San Francisco company CitizenGrown is opening its first Citizen Center in Caddo, Oklahoma this week with hopes that it will help individuals take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by the state’s fledgling medical marijuana industry.
“We saw a glaring unfairness in the cannabis industry and we wanted to be a part of the solution,” said CEO of CitizenGrown, Redg Snodgrass, in a press release. “We sometimes think it’s a foregone conclusion that the rich get richer but it doesn’t have to be that way. We have the opportunity to architect how the business works, on a national level and from farm to table, so to speak, with an eye on fairness.”
The small town in Oklahoma was chosen as the site to showcase the company’s model of providing individual entrepreneurs a stake in the cannabis industry in part because of the challenges, including underemployment, facing the community.
“Caddo is the perfect place to show the world what we are growing, how we are growing and why they should care,” Snodgrass said.
At the heart of the CitizenGrown system are self-contained cannabis cultivation units known as Nodes. Each module, measuring five-by-five feet, contains an automated hydroponic cultivation system that is designed to produce up to three pounds of cannabis every three months. Each applicant selected to participate is allocated a Node with no initial investment required.
“Our business model is simple,” Snodgrass explains. “Each of our Citizens is assigned a Node. We manage the entire process with our partners after that. The Node automatically dispenses essential nutrients and adjusts the LED lighting. Cameras inside allow us to remotely monitor the grow and adjust as needed. When it’s installed, a Citizen gets immediate income and the cannabis is sold to a partner network of dispensaries and/or wholesalers. And we just repeat the process again and again.”
Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan, a CitizenGrown investor and brand ambassador who is developing a curated line of cannabis products for the company, said that the cultivation system can help bring the opportunities presented by legalization into economically depressed communities.
“I think wanting to have more concern about what is going on in a community is important,” Raekwon said. “A lot of times artists have a voice, and we come from these communities where we know what’s going on. We want to figure out what makes sense and how we can bring people together. It was just something that I just felt was brilliant and gives you an opportunity to believe in yourself, again, because I think a lot of times when you’re in a neighborhood, you give up quickly because you don’t have so many opportunities that come to you.”
CitizenGrown also engages with local governments to help them understand how embracing regulated cannabis can bring jobs and investment to their communities.
“We are still destigmatizing cannabis,” Snodgrass says. “It is still scary for a lot of people. So, showing everyone how this can actually change peoples’ lives, and how CitizenGrown can be a part of the solution for so many issues in our country is powerful.”
The company currently has Nodes in operation in Berkeley and Venice, California as well as Portland, Oregon, where the first harvest is expected to hit dispensary shelves next month. The first products from the cultivation operations beginning in Oklahoma will be available to patients in that state in early 2020.
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