Not so long ago we caught up with two of the people behind Siskiyou Sungrown in Oregon to find out how they were building up their brand of pure, organic cannabis for the blossoming market in the United States. Their outstanding location and focus on absolute quality has brought them their fair share of fans so far, but we wanted to catch up with them to see how they were getting on and get their opinion about how the industry is evolving.
One of the brains behind the operation, Cedar Grey, explained that the process of building a business has been a fantastic experience, yet he recognizes that it has not been entirely smooth sailing. With the medicinal and recreational aspects of the industry developing and maturing so rapidly, there have been plenty of growing pains to deal with and he believes that this is likely to continue for the next few years before things start to settle down. One of the main issues they face is the ever-changing standards set by the regulatory bodies who are trying to figure out exactly how cannabis businesses should operate. Every month there is something new to contend with or consider and Cedar explained that there is a need to be vigilant and flexible if they are to ensure that they don’t put a foot wrong. He went on to clarify that while this can be frustrating at times he knows that it all equates to progress and it’s the price that his company pays for being one of the forerunners in the market. Obviously this doesn’t just impact on the people at Siskiyou, so at least he knows that everyone has to keep up with the same regulations.
As you may have heard, one of the most shocking parts of the ‘green rush’ is that there is now a surplus of cannabis available which means the price of flower and extractable materials has bottomed out. The idea of having ‘more weed than you need’ may have once sounded like a dream come true, but it leads to a huge burden on the producers and leaves people in danger of having to dispose of excess product whilst soaking up the costs through reduced profit margins. Many of the producers in Oregon now have to face the reality that they may have to scale-back their operations, which could mean the loss of jobs in the region, if they are to ensure that they don’t find themselves in difficulty down the line. Some of the people in the region have called for a change in Federal regulations which would allow for cannabis products to cross state lines as this would allow people to move their flowers from state to state. Cedar explained that there could be some fantastic opportunities for the growers in Oregon if this happened because they border with Nevada. Nevada has a solid market for both medicinal and recreational users, but the region does not have a strong history of cultivation or the natural conditions which would benefit the plants. On the flip side of this, Oregon has a wealth of knowledgeable growers and near-perfect conditions so the partnership for the two states would work exceptionally well for all involved and the potential for tax revenues would be extremely lucrative. Currently there are no plans for this to happen, but he holds out hope that the Federal Government will give in to pressure from the grassroots organizations and accept that the move is inevitable eventually.
One of the biggest challenges that growers in Oregon face is the proposed rule change for hemp products from around the world to be allowed into the state. With the CBD market exploding in the last few years, the push for hemp-based CBD is something of a double-edged sword as it will bring in cheap products to the market but there will likely be a dip in quality as a result. As it stands at this time, only hemp grown in Oregon is allowed onto the market and Cedar believes that it is important to maintain this balance. Should the proposed change be passed into law, however, the people at Siskiyou believe that people will still be keen to invest in companies who produce higher quality products and their proprietary CBD genetics are likely to outshine their rivals for some time to come because they have invested so much time and effort into building up their own range of strains over the past few years.
Due to their dedication and hard work, Cedar explains that they have been heavily focused on the CBD market and they hope to keep expanding further over the coming years. Due to regulations they have to source all of their genetics from within their state and this means that they have been reliant on strong links within the cannabis community to ensure they can deliver the best product that they can. The CBD market in the US is already flooded with competitors, even without the potential influx of international hemp, and Siskiyou have been expanding their reach with eyes on the global market. Cedar believes that while there is always the chance that the number of competitors will continue to increase, their focus on organic quality should hopefully ensure that they are able to develop their following further. Having already achieved relative success with sales in health food stores they are now looking towards new markets such as acupuncture, healing and outdoor sports enthusiasts who are all showing increasing levels of interest in CBD as a supplement to aid recovery from activity and injury. In order to stay competitive, Siskiyou Sungrown are looking at ways of raising capital by working with a group who are aiming to connect them to some investors who can help bring their ideas to fruition.
When asked about the possibility of the big brands moving into the cannabis market, Cedar explained that he has heard a number of rumors floating around that there have been representatives from companies who are trying to find out more about the potential of CBD products which would fit into their range. While they are yet to approach Siskiyou officially, he expects that there is likely to be more interest over the coming years as the laws change at a Federal level. It is unlikely that multinational corporations would take the risk of investing too heavily in a market which is so unstable and prone to change, but once there is absolute clarity in the rules and guidelines surrounding both CBD and THC we should expect to see some of the more recognizable brands adding cannabis-infused products to their ranges. For now, it is certainly an opportunistic time for smaller companies who are prepared to work within the ‘grey areas’ of the legislation as the high level of risk has the potential to deliver substantial rewards. As they say, fortune favors the bold and this is certainly the truth within this young industry.
For now, companies like Siskiyou Sungrown can only work towards establishing their foothold by releasing new products on a regular basis and taking on-board feedback from consumers. Cedar hopes that once the ‘big boys’ come into play there will be more than enough room for the smaller companies and craft growers who will have a wealth of experience and an established customer base on their side.
Originally published in Weed World Magazine issue 138