New Retail Location Coming to Santa Rosa, California

Justice Grown is getting ready to serve the beautiful community of the north bay with a new retail location in downtown Santa Rosa near the SOFA and arts district! The shop sits on the corner of Barnham and Petaluma Hill Road within a large brick building once the home of a post office and local grocer and later a motor cycle shop. Neighbors have complained about the dilapidated building for sometime now as it has attracted homeless and been a site for people to dump unwanted items.

The permit for a commercial cannabis retail license was submitted in April of 2018 to the City of Santa Rosa and includes over 5,000 square feet of space dedicated for a community impact area with primary space allocated to Verity the local rape crisis and domestic abuse prevention center. The community impact area may also be used for other community groups or services when scheduled ahead of time.

The new owners are gearing up for a remodel to be able to open their doors by the spring of 2020. Residents and local business owners are anticipating the new business will enhance the local economy by bringing tourism to the area. Justice Grown is preparing to start remodeling the beautiful old brick building and intends to keep its traditional look with a modern twist with new lighting, exterior paint, draught tolerant landscaping, rainwater catchment systems and easier access to parking.

The Justice Grown team is comprised of local industry experts including one of the founders of Peace in Medicine, Barry Wood. Barry says, “It’s ben a long journey but we are excited to open our doors by Spring of 2020 and begin serving our members”. The farm supporting the dispensary is just down the road and the group also holds a manufacturing and distribution license allowing them to offer quality cannabis products at an affordable price.

Before and After -- Exterior and Interior 4.jpg

Sonoma County’s 2018 Cannabis Harvest

Sonoma County’s 2018 Cannabis Harvest

A cloudy summer and an early rain hampered Sonoma County’s 2018 outdoor cannabis haul, but the mood remained optimistic among growers one year after major wildfires marred the newly regulated crop’s harvest.

By this time in the growing season, the marijuana plants have been cut down in the fields and taken to warehouses. Workers are now cutting flower stalks off thick stems, trimming and manicuring the flowers before putting them in containers to cure in cool, dry rooms.

Workers in a bright room inside a warehouse Tuesday near the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport were nearly done trimming a cannabis strain called strawberry diesel — one of 10 strains cultivated by Justice Grown in a 1-acre plot on a sprawling, wooded property southeast of Santa Rosa. The company lost nearly half of their 2017 crop in the Nuns fire, director of operations Shivawn Brady said.

“Last year would have been a fantastic harvest, we were so close,” Brady said. “We had significant crop loss, we had staff who lost homes. So this year’s harvest was very jubilant.”

There is no official tally yet for this year’s Sonoma County outdoor cannabis crop, which covers roughly 20 acres, according to county data. County Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar said 16 crop-loss inspections found several cultivation sites experienced a total loss, mostly because of the mold brought by early October rainfall. His department reports their findings to the county tax collection department, which then adjusts the tax requirement based on the loss.

“It was really an ideal season for a lot of crops,” Linegar said. “The fly in the ointment was the early rain, particularly for cannabis.”

The major obstacle for cannabis cultivation in Sonoma County is not weather. It’s regulation.

Terry Garrett, a managing member of the Sonoma County GoLocal cooperative, estimated the value of the local cannabis harvest has dropped by more than three-quarters due to local requirements that banned cultivation in certain areas and required steep upfront payouts to get permits to grow cannabis.

Garrett, who also serves on the Sonoma County Economic Development Board and the county’s cannabis task force, teamed with Sonoma State University economics professor Robert Eyler to develop an economic impact report for the local cannabis industry. Garrett said they expect to release a report in the next several weeks.

Garrett said their estimates put the value of the 2018 overall county cannabis harvest at about $230 million based on state licensing data and their industry standards for yield, and valued it at about $900 per pound. That’s down from between $1.5 billion to $3 billion annual value they calculated previously through interviews and surveys with industry experts.

Garrett said some dispensaries have reported only about 10 percent of the cannabis flowers currently on the shelves were grown in Sonoma County — compared with about 90 percent in previous years.

