As our tour bus pulled into the 160-acre facility, I was expecting a tyrannosaurus to jump at me like a scene from Jurassic Park. The Coachillin’ Industrial Cultivation & Ancillary Canna-Business Park’s massive facility shares both the size and advanced tech of the famous dinosaur theme park, only Coachillin’ isn’t fantasy, it’s real life! There’s a condominium complex to the right, indoor grow facilities to the left, a massive water storage reservoir that looks like a small lake, and construction crews as far as the eye can see. Founder, Kenny Dickerson, explains how their water’s pH levels are so perfect that they started a bottle watered company – and let me tell you, the water was delicious. I didn’t catch Kenny’s entire explanation of the science behind their water because I was too distracted reading the “Coming Soon” sign about a cannabis-friendly outdoor amphitheater, with seating in the shape of a pot leaf! Where are we?!
As I finally got my wits about me and took it all in, I soon discovered that our NUGL crew was witnessing cannabis history, first hand. The Coachillin’ Industrial Cultivation & Ancillary Canna-Business Park is located in the heart of Desert Hot Springs on a 160-acre lot with facilities boasting over 3 million square feet – the largest in the US and likely the world! The atmosphere is a mix of cannabis operators ranging from cultivation to extraction and everything in-between. Coachillin’ has designed one of the best cannabis co-op’s on the planet by offering the latest in technology and compliance, reducing the cost of goods sold, and increasing profits. To put it simply, they offer a better turn-key solution for cannabis business than anyone else in the market. Coachillin’ is a game-changer.
Anyone that has been in or around the cannabis industry has heard, or worse lived, the horror stories of failure. Often the cause of these failures is uneducated, “mainstream” investments in former black-market businesses, that have little understanding of the legalities involved in proper operations. This collision of two worlds has left many investors broke with little or no recourse. A lack of checks and balances, poor management, and ever-changing regulations whip up a recipe of disaster and financial collapse. In 2020 especially, the cannabis industry has fallen hard.
By combining cost-saving solutions with never before seen technology, Coachillin’ has become a solid foundation in which successful businesses can flourish. Coachillin’ has addressed solutions for water, power, and security in such a way that operational expenses are cut by as much as 50%! Combine that with their advanced technology in AI analytics, helping operators streamline business in a cooperative environment, and you create an almost foolproof platform.
The who’s who of cannabis brands are moving in and moving in quick. What’s even more impressive are the different business opportunities that have grown organically from their development. Manufacturing companies can buy and lease the land they operate on, and investors can invest in single buildings becoming landlords or by purchasing equity in Coachillin’. Coachillin’ even offers consulting services from the likes of the legendary OG Razor who modestly told us the story of how he created the Skywalker OG strain on George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch!
Coachillin’ was founded by Kenny Dickerson and is operated by him and his children, Michael and Katherine. Based on their resumes and backgrounds, I can honestly say this is a family of geniuses who were created by a higher power to build the greatest cannabis company the world has ever seen. Kenny has a background in engineering, Michael in tech, and Katherine a background in operations. Together they have created a magical place that will revolutionize the cannabis industry, and expand across the globe.
The learn more about Coachillin’ and their Industrial Cultivation & Ancillary Canna-Business Park visit there NUGL profile at https://app.nugl.com/listings/coachillin-business-park or their company website at https://coachillin.com/
Leaves of Legend: Lead Like a Legend
Cannabis has helped shaped the culture of all music genres and throughout the years, it has definitely had a huge influence in the hip-hop game. Music Moguls such as Snoop Dogg, Wiz Kalifa, and others have endorsed cannabis brands, launched their own, and been considerable influencers in the industry. It is no accident that Leaves of Legend has evolved into what may become the next mega-brand in the space.
A brainchild of Krazie Bone of Bone Thugs N Harmony, Leaves of Legend, creates specific strains for legends of all types. This concept has never been done before and has the back-up to become a marketing volcano. Bone Thugs n Harmony has been a driving force in the hip-hop game and bringing hip-hop to the mainstream with hits like Tha Crossroads. It is only fitting for Krayzie Bone of the legendary Bone Thugs n’ Harmony not only launching a premium cannabis line but adding much more to the movement with community involvement and further helping make cannabis be seen in a positive light.
Leaves of Legend threw a launch party in Los Angeles that was nothing short of the who’s who in Hollywood and the industry. Everything from a tattoo artist, violinist, saxophonist, body painters and, of course, performances by Krayzie Bone himself. The night had a buzz in the air, and you could tell this was not a standard cannabis rollout but more like an album release party. It is clearly a sign of the times that cannabis is nothing short of a mainstream product today. The negative stigma of cannabis is dwindling, and the real benefits of the flower are now recognized nationwide. Once the smoke cleared, literally, from the party, we had a chance to sit down with the people at Leaves of Legend and get to, what they call, the business of helping people.
