Anyone who works, or knows someone who works, in the Colorado marijuana industry can tell you just how turbulent the waters can be. With ever-changing laws and regulations put forth by the state, flexibility and efficiency are the traits that keep a dispensary afloat. While many people dream of being able to buy high quality marijuana seeds and make a good living from legally growing and selling them, only a select few people get to live this reality. Despite the inherent challenges, many industrious entrepreneurs have stepped forward to take on the challenge of building a marijuana based business. A couple weeks back I was fortunate enough to sit down with Christian Hageseth, entrepreneur, CEO of American Cannabis Partners, President and Chairman of Green Man Cannabis LLC, author, pioneer of the weed industry, and all around really awesome guy. We sat down and he told me a little bit about his journey in the industry and his thoughts on its future. I also got to hear about his vision for a revolutionary new venue that will entertain and educate its visitors.
Jesse Grove: What’s your inspiration for working in the industry and how did it all start for you?
Christian Hageseth: This business started for me like a lot of business do, on the golf course. I was playing golf with a good friend of mine, my attorney, and one of the other guys he brought in the foursome was just about to get into the marijuana business. We started talking about marijuana, I had this little one-hitter in my bag, so I pulled it out and it’s got this nasty-ass brown weed in it that’s probably been in there for a year. This other guy who is getting into the marijuana business pulls out three of the biggest bags you’ve ever seen, full of just glowing nugs. Honestly I was like, “what is that?” I grabbed some and they were just so sticky, and I said “you gotta be kidding me.” That was Jake Salazar from MMJ America. He was just getting into the business, so we started talking and smoked some bud out on the golf course. It was just amazing, just mind blowing. There’s a big difference, I’ve been smoking shit my whole life. Jake and I started to talk about the business and I got real interested and he was looking for some help at the time. I started to look at his business, he had just opened one dispensary. I went and got my red card there and went and just got five quarter ounces of just the greatest weed I’d ever seen. I was introduced for the first time into Indicas, Sativas and hybrids.
J: Oh yeah, where it used to be just a Ziploc baggie of whatever
C: Yeah you either got it, or you don’t. So that was it, that’s what got me into the industry.
Green Man Cannabis Dispensaries
J: As the owner of the Green Man Cannabis dispensaries, can you tell me about what sets a Green Man dispensary apart from the competition?
C: You know every dispensary in Colorado has their way of differentiating themselves right now. Some guys are trying to be the Walmart of weed others are trying to be the Hermes of weed, you know, the highest of high end. We believe in organic product; the absolute best bud we can grow. We’re all passionate connoisseurs as well, and we like to smoke what we grow, so to speak. We just want to provide the best product we can, that people will love. We want people to love our product, ‘cause you know, they have their choice where they’re going to buy. Our product is sold at the right price, our people are good, our locations are good, and along with our packaging, it’s just the whole thing, all inclusive.
Green Man Cannabis Ranch : The World’s First Weedery
J: I’ve heard a lot about your weedery and event complex that you’re planning to build near DIA. Can you tell me a little bit about what a weedery is, and what this facility will look like?
C: Absolutely. A weedery is like a brewery or a winery but for legal marijuana. When it’s built it will be 133,000 feet of greenhouse. There’s 108,000 feet of canopy under that to have room for the hallways and bathrooms and all that kind of stuff. So it’s a large scale grow facility where we’ll be using industrial agricultural techniques to feed and water the plants, while still doing it in a completely organic way. We’ve done our research on sites like https://bareleaf.de and have perfected the process. The unique part about that will be that it’s a large scale production facility, so we will have a lot more Green Man Cannabis that we will be able to supply to our own stores, but also to continue to supply other people with Green Man Product. In addition to the large scale growing facility we’re making, this a place where you can invite people in so they can see for the first time how marijuana is grown. So they can see that it’s not grown from seed and that we start with mothers. How does the cloning process work? Then there’s veg, then there’s flower, and how long does that last? Then you cut it down and dry it, where and how? And if you process it, what does that mean? The greenhouses are in an L and then on the other side, to make it more of a U shape, is the main house where the public will enter. You’ll be able to come in and walk around the open side and then the tour starts with mothers, clones, veg, and then a couple flower examples. The cool thing about the flower area and how it’s designed, you will walk into a glass room and it will be like you’re in the greenhouse. If you’ve ever been inside a greenhouse with 100% diffusion, there’s no shadows. You can put your hand to the ground and there’s no shadows. It’s a really unique sensory experience when you’re in a greenhouse. Also we’re going to have positive pressure in the greenhouse, since we don’t want any pollen coming off people and getting back inside. So we’ll be blowing air out from the flower rooms and in [to the walkway]… We’re going to make sure we have clean air going in and not getting any pollen. Those ripe grows, they smell to high heaven, just wonderful. You’re going to have the air blowing back on you, and you’ll have this special sense of light and smell, and you’re going to be standing the middle of each room that’s like four or five thousand feet. You’re going to have this air blowing on you and you’re like “I gotta catch my flight.” So you’re running out and waiting in the TSA line, someone will be like “stand a little farther away, I don’t want to be here when they arrest you.” So were going to have the tour facility in there and when you finish the tour you’ll end in the gift shop, to give you an opportunity to have an experience with our brand and become familiar with Green Man. We’ll have an on-site dispensary as well. In that main building, facing the inner courtyard, there’s a restaurant on the main level and on top it has a rooftop bar. Because the building next to us is a one story industrial, we have nice views of the front range and you’ll also be looking North over Northfield and Stapleton and Dick’ Sporting Good Park. Really the highlight of this whole complex is in the center; we’ll have the amphitheater. Currently it will be an outdoor, uncovered, amphitheater. In the future if it’s successful, we’ll build a giant barn over it. It’s a pretty big area, we’ve got almost 2 acres to fill out, but we’ll only be able to fit about 3,000 for parking.
