Shawn DeNae Eddy Wagenseller
Washington Bud Company
Smokey Point, WA
Sustainable: able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.
I consider the definition of the word to apply to both the economics and the environmental sustainability of the cannabis industry. The explosive growth of legalized cannabis across the country is counterbalanced by the disappearance of businesses able to sustain a profitable bottom line. The reliance on energy-sucking equipment to keep indoor cultivation pumping out quality bud is a drain on power systems and the carbon footprint it creates are considered not sustainable.
In the meantime, we are doing what we can to sustain our business in the Washington cannabis market. Sales across the board are retracting for businesses in my network; Washington Bud Co. sales are down 16% year-to-date compared to 2021, while others claim a whopping 50% sales slide. Several cannabis cultivators are not even planting this season while others are reducing their 2022 canopy.
To help us sustain, we’ve decided to invest.
Each time we add an SKU to our menu, our basket goes up. We only have 15 SKU per eight strains on our menu, ranging from premium flower to pre-rolls and cannagars. We have avoided the oil market, which is wickedly competitive, but with the new mandatory pesticide testing now in place, we are encouraged by our store partners to turn our tested biomass into quality extracts.
In the past, sub-contracting to a trustworthy extractor has not penciled out, but I believe we have solved that with our relationship with Gold Services. They share our abhorrence for the presence of residual solvents and our requirement that hydrocarbons come with certificates of authenticity. The resulting product will not only be CRC-free but pass pesticide and heavy metal testing as well as the scrutiny of our extremely persnickety crew.
We are also investing in equipment to produce fresh-pressed rosin from bubble hash. It’s labor-intensive work for sure, but our retail buyers swear the market is ready to pay for whole-plant, solventless extracts rich in native terpenes. I hope they are right as the $3,000 freeze dryer is on its way.
We are also introducing a new joint cone with a multi pre-roll pack for each of our strains to address the convenience flower smokers want. That has been too long in coming!
New SKUs mean investing in design work for new packaging. I haven’t put on my design hat for some time and find it really rewarding to be back in that saddle. New packaging ideas are due to roll out that we are really thrilled about.
Environmentally, we have done the due diligence to find an LED light that not only reduces the power needs of our grow, but also increases the yields over those energy-sucking HID lights. We are really excited about this transition even though it will set us back nearly $90,000. The cherry on top is that our local power company has a rebate program for indoor cultivators. We expect about a $30,000 rebate, once all the paperwork is confirmed.
Merely sustaining a cannabis business may not seem lucrative enough for more aggressive business models, but to us, sustaining during this pandemically colored, inflationary time is the right decision.