The Two Areas Where Large-Scale Cannabis Farming is Legal in California


Ash Stringer

December 3rd, 2019

App, Exclusive, News


Famously known for its vineyards, the rolling hills of Santa Barbara, California and, 200 miles to the north, the Salinas Valley, once the rose capital of the world, have transformed into new commerce hubs: cannabis. As the only areas of California currently allowing large-scale cannabis cultivation, companies looking to get an upper hand on market share have targeted operations in Santa Barbara and the Salinas Valley. One of those is Paul King, who founded Cannafornia Holdings to capitalize on the burgeoning market in the world’s fifth largest economy.

Against this backdrop, the California Central Coast is rivaling the popular Emerald Triangle at the northern part of the state as the U.S. epicenter for marijuana cultivation. “The Central Coast may be newer to the game, but it enjoys distinct advantages with accessibility, flat geography, perfect climate and an expansive labor pool with agricultural experience,” King told CFN Media in a phone conversation. “And, of course, there are all the greenhouses and all their infrastructure that made Salinas particularly attractive for us to set up shop,” he added.

Cannafornia’s Greenhouse in Stunning Salinas Valley California 

King, 35, knows an opportunity when he sees one. A tech innovator and serial entrepreneur, he founded and built the mobile phone charging technology company goCharge into the #1 company in its space after graduating Summa Cum Laude from Carnegie Mellon University. Those efforts, among others have resulted in King being featured on CNN News, NBC, BusinessWeek, MediaWeek and earned him the distinction of being named to BusinessWeek’s 25 Under 25 Entrepreneurs.

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Off Ran the Roses

In the Salinas Valley, the fertile soil and salty breeze provide ideal growing conditions for a variety of plants. Known as the “Salad Bowl” due to the fact that 70% of the U.S.’s lettuce comes from the region, it also used to serve as the nation’s premier source for roses. However, expanded free trade agreements and Americans’ incessant quest for less expensive products caused rose production in the U.S. to plunge about 95% since 1991, creating a massive rose industry in Colombia and leaving thousands of greenhouses vacant in California.

With the genesis of the legal marijuana industry, lawmakers in the Salinas Valley implemented accommodative policy to put the greenhouses back into use, bucking a wider trend in California to only allow small-scale cultivators. The Salinas governments began approving cultivation licenses for multiple greenhouses on a property with one owner, effectively creating some of the largest cannabis farms in the country.

As it happens, the climate and infrastructure needed for roses dovetails perfectly with cannabis cultivation. The optimal growing conditions (250+ days of sunshine) and ample labor facilitate growing top-shelf cannabis buds at a relatively low expense.

Just Add Water

From seed to flower, Cannafornia handles the entire production process in house, with water being the only outside element. This essentially eliminates the risk of any contamination while producing premium, pesticide-free OG cannabis. OG is cannabis nomenclature for world-renowned handcrafted California marijuana, with a commonly accepted definition of the acronym being “Ocean Grown.”

All told, Cannafornia now has approximately 146,000 square feet of greenhouse cultivation space, 35,000 sq. ft. of nursery space, and 11,000 sq. ft. for processing and manufacturing. At the facilities, the company produces different types of flowers, including indica, sativa and hybrids. 

Going forward, the company is expanding its already formidable manufacturing and cultivation footprint. This includes operating two facilities in Salinas with 600,000 square feet of greenhouses, a THC processing plant in Long Beach, CBD processing facility in Sacramento, and eventually a 270-acre farm in Florida.

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Presently, the company has a total of 16 licenses covering cultivation, nursery, processing, manufacturing, delivery and retail. 

Before Cannafornia products – currently consisting of flowers, pre-rolls, oil cartridges and disposable pens – make it to retail shelves, they go through independent laboratory testing to analyze THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content, CBD (cannabinoid) levels and to verify the lack of any contaminants. The brand is already on the shelves at over 50 of 700 licensed dispensaries in California.

 Cannafornia: High Quality and Handcrafted Cannabis Products Greenhouse Grown in Sunny Salinas California

According to King in a corporate video, Cannafornia has a goal to bring great quality, organic cannabis into people’s lives whether it is for medical use for glaucoma, arthritis, cancer, seizures or even as a mood enhancer to help users get through the day. “It really helps a lot of people…If they just knew about it and gave it a chance,” he says.

Ultimately, management has a goal to continue expansion to become one of the largest distributors of cannabis products in California.

Horizontal Growth

As part of the growth plan, Cannafornia’s CBD division is opening a new certified food manufacturing facility in Sacramento for the purpose of manufacturing CBD products under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). The facility will also include an R&D lab for new product development, including tinctures, capsules, edibles, inhalers, and pet products.Cannafornia’s CBD Balm

With hemp-derived CBD legalized in the U.S. at the start of 2019 through the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, interstate and international commerce is now open. Cannafornia, which already has a CBD balm on the market, is taking a unique approach with its strategy of launching feminine CBD products during Q1 2020. The goal is to sell products in national chains like Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Bed, Bath and Beyond and others, while targeting international distribution beginning with Latin America and Europe.

CBD, a non-intoxicating compound of cannabis sativa, is widely publicized for its potential therapeutic benefits. By definition hemp contains little to no THC, the part of cannabis responsible for the psychoactive high. Athletes from all walks of life are touting the benefits of CBD in pain management and muscle recovery, amongst other things.

Social Media Heavyweight

Across its brands and 13 user accounts, Cannafornia has more than 1 million followers on social media. But, that’s only the start of the breadth of the exposure the brand receives.

The new CBD division was unveiled only six weeks ago and all the basic blocking and tackling to establish the Cannafornia brand is showing through immediately. The wellness-focused unit initially partnered with UFC welterweight champion Colby “Chaos” Covington as a brand ambassador. Covington trumpets the recovery effect of Cannafornia’s CBD balm, claiming  “CBD changed my life.”

 UFC welterweight champion Colby “Chaos” Covington Cannafornia’s CBD Brand Ambassador

Covington’s signing was followed shortly thereafter by the launch of the Cannafornia Fight Team, which involved the addition of:

  •     Derrick Lewis (aka The Black Beast) – Heavyweight
  •     Jairzinho Rozenstruik (aka “Bigi Boy”) – Heavyweight
  •     Jared Cannonier (aka “The Killa Gorilla”) – Middleweight
  •     Isaac Thomson (a.k.a. Ice Cold) –Bantamweight
  •     Anna Maria Verbeek (a.k.a. “Fight Queen) – Strawweight 

Across social media platforms, the addition of the elite athletes promotes Cannafornia to hundreds of thousands of more consumers, which should continue to drive brand awareness concurrent with corporate expansion efforts.

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About Ash Stringer



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