People who live in glass houses should get stoned.
Especially when the glass house is a West Coast farm that grows cannabis on more than half-a-million square feet of space in the famous California sun.
A California Original
Founded in 2015, Carpinteria-based Glass House Farms (GHF) has managed to solidify its place in the cannabis industry in just a few years using Earth-friendly, sustainable farming practices.
In addition to recycling water and growing in the sun, GHF’s farming practices also include using beneficial insects as a pesticide alternative.
Lately, GHF’s market spot has gotten more-solid as the company recently rose from #67 to #2 among the top-selling flower brands in California.
The rise represents a nearly 4 percent dollar share of California’s total monthly flower sales.
GHF President Graham Farrar attributes the rise to multiple factors, one of which was arriving on-time to the regulated cannabis space.
“We did not start this year, we actually started Glass House Farms in 2015,” says Farrar. “So, you know, it’s not that long in the regular world, but in the cannabis world, it makes you late. At least in the regulated space.”
The Crafting of Quality Cannabis
Farrar says that GHF has spent its time focusing on honing the cannabis craft and growing quality plants.
And while there are significant players in the cannabis game, GHF included, Farrar feels that the truly-big players have yet to show up.
“We might feel like a big brand now,” says Farrar. “But when things really play out, we’re going to be more like the Lagunitas…So our approach is a craft-at-scale approach. We operate kind of a three-legged stool, which is quality, consistency, and efficiency. So first, you got to do it great, then you got to do it great every time. And for us, efficiency doesn’t mean cheap or lazy. It means not wasting things. It means give the plant everything it needs. But don’t give the plant more than it needs.”
Farrar says that if you can move 1,000 plants with two people instead of five, the result is a lower price for a product of the same quality.
“And I think what’s behind the jump that you saw is we really flipped the switch from going from a wholesale producer, who was making great, consistent, well-priced product to being a branded CPG producer,” says Farrar. “Where, instead of selling what we grew to somebody else, we took what we grew and put the best of the best of that in a jar with our label on it.”
Perseverance and Crafting the Perfect Fit
Farrar compares the GHF strategy to the Casamigos and Don Julio 1942 tequila brands.
“Casamigos is kind of…it’s always the right answer,” says Farrar. “It’s not 1942, which is my favorite tequila, but you don’t put that in a margarita or I’d certainly look at you sideways if you did…We’re that Casamigos answer. Which is…it’s great in a margarita, it’s great for a shot on a Friday night, it’s great on a Tuesday. It kind of always fits. And I think that’s what we want Glass House to be, and I think that we really hit that in terms of—it’s a fantastic product, at an amazing price, and it’s very consistent”
Price, quality, consistency, and staying power are keys that Farrar attributes to the success of GHF.
Farrar says GHF has the production scale to service a market the size of California, which Farrar notes is the world’s 5th largest economy and accounts for 27 percent of the U.S. cannabis market.
“Lots of brands bounce up, and then they fall off,” says Farrar. “They’d sell a harvest, and they’d disappear, they couldn’t do it. We went up there, and we stayed in shape, and just went tick-tick-tick-tick-tick, and we’re not done yet.”
Solid Roots Mean Strong Growth
GHF began in 2015 as the first fully-licensed cannabis farm in Carpinteria with a 150,000 square-foot facility.
In 2020, GHF added another 355,000 square-foot facility, bringing the company’s growing space to over half a million square feet.
Farrar says that working with cannabis is more than a job or a get-rich-quick scheme for the GHF team, it’s a passion and a labor of love.
Farrar says the GHF team continuously strives to improve, a trait that he feels shines through in the final product.
While a certain level of regulation can help build a successful company and a thriving industry, Farrar says that California has an overabundance of requirements for cannabis.
“I’m a fan, personally, of creating jobs and raising tax revenue and helping make communities stronger, and I think cannabis can do that,” says Farrar. “But it is over-regulated, and the things you have to do…it’s extra. It’s like riding your bike with the brake stuck halfway on.”
Going from harvest to shelf in 30 days was not difficult in the past, Farrar says, but now there are more required steps in-between.
“So it gets harder, not easier, and that’s okay,” says Farrar. “Now, as a business operator, I think we had to have 13 different agencies sign off on our farm,”
The Future of Cannabis is for Everyone
Regulations aside, Farrar sees significant growth in the years to come.
“The moral arc of the universe is long, it bends towards justice,” says Farrar, referencing Martin Luther King, Jr. “We start here and people realize it’s not gonna kidnap their babies. Frankly, alcohol should have more regulation than cannabis should. But it’s going to take a little while to get there. So in the meantime, we do the best we can and keep learning and persevering.”
Farrar believes that cannabis holds something for everyone, and he looks forward to when full legalization allows the veterans to help the newcomers understand the plant and its uses.
“It’s just such a beneficial plant, says Farrar. “I sometimes say if you think you don’t like cannabis, you just don’t know you like it yet.”
Some people, says Ferrar, refrain from ingesting or inhaling cannabis use for different reasons, but like other aspects of the plant.
“And that could be I’ve smoked too much, it was too strong, I’ve tried an edible that was improperly dosed,” says Farrar. “Or maybe you don’t like consuming it, but you love the muscle balm, and you like the tincture to help you sleep. Or your dog likes CBD to chase the ball. There’s really nobody out there that doesn’t have something they can get from this. And when the world changes that perspective, it’s gonna be awesome for everybody.”
Leaving a Lasting Legacy
Looking toward the future of Glass House Farms, Farrar sees prosperity for the company.
“I think Glass House should be one of the top three cannabis brands in the United States,” says Farrar. “I don’t see any reason we shouldn’t.”
As GHS moves forward, Farrar says that sound business principles such as sustainability and caring for employees as if they were investors and customers will only serve to support the company’s continued success.
“If those things are true,” says Farrar. “I see no reason why we will not be one of the companies that they write books about when the history of cannabis is told.”
*Responses in this article have been edited for length and clarity.