In the near horizon they are sponsoring a Pay-Per-View event titled It Was All A Stream, featuring live performances by Snoop Dogg, Bone Thigs N Harmony, and more. It is safe to say Leaves of Legend is taking mainstream media to the cannabis industry like never before.
As Managing Partners of Leaves of Legend, Benjamin Wolf and Mike Sheppard see a vision infusing cannabis, lifestyle, community and of course, Legends, to reach and help communities all across the geo-demographical divides. They were approached by Krazie Bone with a business opportunity to launch a cannabis brand and use the influence of legend’s like Krayzie Bone to give back to the community. The vision was not just to give back but to underprivileged kids in need. Most would say, WHAT, cannabis and kids, and YES, it’s time, and it is happening. Leaves of Legend partnered with ASAF Angels, a non-profit helping mentor kids with all types of musical training from instrumental to production. A piece of all proceeds will be donated to teachers, instruments, and kids, in general, to make this happen. Krayzie Bone used his influence to put this together and plans to feature a new legend every quarter with a new strain. Krayzie Bone launched his first strain, 9Nine OG named after his album. Leaves of Legend has since rolled out Krayzie Glue and Family Tree strains. The quarterly rotation will expand reach, demographic, and influence with a community focus from all genres. Now don’t forget about the flower. It’s the best of the best, tested, all organic and premium fire. Krayzie Bone would have nothing short of offering the best cannabis on the market. We can’t wait to sit back, take a hit of it, and well just, Be Legendary.
To the Moon – Dr. Zodiak’s Moonrocks Is Going National and Beyond
The MoonRocks name and brand have become so globally ubiquitous that casual cannabis and hip-hop fans may assume that they were extracted directly from the lunar surface to get mankind stonier than ever before. Dr. Zodiak, Creator of the original MoonRocks, can assure you that while the backstory may be slightly less cosmic, it is still completely out-of-this-world.
Dr. Zodiak got his creative start with a BA in film from Cal State University Los Angeles, graduating with honors. His talent and eye for production helped him establish the entertainment industry connections that led him to his most ambitious project yet; in 2011 Dr. Zodiak produced a cage fighting event for a sold-out crowd of 14,000 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. “Cage Vs. Cons” aka Cops Vs. Cons was an event that put active Police Officers in the cage against ex-convicts — hosted by Danny “Machete” Trejo and actor Tom Lister Jr. (Debo from Friday). The event consisted of live hip hop entertainment from the likes of E40, B-Real of Cypress Hill, Too Short, Psycho Realm, Ras Kass, Shabazz The Disciple of Gravediggaz & more, with the intensity culminating with the spectacle of cops fighting convicts in the cage MMA style.
It was at that event that Doctor Z met Kurupt and launched the MoonRock empire with their first line, in 2013. The original MoonRock method involves glazing top shelf indoor flower in cannabis oil (live resin) and dousing it in golden kief, leaving a product with insane 50% and higher THC levels. Though often imitated, no one has managed the viral and global marketing success of Dr. Zodiak’s original product, which has now won multiple High Times Cannabis Cup and other prestigious industry awards.
When rapper and long-time weed lover Snoop Dogg first tried Moon Rocks, he used social media to express his love for the product. He promoted it heavily on his Instagram and Youtube, introducing the phrase ‘MoonRocked out’ while clowning on friends like Bow Wow passed out in his studio, and Wiz Khalifa passed out at the airport after overestimating their tolerance for that massive dose of THC. From there, the brand went global, now stacking up over a BILLION YouTube views combined, through songs that include mentions and praise for MoonRocks. Artists who have shouted out MoonRocks include Cardi B, who said, “I’m moonwalkin’ in the 6, sticky with the kick, MoonRocks in this b–ch” in her hit Bartier Cardi. Snoop Dogg (of course), Kodak Black, XXXTentacion, 2 Chainz, Juicy J, 21 Savage, Nav, Juice WRLD, Mobb Deep, Roddy Ricch, Lil Uzi Vert, Brotha Lynch Hung, Money Man, Yung Lean, and the legendary Wu-Tang are just some of the influential artists who have spread the massive global impact of – and hunger for – MoonRocks. At this point, Dr. Zodiak’s only barrier to the massive global market hungry for his products is the remaining anti-business, anti-science, and anti-human laws that still restrict cannabis from the vast majority of his fans.
