A Master Grower Speaks
The Denver Post reported that so much tax money has been raised from the legalization of marijuana in Colorado that the state may soon find itself in the position of refunding taxes to the taxpayers. With $14 million in recreational marijuana sales and more than $2 million in rec taxes just in January that has launched a whole new industry which is making a whole bunch of people very happy, not because of the effects of THC but rather because something as logical as marijuana legalization has actually happened. Darius Wolf is a master marijuana grower (and a former respiratory therapist) in Denver who works at a 15,000 square foot grow facility that has a monthly electric bill that could buy a decent new car.
First off what do you exactly do? What is your job description?
I am a master grower. I work for a grow in Colorado and right now we are a medical dispensary and we are converting over to the recreational market and trying to make that conversion as smooth as possible.
Are you going pure recreational from now on?
We will have a medical store and it will be the same as a recreational store but we will be able (both) to sell to medical patients and will have rec to buy from the same dispensary, but it’s all handled differently once you are at the point of sale. At point of sale (med and rec) will be split up. There will be med prices and then there will be rec prices. In order to convert from medical to rec your plant count effectively just doubles. So in Colorado to convert to rec after all the proper paperwork has been filed and approvals have been given is a one-time transfer . . . and then we have to grow completely separate (recreational and medical) plants.
Now what about the price of recreational marijuana? It’s definitely gone up since legalization.
It’s the price of the dream. Marijuana is now legal, taxed, standardized, regulated and many people have fought their entire lives to see this happen.
Now on the business end, we have overhead. Grows our size average over $20k a month electric bills. In addition to overhead there’s the taxes which I actually feel are at a very fair rate but yeah, we as a business have overhead and operating costs. Just like any other business. Marijuana is now mainstream. My goal right now is just to catch up with demand and we literally cannot grow it fast enough to support the market we have here today.
And things are actually getting so mainstream you are actually getting uniforms for the growers who don’t even have any customer contact. Why?
The uniforms help with keeping bugs and insects out of the grow. If we have proper uniforms, which are basically scrubs, that are cleaned on site every day it will almost eliminate the chance of any of us transferring bugs and mold into the grow which can kill entire crops if the right one gets in. The uniforms also help with things like camaraderie, teamwork and our image as a mainstream business. We will have nice clean clothes waiting for us every day when we get to work.
How does one go from respiratory therapist to becoming a marijuana grower?
I went to school for respiratory therapy and then I saw that this industry was really poised to take off. I wanted to help with that and eventually find safer ways to smoke marijuana. I want to find new methods or forms for doing cannabis that doesn’t affect your lungs. And make smoking marijuana healthier if you do want to smoke. The smoke is an irritant there’s no doubt of that and the jury is still out on eCigs and vaporizers. We need to see more clinical studies on them before we can be sure. But currently there’s a vast array of edibles and teas if you don’t like to smoke.
So now what? What’s next for the marijuana industry and you personally, career-wise?
I would like to be a consultant for other states for the simple fact that Colorado has been in this industry for a fairly long time now. We have had to go through a lot of trials and tribulations to put the correct processes in play. We not only had to develop and invent best practices for a new industry but we also had to create a whole new business paradigm that not only works for us in the industry but also our community and our government. I don’t want to see other states have to start at zero and have to struggle through 5 years’ worth of pitfalls that we had to go through to get to the point where we are at. In order for the day to arrive when the federal government embraces this as a legitimate industry I feel that the states will all have to have their marijuana industry running smoothly, on all cylinders, and the legislation will have be as universal as possible or at least as similar as possible between the different states. I feel that Denver really hit the mark on what is the best way to deliver recreational and medical marijuana to its patients and customers. Mistakes were made along the way, those mistakes were squashed and the lessons have been learned. I just want to pass those lessons along so weed can be universally legal in America.