Photo courtesy of Cannasol farms

Two and a half years after his cover debut, CannaSol Farms’ owner Jeremy Moberg (featured on the cover of CBT’s launch issue in November 2015) talks with Associate Editor Brian MacIver about his business, surviving the embattled Washington market, his sun-grown M.O., and his newest endeavor: the annual SunCup.

Brian MacIver: How have things been going at the farm since we first spoke with you back in November 2015?

Jeremy Moberg: The farm has improved its operations immensely since 2015. We are in the fifth year of production and have developed our own software for grading and inventorying. CannaSol has worked to reduce inputs through no-till practices, and it continues to close the carbon loop by purchasing recycled nutrients and recycling [them]. This has reduced costs and increased our environmental sustainability.

MacIver: How has the market’s evolution matched or missed your predictions?

Moberg: The market is based on supply and demand that is determined by a governmental bureaucracy. The [Washington State] Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) has largely ignored their role as gatekeepers of this market—first opening the market to scarcity and then allowing massive overproduction to produce a glut in the market. Under prohibition, it was the fear of getting arrested that kept production down, now the state must find the sweet spot where the crop is not completely commoditized to support a healthy marketplace, but is also affordable with good consumer choice.

MacIver: How have you experienced the glut of product in the Washington market?

Moberg: CannaSol has dealt with the glut by focusing on brand identity and not participating in the race to the bottom. If you don’t have brand identity and values that resonate with consumers, then all you have is price, and that is not going to get you very far. Of course, brand values only go so far with consumers, as many consumers buy purely on price.

Also, we are focused on supplying many of the top processors in the state. Generally, processors focus their energy on marketing and buying very cheaply on the open market. However, we live in an age where consumers want to know where the product comes from; processors on the open market have no story to tell. Having strong partnerships with farms like ours closes the story loop and opens their marketing possibilities. These partnerships are the future, in my mind, as everyone has their specialty. Ours is growing high-quality weed sustainably.

MacIver: You recently hosted the first annual SunCup on 4/21. Can you tell us more about the event and how it went?

Moberg: The Cup celebrates the quality of sun-grown cannabis, and there was some amazing product. We had Dr. [Ethan] Russo as the speaker, and he spoke about the full-spectrum sun creating greater and more diverse terpene and cannabinoid profiles, which result in better, longer-lasting highs. The Washington market has a bias against outdoor weed because we don’t have the long culture of growing quality that California has.

This event was judged solely by budtenders. We are selecting budtenders that are respected in the industry and value sustainability. We think this will go a long way to increase consumer awareness that choosing sustainable weed does not mean getting lower quality. Companies like CannaSol, Lazy Bee, Kiona, and Puffin are changing this narrative by producing very high-quality product that is sustainable.

MacIver: What are some lessons you’ve learned in the past two and a half years?

Moberg: One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to focus on operations and create processes that ensure good inventory management and quality control. This meant investing a lot of money into software to help accomplish this. If you push too far into the marketplace, but don’t have the operations to support it, you are asking for trouble. I made a conscious decision to focus more on operations. That has paid off as our quality and order fulfillment is more consistent and easier, which the retailers appreciate.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Brian MacIver is the associate editor for Cannabis Business Times.