What does the future of cannabis farming look like? In an industry where energy consumption is always an issue, supply chains may be in permanent disarray, and regulation can destroy efficiency, producers may seem like they’re always struggling to sustainably create great products.
However, that doesn’t mean that innovation is impossible. Today, we’re talking to Jesus Burrola, CEO of POSIBL–the cannabis farm of the future–to find out why. His company uses smart greenhouses and best-in-class climate control to reduce water consumption and increase energy efficiency, vastly outperforming indoor growers.
In this episode, Jesus joins us to discuss the unique challenges to this industry, the methods and tools POSIBL uses to create consistent cannabis products sustainably and efficiently, and the work he’s doing to create meaningful opportunities and representation for Latinos in this fast-growing field.
- What it really means when POSIBL calls itself “the cannabis farm of the future.”
- How Jesus has created an environment that gives his plants the benefits of both indoor and outdoor growing.
- How Jesus defines “craft cannabis.”
- Why there’s so little minority representation in cannabis–and what Jesus is doing to change that.
- Why consumer education in cannabis is so important–and why Jesus thinks we’ve gone backwards in the last several years.
- “There is so much regulation around cannabis, and those regulations are different in every state and sometimes every county or city within that state where you are. As much as you’re trying to find the efficiencies, you’re trying to figure out the legal framework where you can actually operate. And so, you end up with a lot of inefficiencies.” – Jesus Burrola
- “The cannabis that we consume in the legal market is cleaner than your food. There are things you will go and buy at Whole Foods, like the super expensive tomatoes with all the certifications, that will have chemicals sprayed on them that are not allowed [in cannabis].” – Jesus Burrola
- POSIBL Project
- Follow POSIBL Project on Instagram
- Seed Junky
- Sativa Preservation Society
- The Social Impact Center
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Rick Kiley: Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode of The Green Repeal. I’m Rick Kiley. I’m here with my co-host, Jeffrey Boedges. I’m excited to see Jeff since the last time we did this baseball season is going to happen. So, I know we’re talking not about baseball, but it’s just on my mind.
Jeffrey Boedges: And today feels like a baseball day.
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: It feels like the perfect day to be out with some buds watching baseball.
Rick Kiley: Spring is in the air. In fact, I think when this hits the air, it will have officially happened. It will officially be spring. So, I’m really excited. We have a great guest today. On this episode, we’re sitting down with Jesus Burrola, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Posibl, the cannabis farm of the future. I just love saying it that way. You never saw…
Jeffrey Boedges: Can you say it more of the Star Trek kind of thing?
Rick Kiley: Right. No, that’s as good as I can do. It’s my NPR voice for everything.
Jeffrey Boedges: Alright.
Rick Kiley: Posibl is redefining what it means to produce the highest quality cannabis by leveraging a state-of-the-art system that uses less to do more. They’re smart greenhouses. I love how I’m doing “on the radio” here. Smart greenhouses, use the best-in-class climate control, which requires less water and three times more energy-efficient than indoor growers. Take that indoor growers, possibly brings the best greenhouse technology and expertise from traditional agriculture into the cannabis, and pairs it with the best possible genetics to produce the perfect flower. I’m always looking for the perfect flower, different flowers, though. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, but perfect flower is good.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s the wrong kind of flower.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Well, it is grown in an ethical, sustainable, and cost-efficient way year-round. Prior to Posibl, Jesus has an extensive background in supply chain management. He worked for 15 years at Beacon Building Projects, which is the largest publicly traded building materials distributor in North America. Jesus made his way up from trainee to national vice president, managing $700 million business segment. Well done, sir. During Jesus’ time there, he held roles in both sales management operations, oversaw several large acquisitions. I’m sure all of this just has helped him a lot in cannabis.
Rick Kiley: Jesus, welcome to The Green Repeal.
Jesus Burrola: Hello, thank you very much for having me.
Rick Kiley: Oh, man, we’re thrilled to have you here. So…
Jeffrey Boedges: Yes, there’s a lot of education going to happen today. It’s all going to come from you to us probably.
Rick Kiley: Yeah, I mean, I like the idea of the future of cannabis and getting there quickly. So, that’s awesome, and we will get there in this interview. But let’s start, let’s lay a little groundwork. You obviously had a lot of success in the world of supply chain management and agriculture. Take us through your career path from not in cannabis to cannabis.
Jesus Burrola: Yeah. So, I grew up in distribution. So, my father operated a food distribution business down in Mexico, and I never thought I’d follow after my dad’s steps. But somehow, that food became there, ended up going to school for supply chain, which is really distribution focused, and then jumped right into Beacon, thinking it would be a good experience for a couple of years. And I end up spending 15 years there. So, that company was in a very fast-paced growth mode. So, I went there from when the company had about 70 locations and $700 million. By the time I left, the company was $8 billion and over 500 distribution centers. So, it was busy, busy, busy, busy. So, I think when I started there, the five largest distributors had less than 20% of the market. By the time I left, the industry had consolidated to the point where not the top five, but the top three commanded close to 60% of the market, so it was busy.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. And what products were you distributing for the most part at Beacon?
Jesus Burrola: It started as a roofing distributor and then as the company expanded, it started going into other verticals. So, it started doing siding, windows, waterproofing, solar, you name it, everything, eventually bought an interior building materials distribution business as well, so it just became everything. It started as roofing, but then it really grew from there.
Jeffrey Boedges: And how was it sold, to wholesale or to retail? So, you guys owned, the contractors are selling through the Home Depot.