“That’s emblematic of what’s happened here,” Garrett said. “We’ve gutted the cultivation side of the business, which shifted much of the sourcing from Humboldt, Mendocino, Trinity, Sierra Foothills and farther south.”

Ned Fussell, co-founder of Santa Rosa-based Canna­Craft, one of the state’s top makers of cannabis-infused products, said 11 of the 12 cultivators his business sources cannabis material from have left Sonoma County. Most have relocated to central California where local agencies have fast-tracked the permitting process for cultivators, he said.

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“We were trying to stay local. We spent years trying to build relationships in Sonoma County,” said Fussell, who said they worked closely with the cultivators to shift their operations to cannabis-friendly Santa Barbara County. “We had 130 people who worked on the agricultural front, but we had to relocate those people.”

With the bulk of their cultivation operations in Santa Barbara County, CannaCraft may consider shifting their manufacturing operation there, too, Fussell said.

Many local marijuana growers have said they’ve been waiting to receive permission to cultivate in Sonoma County for nearly two years.

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Brady said Justice Grown hopes its yield will hit 1,800 pounds grown organically and by Kosher standards, and after an estimated 8 percent loss because of pathogens, which she attributes to a rushed harvest schedule put in place after the early October rains. The company had expected the business to become profitable in about four years, but Brady said that projection has been adjusted to further into the future. Justice Grown is among a group of cultivators allowed to cultivate under a grandfathering provision Sonoma County created for existing operators that was meant to be temporary.

However, the county’s delay in processing permit applications has extended the length of that program.

Erich Pearson, SPARC founder and executive director, said waiting to get a permit for the Glen Ellen farms producing cannabis for SPARC’s four dispensaries in Sonoma County and San Francisco has made it difficult to repair or rebuild infrastructure damaged or destroyed in the 2017 Nuns fire.

The fire destroyed SPARC’s entire 2017 crop, forcing them to stock their shelves with cannabis grown elsewhere.

The uncertainty brought by Sonoma County’s delay in evaluating and issuing permits has other financial implications for cultivators trying to invest in their local businesses.

Pearson said the 2018 harvest is a bright spot for SPARC, which already has put two strains of biodynamic cannabis onto dispensary shelves — black light and purple punch.

SPARC can move marijuana flowers from the warehouse to the shelves faster than other cultivators because they’re not going through a distributor. They put the earliest batch onto the shelves to showcase the 2018 harvest and staff continue trimming cannabis at a rate of about five pounds per day.

“The quality was great this year,” Pearson said.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

40 under 40 Rising Cannabis Stars in the Cannabis Industry

40 under 40 Rising Cannabis Stars in the Cannabis Industry

For the past 12 months, the editorial staff at Marijuana Venture has compiled a list of candidates for our third annual 40 Under 40 feature. This year, we narrowed our list down from hundreds of worthy candidates to come up with a cross-section of personalities across the U.S. and Canada, from salt-of-the-earth farmers to tech savants. All of them have unique stories, successes and ambitions and all represent the excitement and promise of the cannabis business. We feel honored to share their stories and look forward to watching them push forward in our ever-evolving industry.

Cannabis Harvest Heats Up In Sonoma County

Based on pending applications with the county, cannabis farmers are seeking permission to legally grow marijuana on roughly 40 acres of land in the unincorporated area next year. More applications are coming in daily.

Linegar estimated the county may ultimately approve about 200 acres of outdoor cultivation in the coming years.

To compare, vineyards cover about 60,000 acres of Sonoma County land, producing a grape harvest worth $581 million last year.

But legal cannabis is the county’s most lucrative crop, per acre. Depending on the size and quality of the harvest, an acre of Sonoma County grapes is currently worth about $9,764, on average, Linegar said. An acre of cannabis is worth about $1.7 million, based on industry standards for yield and the current wholesale value of marijuana, about $500 a pound.

While much cannabis is grown year-round indoors under artificial lights — a process that allows growers to harvest three to four crops a year — the fall harvest of the region’s outdoor crop is the culmination of a process that starts around June.