When I opened 7 Leaf Collective last year, I kept hearing the name TGA (also known as The Green Avengers) mentioned repeatedly. In an industry that has functioned primarily underground, any recurring brand name was rare so it sparked my curiosity. Our patients spoke of this group of growers as though they had invented cannabis, but I had never heard anything about them. I’ve come to learn that strains TGA has created such as Galactic Jack, Pennywise, Conspiracy Kush and others are coveted by growers because of their strong genetics. TGA has always had very close ties to Salem, Oregon and they’ve helped many talented growers throughout the Willamette Valley hone their craft.
Within a few months of being open, I was approached by a grower who was part of the original TGA organization in its early days. He used the handle “Dioxide” during the pre-legalization era and was known for creating and naming the Golden Ticket phenotype of Chernobyl, as well as others. I jumped at the chance to carry product grown by the actual person who crossed the strains. He was the first grower who openly invited me to see his grow site and insisted that if any other growers were hesitant to show a dispensary owner their garden, then they must not be doing it the proper way. Grow site and processor site visits have since become part of my standard protocol and our patients feel safer because of it.
After touring one of TGA’s indoor facilities, I was impressed with the cleanliness and care they maintained throughout the entire process. In addition to producing consistently potent flower, they also focused on choosing the best phenotypes for each strain. By doing this over a long period of time, the desired smell, taste and appearance of each flower becomes more and more predictable. After seeing firsthand the organic and detailed methods of a TGA grower, I concluded that there are two types of indoor growers in Oregon: the ones who follow TGA methods and those who do not.
As our dispensary began to gain momentum this year, this grower and I spoke about possible collaboration. After watching the Colorado and Washington markets unfold, we both agreed that it would be more efficient to vertically integrate our businesses so that we can be competitive in Oregon’s recreational market as a single entity. I now have access to the skills and creativity of these cannabis pioneers and we are in the process of opening our second 7 Leaf Collective dispensary together.
While other dispensaries try to create brands from scratch in what everyone seems to consider a “new” industry, I find myself faced with a different type of marketing issue — how to tell the story of this established mark of quality in an industry flooded with new participants. I’ve come to respect this organization and feel honored to have direct access to the cannabis genetics they’ve kept in rotation for decades.
Mike Warren is the owner of 7 Leaf Collective, a state-licensed dispensary in Salem, Oregon. It can be found online at www.7leaforegon.com.