Though they aren’t yet reaching every market that they hope to someday soon, the anticipated re-launch of MoonRocks in California is now in full effect, as Dr. Zodiak describes. “We’re partnered with Sea Bright Farms located in Long Beach and are servicing dispensaries throughout California with MoonRocks, MoonWalk, Dr. Zodiak & MoonRock pre-rolls, Megablunts, and introducing new products as well, like Dr. Zodiak’s MoonRock Sauce Carts, Bobby Blues Brownies, Silverback, Razzle Dazzle, Lynwood Lemonade, & Lion Heart Clear.” Doctor Z also teases the upcoming launch of MoonRock Ice – which will replace the kief that the rocks are usually rolled in with pure THC-A. All of these new products coming out wouldn’t be possible without my Visual Blast & MoonRock Family hitting the pavement hard, daily! He and his team are also building partnerships across the country, in legal markets that now include Arizona, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oklahoma, Florida, and Michigan. They hope that Washington D.C. will cooperate with their national goals for themselves and cannabis access. “I’m hoping this year for a bill of federal cannabis legalization.” Dr. Z optimistically predicts. “I think we’ll be able to get more of the states and all the country legal very, very soon because there’s demand in every state and every country worldwide.” He hopes the effect that music and popular culture have had on the demand for cannabis – and specifically MoonRocks – will help them achieve the ultimate goals they knew were realistic since Snoop Dogg’s videos and their brand first spread from Southern California across the entire world. “Our main goal is going GLOBAL, PERIOD, and we will do that by partnering with the solidified manufacturers and distributors worldwide!” Recognizing that the legal access to cannabis markets and products are closer than they’ve ever been, Dr. Zodiak credits music as a path toward MoonRocks place in the spread of cannabis culture; “I feel like music was a big part of the push for the legalization of marijuana. And I think music and weed go hand in hand. There are many supporters of marijuana in the music community and the hip hop community, and that’s pushing the whole world to legalize it.” With millions of fans worldwide, and a growing American market eager to enjoy the products they’ve been rapping about for years, the future outlook for MoonRocks is bright and hazy.
Cannabis businesses and entrepreneurs interested in Dr. Zodiak’s MoonRock for out of state licensing, or to carry MoonRock products in dispensaries, please call 800-420-6957 or visit MoonRocks online at www.ZODIAKSMOONROCK.com
Pharmcapital: Quicker Non-Dilutive Capital For A Growing Industry
For cannabis businesses, maintaining adequate working capital while attempting to operate and expand remains a constant concern for the industry. While many have turned to public markets in the past as a means of funding, cannabis businesses are finding that public markets aren’t as accommodating as they were just a year ago, and public and private investors alike are demanding lower valuations and therefore larger percentages of the companies they invest in, and in many cases access to capital has dried up completely.
Pharm Capital has stepped in with credit solutions for cannabis businesses that don’t want to trade percentages of ownership for day to day working capital and need access to capital fast. What qualifications are needed for Pharm Capital to provide credit to your business? Revenue and a bank account. Period. This opens up a large percentage of the cannabis industry to an available solution for their working capital crunch.
What Pharm Capital provides is an unsecured working capital and bridge financing instrument for companies seeking access to short term credit. Colin Conway, the Managing Partner of Pharm Capital, explains, “ With close to zero available credit in the market, we’ve created a credit instrument which allows for companies to gain access to capital without having to go through a lengthy and often unsuccessful underwriting process and get the capital they need to operate. I’ve seen so many operators spend months fundraising and come up empty handed, meanwhile their business suffers.” Pharm Capital can provide $250,000 to $5,000,000 in funding in less than a week. Of course, for virtually all banks and lenders, cannabis business is a nonstarter, due to the unjust and hypocritical federal Schedule 1 status still being applied to the plant.
If one were to consider raising equity for short term needs, the underwriting process is much too lengthy and involved for most business operators seeking to keep up in a highly active and competitive market. As Conway explains, when companies try to take the equity route for funding, “It generally takes 60-90 days to get a deal done, maybe longer. And a lot of these companies, they don’t have time to wait that long.” The bottom line remains, though, that even when successfully submitting to the lengthy and arduous process, raising equity is a process that takes the attention away from management’s focus on operating and growing a successful business.
So what are the options for a cannabis business looking for a way to grow and create market share? Of course, one needs to find ways to get capitalized in order to meet customer demand, which means access to capital. For many cannabis businesses, that boils down to private money or public equity – which means giving up part of your ownership of the brand or idea you’ve grown or incubated – or there’s credit. Pharm Capital is one of the very few companies offering non-dilutive capital, allowing entrepreneurs, agricultural operators and creators a solution for immediately sustaining and growing their business, without giving up any ownership. Companies that can display their viability via revenues and financial history can now have a quicker and easier solution to the barriers in accessing cannabis capital.
