Hand-trimmed makes all the difference in Michigan’s billion-dollar cannabis market…
The flower – the size of my thumb – was dense and light.
A bag filled with $10,000 worth of cannabis bud, just like the one I held in my hand, sat on the table in front of me.
This very flower has a reputation for being some of the highest quality in the country.
And after what I’d seen at this Michigan indoor grow operation focusing on small-batch, hydroponically grown cannabis, that didn’t really surprise me much.
Cotton, the head grower here, had been walking with me for hours, taking me through every single stage of the growing and curing process – each with its own dedicated room.
And when I noted that each tiny grow room contained half-a-million dollars’ worth of cannabis, her eyes lit up with responsibility and a flash of pride.
Not once during this tour of what it takes to grow top-notch cannabis did she mention scaling operations. Nor did she talk about efficiency, maximizing space, or expensive processing equipment.
But she did talk about what it takes to grow some of the priciest, highest-quality cannabis in the most lucrative and competitive market in the United States…
The Perfect Grow Conditions
The grow operation Cotton showed me sits just a few miles outside of Detroit. And while she didn’t talk about efficiency, she did talk a lot about the time she spent in each room, making sure the conditions were perfect.
Lighting, humidity, water temperature, nutrients, ventilation, spacing, and supplementing CO2…
We talked about all of it and how those variables get customized to each stage of the growing process.
Her focus was on making sure each cannabis plant had plenty of space to grow and develop the same large, dense cannabis buds as the ones in my hand.
It was like she had a personal relationship with every single plant.
And when harvest time rolls around here, you’ll find no machines to do the work.
Every bud-laden branch gets hand-cut and hung one-by-one in a giant humidor to cure in a process that takes about two weeks.
Then, once perfectly cured, each bud gets trimmed by hand to reveal a dense, colorful, and aromatic bud.
The Know-how to Make the Quality Choice
Like a fine meal, you feast first with your eyes. The entire experience starts with the presentation. That same idea translates to cannabis, where connoisseurs will pay a lot more for flower that pleases the eye.
In fact, the cannabis that Cotton grows commands a 50%-plus premium to the typical cannabis on the dispensary shelf. Hence, the “high touch” operation.
Were they to let a machine do the trimming, up to half of that high-value flower would end up as waste.
As in any industry, cannabis manufacturers have a choice: sell low-quality products at razor-thin margins and make money on volume or sell less of a high-quality product and make money by charging a big, fat premium.
Most of the market does the former because they have no choice. They lack the skills and knowledge to go premium.
But the company Cotton works for hired her because she knows exactly how to do the latter.
And it’s working.
A Quality Template for Growth
By avoiding shortcuts – by resisting the temptation to let machines harvest, cure, or trim cannabis buds – Cotton and the other growers working alongside her in this upstart cannabis company have managed to command 12% of Michigan’s billion-dollar cannabis market with just 1% of the dispensaries in the state.
In fact, the demand for their flower is so high that new batches often sell out within hours of hitting store shelves. Lines for their dispensaries routinely extend for several blocks in anticipation of highly coveted strains.
Clearly, they could sell more.
And they will.
At current production levels, this company meets 12% of Michigan’s cannabis demand by growing 1,000 pounds of premium flower a month. Once the expansion currently underway gets completed, that production will increase 3-fold to 3,000 pounds per month.
That choice – quality versus quantity – does not mean this quality cannabis producer has to sacrifice growth. It just means it must maintain the discipline to stick to its process as it expands.
And in the next few weeks, I’ll tell you exactly why Michigan is the perfect place for this company to extend its quality template across the U.S.
Executive Director, National Institute for Cannabis Investors
4 responses to “Quality Over Quantity Is the Key to Premium Cannabis Profits”
November 06 2020