Jesus Burrola: Yeah, we sold some products to Home Depot as well, just primarily based on the service offering, but I would say 90% of our business was directly with contractors working on a lot of projects. Yeah, I mean, we were the one-stop shop for roofing contractors. They would go out and they would sign a contract. They would schedule a date, but then they have to do one phone call and say, “Hey, I need these 60 products from 12 different manufacturers.” And our job is to hunt everything down and get it delivered.
Jeffrey Boedges: Industrial and residential? Just one side, both?
Jesus Burrola: Commercial and residential.
Jeffrey Boedges: The stuff fascinates me.
Jesus Burrola: That commercial and…
Jeffrey Boedges: Because it’s a disaster right now. I mean, I would think that probably Beacon was trying to pay you a billion dollars to come back at this point. I’m sure you wouldn’t. But they’re like, it’s so messed up right now.
Jesus Burrola: It is. I still talk. I mean, I have a lot of good friends. I spent obviously 15 years there, and a lot of those folks are family to me. And there’s not a lot of selling to do when everything is back-ordered seven, eight months. People are already talking about like, hey, I’ve closed everything I’m going to sell in 2022, and we’re middle of March.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, and let’s play golf. Yeah, yeah.
Rick Kiley: Alright. Well, Jeff’s going to turn this into a home improvement show if I know him, so I can’t let him do it. But I think it’s funny…
Jeffrey Boedges: It should be on home improvement shows. Do your own weed garden. We could kill it. Alright. We got a side business here, Jesus.
Rick Kiley: Alright. So, no, but I think it’s– and I have a question. I probably didn’t hear the term supply chain very much in my life before COVID. And then since it hit, all I hear about is supply chain, supply chain, supply chain. So, obviously, there is some know-how there that is really important to have in every industry, and I’m just curious about how has that supply chain management crossed over into the cannabis space? Is it easier, harder, better, more fun, less fun?
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s got more fun.
Jesus Burrola: Everything is harder in cannabis, right? So, absolutely in everything.
Rick Kiley: Harder than roofing? Okay.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s so good.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s today’s T-shirt. Everything is harder in cannabis.
Rick Kiley: Alright. Okay.
Jesus Burrola: So, what you have is just based on the current regulations, a total lack of efficiencies. We’re not in a world like roofing, in a free market, you’re saying, “Hey, what is the best way to run this? What’s the most efficient?” So, if you would apply that to cannabis, you would say, “Where’s the best place to grow? Where do you want to have your distribution hubs to service the country? How do you get it more efficiently to stores?” And there is so much regulation around cannabis, and those regulations are different in every state and sometimes every county or city within that state where you are. As much as you’re trying to find the efficiencies, you’re trying to figure out the legal framework where you can actually operate. And so, you end up with a lot of inefficiencies. I mean, I think that’s one of the problems that we’ll end up facing many years down the road is– I mean, today, where we don’t have interstate commerce, there are states that are producing cannabis that probably are not the right places to grow. It doesn’t have a traditional fruit and vegetable growing climate and infrastructure, but it’s the way things are right now, so.
Rick Kiley: Got it. Alright.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, I mean, because we’re growing in New Jersey, we’re going to have to grow in New York. And I know that that goes on, but for the most part, if it’s outdoor, you got a four-month growing cycle, it’s not the same as California or Florida and places like that.
Rick Kiley: It’s not. That’s for sure. Alright.
Jesus Burrola: I think that background helped me try to find the efficiencies and not to say that they don’t exist within the legal framework. You just have to find them, a lot harder to find them, but there are some there in learning how to exploit that.
Rick Kiley: Alright. Cool. Well, then, so lead us to talking about Posibl. So, Posibl is your farm of the future, which? Yeah. And I did, I wrote down here a question. Have you ever wondered why cannabis hasn’t shown up in Star Trek?
Jesus Burrola: It has to be a writer’s mistake.
Rick Kiley: It’s an error, right?
Jesus Burrola: Nobody’s perfect.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I mean, how is it grown on Star Trek? There’s a big opportunity there. The farm of the future, Posibl crossover marketing thing for you. So, talk to us about what is Posibl? What is the farm of the future? What are you guys trying to achieve and do? And who do you service, really?
Jesus Burrola: Yeah. So, this business is built on supporting brands. So, this is a B2B entity. What we found is like you’ve got two ways to go about tackling cannabis. One is you have the vertically integrated model where you’re trying to launch a distribution business, a brand, a grow, everything. And that’s very hard to do because we just talked about how everything is harder to do in cannabis. So, you’re having success in one business unit is hard enough than trying to have success in seven different areas, all at the same time. And so, we’re of the belief that we want to go deeper, not broader. And so, what we really know how to do is apply traditional agricultural concepts and technology into cannabis. So, our desire is to go deep.
So, if you’re going to survive as a producer, you have to have scale, you have to have technology, you have to be a very efficient operator. And so, our effort is focused 100% there, and we’re able to achieve. I think right now, sometimes you have, let’s just take a vertically integrated company that could be a great producer, but their brand might not be strong. And then you’ve got this huge, this balance. And so, we can push really hard on achieving scale and achieving efficiencies on the grow because today, we operate with 15 brands throughout the state, a lot of market leaders. And so, our goal is to power those brands and to tell them, hey, if you’re an excellent marketer and you know how to build brands, why would you want to start trying to figure out how to grow plants now because it’s extremely technical? So, let us do that. It’s very capital intensive and very hard, and you focus on growing a brand. So, that is the intent of the business. We’re a year-round producer. So, unlike outdoor where you’re going to have one or maybe two harvests a year, we have two harvests per week. So, there’s always a fresh product. And our intent is to simplify the supply chain for these brands so they don’t have to be traveling up and down the state trying to figure out the next batch of flowers from different producers.