Resource Innovation Institute: Advancing Resource Efficiency to Create a Better Cannabis Future
Resource Innovation Institute to Release Best Practices Guides for Cannabis Growers at MJBizCon Vegas
The cannabis industry has now grown to the point that cultivators are facing cost and scale pressures that require them to operate their production facilities more efficiently. Resource Innovation Institute assembled some of the most experienced voices for its Technical Advisory Council, and has created a comprehensive set of standards for cannabis growers in the areas of lighting and HVAC systems. The advice in their Guides is also relevant to the cultivation of other crops grown in controlled environments. The Guides will be released at MJBizCon Vegas’ Associations Day, Tuesday, December 10, 2019, at 3:00pm. The availability will be followed by MJBizCon Association Day’s cocktail reception, located at Room N203; Las Vegas Convention Center; 3150 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Included on the panel will be:
Derek Smith, Executive Director, Resource Innovation Institute
Matt Gaboury, Master Cultivator (Oregon)
Corinne Wilder, Director, Global Business Operations, Fluence by OSRAM (Texas)
Laura Breit, CEO, Root Engineers (Oregon)
Keith Coursin, President, Desert Aire (Wisconsin)
Mike Zartarian, Principal, Zartarian Engineering (Massachusetts)
Shane Schmitt, GM/Founder, Wy’east Oregon Gardens (Oregon)
Nadia Sabeh, Ph.D., President, Dr. Greenhouse (California)
NUGL spoke to Derek Smith, the executive director of RII, about what he hopes to accomplish with the organization and event. Derek’s background includes working in sustainability in multiple other sectors before coming to cannabis four years ago. As he tells us, that helped establish the conversation around best standards and practices in cannabis. “We had a really strong sense borrowing from other industries; creating a facilitated conversation around best practices which are coming from different perspectives is really a critical piece of the maturation of an industry.” The industry-wide need also led to collaboration between professionals who may otherwise be competing for the same business. “We were really excited to pull together cultivators, engineers, architects, and manufacturers on group calls where competitors are actually striving for the same goal, which is about the cultivator; what does the cultivator need and what can help the cultivator understand how to make better choices to use less energy as they produce a great quality product.” Derek is hoping that their 20-page guide, and the discussions they host and incubate, lead to better all-around industry and standard. “The aim is to kick off the process of creating a culture of best practice in the industry that is open and transparent, data-driven, and science based.”
Resource Innovation Institute (RII) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance resource efficiency to create a better agricultural future. Founded in 2016 in Portland, OR, USA, RII’s Board of Directors includes the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a former Energy Policy Advisor to two Oregon governors, a former board member of the US Green Building Council and leading cannabis industry players. The organization has unique expertise in data, policy, and education related to energy use in controlled environment agriculture (CEA). Its Cannabis PowerScore benchmarking tool is backed by the world’s largest dataset on CEA energy use. RII’s Technical Advisory Council is the leading multi-disciplinary body assessing the environmental impacts and best practices associated with cultivation resource issues. In 2018, RII advised the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on the establishment of the world’s first cannabis energy regulations, and it is now advising other governments on CEA-related energy policies. RII’s Efficient Yields cultivation workshops are the only grower-led, non-commercial venues for the exchange of resource-efficient cultivation best practices. RII is funded by utilities, foundations, governments, and leading members of the supply chain serving CEA, from LED manufacturers to HVAC engineers. Visit their website at https://resourceinnovation.org/. Follow them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Sunnabis Farms: Cannabis Survival in The Emerald Triangle
Survival in the California Cannabis Industry: How Small Legacy Farms in the Emerald Triangle Have Set Themselves Up To Weather The Storm
When you’ve been a cultivator for a couple of decades, you figure you’ve encountered pretty much everything that can destroy cannabis; deer, rodents, mites of every variety, aphids, thrips, cucumber beetles, woodlice, even termites. And then, Proposition 64 passes. You watch in awe and horror as the industry slowly collapses around you. Yet somehow, your farm and the farms around you are able to maintain and sustain, and many are even ready for expansion. This isn’t accidental or a fluke; it’s because as a legacy cultivator and (generally) a homesteader, we’ve learned how to live simply. And, more importantly, we’ve learned how to grow cannabis so good that was sold as indoor in Southern California for decades during the era of 215.
As taxes increase and regulations continue to be problematic, at best, knowing how to work with your plants as a low impact crop utilizing the sun, natural water, native soil, and minimal purchased inputs becomes even more necessary. The low overhead of open-air light deprivation set-ups and full-term outdoor means the slim margins aren’t nearly as impactful as they are on large corporate grows that include electrical bills, lighting, new soil, and chemical fertilizers. Expensive greenhouses with automatic light dep tarps and timers are a luxury that the industry is beginning to have a hard time justifying.
On the small family farms, like ours, we minimize many of the costs generally associated with cultivation. At Sunnabis: Humboldt’s Full Sun Farms, we use free energy in the form of sunlight. We make our own nutrients and pesticides using the natural farming methods taught by Korean Natural Farming (KNF) guru Chris Trump. Our native soil is enriched by compost and cover crops. Our water is provided by a pond that is filled by rain and a seasonal creek.
