Canadian College Announces Cannabis Cultivation Class Michael King

Canadian College Announces Cannabis Cultivation Class

Article Published by: hightimes.com 

Higher education plays a key role in the modern and technologically sophisticated cannabis industry. From agriculture to retail, from labs to courtrooms, legal weed spans multiple sectors of the economy and society. Preparing the next generation for these new civic, commercial, and environmental horizons is more important than ever. And notably, universities across the United States and Canada have begun to recognize the value in educating students to work in these fields. Cannabis classes are cropping up on campuses across the country. More degree programs at the graduate level are incorporating cannabis into their curriculum.

More schools are offering scholarships for students interested in pursuing a career in cannabis. And now Canada is following suit, offering students in one cannabis cultivation class full tuition to study pot.

The medical cannabis industry deserves the credit for legitimizing the academic pursuit of weed studies. And as the industry continues to grow and create jobs, colleges and universities will be responsible for creating the highly skilled individuals to work them.

In Canada, however, legalization has proceeded along a somewhat different timeline compared to to the united states. Overall, legal weed is much “younger” there. 2001 saw the end of the country’s 1923 ban on marijuana, with the legalization of regulated medical cannabis.

A bill legalizing recreational use, however, wouldn’t pass until November 2017. The law will take effect, with some restrictions, on July 1, 2018.

Since then, and to gear up for this massive legislative shift in Canadian drug policy, Liberal provincial governments are making the cannabis industry part of their broader economic growth plans.

Among other things, these plans make provincial government funds available to support educational initiatives in the medical cannabis industry. And the cannabis cultivation class now on offer at New Brunswick Community College in Dieppe is one such initiative receiving financial support from the government.

25 Students To Get Free Tuition For Cannabis Cultivation Class

Dieppe Community College seems rather far removed from Canada’s urban centers. But the New Brunswick school happens to reside near one of the province’s two licensed medical marijuana growers, Organigram.

According to Organigram CEO Greg Engel, the company collaborated with faculty at Dieppe to craft the curriculum for the new cannabis cultivation class.

Working alongside the government, Organigram and Dieppe were also able to secure $70,000 to cover tuition for the first 25 students to take the course. That means students can study the art and science of growing medical cannabis for free, courtesy of the government.

Dieppe Community College’s cannabis cultivation class is the first of its kind offered in Canada. The first cohort of students began the course on November 27.


About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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Cannabis Growers Look To Traditional Farmers - Michael King

Cannabis Growers Look To Traditional Farmers For Lessons

Article Published by: netnebraska.org

The Governor’s Forum on Agriculture in Denver is your typical farm conference. Every year, farmers in denim and bolo ties mingle with ag professionals. The governor himself swings by for a keynote speech. But this year, there was a new addition. There’s a panel called “Cannabis: An Emerging Crop of Colorado.”

In years past, marijuana growers haven’t been invited to the event. Now, Duane Sinning, the state regulator in charge of industrial hemp is introducing three cannabis company executives.

“There’s an opportunity where traditional agriculture can help an industry emerge in this state,” Sinning said.

Because cannabis is the state’s newest and flashiest cash crop, there’s a focus on finding the best, and most efficient ways to grow it. A focus to turn cannabis into a full blown commodity like wheat or corn. Brooke Gehring sat on the panel. She’s the CEO of a chain of cannabis shops in the Denver metro area called Live Green.

“Farmers understand scale. They understand hardship. They understand you’re only as good as your last crop,” Gehring said.

Stephen Lipton knows those lessons. He’s the cultivation manager at The Farm, a recreational and medical marijuana operation in Boulder, Colorado. Before growing commercial-scale cannabis, Lipton worked as an organic farmer. His research lab is filled with at least 150 different strains of marijuana, planted in small pots.

“Genetics is really the cornerstone of the whole thing,” Lipton said. “Without that you really have nothing.”

Just like a plant breeder attempting to make a sweeter apple or a hardier tomato, he crosses strains in search of the perfect variety.

“Plant vigor, smell, aroma, taste, anything that you can imagine really. Yield. Yield is a big one for sure,” Lipton said.

Most of modern agriculture relies heavily on inputs, like fertilizers and pesticides, to keep plants healthy and productive. But for obvious legal reasons, the Monsantos and John Deeres of the world aren’t catering to cannabis growers. That leaves room for start ups.

Colin Bell decided to use his knowledge of soil microbes to serve the marijuana sector. Bell originally developed a soil additive for vegetable crops at Colorado State University, but now sells beneficial bacteria by the gallon to marijuana growers under the brand name Mammoth.

“We hear bigger flowers, we hear denser flowers,” Bell said. “And in the end what it translates is to is more yield, right?”