A consumer wants consistency. So, our appeal to the brands is we’re going to understand your spec. It’s all going to be grown on the same farm under the same SOPs, under the same quality. Your job is not going to be fighting the next batch of flowers. That’s not the best use of your time. The best use of your time is figuring out how can you expand it to other states? How can you get it on more shelves? And like, let us worry about building the product here.
Rick Kiley: You said a word that resonates with me around consistency because this is coming from the alcohol beverage space, early booze brands, like a Johnnie Walker Black Label, which has been around for hundreds of years. People kept coming back to you because it was dependably always the same quality. They knew every bottle that they got was going to be of that. And what I find myself in cannabis right now is it’s an educational challenge to kind of like your own discovery to find a thing that pairs well with your body or pairs well with your lifestyle or whatever. And I can’t imagine anything worse than you finding the thing that you like that works for you and then not being able to depend on getting it again being the same. So, that consistency, it’s great that you’re able to do that.
I guess I don’t know how big you can go into it, but like how do you do that? It’s a plant, it grows. You’re pulling it out, and it’s not like you’re trying to– the way whiskey makers work is they’ll take a whole bunch of whiskeys and they’ll blend them together to get that same level of consistency because things do differentiate and they need to use their own skill to get it to balance out. So, I’m just curious, how do you do that with a plant coming off the vine and guarantee that it’s the same?
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s an agricultural question. I think it’s like from a layperson, we don’t have industrial agriculture.
Rick Kiley: Like a bottle of wine, the same winemaker one year to the next, it changes because the grapes change. So, how the F do you do that?
Jesus Burrola: Yeah. So, that is the beauty of controlled environment agriculture, which is the way we grow. We grow it in a high-tech greenhouse setting. So, what does that mean? There are sensors throughout the greenhouse saying, hey, if we want the temperature to be 65 degrees with a 30% humidity, like our greenhouse is adjusting ventilation, heating, humidity to control that environment so that it is consistent. So, you’re right, it is a plant, and there are differences. But if you have the same genetics, you’re applying the same feed and you can apply the same environmental controls and the same temperature year-round, then you’re going to get consistency. Not to say in the summer months, we’ll have more sunlight, we’ll have better quality, but through the use of supplemental light, we ensure that our light levels in the winter don’t drop tremendously and really hurt our quality.
Rick Kiley: Okay, so you’re creating this controlled microclimate that works for your plants to develop the consistency, but you’re also talking about being energy efficient and sustainable and what you’re taught when you say these things, to me, it sounds like I’m putting a lot of controls in place in order to make this, which sounds like things that can raise and lower temperature and adjust light, and those are things that use energy. So, talk to us about how you’re able to do this but in a sustainable way.
Jesus Burrola: Absolutely. So, how has cannabis traditionally been grown? You’ve either had outdoor producers, which there are great outdoor products, but you lack the consistency because you lack the controls. And cannabis is a very sunlight-hungry plant. So, inevitably, it leads to a little bit fluffier bud, it leads to lower THC levels at times. And so, that goes up against what the consumer wants and has associated with high quality, which has been indoor production. Why? Because it’s 100% control. You can feed it a lot of light, you can control the environment perfectly. But what’s the problem? So, indoor grow is great, but it’s extremely expensive to do because you’re using a lot of electricity. Why? Because you grow it indoors, it’s a warehouse, it’s a basement, it’s whatever. You don’t take advantage of any of the natural elements. So, you might have great sunlight on a clear day, but you’re in a basement. So, 100% like you’re producing is through fixtures and supplemental and LED or HPS light.
Jeffrey Boedges: Artificial means, yeah.
Jesus Burrola: Correct. And so, our view of the business is that the tomatoes that you buy at Whole Foods aren’t grown indoors and really, almost no large-scale agricultural product is because it’s just not very efficient because it is so expensive and so unsustainable. So, what we are able to do with a greenhouse is a mix of both worlds. So, one, where is it located? California, which has great growing climate, I don’t have to modify the environment very dramatically because it’s already 65 and sunny in California for the most part year-round. So, I don’t have to play with this huge delta that is, oh, you know what? It’s 12 degrees outside, and I’ve got to heat this. It’s a great place to grow. And so, I do get to take advantage of all the natural elements. And all I have to do is supplement what is already good conditions to what is ideal conditions. And so, that delta is a lot smaller time to grow in an indoor setting. So, it’s the best mix of quality versus cost. It’s the best mix of year-round production and sustainability. And it’s, to me, the way cannabis will be grown in the future.
Rick Kiley: Got it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Are there other states or other places where you could see this expanding to? Because I mean, obviously, California is sort of a unicorn in the agricultural space.
Jesus Burrola: Yeah, I mean, there are places in Arizona, there are places in Texas, there are places in Oregon that are great growing conditions. I mean, right off the bat, anywhere where you’re going to have a mild climate with a lot of sunlight exposure, places that are close to the equator are going to have…
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, but they get hot, though, too. I’ve been in Texas in the summer and the delta between 65 and where you are there is…
Jesus Burrola: For sure. That’s a big state. So, there are microclimates in some areas that are– the same thing in Arizona. I wouldn’t suggest Phoenix, for example, per se. But there are places going up to Flagstaff, higher elevation.
Rick Kiley: Right. Higher elevation. I think that’s a good tagline right there. Alright. So, do you have any proprietary tech that you use for this? Or are you just picking up like a Nest Thermostat, just setting it to 65? Like, how does that work?
