Craft cannabis is the marijuana industry’s small-batch sector

Craft cannabis is the marijuana industry’s small-batch sector


Michael Steinmetz, left, CEO of Flow Kana, examines cannabis plants with Cyril Guthridge, founder of Waterdog Herb Farm in Mendocino County, California. (Photo by Bobby Cochran Photography)

(This is an abridged version of a story that appears in the August issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.)

The cannabis industry is becoming increasingly dominated by big firms, but there still is room for small, craft marijuana producers who peddle high-end products ranging from flower to edibles.

In fact, according to advocates of small cannabis businesses, if the sector evolves under the right conditions, craft will be the future of the marijuana sector.

Conversely, they say, under the wrong conditions, craft will perish and leave the space to a handful of cannabis conglomerates.

“We are in danger of rushing into implementation of this large industry so quickly and in such a way that it crushes the craft industry that does exist,” Adam Smith, president of the Oregon-based Craft Cannabis Alliance (CCA), told Marijuana Business Magazine.

“That is the main danger … that it will get crushed.”

To understand the dangers that a craft cannabis company faces, it helps to understand how industry stakeholders define “craft.”

Generally, it comes down to a set of factors:

  • The business is majority-owned by locals and also sources its inputs locally, produces locally and employs locals.
  • The business produces a smaller amount of product compared to larger competitors. (Exact numbers haven’t been defined.)
  • The business stresses values – such as compensating employees well and contributing to the community – and puts them ahead of the bottom line.
  • The business uses only organic or natural products and environmentally friendly methods.
  • Growers, processors and other employees are able to offer personal care to individual plants and products that larger operations can’t provide.

“A craft product is something that is sourced with intention, that has a connection to the community that it’s produced in, whether that’s through the sourcing of ingredients or paying homage, respect and tribute to the culture where the facility is in,” said Bryce Berryessa, CEO of La Vida Verde, a craft infused product company in California. La Vida Verde, which has a 5,000-square-foot grow, sources additional marijuana and organic ingredients from other craft businesses in Santa Cruz County.

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