The last time I wrote for Marijuana Venture’s Living the Dream section in spring of 2016, Washington Bud Company had just received its license to legally grow and sell cannabis under the state’s Initiative 502. We set up our former “collective garden” grow system to not skip a beat in the regulated world, taking fully mature vegetative plants and throwing them under 11 ½ hours of light to produce our first adult-use crop in June 2016. It was packaged and out the door by end of July — just as planned at $5.70 a gram wholesale.
That didn’t last long.
We have continued to harvest every 28 days, following the schedule we set up in February 2012 when we entered this turbulent business of above-ground weed distribution. But the wholesale prices have continually fallen. All projections got thrown out the window long ago as the industry raced to the bottom.
Are we there, yet? At $3 to $4.50 wholesale per gram, maybe.
We are extremely fortunate to have built a fanbase prior to recreational legalization. Budtenders around Seattle have enjoyed smoking our cannabis for five years and we are indebted to them to keep our brand going out to their customers. Gratitude abounds for their loyalty and appreciation of what we do.
Heading into a new year, two things continue to be certain in this industry: not only must you know how to grow good, clean cannabis, you also have to know how to sell it.
With more than 1,000 growers competing for space in less than 400 stores in Washington, one factor that helps keep us relevant is having our flower blessed by the testing standards set by the state Department of Health for pesticides and heavy metals. This testing allows us to put the General Use sticker on the package, ensuring consumers that they are getting cannabis that is free of harmful contaminants. This is a lengthy and expensive process and we continue to evaluate its value, but I feel it’s a step to further support our brand, our values and our sales.
Our crew, led by my husband, Bill, and our son, Seth, had to learn how to grow cleanly years ago because I used to juice the fresh leaves for my Lyme Disease. I wasn’t going to put in my blender anything that was treated with harmful pesticides. Although I cannot take fresh leaves from our recreational grow, our cultivation methods have become even cleaner with the development of our pest and mold management systems that rely exclusively on biological and environmental controls. We no longer use even the state-approved pesticides and our plants are thriving under this protocol. This method of growing is true for both indoor-grown crops packaged for consumers and outdoor crops for oil production.
More and more concentrate companies are demanding clean cannabis because even approved pesticides can be concentrated to harmful levels, and applications of natural products, like neem or sulfur, can ruin the taste of oil. And no oil processor wants to shut down due to pesticide residue on the inside of those pricey machines! Washington Bud Company has forged relationships with three concentrate companies: Avitas, MFused and Heylo, that each bring unique, clean, oil products to the market.
We care about the health of our fans and we feel these steps will help sustain us as the market matures and finds its supply-and-demand groove.