A Couple Of Things with Maine Craft Cannabis
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
As I started to combine my 'The Green Dad' website with The Vast Parlor, I wanted to feature more folks in the cannabis industry. I want to tell the story of those on the front lines of the growing nation wide (and globally for that matter) cannabis movement. I am hoping to bring in people from all sides of the industry to join in this discussion. My goal is to share their stories while providing information and educating new comers and those just simply curious about cannabis and cannabis culture.
One thing that I have recently been learning about, and really interested in, is the craft cannabis movement going on in Maine. There are some really amazing growers up there producing some great strains and making some top notch, small batch cannabis. It really reminds me of how the wine makers in Burgundy approach things. I am predicting, as the movement grows, law change, and awareness is spread, Maine's cannabis culture will be looked to as one of the leaders in the craft cannabis movement for sure. I hope to be going more in depth on the scene there soon, but for now will start things off with my chat with the folks at Maine Craft Cannabis. When I started following the content they were putting out, I just fell in love with their approach and attitude. No pretense. No attitude. No bullshit. Just a couple of people who believe in cannabis who are growing some amazing cannabis, and doing it all on their terms. If you find your self as medical cannabis patient in Maine, be sure to try these great folks goods!!! I sat down with Emily, part of the husband/wife team that runs Maine Craft Cannabis to learn more about the brand and all that goes into it!
How did Maine Craft Cannabis come about and evolve into what it is now? Where you involved in cannabis before this?
Actually, we weren’t! Not even a little bit. Prior to starting MCC Mike (my husband and business partner) and I both had careers in mechanical engineering. We loved engineering but wanted to create something of our own. One day out of pure curiosity (and a love for cannabis) we went to check out a local medical marijuana expo in central Maine, and the first people that we struck up a conversation with were two engineers who had developed a CO2 extraction system. We quickly discovered that they had gone to the same engineering college that Mike and I did (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)! Our experience at the expo helped us gain an appreciation for the fact that medical cannabis is a legitimate industry with interesting technical problems to be solved, and on that very day we decided to try to find a way in. Never in a million years did I think that Mike and I would end up owning a cannabis business, but the timing was just right and being able to contribute to an important industry emerging from prohibition was an opportunity that neither of us could pass up.
And it turns out that engineering is an incredibly relevant skillset to have for indoor cultivation, so… thank goodness for that! Growing indoors is the marriage of high-end technology and biology/nature, and when it’s all working together, the result is just beautiful.
What are some of the challenges associated with growing cannabis organically ?
What makes growing organically in living soil (soil with active microbial and bacteria colonies, like it has in nature) tricky is that you don’t have direct control over which nutrients the plant uptakes and when. With more traditional indoor cultivation methods (e.g. hydroponics), nutrient solutions are applied directly to the roots of the plants so the grower gets to decide what nutrients the plants has access to and when, making the process somewhat repeatable. When a plant is growing in a rich, organic environment, everything it needs to thrive is right in the soil, and the microbes help to make the nutrients plant available. It’s difficult to get the environment right, but when you do the plants are set up for an all you can eat buffet 24/7, and can take whichever nutrients they to need to thrive whenever they need them.
Pest management can be tricky when growing organically as well, since there are fewer options for pest control. One of the methods we use is deploying beneficial insects, which are hungry predator bugs. They cruise around on the plants looking for bad guys to eat like a little microscopic security detail. We just love them and they are really fun to look at under a microscope.
I have to say I absolutely love the look and voice of the brand. What discussions and decisions went into developing that aspect of the brand?
Well, thank you! We set out to create a cannabis brand that defied a lot of the cliché stoner stereotypes without being stuffy, and let me tell you, that was not an easy task! With cannabis becoming legal in more and more states across the country there are many people using cannabis that don’t relate to black market cannabis culture. We wanted to be approachable and professional for people who didn’t “speak the language”, but without alienating the cannabis connoisseur. It took quite a bit of iteration to develop something that fit all those criteria and that Mike and I both loved, but it was worth the work.
In terms of the voice, that’s honestly just me being me! Mike and I are really transparent and authentic people, so we’ve made a point of just sharing what we’re doing and why in an honest way, and that has served us really well. Something that I don’t advertise that often is that I’m actually a fairly new cannabis consumer. I only started using cannabis about a year before we joined the cannabis industry, so unlike someone who has been a cannabis consumer their entire adult life I can relate to people who are just starting to get into cannabis or are trying it again after a long hiatus. I think that helps me connect with a wider audience and generally gives the brand a less intimidating vibe.
One of the things that many cannabis companies are not doing is showing the actual people behind the brand, and that’s something that we think is important to do. One of the benefits of cannabis being in the legal market is that for the first time the consumer can make informed decisions about what to purchase based on how its produced and who they are buying it from. We’ve tried to make our brand really personal by sharing our values and showing what goes on behind the scenes, and I think that has gone a long way in creating the trust that we have with our patients.
What is the cannabis community in Maine like? Does it feel like you are on the front line of the modern cannabis movement?
We do! And honestly, it’s amazing!! Before we joined the cannabis industry I was intimidated and I thought that people in the industry wouldn’t be inviting or welcoming. I was wrong. We’ve been blown away by how supportive other growers have been and we’re really grateful to have the community that we do in this industry. It’s a lot of fun to share the experience. However, I wouldn’t feel right addressing topic without mentioning all the work that went on by the crusaders that did the work to create a legal market in the first place. We are able do what we’re doing now because of everyone who fought to legalize cannabis and because of the people who were advocating for industry when it was a lot riskier to do so. We’re very grateful for that.
What do you hope this chapter in cannabis history, both in Maine and the USA at large say?
Ummm… WEED RULES!!!! No. In all seriousness we still have a big problem with cannabis being misunderstood because of stereotypes and misinformation. I’m have to admit that prior to being in the cannabis industry I didn’t truly understand the extent to the medical potential of cannabis, nor did I understand how safe it is. There’s so much that we still don’t understand about cannabis in terms of how it interacts with our bodies and it’s medical potential. My hope is that we can start making up ground on the medical research that will bring cannabis medicine to it’s full potential, because right now we’re leaving an immense amount of value on the table.
How has this pandemic forced you to change the way you approach the brand?
We’re fortunate that it hasn’t. MCC is medical marijuana company that primarily sells wholesale to medical stores. At the beginning of the pandemic medical cannabis was deemed essential in Maine, which has allowed all of us to continue to serve our patients. It was honestly really inspiring to watch our vendors be adaptive and agile and get themselves up and running in a Covid-safe manner without missing a beat. We’re very grateful to be working with such badass, hardworking small business owners.
What is the one thing about the cannabis industry do you wish you knew earlier in your career?
How much variety people want and how often they want it. You can grow your best strain ever and your patients will rave about it and tell all their friends, but a month or two later they’ll still be asking “what’s new???” Cannabis consumers love experimenting and trying new products constantly, which means that as a business you need to always be rotating new genetics and products into the rotation.
What is next for MCC?
We just completed an expansion that doubled our cultivation capacity, so for the time being we’ll stay right where we are in the medical market. The quality of our cannabis is always our top priority, so our goal on a daily basis is to continue to get better and better at growing and to continue learning. We have a bunch of great R&D projects cued that we finally have the space to execute, and we’re really excited about that! Stay tuned!
How do folks get connected with you?
All photos courtesy of Matt Furman Photography