How Competition Drives Innovation in the Cannabis Industry

Lukas Barfield

April 20th, 2017

Policy, Top News

Since the historic legalization of cannabis in 2012 for recreational adult use in Colorado and Washington, an entirely new industry, once obscured by the secrecy of the illicit market, has sprouted up. Eight states and D.C. have now legalized recreational cannabis. According to Arcview Market Research, the new economic sector is expected to bring in a staggering $20.6 billion in 2020.  Recreational cannabis has not only become a new engine of economic growth, it also has become highly competitive. The Green Rush is on. Cannabis retailers, producers and processors are now scrambling to patent strain genetics, innovate extraction methods, perfect that edible recipe, improve customer marketing and work hard to find the next big thing that will help them stand out in the increasingly crowded field of cannabis competitors. A Seattle tier one producer has decided to do a complete facility upgrade to ensure it is at the top of the cannabis industry when it comes to growing best practices, and these, they hope, will help them stand out in one of the most competitive cannabis markets in the country.

Owned and operated by Josh Holmes and John Rosolt, Life Roots was in that first batch of Washington State recreational producer applications in 2013. After navigating the sometimes looming mountain of regulations to get established in the Seattle cannabis landscape, this producer processor who has grown with the industry is now poised to move into the category of an elite grow facility. Josh says “There are three areas we’re focusing on in our first big facility improvement, nutrients, lighting and environment. These improvements will help us increase yield and quality, and eventually lead to us including a new patented extraction method at Life Roots. We are also very proud of our unique strain genetics, which will give us a chance to brand our own strain in the coming months.”

After trying other nutrient lines with varying success, Life Roots decided to go with Seattle based True Plant Science for their nutrients. These nutrients, which combine knowledge of the unique needs of a cannabis plant with biochemistry, are a start to finish schedule of nutrients that can be custom-tailored to any commercial grow. Josh says ease of PH management is the first thing he noticed using True Plant Science, but after feeding the plants, he instantly saw why these nutrients are top of the line. Next on the list of improvements are the light upgrades from popular High Pressure Sodium to Nanolux Ceramic Metal Halide lamps (CMH) which has the potential to increase yields while cutting down significantly on energy costs. These savings stem from not only the energy efficiency of the light, but the decreased heat signatures lower the cost of cooling the grow area. The innovative bulbs also provide a better red spectrum for increased yield and potency, which are easier to maintain than LEDs, and can be controlled with a smart phone from the cloud.

The last facet of the facility upgrade concerns the environment the plants live in. Here there are a variety of improvements that will help the facility run better and produce the best cannabis. These include upgrading to complete carbon filtration on internal and outgoing air flow to maintain sterilization and decrease smell, installation of diamond foil reflectors around the outside wals of the flowering room to increase light reflectivity, sealing grow chambers for maximum air flow efficiency, updating to fabric pots that promote better root growth and the introduction of CO 2 into the flowering area that will increase yield and quality. Even with all these improvements, Josh feels their unique and valued roster of strains will be their best selling point out in the market.

Josh says, “A producer can grow the best Dutch treat in the world, but if everyone else is growing Dutch treat, you can end up with pounds sitting on the shelf simply because the market is flooded. To be competitive we choose strains with limited releases, while keeping around old favorites like Master Kush.” Under the roof at Life Roots they also grow Holy Grail Kush, the only strain to win a 100 percent score at the Cannabis Cup; Tangie, a super citrus sativa; Alien Rift, a triple alien hybrid; Lottery, a cross between Ladi Dadi and White Widow, Secret Recipe with unknown genetics, hence the name, and finally a new in-house bred strain, whose genetics are top secret, that will be starting flowering next month.

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