Marijuana Legalization, Regulation & Brand Development
J: As more and more states legalize medical and recreational use, how do you think the industry is going to evolve in the next few years?
C: I think marijuana is going to become more like other consumer products and the public is going to more clearly understand brands. They’re going to start to recognize brand leaders. And especially now that many people have seen how well this industry is doing with the legalisation of medical marijuana (in some states), having a business in the marijuana field is tempting for many people. It comes as no surprise though that with the help of medical marijuana consultants, this idea starts to become reality. The more you know before getting into this industry, the better it is for you and your business, especially as the rules constantly change.
Packaging will become more consistent and also come up to a higher quality. Right now the bubble gum industry spends more on packaging than we do. I think we’re going to see packaging change a lot. I think we’re going to see products that are going to be designed to be a lot less potent, edibles for sure, but also smokables. Some feedback we hear a lot is “that’s great you bred the strongest weed in the world, but I don’t want the strongest.” I think we’re going to see production of product that is a lot less strong. As a consumer I want to be able to hang out with you like we’re having a beer. You know, if you’re smoking a joint or a vape or something, it’s not like you take one hit and you’re blasted; I want to enjoy it. I like the taste of it, the experience. Give me a product that I enjoy, that takes a minute to smoke that doesn’t blow my mind out, but gives me a nice consistent buzz, so that I know every time I smoke this and take five or six hits of it and it takes me five minutes and I get the buzz of one beer. I mean I like cookies, if you put 50 milligrams in a cookie, I’m going to eat it ‘cause I like cookies. You can’t make it taste that good; if it tastes that good it can have really low milligrams. If it tastes like absolute dog-ass you can put as many as you like in it.
J: Can you give me an idea of what kind of dedication it takes to be a dispensary owner in Colorado?
C: Well I wake up every day and by the time I’ve gotten out of the shower I’ve committed two federal felonies; banks won’t take my money. So if you can live with those three things I can tell you it’s really pretty simple. There is the constantly changing regulations and costs of licensing as well.
J: I hear you have a book coming out soon; can you give me a little sneak peak on what it’s about?
C: Absolutely, the book is coming out the week of April 20th – no surprise – it’s called “Big Weed” and being published by McMillian. It’s a memoir, a business memoir, of the first five years in the legal marijuana business and it talks a lot about the weedery as well. It was conceived and written to be a lot like Money Ball, if you’ve ever read that book or seen that movie. Money Ball is about the business of baseball and how they pick players in baseball. It’s pretty dry subject matter, but they tell it in a first person narrative that takes the reader through it in an interesting story-like fashion, and at the end of that story you can’t help but have learned something. And so it’s much the same, I’m the narrator in the book and walk people through my experience in the marijuana industry in the last five years, and through that, the reader gets both a good sense of the challenges and also the opportunities in the business, and also the trials we’ve been through and it also gives insight into the subculture. After winning a couple cannabis cups and going to Amsterdam with Ed Rosenthal and meeting a lot of the breeders. And you know again, it came from 5 and a half years ago, playing golf with my attorney and you know, five years later I’m a leader in the industry; somebody kinda pushed me to the tip of the spear and I’m wondering kinda, why?
Thanks again Chris for sitting down and talking about your adventures in the industry! Readers, if you want to learn more about the World’s First Weedery: Green Man Ranch check out their Indiegogo campaign here.