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Ask Me Anything: GrowerNick [Thursday, May 31st, 11:00 AM MST]

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Growers Network is hosting an Ask Me Anything event with @growernick, an independent caregiver and new community manager, on Thursday, May 31st, 2018 at 11 am MST

About me:

I’ve been in the cannabis business in one form or another for over 15 years. I started out as recreational consumer and discovered the power and efficacy of medical cannabis after a serious accident when I was a teenager. My experience as a patient made me see the inequalities and inefficiencies of the drug war. I began dedicating my life to remedying the problems inherent in American drug policy. I worked as a community organizer with groups like NORML and MPP and tried to help shape policy at a state level.

I’ve been a grower for many (?) years. After moving back to Arizona I became a licensed, registered caregiver for a series of patients. As soon as dispensaries were licensed in AZ I was hired as a grower. Our laws were very restrictive toward medical cannabis at the city level, so we worked with Tucson city council to change the laws to make them more favorable for the evolving cannabis industry in Tucson. I eventually worked my way in to the lead grower position and helped shape the facility and my staff into a functioning unit.

I began working with Growers House in 2016, helping growers the world over set up and optimize their grows. I’ve spent the last few years growing, traveling, and helping teach other people how be more efficient growers. I now operate a cultivation facility, extract business, and consulting firm with a focus on research and development of sustainable cultivation practices in the agricultural industry. Recently I’ve added Community Manager for Growers Network to my resume. I’m looking forward to helping grow this exciting forum into the future!

Contact info:

  • Reach out @growernick on the forum and he’ll be happy to communicate with you!

You’re welcome to start posting questions now for @Growernick and we look forward to seeing the community at the AMA!

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Awesome to hear about your journey, thanks for sharing!

A couple questions;

Was it hard working with city council to help get the laws changed, given they aren’t marijuana minded?

Do you find any specific problems building out facilities with the AZ heat (whether it be indoor/outdoor/greenhouse)?

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My pleasure! I’m looking forward to answering people’s Q’s tomorrow.

To address your two questions: It was surprisingly easy to convince city council to change their minds. The testimony given that night during the meeting was all specific to the cannabis industry. Everyone who testified did so on the basis of compassion and economic growth (the latter being much easier for a politician to wrap his or her mind around lol). At the end of the session, the city council ended up giving us more than we came to the table asking for, including the ability to legally effect deliveries and extend our hours of operation. We initially engaged the city council in an attempt to simply increase the legally permitted footprint of a dispensary cultivation operation - we got that too. Dispensary grows in Tucson are now allowed an unlimited footprint, no restriction on canopy size :wink:

To answer your second question: building ANYTHING in the heat just plain sucks! The good news is it’s actually rather pleasant here in sunny Southern AZ for most of the year. We strongly recommend implementing construction when it’s a bit cooler but sometimes you just have to grin and bear it and get the job done! There are challenges to each and every climate. It helps to be familiar with the climatic constraints of your region and build your facility to meet the thermal extremes of that given climate. Here in AZ it always seems to come down to AC. So very often I find that a client will try to skimp on HVAC. We as professional consultants will do our best to proactively remedy the error. If you’re thinking of running double ended HIDs in AZ, I suggest you invest one ton of HVAC to each and every light!

This is where I find sustainability really making it’s way into the cannabis space. Every grower is trying to drive down his or her production costs. With a plummeting wholesale market (in some states) one of the keys to accomplishing this is to maximize the efficiency of your cultivation facility. Sustainability has really become a cornerstone of everything I do both personally and professionally. I’m here to help teach those sustainable cultivation principles in order to hopefully change the way that we produce cannabis. I want to see the day when cannabis is grown in ways that are not only more grower-friendly, but environmentally friendly as well.

Thanks for the great questions!

Bring on some more tomorrow!

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Hi @growernick, looking forward to your AMA tomorrow! Hoping to catch the whole time block, but wanted to throw these questions out now just in case. Would love to pick your brain further on HVAC and its role (or lack of detailed attention) in the indoor grow world. Myself and SunTrac are new to the cultivation world, but not to HVAC and our sustainable approach. The how and why in cultivators spec’ing of HVAC equipment would be of great insight.

How certain systems types are over others? ie Ducted units or mini/multi-split VRF, or combination of both. Whole room climate vs pods or rooms?

Is efficiency and sustainability a driver in the decision of the units? Or just cost of equipment and relative operational cost?

A large issue I have seen in my early experience is that many growers do not plan or ultimately get proper hvac assessments or solutions for their needs. Do you also see this as a prevalent issue and what do see best helps or facilitates growers in this?

Thanks!!