But most importantly, the decades of experience in the cultivation of cannabis has taught me how to recognize a problem before it becomes a serious issue. Knowing how to properly scout for pests and identify and mitigate them before infestation occurs is one of the keys in cultivation, right up there with being able to spot nutrient deficiencies before they can negatively affect yields. We have been cultivating our soil for years, and it’s become a balanced living soil system that allows for our crops to be strong and healthy. Science has shown that pests attack weak plants, and while our farm isn’t perfect, and sometimes we get genetics that are more prone to pest attack, we generally don’t suffer the massive disease or infestations that have been known to destroy entire crops. Genetics that have been bred and acclimated for decades for our climate are easy to source and produce superior plants that are highly resistant to botrytis and powdery mildew. The addition of a Lactobacillus foliar spray and horsetail tea provides almost complete protection as long as the grower sticks to the schedule. These techniques and tools aren’t exclusive to outdoor, either.; they’re easily tailored and tweaked to make indoor cultivation much more sustainable as well.
The hills in the Emerald Triangle of Northern California are full of growers that began with small guerrilla grows up in the ranchlands, and who slowly expanded into proper farms. We brought our genetics and knowledge of plant health and best farming practices with us when we came out of the cannabis closet, and many of us have experience in every type of cultivation that exists. And let’s get real. While it’s easy to grow cannabis, on some level, it’s not so easy to grow really good cannabis consistently, especially if you aren’t super familiar with the issues that face this crop, and don’t know how to spot them early on. Just like all farming, it takes years of experience to be able to pull it off will with decent profit margins intact. We see the failure of so many large grows that could probably have been avoided if there was a highly seasoned and educated cultivator in charge, or at least on payroll as a monthly advisor. One or two runs with one of these experts can teach newer growers more than they’ll learn in years on their own, and chances of total catastrophic crop loss is almost entirely negated. Learning how to take a $90,000 per year nutrient budget and reducing it to less than $10,000 using KNF, for example, is well worth the transition, and making that transition in the right way with proper advising is key to not losing quality. The smaller legacy cannabis farms in Humboldt County know this, and the smart ones have cut costs and watched margins. They know that while the margins are still slim, especially with tax hikes and 280e laws, they also know that they can survive much more easily than the huge, multi-acre grows that aren’t sustainable in their farming methods or their cultivation techniques. Many, like us, have taken the last couple of years to set up a firm foundation of environmental and regulatory stability. Because we know our craft so well, we’ve been able to hold strong in our industry despite the hurdles and speed bumps that have been excessive because of the last few years of Prop 64.
West-1 Logistics Resets the Bar for Commercial Extraction, Spent Biomass Solutions, and Advancements in Water-tech for Cannabis
Brian Hess’ background in design and development included projects for the US Military, NASA, and automotive products. Today, at the helm of WEST-1 Logistics, he’s engineering and innovating production methods in the hemp and cannabis extraction space, including a revolutionary method for reusing – and monetizing – spent biomass that otherwise creates an expensive disposal issue for large scale extractors. “Almost every extraction plant I’ve worked with recognizes there is an issue relative to the disposal of spent biomass. Everyone agrees that a solution needs to be built into the program from the onset, however entrainment of solvent in the spent biomass and developing a market for the material has had limited available options,” This was the driving factor supporting further development that would eliminate entrained ethanol from the extraction cycle in the WEST-1 systems. By combining mechanical compression, deep vacuum and air pressure, WEST-1 extraction systems remove 95.5% of the solvent from the biomass during the extraction process. Methods by which the spent material is used in building products and/or bio energy at the extraction site make up part of the solution package delivered by WEST-1.
Driven personally by the potential for the broader national and global implementation of cannabinoids in the fight for cancer, over the last 8 years, Brian Hess has worked to scale WEST-1’s extraction and post-processing systems for maximum impact. Scalable systems that go beyond the lab or pilot plant size, which are common in the cannabis industry, require full facility planning, automation and robust material preparation, including a plan to dispose of, or better yet utilize the spent biomass. Working directly with Point 3 Farma in Colorado, Hess, and a full team of engineers and experienced facility professionals have developed advancements in the extraction cycle. A series of processes involving deep vacuum, low temperatures, mechanical compression and air pressure are integral features of the WEST-1 plant design. Concurrent with the extraction cycle the solvent and targets are removed from the vessel for further processing, this design reduces the entrainment of solvent in the biomass, serving to lower operating cost, increase active yield ratios and produce a dry biomass waste that has the potential to be used as a base material in several other products.
The results are evidenced in the Point 3 Farma plant in Center, Colorado – due to come on line in the next few months, with a processing capability of 50,000 pounds of industrial hemp per day. This is just phase one of the two planned phases of extraction and post processing facility construction. Point 3 Farma serves as an example of efficiency and leadership in the hemp industry, and Hess places high value in being a part of this company’s evolution.
