The rise and importance of craft cannabis
In 2016, Michael Katz and his co-founder, Justin Calvino, founded the Emerald Exchange, a platform for promoting small batch cannabis through education, events, media and retail installations. We sat down with Michael to talk about craft cannabis, its extraordinary community and how you can play your part in supporting local farmers.
What’s the difference between craft and corporate cannabis?
One of the most important differences between craft cannabis and corporate cannabis is scale. Smaller gardens give farmers more control, enabling direct care of each and every plant so that it may reach its full expression. Large grows are less focused on quality then they are on quantity they can grow at the lowest possible price.
Why is craft important?
Craft matters because quality matters, and because the legacy cannabis community has been developing their techniques for 50+ years. They understand the best ways to grow in their environments. The people creating this craft product are also great stewards of their land, aligned with regenerative principles and dedicated to protecting the environment. That mindfulness is absorbed by the cannabis plants along with the other natural inputs around it.
What is the impact of commodity cannabis on the environment?
Large scale commodity cannabis grows, both indoor and outdoor, can be destructive to the environment. Many indoor grows will use lots of electricity and non-renewable energy sources to grow their plants, as well as requiring large amounts of water in areas where water is scarce (Desert Hot Springs or the Coachella Valley, for example). Large scale outdoor grows follow the mono-cropping approach we see in Big Agriculture, which we know to deplete the soil of its nutrients, as well as disrupting natural ecosystems that support the full expression of the plant.
Why are organic cannabis farms changing the game?
Small batch cannabis farms that have persevered through the difficult and onerous licensing process to stay in the regulated market are putting everything they have on the line to provide the best cannabis to conscious consumers. Finally empowered by the legalization of cannabis, the craft cultivators of Northern California can now share the quality of their products openly, just like the vintners of Napa Valley. With their sustainable approach to agriculture in heritage growing regions with decades of expertise, their cannabis is known around the world for being the best there is.
How are small batch craft cannabis farmers affected by the corporate machine?
The big money coming into the cannabis industry has been stabilizing in many ways. Small farmers who count on their sales to live are now competing against multi-million dollar brands with the financial resources to operate at a loss while they gain market share. These large corporations are also much more adept at managing complicated compliance, which in addition to being confusing is also very expensive. Lobbying efforts by big companies have created an uneven playing field where new well-capitalized operators have a distinct advantage over heritage operators without whom there wouldn’t be a cannabis industry today.
Why is it important to have platforms like the Emerald Exchange out there?
It’s important that consumers understand the value of small batch cannabis and the community that produces it. The best craft cannabis products in the world are being grown on small farms in Northern California, but many of these farmers are finding it difficult to bring their products to market due to their small size and limited budgets. In the same way people care about the food they eat and what they put on and in their bodies, they can actively seek out those cannabis products that align with their values of health, wellness and sustainability.
What can I do as a consumer to support small batch craft cannabis farmers?
Always ask for small batch, craft cannabis when shopping at the dispensary or delivery service. Call ahead to make sure the shop is:
- Licensed by the state
- Aware of the superior quality of small batch craft cannabis.
If the person doesn’t know what that is, tell them to look into it, and then move on to another shop! Only purchase from state-licensed cannabis retailers to make sure you’re getting the cleanest, safest medicine available.
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