How Cannafornia Started
Cannabis Thoughts by Cannafornia CEO, Paul King.
Back in 2014, dry cannabis flower was selling for $2,500 per pound. Old timers in the game would tell stories of how they miss growing for $4,500 per pound. I even heard from a few of that “Once the price dropped to $4,000 I told myself I’d get out and I did.” However it was right around that time when California started to license indoor operators and I saw an opportunity to capitalize on the new regulation. My brother and I moved from Florida to California to chase this dream. We knew nothing about cultivation or the cannabis business however our instincts told us indoor growing would provide the controls we would need to build what has quickly become several profitable ventures.
For our first cannabis company King’s Garden, we built nearly 200,000 square feet of indoor operations in the Coachella Valley. Five years later, Kings Garden has become one of the top brands in sales of indoor flower in California. My brother continues to run Kings Garden to this day and has done an incredible job managing its growth and reaching profitability in less than five years.
I moved north to build and launch Cannafornia in 2017 with the same principles of vertical integration, tight in-house controls and the added benefit of translucent-roofed greenhouses to monetize free, beautiful natural sunlight. Natural sunlight is literally grown into our brand helping to define Cannafornia as the California-dream version of the cannabis experience. Cannafornia is headquartered in Salinas Valley, known for decades as the lettuce capital of the country. The abundant natural sunlight (255 days/year), fertile soil and salty sea breeze make it the perfect micro-climate for growing, while also providing a top tier workforce of low cost, agriculturally skilled local labor. I had also learned that Monterey County’s greenhouse regulations were more favorable than in other parts of California.
By the end of World War I, the “green gold” growing in the fields helped make Salinas one of the wealthiest cities per capita in the United States, now known as “The Salad Bowl of the World.” Salinas’ multi-billion dollar agriculture industry supplies a large percentage of the country’s lettuce, artichokes, and until the mid-1990s, roses. By the time NAFTA was signed in 1994, Salinas had built massive 100k and 200k square foot greenhouses to grow and ship roses all over the world. NAFTA enabled Colombia to overtake the U.S. with cheaper rose production, leaving many massive greenhouses unused for decades — until now.
In addition to the optimal sunlight and climate conditions, the regulations for indoor cannabis growth in Monterey County allow indoor cannabis to be grown to the existing greenhouse footprint of the property. I was lucky enough to find a fantastic landlord that had 150,000 square feet of greenhouse next door to cannabis pioneer Steve D’Angelo of Harborside, who I have admired for years. It was a good sign that I was in the right place. Cannafornia was born.
Stay tuned for the next topic, “How we became profitable within 15 months”
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