Additionally, over the last 18 months, Hess has developed an ultra-clear nano emulsified formula for cannabinoids, which makes up the active ingredient in ALT, a novel product with a unique delivery system for both THC and CBD.
You can expect further innovations coming to market in late 2020 from WEST-1 as the development of their mobile water based extraction systems make their debut.
Currently, Hess works with several international firms consulting in this field and has projects in Saint Vincent, Barbados and Trinidad developed with Rare Earth Global, with home offices in the UK.
Learn more about West-1 Engineering at www.west1logistics.com
Learn more about Rare Earth Global at www.rareearthglobal.com
Learn more about ALT at www.altlife.com
Learn More about Point 3 Farma at www.point3farma.com
DR Mircrogrid: The Energy Solution For California’s Cannabis Needs
Microgrids As An Energy Solution for Cannabis
For cannabis growers in California – particularly in the rapidly expanding legal indoor market – there are few concerns as constant and costly as energy. Issues with capacity and access have become routine, as companies grow and the state’s overburdened grid struggles to keep up with demand, and it’s own managerial shortcomings. DR Micrgogrid is a Southern California based utility provider, originally built to adapt to the massive and changing energy needs of the state’s many industries, including the gigantic agriculture market; California agriculture generated over $100 billion in economic activity in 2018. DR Microgrid has now turned their attention and solutions to cannabis, in a moment of increasingly urgent need for the budding but rapidly growing industry.
A ‘microgrid’ is pretty much what it sounds like; an independent ‘energy island’, based on traditional and renewable energy sources, that allows the customer to exist outside of the high costs, inefficient customer care, and breaches in trust and service that the large utility providers often come along with. When they were approached — initially by Adam Meyn of Cannatech Network — about the major energy issues and costs specifically faced by the growing cannabis industry, they recognized both a need and an opportunity. Cannabis, Hemp, and Controlled Environment Agriculture is the nation’s fastest-growing agriculture sector. The modern growing process has kept the cannabis industry a substantial energy consumer, and the utilities have struggled to provide adequate power to support its growth. This problem is compounded for facilities in remote areas, where infrastructure wasn’t designed to supply the energy capacity needed for growers.
DR Microgrid provides power, protection, and proper profile through the building of microgrids, addressing what they have identified as three main areas of concern for the industry:
Not Enough Power – Facilities are being denied interconnection and service upgrade requests, and often made to wait several months for service from the Utility – forcing businesses to put operations on hold.
Inconsistent Power – Facilities are experiencing blackouts and brownouts (in the past year more often from temporary reductions in system voltage or total system capacity) have had lights, computers, and other electronic devices ruined – causing disruption and sometimes loss of production.
Power Profile – Cities in California are now proposing restrictions on cannabis growers after backlash from residential consumers facing rising electricity bills, and the state potentially missing its energy reduction goals – blamed by many at least partially on the high energy use typically required for indoor grows.
The DR Microgrid combines generation from solar, fuel cells, CHP, and natural gas generators, along with energy storage and advanced controls. These all combine to give the facility the ability to “island” itself from the grid when blackouts and brownouts occur, when rates are the highest, or when supporting the grid network via demand response. “We have been called in to provide support to facilities for various reasons surrounding these three areas of concern,” says DR Microgrid president AJ Perkins. He also gives some background on the needs that introduced him and DR Microgrid to the cannabis market and its specific – and urgent – energy needs. “Cannatech Network brought us in to help a high profile facility that was only able to get 2500 amps but needed 3500. We see many facilities that need an extra 200-400 amps and are waiting an average of 15 months to get the power they need. We learned of a facility that was running their diesel generator every day to supplement their power, and the California Air Resources Board came and removed their generator. We are able to come in with a microgrid and give them a specially designed system that can be installed and commissioned quicker, reducing their cost of delay.” This highlights another of the uniquely needed services of this new agricultural wave: reducing the time it takes to get energy needs met, and more efficiently beginning or continuing operations. One point of frustration for many cannabis growers; large utility companies often do not trust that cultivators will be in business long enough to warrant an expedited upgrade, and the waitlists have grown accordingly. DR Microgrid is here to help, and can provide increased amperage within months instead of years.
Indoor and Outdoor: DR Microgrid For Safety and Efficiency
The DR Microgrid solution is not just for indoor grows and facilities, however, as AJ further elaborates. “We have a few of these same customers that are at the end of lines and although blackouts were not prevalent for them (at the time), the fluctuation of power had caused their lights to explode causing a fire in one of the grow rooms and destroying their crop with fire and smoke.” DR Microgid provides stabilization from both reductions and surges that can otherwise endanger a crop or operation. This scenario isn’t just hypothetical, either; a recent Northern California emergency power outage by PG&E threatened thousands of cannabis farms and indoor grows.