Jesus Burrola: So, I mean, honestly, we’re drawing from the latest technology in agriculture, so not in cannabis. The founder of this, this is a guy by the name of David, and the background of our businesses is one of the largest greenhouse or organic vegetable producers in Mexico. So, obviously, he’s traveled the world, work with the Dutch who are considered the leaders in agricultural technology and implemented that in tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.
Rick Kiley: Wait a minute. The Dutch are the leaders in agricultural technology.
Jeffrey Boedges: Flowers, yeah. I mean, they grow the best flowers. They have the best poppies and all those…
Jesus Burrola: The yields are crazy. So, if you look at…
Rick Kiley: Just not a sentence I thought I was going to hear today, but okay, I believe you.
Jesus Burrola: I mean, it’s funny. Like same thing, and sometimes difficulties create opportunities. The Israelis are probably world-class when it comes to irrigation. Why? They have to be superefficient with water. And so, it really is applying all that technology into cannabis. There are things that we do here. So, for example, we do a lot of pilots and we do a lot of testing for technology. We recently partnered with a company called A La Vibe that’s working on AI cameras for testing disease controls that we’re running the pilot together. I mean, anything that we hear of that could be technology applied to cannabis regardless of where it’s being used right now, we try to bring it here.
Rick Kiley: Awesome.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, no one’s really mentioned me ever in any conversation about pests, about insect problems with cannabis. Is that a big issue?
Jesus Burrola: That’s a huge issue. And so, I’ll tell you why. So, when people talk about the education that needs to happen between the traditional market and this new legal market, there is a huge difference. And today, the cannabis that we consume in the legal market is cleaner than your food, meaning there are things that you will go and buy at Whole Foods like the super expensive tomatoes with all the certifications that will get sprayed on that tomato that are not allowed. So, because of the lack of research, the government has said, hey, I know these things are natural, but I don’t know what they do when they get ignited and smoke. So like, we’re just not going to allow basically, hardly any anything. So, we’re fighting nature with nature.
Jeffrey Boedges: Because we’re big in ladybugs.
Jesus Burrola: Correct. So, things like that is how we fight pests and diseases. We don’t have the use of pesticides. And so, while we would get tested for plants from particles per million, we get measured in parts per billion, meaning– I mean, every single thing that we sell has to go through a lab test to identify that. So, what you can know from legally bought cannabis is that it’s gone through a testing for pesticides and it’s going to be very clean. So, I think the advantage is that it is a shorter flowering plant. So, typically, it’s eight weeks that we have to fight because we quite frankly don’t have a lot of tools in our arsenal other than nature.
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: What happens if you smoke a ladybug, though? I think that’s what our listeners probably are most concerned about.
Jesus Burrola: Yeah, I think it probably makes it tastes bad.
Rick Kiley: Yeah, you start hearing Janis Joplin. I think that’s what will happen. I have seen this invention. There’s this like thing you put on your patio, like an ultraviolet light comes on, and a whole bunch of mosquitoes come in and it sucks them up. We need one of those in there. You don’t spray anything, something that just like draws all your insects away.
Jesus Burrola: Well, the problem is that there are good bugs, too, so we’re actually breeding…
Rick Kiley: And you just keep the good bugs.
Jeffrey Boedges: Does cannabis need bees to pollinate? Does it need a pollinator?
Jesus Burrola: No bees because frankly, we don’t want anything be pollinated. So, it’s all females. So, that part of the process we don’t want.
Jeffrey Boedges: It seems like a stupid question now that I’ve let it out there.
Rick Kiley: There are no stupid questions. This is an educational journey for bringing everyone along, but when the bees go extinct, we’ll still have weed.
Jeffrey Boedges: We’ll still have weed, but the good news is lots of it.
Rick Kiley: Alright. That’s funny. Okay, listen, so I’m curious because a lot of the folks that we talked to on this show are those either vertically integrated producers that you mentioned earlier or brand builders. So, you might be one or the second person who’s just operating a farm. I don’t say just, but I mean, operating a farm. And I’m just curious how you’re going about marketing your product to others. Are you proactively trying to sell your cannabis to brands who are buying it from you? Are you getting a lot of referrals, like…
Jeffrey Boedges: Or do people come up and say, I got an idea, how do I create this particular strain?
Rick Kiley: Yeah. So, the second half of that is what kind of asks are you getting? In the spirits in the whiskey world would be like, I want this specific Nashville, like how specific are people getting about their request to you?
Jesus Burrola: It depends on the brand, for sure. So, we are doing outreach. We have a large scale and we’re doubling our size and we’re actually in the process of building 120,000 square feet more. So, we want more brands to come and work with us. We’re very lucky that we’ve developed a very good reputation in California. So, I will say the majority of the brands that we work with have come to us because we have good things in the market. I think our flower has a good reputation, but I think our service offering has an even better one. So, take my COO, for example, Hector, who coordinated supply for the largest tomato distributor in the United States, and tomatoes at once a year crop. And so, the amount of forecasting and planning and lining up that production is something that he brings to the table. And what I consistently hear from our brands is the visibility that you’re able to give me three or six months down the road. So, what will be available in which strains in which quantities is something that– it doesn’t seem like such a big deal. To me, I haven’t bit worked at a distributor in a long time, but…
Rick Kiley: But that’s unique.
Jesus Burrola: But this industry or the supply chain in cannabis is still very much in infancy stages. So, it’s something that, I think, a lot of other B2B producers like myself, maybe haven’t figured out.
Jeffrey Boedges: Do you have like a blender, like a master blender or a master horticulturist who’s basically designing the strains for these brands that come in?
