan with duct tape and ABS pipe? Untested, unscientific solutions that made us all feel like makeshift MEPs… Well, times have changed. Engineers, innovators, and cultivators with a vision have taken what they have learned and applied it to solve for the pain. We’re talking airflow solutions like AirGlide, AirGlide, and Updraft – engineered solutions that take the game to a whole new level. It’s not just about slapping together a makeshift system; it’s about optimizing your airflow, tier spacing, and plant growth for that extra kick. Because let’s face it, it’s no longer just a fan with a tube; it’s about putting a system together that can be scaled, maintained, and utilized to reduce risk and increase performance.

Racking – The Unsung Hero: 

Now, let’s shine a light on racking. Yeah, it might not sound glamorous, but it’s a game-changer. Fully mobile multitier racking that considers your supply/return locations, Dehus, ducting drops, pillars, and weird rooms is all about room utilization and operational efficiency that lowers the cost to produce every pound you grow. It’s not just about stacking stuff; it’s about optimizing space, ensuring proper airflow, and creating the perfect environment for your green babies to thrive. Racking isn’t just a part of the design; it’s the backbone that holds the whole operation together.

Grow Glide Three Tier

Infrastructure Matters: 

We move on to the nitty-gritty of infrastructure – room dimensions, working aisle space, top-of-rack height, and all that jazz. It’s not just about where you grow; it’s about how you grow. And when investors are considering your facility for investment they want a solution that will last and people that will pick up the phone and support their products. The details matter –  light mounts and their distance from the canopy, trellis configurations, quality components, decking, and even double-wide setups for trellis and harvesting can be critical components that influence your success. Because let’s be real, it’s not just about the weed; it’s about the whole facility working like a symphony.

Cultivar Choices and Morphology Control: 

Now, let’s get into the weeds – pun intended. Cultivar choices aren’t just random; they’re regional, city-specific, and even block by block depending on where you are in the world. It’s like crafting a fine wine; each strain contributes to the brand and its success. Morphology control becomes an art form – defoliation strategies, fertigation approaches, airflow techniques, VPD control all contribute to your facility design and ultimately to your brand and customer experience.

Curing Process:

And let’s not forget the curing process – the secret sauce that determines the final flavor, burn, and high. While still shrouded in mystery (what setpoints, for how many days, whole-plant or piecemeal) the effectiveness of your airflow and ability to homogenize your curing environment will be limited by your racking choice. But what if it wasn’t the limiting factor but instead the thing that makes your brand resonate with consumers?


Consumer Experience and Branding:

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. It’s not just about the weed anymore; it’s about the entire consumer experience. People vote with their dollars, and they want an experience, not just a product. Thin about gummy bears for a second – would you pay more for better flavors? Better texture? Consistency? It’s the same with cannabis; it’s about every aspect of the cultivation, the cure, the trim, the flavor, and the high. It’s not just a bag of weed; it’s an experience.

The Economics of Cannabis:

The reality check hits hard – wholesale prices are dropping, and the hustle is real. It’s not enough to produce cannabis cheaply OR to produce fire; you’ve got to do both. It is clear that in today’s market, it’s all about optimizing every inch of your cultivation space, getting every gram per square foot, every cannabinoid, terpene, and secondary metabolite from every cultivar…every time. Let’s say you go to grab some Gelato at the local dispensary…and they have two options. Brand A is 25%THC and 2.5% terps and Brand B is 30%THC and 3.5% terps…would you pay the same price? Probably not…but what if that 25% was on some Red Congolese, a 14-week Highland Thai, or an unnamed cultivar from the mountains of Vietnam that was cultivated by Monks in organic soil? To a true connoisseur that might be a different story. You are not buying a commodity you are buying the opportunity to tell a story or pocket a memory. We all have that one strain, we smoked that one time…that we will always be chasing. And we are willing to pay for it.
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To sum it up; Cannabis is an Experience, Not a Commodity:

As we wrap it up, the message is loud and clear – cannabis isn’t just a commodity; it’s an experience. From racking to engineering solutions, and cultivar choices to curing processes, every step in the journey contributes to what consumers feel when they light up. It’s not just about the money; it’s about the entire journey from cultivation to consumption. Cannabis isn’t wheat and right it’s not making us the same bread as days of old – but one of the reasons is that the easy way to mitigate risk is to grow the same poly hybrids as the next facility because it yields and tests and projects on the proform. You are not selling much of a unique experience and customers will buy on THC and price commodification. So if you do grow Gelato…optimize your racking, airflow, lighting, and environment to produce the BEST gelato, otherwise consumers won’t care. Or grow something you love because you know we will love it too. It might seem risky to grow a cultivar that takes more than 8 weeks, tests below 35%THC, and yields less than 75 grams a square foot…but in a crowded market in order to get the sell-through numbers you have to exceed the expectations of the customer. And I know when I drop $$$ on cannabis to celebrate my birthday I don’t want Cake or Cookies…I want Panama Red, Royal Truth, or a lovingly curated cultivar like a styrofoam cup from a lifelong breeder like Steve Castillo in Socal.

Another way to experience cannabis is through events that celebrate the art and consumption of cannabis. One example is the Emerald Cup,  a long-running event that has experienced consumers blind judge a variety of products and give awards based on consumer experience. Further, events like the Hall of Flowers or even MJ Unpacked illustrate the power of branding, packaging, market differentiation, experimentation, diversity of flowers, and value-added products. These showcases are not a Wall Street mosh pit with wholesale buyers bidding on THC% (how I imagine the commodities market) they are opportunities to tell a story, craft a brand, and empower informed decision-making on how people spend their hard-earned dollars.

Long story short if you want to grow cannabis as a commodity you are going to need to grow a lot of it to compete with BIG OIL. Or you can play the long game, grow something special, and invest in your customer experience.
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