And more yield translates to more money. In Colorado alone, marijuana sales were just shy of a billion dollars in 2015. And more markets are coming online. More than 20 states have laws allowing industrial hemp and medical marijuana, and four states plus Washington D.C. give permission for recreational use of the drug. With a handful of states expected to fully legalize this year, Bell says a lot of farmers want in on the ground floor.

“It’s a super exciting opportunity from a business perspective,” Bell said. “There hasn’t been a new market in many, many years. And there might not be one again in our lifetime.”

That same excitement is on display back at the Governor’s Forum on Agriculture in Denver. Grant Mattive farms potatoes and barley in the state’s parched San Luis Valley. Last season he gave hemp a try. In a region prone to drought, he likes the crop’s ability to withstand dry conditions.

“To be successful and to get this industry really going on its feet, we need to involve farmers a little bit more, rather than just the basement weed growers,” Mattive said.

At first, Mattive says he was skeptical about jumping onto the bandwagon, in the rush to grow cannabis. Now, he says he just needs to figure out how to run his combine over it.


About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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Regenerative Organic Cannabis Farming - Michael King

Regenerative Organic Cannabis Farming

Article Published by: hightimes.com

With the great state of California poised to legalize adult use cannabis in January 2018, a big debate has formed around the potential environmental impact of all that cultivation. Currently, the regulations are being finalized and issues regarding everything from runoff to soil disposal have been discussed.

In this dialogue, sustainable farming techniques are being looked at as a potential solution to help mitigate this problem.

According to the Rodale Institute, “We have proven that organic agriculture and specifically, regenerative organic agriculture can sequester carbon from the atmosphere and even help to reverse climate change.”

These regenerative farming techniques can work in cannabis gardens as well.

This type of agriculture could help elevate the fears that people have concerning the potential damage cannabis agriculture can leave behind. A study published in the journal, Environmental Research Letters, looked at the impact of several grow sites in Northern California and found that the sites indeed caused various environmental damage. From potentially contaminating rivers due to chemical fertilizer runoff, to increased soil erosion.

Regenerative farming is a type of organic farming that heals the earth while making use of it to incubate your crops.

This type of farming is designed to build soil health and is comprised of practices that include cover crops, residue mulching, composting and crop rotation. These practices can also reduce climate change by restoring the biodiversity of the soil. This results in carbon drawdown and improvements in the water cycle—all of which would greatly benefit California.

More of these practices should be adopted when growing cannabis—as the plant heals us, so to should we attempt to “heal” the land with this plant.

With the great state of California poised to legalize adult use cannabis in January 2018, a big debate has formed around the potential environmental impact of all that cultivation. Currently, the regulations are being finalized and issues regarding everything from runoff to soil disposal have been discussed.

In this dialogue, sustainable farming techniques are being looked at as a potential solution to help mitigate this problem.

According to the Rodale Institute, “We have proven that organic agriculture and specifically, regenerative organic agriculture can sequester carbon from the atmosphere and even help to reverse climate change.”

These regenerative organic farming techniques can work in cannabis gardens as well.

This type of agriculture could help elevate the fears that people have concerning the potential damage cannabis agriculture can leave behind. A study published in the journal, Environmental Research Letters, looked at the impact of several grow sites in Northern California and found that the sites indeed caused various environmental damage. From potentially contaminating rivers due to chemical fertilizer runoff, to increased soil erosion.

Regenerative farming is a type of organic farming that heals the earth while making use of it to incubate your crops.

This type of farming is designed to build soil health and is comprised of practices that include cover crops, residue mulching, composting and crop rotation. These practices can also reduce climate change by restoring the biodiversity of the soil. This results in carbon drawdown and improvements in the water cycle—all of which would greatly benefit California.

More of these practices should be adopted when growing cannabis—as the plant heals us, so to should we attempt to “heal” the land with this plant.

Regenerative Organic Cannabis Farming

As more and more people cultivate the plant, the risks to the environment grow.

Not all of these new farmers will practice organic or sustainable agriculture. According to a study from the Center on Food Security and the Environment, over the last five years, there has been a 50 to 100 percent increase in land being used to cultivate cannabis. From water use to land erosion to chemical nutrients being used, the environmental impact is huge.

This is why practices like regenerative farming will be so important under the new regulatory landscape.

As the new regulations sweep into effect January 2018, a lot of California’s growers will have to make drastic changes to their cultivation techniques; hopefully, most will choose a path leading towards sustainability.

In an age of mainstream cannabis, it is crucial that we act as shining examples in all aspects of the industry, including the environmental impact we, as cannabis growers, leave behind.

Not only that but these techniques often also improve flavor and bud structure—returning densely packed nugs that have deep rich flavors as a result of the terroir. Much like grapes, the flavor of cannabis is also affected by the environment. This is why the same strain grown by different growers under different conditions will vary so much. Over time, we will come to see that where your cannabis is grown, as well as how it’s grown, will be a deciding factor for the discerning cannabis consumer.


