Marijuana Business Magazine January 2019

January 2019 | 65 D esigning and building a mari- juana cultivation facility is no small undertaking. Like any other major project, it’s rife with pitfalls. But fear not: You can plan and take steps beforehand that will help ensure your cultivation operation won’t sink before it swims—and doesn’t bankrupt you. Below are tips from experts to help you succeed and rest assured you’re on the right path. DO’S Do find the right site and location. Evaluate the climate and environment where you plan to build, said Luke Wilson, director of field operations at Canna Advisors, a Boulder, Colorado-based, full-service cannabis consultancy. Wilson prefers Col- orado because it has a consistent, predictable climate. It’s not too humid, and the Cen- tennial State doesn’t have big swings in temperature, humidity and moisture. “Every decision you make is about mitigating the opportunity for pests, disease, bacteria and microbial growth,” Wilson said. If you pick a place to build that’s in a climate with wide swings in humidity or temperature, then you’ll spend tens of thousands of dollars on equipment such as HVAC systems to keep those variables balanced and your plants in a comfort- able environment. Do make sure you have enough money. “The first thing you need to think about is your budget,” said Anya Gordon, CEO of GroTec Builders in Portland, Oregon. Her company spe- cializes in industrial agriculture, not just cannabis. Gordon has seen several en- trepreneurs start out thinking they had enough money, “which almost no one in this industry ever does,” she said. Hidden costs can include not having adequate infrastructure to power your facility. It’s common for a project to take much longer than the original timeline and schedule. Also, prospective builders should be aware that local municipalities will likely have zoning requirements that will need special attention. Do consider available power and water. Growers in rural areas might not have adequate electricity from the power grid alone. Building the necessary infrastructure to power your grow can take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars. David Kessler, senior vice president of horticultural solutions for Denver- based TriGrow Systems, said he’s seen a single transformer upgrade cost more than $100,000. Tips and pitfalls for designing and building a marijuana cultivation facility Building out a cultivation facility can land entrepreneurs in a quagmire of lost time and money if they don’t think ahead and follow some time- tested advice. When looking to construct a grow operation: • Pay close attention to location, factoring in climate variabilities and the cost of equipment to account for the environment. • Make sure you have enough capital to ride out any unforeseen circum- stances—and there will likely be some unforeseen circumstances. • Develop a realistic timeline, which should account for delays such as working with local regulators. • Don’t try to act as your own general contractor. You want to find some- one with relevant experience. • Shop around for several bids. If someone offers to do it on the cheap, be wary that person might try to cut corners. Luke Wilson Courtesy Photo