Mat Ladroga and Robert Head are stuck in a waiting game as state officials continue to delay the launch of Maine’s recreational cannabis program.
Veterans in the Industry
As Marijuana Venture celebrates its four-year anniversary with this issue, we profile nine veterans who have made their mark not only in their service to this great country, but also in the cannabis industry. It’s safe to say that not everybody in the marijuana business is a consumer. But stories like these highlight the outrageousness of Jeff Sessions’ infamous statement that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
The following article is from the March 2018 issue of Marijuana Venture, © 2018 Marijuana Venture.
But in the meantime, the pair of Army veterans are building Blue Cord Farms through a unique partnership, not just in the structure of the company, but also in what the two men have endured. Blue Cord Farms is actually two separate companies. Ladroga is a licensed caregiver who heads the cultivation side of the joint venture in Rockland, Maine. Head lives in Texas and oversees a management company for farmers.
“We can manage a farm from Texas and not break a single law doing it,” Head says.
The business model is one that has been successful in other states: Blue Cord Farms will purchase the land, buildings and equipment needed to cultivate cannabis and lease the farms to licensed growers.
The partnership is a natural fit as Head and Ladroga share similar backgrounds prior to their joint business venture.
They served together in the same Army unit during the second Iraq War. After returning to civilian life, the pair of combat veterans both experienced severe cases of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Prior to finding cannabis, Head was using a mixture of prescription medication from the VA and alcohol to cope with his time in the war.
For Head, it wasn’t that he wanted to drink, but he found alcohol to be “the only thing I could find that would help me get through the day. With my PTSD, it became something that I had to have. I got off all of my pills from the VA by switching over to cannabis and my drinking had dropped by 80%.”
Ladroga, through a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs from the Veterans Affairs hospital, took a darker path.
“The pharmaceuticals they had me on had my head spinning,” Ladroga says. “I walked into the woods to shoot myself when out of nowhere I got a message from Bobby, and he was like, ‘What are you doing?’”
Whether it was coincidence or clairvoyance, the message got the two men talking, and the conversation turned to cannabis and business.
Overly restrictive regulations halted Head’s plans in Texas, but by joining forces with Ladroga, he’s been busy expanding the operation’s cultivation site so it can host other licensed growers. The pair have also started building the company’s recreational storefront, which will host veteran’s meetings once it is allowed to open.
“It’s funny because there’s so many things we need in this industry,” Head says. “If I wanted to open up a barbecue restaurant, then I would have been done with it a year ago. I would even have a bank account. It’s an exciting industry, but it doesn’t come without the sleepless nights and headaches.”