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From White Labels to Boutique Strains: Cultivating With Grizzly Peak

One cultivator group adjusts to California’s new legal cannabis market by introducing their own flower line to their already-established line of pre-rolls and white label cannabis.

As California cultivators continue to develop in attempts to appease the growing appetite of the market for high-end cannabis, Oakland’s Grizzly Peak Farms is expanding its lineup to include the flowers known for filling their popular pre-rolls.

Late this fall, Grizzly Peak will make the full jump into the flower market. Early this year, the cultivators released a sneak peek of a lovely OG at a solid price point. Given that these were the only flowers the farm has released under their name so far, they definitely left a solid first impression. Grizzly Peak’s upcoming lineup will include some heavy hitters of the moment and a boutique exclusive or two.

Grizzly Peaks’ founder Matt Yamashita gave Cannabis Now the full tale of their adventure so far. Before Grizzly Peak even fired up the lights for the farm for the first time, most of the flower was spoken for and destined for pre-rolls under other labels. Then, the smaller buds that were graded out from the batches of cannabis heading to clients became the first incarnation of the Grizzly Peak pre-roll. They took off, and you can now find them in 70 stores throughout California. This instant success has made it tricky for Grizzly Peak to find time to continue making the pre-rolls, still take care of clients and then start creating their own marquee flower line.

“The pre-rolls are what we have now and we have a second facility coming online, we should enter the marketplace in November or December with our flowers,” Yamashita said.

While cultivators at heart, their now-proven ability to jump through the hoops of Oakland’s regulations has given the Grizzly Peak management team valuable expertise, too. They’ll be helping the nation’s first equity permit dispensary open in Oakland. The equity permits in Oakland were designed to give the communities impacted the hardest by the War on Drugs the best shot possible in this new industry.

Generally, Grizzly Peak keeps it simple in their goal to produce the fire. Recently, Yamashita brought on a new cultivation director Judah Mendez to shake things up with a more progressive mindset, including starting solid propagation efforts in search of new gems.

“When I met Judah, I thought, ‘This is the guy I want. This is a guy that loves weed, that cares about every little aspect of the growing process.’ Because all we want to do is grow the best flower on the market possible, you know?,” Yamashita said. “With his passion and our expertise and facility, it was just a good marriage.”

Mendez gave us a tour of Grizzly Peak’s farming operation and provided us with some insights into his plans during this uber-important time when companies are trying to stake their claim in California’s cannabis market for the future.

“Product is first,” Mendez told Cannabis Now. “We’ve got some fresh crosses we’re working on, but we’re also looking at what’s hot right now in the market.”

So far, Grizzly Peak is succeeding at the tightrope walk of balancing attempts to grow new house cuts while also giving the market the cuts of the moment it demands. Their current lineup includes the 2017 Strain of the Year Purple Punch, Dosido and the always popular Super Lemon Haze. But they are not short on exclusives either; their fantastic Lemon Princess cut is sure to give you a headie buzz, and rarest of all is surely their Black Tangie.

As for cooking up their own masterpieces, Mendez is currently in the process of bringing a spread of Sour Banana Sherbert crosses to life.

He’s been collecting solid male genetics at home for a bit. Since he works in the industry, he knew he would not need to grow buds at home, so he’s focused on gathering premium males to collect pollen for his breeding projects. The first two things he’ll be crossing the Sour Banana Sherbert with are the always-dope San Fernando Valley OG Kush and the also-reputable Killer Grape by TGA Seeds. Once those two are dialed in, he’ll be working on dusting Crockett Dawg back into the bunch.

“We want new and unique stains that have the trinity,” said Mendez. “We want to see a potent product, we want it to be beautiful and we want it to smell and taste really good. So if it doesn’t hit all three of those, it has to do two of them really, really well. But ideally, we’re going to hit all three of those criteria.”

Mendez notes this is all, of course, backboned by consistency. After 25 years of cultivating, experience has helped him develop the skill set to make that happen.

“The way I approach growing is, I love smoking weed,” said Mendez. “In one form or another, I’ve had a plant going since I was 14. I’m 40. My mom told me she would rather have me smoking weed than drinking.”

Mendez’s mom had given him the “call me before you get a ride home with a drunk driver” speech in his teens and, back when he was a teenager, he took her up on it since that’s how he was raised. She was happy he made the call, but upset he had partied a bit. She made a deal with him that he could smoke whatever he could grow as long as it didn’t mess with his grades and he never smelled like booze.

“So I dove into that wholeheartedly,” said Mendez.

He got his first seeds from Native American growers outside Tuscon, Arizona. Now he’s popping his own crosses. Later this year, his Grizzly Peak flowers will be available across California.



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