Marijuana Business Magazine August 2019

August 2019 | 47 WHAT IS CRAFT? To survive as a craft business, it helps to understand how cannabis industry observers define “craft.” Generally, it comes down to a set of factors: Locally connected: The business is majority owned by locals. It also sources its inputs locally, produces locally and employs locals. Small batch: The business produces a smaller amount of product compared to larger competitors. But exact numbers haven’t been defined. Values driven: The business emphasizes values—such as compensating employees well and contributing to the community— and puts them ahead of the bottom line. Sustainable cultivation: The business uses only organic or natural products and environmentally friendly methods. Artisanal methods: Growers, processors and other employees are able to spend time with individual plants and products to give them personal care that plants and products in bigger operations don’t get. “A craft product is something that is sourced with intention, that has a connection to the community that it’s produced in, whether that’s through the sourcing of ingredients or paying homage, respect and tribute to the culture where the facility is in,” said Bryce Berryessa, CEO of La Vida Verde, a craft infused product company in Santa Cruz, California. La Vida Verde has a 5,000-square-foot grow, and it sources additional cannabis and organic ingredients from other craft businesses in Santa Cruz County, Berryessa said. “It’s done in smaller batches and has more of an artisanal feel to it.” While there are important details that make a business craft, for Smith it boils down to connection to place and being values driven. “Connection to place is very important,” Smith said, noting that to meet the CCA’s craft criteria, a business must be majority locally owned. “And if you are values driven, it’s pretty certain that you are also making the best cannabis products you can possibly make.” Smith said those values include ethical business and employment practices, environmental sustainability, positive community engagement and standing up to end the war on drugs. The size of the grow and whether it’s cultivated outside, in a greenhouse or indoors are also factors that define craft. Most craft observers seem to agree that grows that are less than 5,000 or 10,000 square feet can be considered craft. But being small does not inherently make cannabis craft. Craft is about the lead grower being able to devote time to the well-being of each individual plant, which is far easier in small grows and gets more difficult as the size of the canopy increases. “Small size allows our head grower to spend more time with the individual plants and really pay attention to detail,” said Brandon Pollock, the CEO of Theory Wellness in Massachusetts, which has a 5,000-square-foot canopy and casts itself as a craft cannabis purveyor. In other words, if you can’t examine every individual plant in your grow in a reasonable amount of time, you’re not growing craft cannabis. There’s more of a divide on the indoor-outdoor issue. “I’ve heard indoor cultivators use the word craft, but it’s much harder to make that argument,” said Michael Steinmetz, CEO of Flow Kana, a California cannabis company that works with about 200 craft growers in Northern California and sells their crop to retailers. “When it comes to indoor, you can do it at small scale, with love and intention, and call it craft. And a lot of people do it. But for me, indoor is a cultural phenomenon that is left over from the prohibition. “All of our farmers are totally outdoors, using natural elements, using the soil from the ground, regenerative practices,” he explained. “That’s very important.” Another often-cited element of craft is selecting genetics that may not be as Craft /kraft/ (noun) While brewers and producers of craft spirits have established definitions of what constitutes craft in their industries, artisanal cannabis cultivators in North America are still working on a definition for craft cannabis. There are a handful of regional associations for craft growers, but these groups do not share a single common definition of craft. By speaking with craft producers across the United States and members of various regional craft associations, Marijuana Business Magazine identified the following criteria that—for the purpose of this series of stories—serves as a definition. Craft cannabis producers: • Select unique genetics that highlight potency, flavor and trichome appeal. • Are majority locally owned. • Grow less than 10,000 square feet of canopy. • Connect with the community, such as by sourcing local inputs. • May choose to grow plants with longer flowering times and lower yields if they provide higher quality. • Cultivate cannabis in a way that demonstrates a commitment to artistry rather than a bottom-line approach. • Incorporate human elements to their grow rather than large-scale automation. The most obvious example of this is offering carefully manicured products trimmed by hand. • Use sustainable or organic growing techniques. – Kate Lavin