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Graham Farrar: Building the Largest Cannabis Farm in California

How he's growing a lot of weed β€” and selling it faster than he can grow it.

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This week, Graham Farrar, co-founder, president and chief cannabis officer of Glass House, joins the Cannabis Equipment News podcast to discuss how he is growing a lot of weed β€” but selling it faster than he can grow it.

Farrar has been in the cannabis industry since he was a sophomore in high school. As the D.A.R.E. program and "Just Say No" campaign was calling cannabis a gateway drug that made you fat, stupid and lazy, Farrar saw the opposite β€” and noticed that alcohol was more likely to be a culprit. He says cannabis makes him a better version of himself, and that it was the same for many of his friends. So after leaving college, where he studied biochemistry and molecular biology, he saw an opportunity to combine his love for tech and his love for weed into a business.

The first business was a nutrient company, making fertilizers for cannabis growers. He started by selling to farmers and greenhouses, because he thought they were the future of cannabis. But he found that while these operators were great at growing many things, they didn't know much about cannabis. He found himself teaching people how to grow weed just so they would buy his fertilizer. If these were the "best growers," and he was teaching them, Farrar felt it was time to go into business for himself.

He opened his first greenhouse around 2015, and the the getting was good: he was making $1,800 per pound. The industry also had less regulation, but he had persistent concerns about raids and interaction with law enforcement. He was doing everything by the book, but sheriffs didn't always read the book, and Farrar feared spending nights in the cage.

As the market matured, Farrar and Glass House have thrived. He says the key to his success was starting small, going from a closet to a 150,000-square-foot greenhouse and, now, 2 million square feet of canopy and 3.5 million square feet of total production.

He stresses the importance of scaling slowly: don't get too big, too fast, so you have time to get the fundamentals right.

Now, he's growing 600,000 pounds of biomass per year with his eyes set on a promising future β€” because in his heart, he knows cannabis makes the world a better place.

Jump around: 

  • Creating Glass House. (7:15)
  • Hard lessons of survival and self-confidence. (9:24)
  • Managing a massive cultivation. (11:06)
  • Maintaining quality at scale. (12:06)
  • The tools and automation used at Glass House. (14:00)
  • Skepticism over automation. (16:19)
  • Hunting for a new greenhouse. (18:34)
  • The state of cannabis in California. (21:00)
  • What broke the California market? (22:37)
  • Problems with the illicit market. (24:50)
  • Two regulatory changes that could solve 80% of California's problems. (25:56)
  • Getting into the dispensary side of the business. (28:00)
  • Federal legalization predictions. (34:34)
  • The implications of interstate commerce. (36:34)
  • Future company growth as the market matures. (39:09)

Please make sure to like, subscribe and share the podcast. You could also help us out by giving the podcast a positive review. Finally, to email the podcast or suggest a potential guest, you can reach David Mantey at [email protected].

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