Another area of concern is the state-mandated electronic tracking system needed to allow transporters and distributors to continue to operate when power is out. With a microgrid, they are now able to have consistent, reliable energy that would allow for normal operations for hours or days at a time.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyrMOOt0s8Y[/embedyt]
Sometimes just keeping up with trends in energy efficiency is enough to get growers saving energy and reducing strain on the grid. “We had one customer that wanted a microgrid to help reduce their usage specifically because he wanted to ‘look like his neighbor.’ He said that he knew that his power bill was many times higher than other businesses in his area, and he also didn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb.” For customers such as this, who are not prepared for the unexpected, or are in need of more energy independence, there are lower-cost solutions as well. “Rather than doing a full facility offset, he chose to go with a microgrid that would reduce his utility costs by 60% and protect just essential loads. In the event of a power outage, his crops and main electrical equipment would still operate, protecting his business.”
The California wildfire season has become more of a year-round phenomenon, and public safety power outages are happening more frequently, especially toward the end of the calendar year when the bulk of this year’s multi-billion dollar crop is coming in from the field for processing and drying. Maintaining temperature and humidity control is also just as crucial to these facilities, and resiliency is now at a premium. An indoor facility experiencing two days of no indoor light could ruin an entire crop.
In a state and industry committed to the cleanest and most efficient supplier of energy needs available, microgrids provide energy independence. They are an “energy insurance policy,” used for emergencies and everyday operations alike. Through combining on-site power generation, battery storage with intelligent controls that “island” from the grid, critical equipment can still operate during power outages. DR Microgrid is helping create the path to a resilient, reliable, and cleaner energy footprint for our businesses, our communities, and our grid.
For further information and customer inquiries, please reach out here.
Coachella Valley Cannabis Alliance Network Member Profile on Iluminar Lighting
ILUMINAR Lighting (Subsidiary brand of Luminous Planet Ltd.)
Year Business Started
2014 Launched ILUMINAR Lighting brand
Total Number of Employees
35 Employees in North America – 130 Employees Overseas
Keep the company innovative and agile, continually evolving to suit needs and demands, not trends and tech gossip. We approach solutions and partnerships and don’t lead merely with profits and corporate sales goals, but with compassion to grow with the industry and solve for the real issues by delivering the best products available on the market.
Company Owner(s) and Senior Management
Shawn Brissette – CEO
Complete oversight of the Sales channel and development of the Commercial Division. Shawn works directly with wholesalers, commercial facility developers, field representatives, key industry personnel and developing Licensed Producers. This gives Shawn one of the best understandings of the current market trends and needs in the Cannabis Industry. Shawn enjoys working side by side with facilities daily and gaining a real-time understanding of their needs at the product level. As a veteran company, Shawn Brissette and ILUMINAR Lighting can leverage flexibility and knowledge, delivering products that are in demand instead of pushing existing inventory that has become outdated. Shawn’s business model has more than 60% of his products custom built per order, which reduces inventory levels and keeps the business flexible to consumers and industry needs.
Shawn Brissette has one mission statement; ask about the goals and potential obstacles of the customer, then custom tailor solutions to fit their goals and deliver a superior product without hurting their bottom line. Shawn has been in the Cannabis Industry delivering solutions and innovative lighting products for almost 20 years; his staying power has made him a well-known fixture in the industry and a go-to man for those in need of superior and reliable products and information. Shawn’s own words “I’m not here to burn bridges, I am here to build long-term partnerships”
Eric Kerker – COO
Eric works directly with marketing, sales and operations to bring the entire business together in a modern tech-savvy world. Eric is the glue and the lines that connect everything, right in the middle of ILUMINAR Lighting and its parent company Luminous Planet, bringing new applications and technology into the business today. Any given day, you can catch Eric planning a product mind map with Shawn, writing copy for a magazine article, mapping out the pricing model for new products, aiding new employee training, or editing video for social media. Eric’s biggest passion is building a new and innovative product in CAD and then 3D printing prototypes in-house so ILUMINAR Lighting can be first to market on a cutting edge new lighting fixture release. Eric has worked in several industries, giving him the ability to have a macro view of the industry and understand the details of the organization and branding for ILUMINAR Lighting.