Jesus Burrola: So, along the ethos of really going deeper and figuring out what your lane is, I think there is a fantastic breeding community in California that has been doing it for 20 years, have a genetic bent.
Jeffrey Boedges: I like the fact that they’re breeders and they’ve been doing it for a long time. I mean, that could mean a lot of things.
Jesus Burrola: Yeah, for both guys, I mean, there’s a couple of things, one, for me to try to do breeding in-house like sure, we can. That’s not really our forte. Our forte is production. And then, two, there’s a risk element in bringing pollen into a large-scale greenhouse because you’re introducing a lot of risks. Really, what we like to do is partner with folks like Mean Gene, Skunk Tag, or Seed Junky that that is their core business. That’s what they know how to do. And like the work, we have access to a lot of exclusive genetics through those partnerships, where we have folks that are focused all day, every day on breeding, and then we’ll bring those things into the greenhouse. We’ll do an R&D rod. We’ll measure things like yield THC, bag appeal, nose, etc, pest resistance, and pick out the best of the best.
Rick Kiley: Okay.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s cool. That’s really different than I imagine. So, are they bringing you seed? Or are you cloning? How do you guys mass produce once you farm the thing you like?
Jesus Burrola: Cloning. So, in a large-scale operation, growing from seed, it’s like saying, you guys can be brothers, but you’re not necessarily going to look alike, even though you have the same parents. And so, in a seed, you’re going to get that, like plants are going to be a little bit different. And ultimately, what you want in a growing environment is consistency. So, when you’re working with clones, you’re working with plants, and so, they’re going to feed the same, they’re going to react the same to certain nutritional programs, light, etc. So, that’s what allows us to really maximize the plant because we can really tailor the nutrition program for that and the weather conditions for that strain as opposed to playing for an average of the brothers.
Jeffrey Boedges: And forgive me, recommend a geek out just a smidge here on the agricultural side here. But when you’re cloning, are you taking like the clippings and then using like a rooting thing? Or are you basically grafting on to existing plants? What are you doing?
Jesus Burrola: We’re taking cuttings and we’re rooting hormone and putting it in a high humidity environment. Obviously, those cuts don’t have roots, so you have to expose up to 90% humidity. They’ll end up– I like to explain it, like if you staple my mouth, I’d get hungry. I’d try to figure out if I can eat through my nose, so like the same thing that plant does. So, it starts eating through the leaves, that’s where it starts capturing and saying, oh my god, I can’t eat enough, I got to throw down some roots.
Rick Kiley: I’m sitting here ready to compliment you on the metaphor of the twins versus the siblings because that really helped me understand the difference between seeds and clones, and then you threw the staple the mouth shut thing. And I’m just like, dude, that was not working for me as much.
Jeffrey Boedges: No, man. I love that. Eat through your nose, dude, that’s going to be part of my immune repertoire.
Rick Kiley: That’s another T-shirt slogan, eat through your nose.
Jeffrey Boedges: It could mean a lot of different things there too, you’ve got to be careful about how you perceive that.
Rick Kiley: So, I got a question. I have a few more things I want to get to you here. I want to make sure we do, but I just have a question because somebody is thrown out. I’ve heard the term craft cannabis a couple of times. And of course, working in alcohol beverage, we hear a lot about craft beer and craft spirits. I’m curious as to like, is craft cannabis something that has a definition that the industry has adopted as meaningful in some way? Or is it some just like lazy marketing term?
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Is it a sell term?
Jesus Burrola: I would tell you there is no set of rules that makes it craft or not craft. I’ll give you my definition of craft.
Rick Kiley: Sure, let’s do that.
Jesus Burrola: Which to me, it means that you’re putting quality over yield. And so, that is being applied to every step of the process. So, I’ll give you an example. There’s genetics. We were just talking about that, that’s a simple one. There are plants that yield very high and they’re very easy to grow. And so, if you were traditional agriculture, that’s what you focus on. You say, hey, what’s the best produce in tomato? What’s the best produce in grape? And that’s what you go out and plant. But that’s not what we’re doing. We’ve grown over 100 varieties here over the last two years. Why? Because we’re consistently trying to bring the consumer, things that are special, things that they haven’t tried before, and it might not be the best yielding plant or it might be a difficult plant to grow, and we do sacrifice production to bring things that are special to market. We did a project not that long ago with the Sativa Preservation Society, for example, where we grew…
Rick Kiley: I was going to ask you about it, yeah.
Jesus Burrola: Okay, great. So, where we grew 14 weeks’ sativas. As a large-scale producer, do you want to grow 14? What does that mean? It means that I am sacrificing 50% on my production because standard plants are eight weeks. So, if I was not craft, would I do that? No, absolutely not. I’d be like, what’s the fastest turning plant that yields the most? And let’s just roll, let’s stop the complexity. Let’s put that in all the greenhouse and then sell it as cheap as we can. Not doing that and electing to find hard genetics and put the love and care to maximize the expression on a plant over the yield, that to me means.
Rick Kiley: Got it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Ask another quick, geeky question here, Rick. Sorry, I know I’m going to get in trouble later. But alright, so if you have a 16-week growing or a 14-week, whatever it was, how do you turn the greenhouse? Because you mentioned the fact that there’s cross-pollination from different plants and you don’t want that to happen because it’s going to mess up your grow, right? So, how do you do that? How do you go from one grow of particular species to another without screwing things up?
Rick Kiley: Wormholes. No, so the future, man. It’s all wormholes.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a Star Trek.
