You’ve probably heard of Charlo Greene. Many locals say she put the Alaska cannabis industry on the map. However, I would say the legendary cannabis strain Matanuska Thunder F**k put us on the map. It was this plant that germinated my dream.
When attending the University of Alaska Anchorage, I lived like any other college student on a tight budget. Even though our grocery list consisted of ramen and PB&J’s, buying weed got expensive.
While making ends meet and finding ourselves, marijuana helped us attain both, and we began to grow in more ways then one. As it turned out, we grew some quality bud. It was rewarding to create something amazing from such a small seed.
It was after graduation I felt the societal pressure to get a “real job.” Having your bachelor’s in business and waiting tables doesn’t add up. So I put myself on the market and landed a state job. I was bounded by bureaucracy and surrounded by gossiping hens. I started to envision myself in this office 10 years down the road and promptly decided the cubical life was not for me. I quit.
I found myself selling alarm systems from Honolulu to Huntsville. While it was better than office life, something still wasn’t right. Fast-forward to 2013, when a clipboard-holder outside of REI asked me to sign a petition to “regulate marijuana like alcohol.”
I signed the petition and didn’t think about it again — until Proposition 2 was born. Then I followed closely as the campaign unfolded. On Nov. 4, 2014, I watched the election results come in and I knew. I knew this was it. I could turn my dream into reality — creating my product from seed and growing it into a business and not only that. I could pioneer a new industry.
I took off running. I had (and still have) a lot to learn, but with such limited resources in Alaska, I traveled south to get my finger on the pulse. I attended the 2014 National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) extraction symposium in Denver. In preparation for the reception party I got dressed in jeans and a pressed, button-down shirt.
When I arrived, I felt grossly underdressed, encircled by men in suits and smartly dressed women. I was a little unnerved by the situation (because I stereotypically assumed everyone would be wearing Grateful Dead T-shirts and Birkenstocks), but I began to mingle.
The conversation was exciting. These were passionate professionals pioneering a new industry that they love. Everyone was eager to explain their niche in the industry and network with me. I made a lot of great connections. The best part was that I could relate to these people. I thought, “This guy is just like me!” Quite the opposite of working in an office thinking, “Shut up, shut up, shut up …”
Since then I have attended numerous conferences and expos. In March, I traveled to Seattle for the NCIA Cultivation Management Symposium. It was eye opening.
It dawned on me then that this was not going to be an easy task, as many cultivators forewarned about the importance for sustainable approaches and the many issues they experienced with heavy taxation and local bureaucracy. I was near-sighted with the already daunting task of writing a business plan, creating standard operating procedures, researching commercial grow systems, cost analysis, budgeting and on and on and on. This is not for your stereotypical pothead.
You cannot do it from your couch and it isn’t a couple of plants in your basement. Attending these conferences have humbled me, yet enabled me the support and guidance to pioneer this industry back in Alaska.
While Greenfield LLC has a lot more work to do (along with the state Legislature), I am excited to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Recently, the Alaska Cannabis Institute predicted that in the first full year of recreational sales (2017), there will be an estimated $80 million wholesale market. The market is here for us. If the tiny Matanuska Thunder F**k seed from the quaint town of Wasilla, Alaska can become legendary, we can too.
Support the dream.
Find your Greenfield.
Thomas Craig is co-owner of Greenfield LLC (www.greenfieldalaska.com) and is currently pursuing a cultivation license.