About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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Wholesale Marijuana Prices Continue to Drop - Michael King

Growing Pains: Wholesale Marijuana Prices Continue to Drop

Article Published by: hightimes.com

The genius of supply and demand as economic theory is its raw, basic simplicity. There are plenty of other determinants with hands in the market, but if demand stays constant and there is a new, unprecedented rush of supply, it’s pretty clear why prices will subsequently plummet. This is exactly what’s happening as wholesale marijuana prices continue to drop.

It’s Simple Economics

In many states where cannabis is legal, wholesale marijuana prices continue to drop, and there are simple economic explanations why. As more and more cannabis producers enter the market, with bigger and bigger cultivation facilities, this drop is entirely predictable.

As Marijuana Business Daily reported on Monday, the average asking price for a pound of cannabis on Colorado’s wholesale marijuana market is currently at an all-time low of $1,298, down from a three-year high of $2,007 in January 2015. And all the factors driving down the price—more competition, more efficient production and even more competition—are still at play, meaning prices should plummet even further.

When that happens, producers may be compelled to grow even more cannabis, flooding the market with even more supply, which will drive the price even lower. You get the idea.

While it’s true that newcomers are entering the commercial marijuana market all over the country—in no small part because they believe that black market-era profit margins are theirs for the taking, and are presenting such rosy revenue projections to their investors—in Colorado’s case, it’s a situation of existing producers ramping up their output.

According to Shon Williams, a consultant with Mjardin, a Denver-based group of cultivation advisers, big companies are able to add capacity without much in the way of increased cost. As a result, they can remain profitable even while accepting those lower prices.

In Colorado, what newcomers there are tend to produce cannabis using the sun, a relatively new allowance in the state. Outdoor producers may not be able to fetch nearly as much per pound, but they’re able to produce that pound much more cheaply. That translates into a slightly smaller hill to climb toward profitability, whether or not the final product stays as flower or (more likely than not) is extracted into oil for edibles, concentrates or vape cartridges.

This does make newcomers think twice before entering the industry—and it makes staying in business more difficult for smaller operations without the ability to scale. In other words, it’s hard out here for a small grower—which is what we’ve been hearing for years now in the marijuana world.

Even mainstream media has been hip to this trend. “From Washington to Colorado, wholesale marijuana prices have tumbled as dozens of states legalized the drug for recreational and medicinal uses, seeding a boom in marijuana production,” the Wall Street Journal reported in August.

Granted, these findings did rely on data from Washington, where an early market inefficiency—there just weren’t any growers—artificially spiked the price of a gram to $20-territory, but the general gist of the article is accurate.

How Long Will Wholesale Marijuana Prices Continue to Drop?

At some point, the production market will become saturated. Nobody will be able to increase their output, and it will be hostile to newcomers. That is, unless someone presents an innovation of some kind that gives them a clear market advantage.

What would that be? More efficient lights? Hard to get more efficient than LEDs or the sun. A better strain that breaks the market? Maybe. And when will that be? Similarly, when will prices settle into a predictable groove, in the way other agricultural consumer products have?

Williams, the Denver-based consultant, isn’t sure when all this could happen, only that it will happen. Then again, marijuana hasn’t yet had some kind of market-breaking crisis, something like a widespread outbreak of the fungus phylloxera, which decimated and nearly destroyed the wine industry.

The good news here is that the price drop has been passed onto consumers. According to BDS Analytics, a cannabis consumer data-crunching firm that has access to POS data from Colorado dispensaries, the average price of a gram is now hovering around $7 in Colorado—a far cry from the $40 to $50 bags from black market days.

The other outstanding question—for producers, sellers and consumers alike—is whether government regulation will create new demand for off-label, black market cannabis. That’s the concern in California, where a tiny minority of the growers currently in business have signed up for licenses and the required inspections.

As Tawnie Logan, the chairwoman of the California Growers Association, told the New York Times, dispensary pot in California is around $50 an eighth (for now), whereas black market weed fetches $20.

Will that change the way pot is grown and sold, and will it affect prices? So far in California, the tool used to stamp out off-label growers has been law enforcement, not the free market.

Because that worked so well in the past.


About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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Incoming Harvest Season in the Emerald Triangle - Michael King

Incoming Harvest Season in the Emerald Triangle

Article Published by: merryjane.com

This article marks our continued chronicles of the Emerald Triangle through the lens veteran residents and growers Nikki Lastreto and Swami Chaitanya. For more on the history of the marijuana mecca, revisit their last article here.

As the shadows grow long and the breeze has that cool refreshing hint of autumn, all the farmers around the Emerald Triangle in Northern California begin to think one thing: “harvest.” It’s time to get out the tubs, trim trays, scissors, black-out cloth, or your other favorite accoutrements for the season. It’s kind of like getting out the ornaments to trim the tree really, just for the festival of Cannabis instead of Christmas.