Jesus Burrola: No, it runs like a factory, really, in a sense that you can divide the greenhouse between three areas, your flowering stage, your vegetative state, and your nursery stage. By the time, there are things that are an unrooted plant right now that our production team knows. Three months from now, they’ll go into this valve when we harvest this strain that’s still in the vegetative stage. Well, there’s planning that goes six months into the future so that when we harvest a strain, we harvest one day, we clean the next one, and then we’re planting and flowering the next day.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, that actually is fairly, very consistent with what you would see in wine and spirit production, where they will do runs and clean out the still and come back and start with something different. It’s crazy, but obviously a much longer time period.
Rick Kiley: But in booze, craft is associated with a limit on the amount produced. So, that’s what I was like– so to be a craft beer, you can only be making a certain number of barrels per year and the same with whiskey. And it doesn’t sound like that. There’s no production level that’s impacting that definition. I’m going to move on. That’s cool. I want to get to some things because I’m not sure it’s apparent to all the listeners, but Posibl is a Mexican-American-owned cannabis company, which is great and I want to get a chance to talk about it. And I think you’re also launching what I understand a new brand Humo. Am I pronouncing that correctly? H-U-M-O. Alright. Humo, sorry, my New Jersey accent is filtering in here. And that brand from what I’ve read is really there to help provide some opportunities and meaningful representation for Latinos in the industry, and I’m wondering if you could talk about this because we think it’s an important story to tell.
Jesus Burrola: Thank you. You’re right. So, we are a Mexican-American-owned company. I’m a first-generation immigrant. I was born and raised in Mexico until I was 18 years old. David, who is the founder of the business, did as well, and Hector, who’s our CEO, we carpooled since kindergarten, so.
Rick Kiley: That’s awesome.
Jeffrey Boedges: Are you sure you can trust him? I mean, how well do you know this guy?
Jesus Burrola: I know him pretty well. And so, we are proud to be Mexican-Americans, first-generation immigrants. And really what you see in this greenhouse, especially in Salinas, where our farm is located, Salinas is considered the salad bowl of the world. A lot of your leafy greens are produced here. It’s a town that’s 70% Latino. And who do you see like harvesting lettuce every morning on my drive to work? Who do I see in the greenhouse? It’s all a very much Latino workforce. But what we saw is we’ve talked to a lot of brands over the last four years with a lot of different concepts saying, hey, I want to focus on reggae music fans or I want to focus on surfing crowd. And we live in California, which is over 35% Latino demographic, and we never saw anybody saying, hey, I want to focus on Latinos. And we felt like that was just in a place called Los Angeles.
Rick Kiley: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: It seems obvious when you say it like that.
Jesus Burrola: Right. And frankly, we are B2B and we wanted to stay in our lane and I kept asking brands, and they just said, hey, listen, we just don’t have the authenticity to do that. And it came up, like I don’t know who else could do that other than you guys. Like, you guys have that authenticity being born and raised in Mexico. It wasn’t a fast decision to make. We really chewed on it because we want to stay true to our B2B first. But we felt we needed to bring some representation in the brand space to the Latino demographic, and so, we went for it.
Rick Kiley: Cool.
Jeffrey Boedges: How’s the ownership breaking out right now in California, anyway, in the cannabis industry? How many Latino-owned businesses are there in the space?
Jesus Burrola: I don’t have a stat, but I can tell you that it’s very, very little. I mean, minority representation in general, whether these Asian-Americans, African-Americans, it’s a very capital-intensive business. And when you even apply for a bank loan and things like that, I mean, it takes a lot of agents to play the game.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, that’s one of those things that reminds me, like the other places where you see that inequity, professional sports being probably the most obvious one that is under the greatest microscope right now, where you have a constituency that’s largely one demographic and then you have an ownership that’s completely not representative of that demographic. It doesn’t sit well with us. And I’m glad to hear you say that because I think it’s something that people need to lean more into.
Rick Kiley: Absolutely. So, though this does break you out of your whole speech, this whole first half of this episode talking about we do this one thing and we’re going to do it better than anyone else. And now, you’re doing this other thing, too. So, did you bring it? Did you bring in a new crew? Did you partner with another company? Or are you building it internally?
Jeffrey Boedges: You’re looking for a marketing agency?
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I mean, a couple of not Mexican-Americans, I don’t know where are the guys.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, yeah.
Rick Kiley: But how did you go about creating the team and finding the people to build this and bring it to life?
Jesus Burrola: We partnered with people that focus on that. So, there’s a great company called Petalfast here out in California. They actually come from wine and spirits.
Rick Kiley: We actually know those guys, yeah.
Jesus Burrola: Okay, yeah, Jason and Arun. So, that’s what they do. They take brands to market, they place it on the shelves, they provide the sales support. And so, again, we work through to our resources and we said, hey, we can be the producer, we can be who powers this brand, we’re going to need somebody that really understands the complexity of being on the shelf. We had already worked with the Petalfast guys and we helped power a lot of brands under their portfolio. We had a long working relationship, and it was a way to deepen the partnership and stay on it.
Rick Kiley: That’s great. So, how’s it going? It’s in the market now?
Jesus Burrola: Yeah, we’re 30 days in the market, I think.
Rick Kiley: Thirty days, holy man.
Jesus Burrola: Yeah, and we’re 40 dispensaries in 30 days. We’ve gotten a very, very good reception from the cannabis community and the dispensaries in California.
Rick Kiley: That’s cool.
Jesus Burrola: I think, I’ve heard a lot of positives.
Rick Kiley: That’s really great to hear.
Jeffrey Boedges: Are you doing B2C messaging with these guys right now? Is it word of mouth? How’s it spread?
Jesus Burrola: I mean, right now, it’s B2B to the large dispensary channels. In the future, we definitely want to look into other channels as well. But I think for now, it’s through dispensaries.