Devin Cooley
President & COO
SunTrac USA

Tempe, Arizona

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Hey there Devin! I have lots of insight into HVAC issues and desert climates so hopefully I can help.

In my experience, may growers underestimate their real HVAC needs prior to undertaking their build. It’s not until the grower gets plants into the environment under the hot lights that they fully understand the full implications of their lack of foresight.

I hesitate to give an absolute answer on what the preferred HVAC system might be, as I largely believe the space requirements of the grow will help dictate the most desirable HVAC system. For smaller spaces and operations that utilize lung rooms, I love mini split AC systems. Their ease of use and efficiency translate to lower operating costs, and thus less overhead.

I think efficiency and sustainability should ALWAYS be considerations when considering HVAC units! Especially in the hyper-volatile cannabis market.

As I said, many growers underestimate their HVAC needs when initially building their grows. I suspect that the high costs of design, hardware and installation scare investors and owners. Unfortunately, these shortsighted mistakes can be costly. I think the best way to overcome the issue as a grower is to first understand your limits of expertise. By this I mean you should literally ask yourself questions like: “Am I licensed electrician? Am I a licensed HVAC tech, am I REALLY a master grower???” If your answer is “No” to any of the preceding questions, then feel free to hire an expert. There’s nothing wrong with knowing your limits. Hire an expert when you need to hire an expert. It could save you a lot in the long run.

Hope this answers your questions.

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Hi Nick,

Thank you for the quick and detailed response! I have also seen and heard similar experiences from others, which is unfortunate for the grower and the community in general. But I think this also shakes out the long-term true players and those that want to dabble or jump in on an industry that they don’t fully understand or invest in, to your point.

Hopefully through the experience and loss of others people will gain insight and avoid similar problems. Thanks again and welcome to your new role as a Growers Network community manager!

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You’re very welcome.

I predict it’ll be an ongoing trend as long as there exists a disconnect between the money people and the growers/experts. I also suspect the super-volatile cannabis market will naturally weed out (pun intended) the folks just trying to get their feet wet in the business and those that are passionately ready to jump in and swim!

I’m here to help people in my new role. That’s what I want to to. Whether it’s growing a business or helping save money with grow tips. I want the people here at GNET to use my expertise to help themselves!

Thanks for the well wishes!

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Devin I recently attended a webinar put on by Anden HVAC for Cannabis - they seems to really have thought through most all dynamics canna cultivators face. I was truly impressed - just Google them - real pros. T-

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Hi @thomas.lanen,

Thank you for the suggestion, I will definitely look into Anden’s HVAC solutions and approach.

Thanks!!

Devin

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Thank God AZ doesn’t observe such silly antiquated temporal traditions like DST!

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Hey everyone! We’re opening up the AMA floodgates, so I’ll start us off with a softball…

What drives you to grow?

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Ok, here we go:

I love growing. Period. It is an inner drive to nurture life that drives what I do. Farmer at heart I suppose.

Beyond that, I have discovered the power of cannabis as a medicine. Personally and professionally cannabis been an incredibly valuable facet of my existence.

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I’m my first patient, BTW. I have some pretty extreme ADHD. When I was a teenager I discovered I could replace the traditional stimulant meds that doctors had me on with cannabis and my level of functioning was quite high.

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When I was 17 I fell from a cliff and had a fairly extensive recovery process in front of me. Of course MD’s prescribed a ton of opiate painkillers, to which I very quickly became addicted. A compassionate friend recognized the situation and worked to remedy it. He gave me a bag of Hash Plant and told me to toss the pills I was taking. I never needed another pill after that.

The power of the medicine…

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Powerful and inspiring. Congratulations!

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@Growernick what is your favorite aspect about growing cannabis?

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Voters in AZ passed Prop 203 in 2010 and that set up the framework for me to step into the legal MMJ industry. I signed up to be a caregiver for a few very sick friends (none of whom are still with us) and have never looked back.

When dispensaries first were legally permitted to operate in AZ, I got my first job in a commercial grow facility. What was unique about the facility was that we were building from the ground up, so to speak. It was an opportunity to grow a commercial grow. So I really got a hands on chance to build big. It was exciting and terrifying all at once!

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Thank you very much :smiley:

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I think I really love how every grower, no matter the size of the operation, is able to put his or her green thumbprint on his or her finished product. This industry is really in its infancy so we are all able to create really unique products. Seeing all the new innovations that come out (seemingly daily) is really inspiring!

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@Growernick, what’s the scariest thing legal, small-business-owning cannabis producers face as the industry evolves? I’ve heard whispers of big pharma and big tobacco quietly growing their roots in a big way. What are some potential ideas to consider going down that path?

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