CLR recently chatted with Hunter Neubauer the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Oregon based vertical. Oregrown, Inc.
Being from Oregon they do their vertical a little bit differently from the usual cash and grab types that you may have come across in other parts of the country.
Here’s what they say about themselves at the Oregrown website and yes, you may well have read the same thing on a 1000 other cannabis growers websites around the country, but we get a sense that Oregrown actually try and live by the statements they’ve made.
At Oregrown, we strive to elevate our communities, through cannabis education, consumer consciousness and innovation.
EDUCATION THROUGH EXPERIENCE.
We believe that in order for Cannabis to achieve the respect it deserves, it is our duty to help educate our consumers, our opposition and ourselves. In doing so we raise the bar on what is conventionally thought of when the topic of Cannabis is discussed.
CRAFTING QUALITY PRODUCTS.
Our goal is to create products that represent the cannabis plant in its truest form. By focusing on producing the most pure, clean products possible, we are able to drive innovation with new technology, consumer feedback, and the desire to accomplish perfection.
A CONSCIOUS FOOTPRINT.
As a corporation operating on the soil of this planet, it is our responsibility to treat the environment with respect. Our love for the outdoors is a shining light in our operations, we take pride in preserving the land we are fortunate enough to enjoy. By focusing on organic practices, we are able to take a conscious stance to continually minimizing our impact on the environment.
CLR initially asked Hunter to provide a little background on his entry into the world of cannabis business.
Already working in medical cannabis Hunter became involved with Measure 91 Oregon’s campaign to to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the state back in 2014 which in turn led to time working with the OLCC (The Oregon Liquor Control Commission) for 7 odd years in the roles of OLCC Rules Advisory Committee Member & OLCC Hemp Rules Advisory Committee Member contributing to creating workable rules and regs that would actually make the state’s nascent legislation a worthwhile exercise.
Here he is talking to the Trichomes podcast about working with legislators and regulators .
As well as working with Bend & Deschutes Chambers of Commerce, Hunter was also one of the founders of the OCA (Oregon Cannabis Association)
Here at CLR we note that the OCA’s newsletters are one of the few landing in our inbox that we actually look forward to as it is a publication that actually details how a cannabis association should operate, creating a balanced interaction between the state’s legislators and rulemakers and the industry; reminding members of where certain pieces of legislation lie, what needs to be done to get them passed and how best to work in the spirit of the legislation and with the regulators to get as close to a system that works for all parties.
Over the past few years Hunter and his colleagues at the OCA have worked with the OLCC on important practical issues such as insulation, sustainability & metrc tags amongst other things. He believes that the excellent channels of communication between business and regulators has created a “robust” cannabis sector in the state asserting that cannabis managed to achieve in 2 years what the alcohol indutry took 80 years to do.
Our conversation moved towards another area where the state excels, “knowledge”; through the trials and travails of building an industry from nothing but also the knowledge that in cannabis it is best not to lose sight of the fact that the consumer leads the market .
This is something that this publication rarely hears.
Our jurisdiction, Australia, is a perfect example with more cannabis “experts” per square inch than anywhere else on the planet. We have experts in tertiary instutions, experts running medical cannabis companies, experts at the TGA and of course a plethora of experts in politcs all of whom appear to have a knowledge base on the reality of cannabis markets and consumer demand sitting around 10% of this correspondent’s rather vacant 18 year old child.
What, we ask Hunter, does he mean by the consumer leading the market?
He calls it FREE MARKET IN A BOX with the consumer sitting at the top of the tree when it comes to operators learning how to build their business.
It is Oregon’s highly educated consumer demands that determine factors such as competition, efficiency & outstanding products. His personal experince, he indicates, is that the Oregon consumer is now creating the country’s best quality product. Something that is already known not just in other US states but also in Europe and the UK where the black market has taken to counterfeiting well known west coast strains and brands to sell them at highly inflated prices.
What part, we asked, does sustainability play in moving the industry forward?
Hunter’s repsonse is both frank and surprising considering that a cursory glance at press releases from players all over the country would suggest that the sector is barrelling at high speed toward a fully sustainable industry.
He indicates that he and many of his colleagues in the Oregon cannabis sector are somewhat more realistic about how fast cannabis can move towards a 100% sustainable production model and would prefer at the moment to concentrate on developing a “regenerative” model inituially. One that is based on sensible and accepted farming practices that improve soils to a point that they need no longer be fertilised by anything other than self produced organic matter.
Neubauer notes that he and many other Oregon growers are looking at the work of Dr. Cho Han Kyu at the Janong Natural Farming Institute in South Korea and applying those practices to cannabis
Read more about natural farming here https://natural-farming.weebly.com/mr-cho.html
Hunter admits that although regenerative farming methods are costly and take time, in a location like central Oregon where his soil isn’t as productive as other parts of the state and the country and also has to be grown in greenhouse conditions because of the climate, the decision has already been made for him.
Regenerating farmland, is, in the end commonsense, it is going to save him money, increase yield and quality and satisfy his customers on both quality and method of production.
Also in discussion with industry, regulators and consumers is the desire in Oregon to reduce waste and plastic use in the sector. We should expect to see more solutions very soon he says. The state will be moving to sustainable packaging and will move away from plastic toward hemp and mushroom packaging . At the moment in the state there’s a business / project underway to grow mushroom / fungi products that will actually be grown bespoke to order. Hunter also mentions sustainable forestry practices & p3 recycling, all as part of the solution toward moving individual businesses and the sector as a whole toward being carbon neutral.
Net neutral craft production with specified standards of practice is where he hopes to take his company and see the industry head over the next few years, he says.
As the reality of Federal Legislation looms closer there is one further issue he’d like to highlight, that of interstate commerce.
Along with his colleagues at the OCA they are currently preparing a white paper to open a discussion about how it could be managed. His main fear is that the Federal Government having ignored the sector for so long will have no concept of the subtleties of the market and if left to their own devices will create a top down system that at worst will be unworkable or at best will favour the industrialized end of the sector over the craft approach to cannabis that is currently coming to the fore in Oregon.
He hints that the paper will talk of agreements between states rather than a one approach fits all solution and he see this as the basis for a model for international trade too thus allowing Oregon to develop a high end product as the state has done in the wine and spirits sector over the last 20 years.
It is not entirely unsurprising that a discussion with an Oregon industry cannabis leader will concentrate on these issues but it certainly is encouraging to see that the cannabis sector is maturing and beginning to tackle the important issues of developing a consumer led sustainable sector both to ensure that there is a minimum of boom & bust activity, that craft triumphs over industrialized agriculture, that the land is not just preserved but farming practices improve it and last but not least, that it is the Oregon consumer that will help the producers create products that the rest of the world is envious of.
As we tend to repeat ad nauseum here at CLR, watch what they are doing in Oregon now because if you want your sector to be best practice you could do much worse than take a few pointers and hints from what the explorers are doing up in the Pacific NW.