Company Products and/or Services
LED, CMH, HPS, MH, T5 and Lighting and Environmental Controllers
ILUMINAR Lighting is a lighting manufacturer of all commercially used indoor lighting products in the agricultural market. Indoor agricultural lighting has a wide variation of products that can be offered, and ILUMINAR Lighting is one of the few companies that provide lighting for every application. ILUMINAR Lighting internal team offers complete indoor and greenhouse lighting layouts and comparison studies for commercial applications. Their products span from HPS and CMH fixtures to the high-demand LED Fixtures. They will also be offering a new controller system to be released releasing Q2-Q3 of 2019 that provides the first lighting controller that will be able to control both DE (Double Ended) and CMH (Ceramic Metal Halide) fixtures and LED fixtures for under $500. ILUMINAR Lighting offers products in every emitter/lamp category and makes sure that their clients have the largest selection of fixtures to choose from, as well as every electrical/voltage application offering fixtures from 120 Volt to 480 Volt variations. The Staff is available 24/7 to the consumer market for any assistance.
Products & Services that are Unique to the Cannabis Industry
ILUMINAR Lighting was born in the Cannabis industry, so most of its product line applies to the cannabis marketplace. Unlike many indoor lighting companies, the range of products that ILUMINAR Lighting offers is impressive. This includes high output T5 fixtures for the energy conscience prosumer grower to the high-end LED emitters for every level of grower that wants the best output without the compromise of high wattage. ILUMINAR Lighting is also the only lighting company to continue to innovate with cannabis specific products, like the Vertical Double Ended Lamp fixture, specifically made for the growers that have limited plant count restrictions and that choose to grow larger plants. Taking an old school approach and adopting a new school emitter ILUMINAR Lighting combines vertical lighting taller plants with the high output DE HPS, and MH lamps and allow the “tree” grower to stimulate the secondary and tertiary levels of the plant, hence giving the gardener a larger harvest. ILUMINAR Lighting is also launching the new HASH controller, specifically made to suit the professional gardener that wants to take total control of their operations no matter how big or small the garden. More products are planned to be released later this year.
How has the Cannabis Industry Changed in the Last Several Years?
The industry is like comparing night and day from just 2014, but even more so, 2010, with lighting from less than ten years ago has evolving tremendously. The industry has gone from fringe and basement grows to famously successful opportunities for angel investors that would have scoffed at the idea a decade ago. The majority of capital investors, large corporate manufacturers, and celebrities stayed clear of the topic of cannabis, and if they approached it, they were labeled as a fringe category. With so much changing in the last ten years the industry is positioned to make a major jump into the future.
Today, every level of technology is being used to push the Cannabis industry, and as alcohol prohibition had innovations, so does this one, the cannabis industry is pushing indoor agriculture in directions not able to be achieved anywhere else. Whereas the harvested crop carries so much value and revenue, the ability to adopt expensive technologies like LED and Plasma lights are pushing the envelope on how to grow, feed, and harvest in ways that commercial agriculture has never seen before. Our trade shows have gone from flip flops and woven ponchos to suits and Italian shoes. We will only see the professionalism rise up to levels where many of the original founders and legends of this industry will find themselves in unfamiliar territory.
What Changes do you See Happening in the Cannabis Industry in the Next 10 Years?
There have been significant moves made by big industry and from the US and Canadian governments to legalize, allowing the legal era of Cannabis will begin. These notable actions will evolve the industry in ways we have seen in the past. Companies like Anheuser-Busch, Phillip Morris and many more have been poised for five-plus years to capitalize on this complete shift in the federal status. We will continue to see the acquisition of smaller companies be acquired by large corporate entities. Commercial Grow facilities will slowly merge with companies like Reynolds or Liggett and Myer, or other major outdoor tobacco corporations.
These companies are already positioned to grow a plant that will be soon be regulated by the FDA, ATF and other governmental regulatory divisions. This does not mean we will ultimately lose the small grower, we will still have the successful “Micro Brews,” and favorite blends that the connoisseurs will boast about in magazines, focused on these remaining premier strains. There is a singularity approaching, it could be in 5 years, 10 years, no one knows just yet, but history has taught us where it is headed, and it might not be where we all wanted it to go. We all helped start this billion-pound boulder rolling downhill towards legalization, and many of us may not be ready for where it will end up, leaving our industry we love so dearly. But it has been one amazing time to be a part of and if for some reason the industry changes to completely legal… it is, in the end, what we all really wanted.
When and Why did Your Company Join CVCAN?
We joined a few months back based on a recommendation from our local distributor. We knew that the localized groups in the High Desert and Coachella Valley will be the most prominent developers in Southern California and we had been in the area working on projects. CVCAN gave us an opportunity to be present with developers and facilities in the planning stages that would be soon changing the landscape of that area. The chance to be with these groups and hearing about the developing regions, building constraints, obstacles, andsuccesses are helping ILUMINAR Lighting improve our structure and our process to deliver solutions to these facilities and in our strive to become a better partner overall.
The Coachella Valley Cannabis Alliance Network (CVCAN) is an organization that provides a responsible and productive voice for the cannabis industry throughout the Coachella Valley. Our innovative programs and events, foster networking and important information in the development, operations, regulations and outreach. For more information visit CoachellaValleyCAN.org