With the cannabis space quickly becoming as packed as Venice Beach on a scorching summer day, it’s likewise becoming more and more difficult for new brands to truly stand out in the crowd. Technological innovation is one way to get noticed, but premium products are also finding their place in the sun. In that vein, A Golden State has launched what they’re proudly proclaiming “the most expensive cannabis flower on the market.”
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The luxury cannabis flower costs $70 – 80 per 1/8th jar (3.5g) at various retailers throughout California. Strains include Shasta Bloom (Sativa), Sierra Lemon (Sativa), Night Sky (Indica), Cloud Top (Hybrid), Mountain Shadows (Indica), Snow Dream (Indica) and more.
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While paying premium prices for your pot may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, there’s no denying that cannabis consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated about exactly what it is they’re putting into their bodies. We sat down with Nishant Reddy, Co-Founder & CEO of A Golden State, to talk about the idea behind the brand, and where they’re going from here.
When did you first discover cannabis?
I’ve always been a passionate cannabis consumer, and I realized throughout my professional career on Wall Street that cannabis was a healthy outlet, an equalizer, and it allowed me to catch up on sleep. My peers were heavily reliant on alcohol, which is a depressant. For me, it wasn’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Over time, I realized I wasn’t the only person having this epiphany that cannabis was much more conducive to stress relief and to maximizing productivity, and I knew the stigma would eventually wear off.
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What was the genesis of A Golden State?
After I got a degree in cultivation, I co-founded Satya Capital (with Simmon Saraf), a cannabis-focused private equity company. We were focused on cultivation and distribution, that’s what was most interesting to us; I wanted to create a product that I was proud to use myself, that centered around high quality, small batch flower. We partnered with Robert Masterson — he’s considered a legend in the cultivation space and is equally passionate about producing high-quality flower — and together we launched A Golden State.
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What drew you to the luxury end of the market?
It was an organic conversation between Robert and I. We wanted to found a company that would be using entirely their own genetics, that would be grown organically, using sustainable energy, where we’d be controlling and being held accountable to the entire seed-to-sale process. We are to flower what a farmer’s market is to produce.
Where do you grow, and why indoors?
We grow 100 percent indoors in Shasta Lake and Redding, California. And doing it indoors allows us to control the environment and produce the finest quality cannabis.
When you say “finest quality,” what do you mean?
My partners are perfectionists like me, and they’ll always stay true to their morals and their values. When we started A Golden State, we agreed we’d never cut corners, and that every aspect of the business would be held to those standards. We control the entire infrastructure, from the genetics to the cultivation to the nutrients, everything is hand-trimmed… all the way to the packaging, the distribution, even to the point of sale. We want to be held accountable for the entire process. All of our cardboard and labels are from recycled material and specially designated forests, and we’re looking now to explore recycled glass. We also use hydroelectric power for cultivation. We use snow melt water right off Mt Shasta at 44 degrees — we don’t treat it — and that’s one of the things that makes our flower special.
Most cannabis companies don’t have the infrastructure to produce their own products, so they’re sourcing flower from a variety of growers. Their labels are consistent, but they may be getting the flower from five different farms. We can tell you exactly where the flower came from, what seed, what room, and what the temperature was.
Is the cannabis industry moving in the direction of the wine industry, with a very wide range of pricing?
I don’t think cannabis will ever get prohibitively expensive like some wines. But there’ll be a range, and that’s because of the cost of creating. What we do is more labor intensive, there’s lots of quality control, our nutrients are expensive, and that’s what drives the correlated retail cost. Premium cannabis is at the core of what we do, but our brand is fundamentally inclusive. We believe that all can share in the experience of premium cannabis
Do you have plans to expand from flower to other products?
We started with flower because we view it as the building block of all cannabis products, and we wanted to build a brand around that. We’re currently in the process of rolling out our pre-roll line and our first extracted product lines, including oil pods for Pax products.
How does the issue of Federal legalization impact your business?
We do a lot of work in terms of legalization efforts and cannabis advocacy, working with politicians and helping them understand the benefits of legalization. In terms of legalization, we don’t view it as “if” so much as “when.” So we want to be the best in California, but our future plans definitely involve expansion into other states; we want to offer this level of experience to cannabis users all over, and they should be able to enjoy that.
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Have the regulatory issues been a hurdle even in California?
California still has a rampant problem with illegal dispensaries, roughly 3.5 illegal dispensaries to legal ones. As a licensed producer working with licensed retailers, we all pay tax and so there’s a higher cost of production and distribution. Another major obstacle in California is the expiration of temporary cultivation licenses; you have to stop doing business or you’re doing it illegally. The state has now stopped the renewal process, just due to lack of resources.
What companies have you looked to for inspiration?
The three companies that I looked up to the most were Patagonia, Aēsop, and Warby Parker. If you look at Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard was a climber, and he created a company to create the best equipment on the market. They’ve been able to focus on environmentalism, sustainable practices, human rights issues in terms of production, and they’ll continued to innovate and pave the way, not just chase profits — that’s the course we set out on. Aēsop’s focus is also on the highest quality products, the best practitioners and scientists, and it’s a minimalist, modern, elegant aesthetic, focusing on the customer experience. Warby came into the eyeglass space as a disrupter; they saw an unfair monopoly in the industry and created a high quality product at an affordable price so the masses could enjoy it. Through that process, they also have a huge charitable effort tied to the company. We want to give back, be charitable, and give our customers a great experience.
Any advice for other entrepreneurs looking to get into the cannabis space?
Find your niche, why you’re different. Be prepared and be willing to fail. Surround yourself with a smart team; there’s value in diversity in your partners, and there’s no better way to learn than being around other successful entrepreneurs. And for me, the thing that’s really helped me stay sane has been meditation.
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