Rob Pero is the founder of Canndigenous, a hemp cultivator based in Cambridge, Wisconsin. The company is just wrapping up its third full grow season while growing its CBD product development business. The company's CBD products take the form of flower, oil and "different medicines specific to CBD."
Pero said his company's grow operation includes approximately 100 plants that are grown for CBD extraction. Canndigenous uses organic farming techniques which means no fertilizers. He said this year's seedless grow of two strains should yield a couple hundred pounds.
Pero started Canndigenous in 2020 and said his initial focus was on building the brand instead of just "growing cannabis and hoping that it could be sold." That means he put his own values regarding sustainability and transparency at the forefront.
"We wanted to be transparent about what our practices are and provide some transparency in regards to where the product that people are ingesting is coming from," Pero said. "Unfortunately, in Wisconsin or in the cannabis industry in general, there's not a lot of credibility or transparency or peace of mind in knowing where your product is coming from."
Pero and Canndigenous follow an Ojibwe Seven Generations principle, a way of life that dictates you should plan for seven generations ahead and be mindful of the work our grandfathers and grandmothers did seven generations ago. Canndigenous pursues a zero-waste policy, which means that it works to use or reuse everything it produces. Pero said that whatever his company doesn't send off for extraction goes back into the fields.
Pero acknowledged that he is working in a growing industry within a tricky regulatory landscape and he said Canndigenous has sought to collaborate with other companies and organizations to help create better business models. To that end, he helped found the Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association, an advocacy group that seeks to lift up Native American tribes already in or seeking a foothold in the hemp industry. Pero said that Native American tribes have some unique advantages like huge amounts of undeveloped agricultural lands and, in many cases, sovereignty.
So, ICIA, and the first annual National Indigenous Cannabis Policy Summit in D.C., has looked to build a platform for tribes to come together and problem solve strategies for growth in cannabis, be it industrial, medicinal or recreational.
"...We have an opportunity to create a template of regulation for modern society for how to do cannabis the right way," Pero said.