Rick Kiley: And is there any special approach to the genetics associated with the strain that’s in that brand? Are you holding the best up for yourself and giving your customers the second-rate stuff? Like what’s happening?
Jesus Burrola: No, no, no, no. So, we have developed strains that are specific to the Latino market. So, things that are reminiscent of my childhood, whether it be cajeta, which is like a goat milk caramel that’s very typical in Mexico, or Jamaica, which is a drink. So, when we engage the breeding community in developing strains, we’re trying to match up that appeal with things that are traditional being in our community and things that folks that are Latino who really identify with.
Jeffrey Boedges: Are you using your packaging to try to evoke that to play on the heartstrings of these traditional Mexican brands?
Jesus Burrola: Absolutely. Yeah, and it’s not just saying, “Hey, it’s a Latino brand.” I mean, our tagline is in Spanish, packaging has Spanish wording, and then we’re actually funding things that help go back to our community. So, it recently partnered with The Social Impact Center, which is helping to do expungement clinics in L.A.
Rick Kiley: It’s great.
Jesus Burrola: Look, Latinos that have been previously incarcerated in the war on drugs.
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: We’ve talked to them quite a bit over the last few years.
Rick Kiley: That’s really great. And I imagine you’re also able to hire people from the community and provide some good jobs in it as well.
Jesus Burrola: Yes. And I mean, that is one of the strengths of cannabis and especially in a greenhouse environment. So, Salinas, as I said, it’s 70% Latino. It powers food in the United States, but it has a very high poverty rate because most of the crops grown here, lettuce and brussel sprouts, whatever, strawberries, you go, and there’s harvest season that lasts 30 days. So, you got a job for 30 days. When it’s over, everybody goes home, and you’re out of a job. And so, in a greenhouse environment, we have two harvests per week. So, we have 100 harvests a year. This is consistent year-round work. It’s been temporary work. So, I mean, it’s a better industry for our community. It’s better jobs that would have traditionally been out.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I was going to ask, I don’t know if it’s fair to ask the question, but my assumption, the pay might be better for somebody than someone who’s going to farm just greens.
Jesus Burrola: Yes, the pay’s better, and the working conditions are way better, so.
Jeffrey Boedges: The benefits, I mean, would you rather go home with some tomatoes? Or would you rather go home with one of them?
Rick Kiley: It depends on what’s in store for the night. Alright, that’s awesome. So, look, the last thing I wanted to get you because I thought this was really interesting, you mentioned the Sativa Preservation Society. So, from what I understand about it, you’re doing some work to help some endangered strains continue. Do I have that fact correct?
Jesus Burrola: Yes.
Rick Kiley: So, how does a strain of cannabis become endangered? Jeff, fill in your joke here.
Jeffrey Boedges: Bad roommates.
Rick Kiley: Yes, sure.
Jeffrey Boedges: Sorry, dude, you don’t…
Rick Kiley: But I’m curious is how do you get to a point where there’s a strain that is becoming endangered? Why are they becoming endangered?
Jeffrey Boedges: Why do we care?
Rick Kiley: Why do we care? I don’t want to say it to sound mean, but like, why is it important?
Jesus Burrola: I mean, I think it depends a lot on how you look at cannabis, and so, for folks that say like, “Oh, it’s just weed, and all weed is created equal,” like, I think once you understand the complexity of the plant, you see that, oh my god, like, this strain is actually great for pain. This strain is actually great for sleep. This strain is great for creativity. And so, I think specifically to these cases that we grew, it is such a unique high where it is a clear-headed, energetic high that it’s not what you typically get at what the current genetic makeup is. Why? Because sativas, which really have that energetic sensing or longer-flowering times. So, the true sativas are 14-weekers.
And so, nobody in a large production scale or you’re trying to make money is saying, hey, I want to jeopardize 50% of production. So, everything ends up getting crossed with short-flowering cycles, which tend to be indicas. And so, then you end up with– I mean, I think Scott from Sativa Preservation Society says it, well, it’s like crossing everything with a labradoodle, and then everything you have out there, like, it’s just one strain of dog. So, I think preserving…
Jeffrey Boedges: A mutt.
Jesus Burrola: There are people that went through great lengths to travel the entire world, force these genetics, bring them to the consumer. And there’s a consumer base that loves and appreciate those strains.
Rick Kiley: Oh, I’m sure.
Jesus Burrola: But they’re not out there because nobody wants to grow them.
Jeffrey Boedges: Can I ask you, by looking at a plant, can you tell the difference? So, like for the layperson coming in, they’re going to see, wow, look at all this fabulous bud. But can you, as an expert, go in and say, I know this one is this, I know this one is that? With all these different strains, do they look different? When you think about flowering plants in general, they have different flowers on them. I’m just kind of curious how much of that actually transfers to cannabis.
Jesus Burrola: Easily seen. So, like typically, in a sativa plant, you’re going to have much skinnier leaves, much taller plants. They’re going to continue to stretch, they’re going to grow, longer flowering time. And an indica, you’re going to get squattier plant, you’re going to get really broad leaves. So, yeah, I mean, those are things that you could just catch with the naked eye.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. It’s funny. I think I’m glad you’re producing the longer grow time buds. I think people will definitely pay for them. Someone will pay for more money for a 12-year whiskey versus a 10-year whiskey like that. You just print 14-week sativa on the label, and people will probably be like, I’ll think 50% more. So, that’s 100 instead of 60? Sure. Okay, cool. That must be better. Like from a marketing standpoint, I think you’re setting up. I think we’re waiting. I’m not waiting.