The other clue that harvest is coming is at the grocery store. About ten years ago, the tiny Mendocino County town of Laytonville — with a population of roughly 1,300 people, though it easily doubles at harvest time with the influx of “trimmigrants” — won an award from the giant Reynolds corporation for selling more of their “Oven Bags” than anywhere in the country. Also known as “turkey bags,” these clear plastic bags are the best at sealing in the strong odors of cannabis. Hence, they have been used for years by all the farmers and middlemen in the biz.

As harvest approaches, there are more shelves in shops selling turkey bags, scissors, and gloves than there are back-to-school items. Building supply stores are stocked with tubs of every size, dehumidifiers and fans, as well as the ubiquitous scissors and latex-like gloves for trimming. You’ll find those items at pretty much every store in Mendocino, from the gas station to the liquor store. Chances are they’re right next to the lighters.

Incoming Harvest Season in the Emerald Triangle - Michael King

For decades, small pot farmers tucked away in the Emerald Triangle had a fairly routine schedule. Every farm pretty much had a solid crew of close family and friends to help cut the crop, bring it in, dry it, and trim the flowers. When it was a good year, they may have brought in auxiliary trimmers from around the world.

In popular trimmer destinations such as Garberville, Willits, or Laytonville, farmers would jump in their trusty pick-up trucks, drive to town and meet up with some young folks from just about anywhere you can imagine. Tibet, Japan, Europe, Central America, South Africa, Israel — we’ve met them all. They’d hop in the truck and be driven out some dusty dirt road, in the old days as often or not blindfolded. Cannabis is a magnet, but it also has its secrets and its quotient of paranoia.

Every day the colas or branches on the cannabis plants get bigger and heavier. The little hairs on the flowers are still greenish/white, but will soon turn a burnt sienna, signaling their ripeness and their vulnerability. Back in the old days, harvest was a time of palpable fear. A whole year’s work and investment could be lost to mold or mildew, or to marijuana rustlers cutting tops or whole plants in the middle of the night, or by the Task Force dropping in on cables dangling from helicopters before using your own chainsaw to ruin your crops.

Now, late September and early October, is the time for the conscientious farmer of the Emerald Triangle to keep a close eye on the girls in the garden as their flowers ripen. Insects and pathogens are always a threat. Growers need an eagle eye or maybe “Mold-dar” to detect the first hint of mold or mildew on a plant. Wilted brown leaves should be removed so the they don’t hold moisture. Branches need to be propped up, as they grow heavy with luscious buds. The farmer’s work never stops. It’s a tense time. It ain’t over ’til the buds are bucked and in the bag.

Meanwhile, at home on the farm, everyone is hustling to prepare their spaces for drying and curing. The first thing many of us do is to check the Farmer’s Almanac, which has been pretty right-on lately. This year some rainy periods are predicted, including possible heavy showers, so dehumidifiers are essential. Last year, the surprise rain that broke the previous four years of drought left many people literally high and not dry, so “de-hues” have been a popular item in stores this year and last.

Incoming Harvest Season in the Emerald Triangle - Michael King

The next big question comes as the trichomes sparkle and change from clear to amber. Every farmer must make the decision of when to cut. Are the girls ready? When are they perfectly ripe? There is only a three-to-four day window. Everyone has their own way of deciding, from using magnifying scopes to psychic kinesiology.

Again, every farm has their own style of harvesting, drying, and processing its cannabis. Some change their style every year, as new ideas spread across the county through word of mouth suggestions. There always seems to be a new way to do it, to add it one’s tried-and true-technique just to see what happens. Some farmers are loyal to their ways, and rarely veer from their classic process. Still, others recognize that it all depends on the flowers themselves: the plants will tell you how they want to be treated.

On top of the stress of properly harvesting your cannabis, the weight of all the rules and regulations is beginning to become real with legalization looming. Commercially permitted buildings will be required for all processing, drying, and processing, including handicap bathrooms. Hairnets and sterilized rooms and equipment are a necessity already. It is very clear that the new rules for cannabis cultivation and processing exceed any other sort of agricultural crop in California. Considering we were all basically outlaws just a few years ago, this new regimen is overwhelming.

Hence, this harvest season is unique for the farmers of the Emerald Triangle. While the normal gloves and scissors and trim trays are being gathered, so are the permits and licenses, lawyers and accountants to cover our butts and our buds. Farmers who are in the process of applying now for their permits must be aware of all the new hoops and how to jump through them. Just knowing how to grow great cannabis is not enough any longer.

For more on Nikki and Swami’s intrepid storytelling and grand insight into all things cannabis, visit their website here.


About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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