Jeffrey Boedges: Waiting for sophistication.
Rick Kiley: But for the premiumization of the category of the industry is going to require for consumers to understand the difference between a standard level weed and what’s really a high-end stuff. And I think the way that you’re talking about this, you do a great job because you’re really able to sort of just very succinctly tell me why something is more precious, why something is more rare, why something would cost more. And just as simple as the simple answer on, well, this takes longer to grow, so it costs more. And we use that when we talk about aged whiskey. Aged whiskey costs more because it spends more time in barrels, and you have to pay to store it longer and you don’t realize your profit longer and you lose some to evaporation, and all those things are there and part of the conversation. I think it’s super interesting.
Jesus Burrola: And unfortunately, I mean, that’s what you guys are doing, and educating the public is so critical to that because we’ve actually gone backward. So, in the traditional days in California, people knew sativas were $10 to $15 more expensive a jar. And now, they’re not. And so, brands have always had a shortage of sativas because the producers don’t want to produce them. There’s still a huge consumer base for it, but the money has to make sense. So, I think the second thing is the consumer or the buyers of dispensaries are pushing high THC as one single metric. And so, sativas are also lower THC testing. And so, there are a lot of factors that play against it. And unless the consumer really gets educated on what those differences are, like…
Jeffrey Boedges: I couldn’t agree more. It’s a sophistication issue, 100%. We do think it will follow that line, though, in time because once it becomes more prevalent, people are going to start to understand what they’re getting into. I agree right now because it gets me high, that’s it.
Jesus Burrola: I don’t go to the liquor store and say, “Hey, what’s the highest proof alcohol you sell here?”
Jeffrey Boedges: Give me some 150-proof, man, because I’ve only got…
Rick Kiley: I want the biggest bang for my buck, baby. But that’s really interesting. I don’t think everybody’s like that, though. Like, certainly, it might be a generational thing. Look, I’m of a certain age. And I went to college in the 90s. And I know the products that were available then versus now, like the stuff now is so much stronger. It’s so strong. Like they did an SNL skit where people my age smoked at a party, and they just all kept calling 911 because they thought they were dying because it’s so strong. And I think definitely, there’s an affluent consumer segment that understands the conversations around age, wines, whiskeys, and that doesn’t want to be so high, they can’t frickin remember their name that I think would definitely pay the premium price out there. And I hope you keep going with it because I think it needs to be there for the industry.
Jesus Burrola: Thank you.
Rick Kiley: Well, I don’t have anything else to say, man. No, we’re close to the end of our time. I’m just curious, maybe you could just tell us, like what’s next on the horizon for you guys? Obviously, you just launch this brand. So, I imagine you might be leaning into it for a little bit.
Jesus Burrola: Correct. Yeah, we’re going to focus on growing this brand, and then we are in the middle of a buildout process. So, we’ve been designing and getting permitted the high-tech part of our greenhouse, so the future buildout out next phase. And so, we’re now design permitted and funded, and so, construction started in November. This place is an absolute war zone right now, where the tractors and dirt are everywhere. So, we’re excited to get that kicked off finally and get that farm.
Rick Kiley: That’s great. And if we have anybody to say, like starting a cannabis brand and is looking for some good product and they wanted to contact you, how should they get in touch with you guys?
Jesus Burrola: Yeah. So, go to our website, send us a contact email. It’s Posibl, spelled P-O-S-I-B-L Project dot com. You can also follow us on Instagram. It’s the same handle, Posibl, P-O-S-I-B-L Project.
Rick Kiley: You can also Google Cannabis Farm of the Future, you’ll find them. You will. That’s awesome. The last thing we always end with everybody and really, we didn’t talk about it with you at all that much today. We often get into policy conversations and when things are going to shape up. Do you have any thoughts on when you think cannabis might be federally legal in the U.S.?
Jeffrey Boedges: I think actually it’s where we started, Rick, because he’s talking about logistics management now under normal circumstances.
Rick Kiley: When can you drive that truck straight here from California to Texas and my house?
Jeffrey Boedges: To my house in New Jersey.
Jesus Burrola: It will happen fast enough.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Do you have any thoughts about when you think it might happen?
Jesus Burrola: I think we’re at least four years out. Unfortunately, I wish it was sooner because the industry needs some sanity. I think federal legalization is important, but there are things that are– hopefully, before that, like safe banking. It would make a world of difference to this business. I mean, there are probably still some stragglers out there that think federal legalization might not be a good thing. I don’t know who can say that it’s better to keep this a cash business and actually something that you can think of.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, I mean, they’re just going to get it off category one. And look, if you don’t want it in your state, fine. I mean, alcohol was legal in the U.S. In some states, it’s certainly still dry or have at least dry counties. So, you can still legislate it if you don’t want it in your place.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Alright. Well, I feel like this question every time I ask it, it’s like when you’re asking the contractor when it’s going to be done, like the answer’s always two weeks. It’s like, yeah, two more weeks. I just feel like we’re four more years, constantly.
Jeffrey Boedges: Four more years is definitely, I think people are starting to triangulate on the four more years from now. So, we’re going to have to put…
Rick Kiley: I know, they said four more years two years ago too, Jeff. Like, that’s my thing.
Jeffrey Boedges: We had some people say in 100 years and we had some people say in a week. I feel like we’re getting a much more tight pattern on the dartboard now than we were two years ago.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Anyway, Jesus, it’s been great talking to you. You are a wealth of information. I love how you talk about the industry and I wish you guys the very best of luck with the brand and continued success and everything, man.
Jesus Burrola: Thank you very much for having me. It’s my pleasure.
Rick Kiley: Cool.