Dr. Robb Blog #7: Commercial cannabis production and how it relates to cannabis assembly or cannabis packaging.

Cannabis, Some Assembly Required

For those of you who came to this article to read about any potential updates or insights on the teen situation comedy called Some Assembly Required, I am sorry to inform you that the TV series continues to be cancelled. However, at the time of writing this article, I am happy to report that 2 out of the series’ 3 seasons are currently available on Netflix.

For those of you who came to this article to learn a little more about what I think is the most misunderstood part of the production of cannabis, CONGRATULATIONS! You’re in the right place.

I definitely have a biased understanding of what is referred to when I hear the term “cannabis assembly”. I asked some friends and family outside of the cannabis industry the following question:

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term “cannabis assembly”?

And I got some pretty epic responses. Some came in picture form. Others in simple descriptions of their first impressions.

  • Was Woodstock a cannabis assembly?
  • First thought? Some type of mechanical bong thing?
  • Smoking Team, Assemble!
  • Cannabis assembly line. Like cars but a bunch of people going down an assembly line, working on cannabis. Now I am imagining little cannabis cars going down an assembly line.

That last one is probably the closest to reality, if you leave out the car aspect of it.

 

If Cannabis Assembly Is NOT A Line of Little Cannabis Cars, What Is It?

Cannabis assembly is just a fancy way of saying “cannabis packaging”. Part of commercial cannabis production is making sure that the cannabis is prepared for delivery to your local licensed dispensary. This is where assembly comes in to play. In this particular article, I will be discussing what that entails for assembling cannabis flower. I will not be addressing cannabis extractions, as that alone could be another 12 articles.

 

In the state of California, you are allowed to grow up to 6 cannabis plants without penalty. Off of 6 plants, you would likely harvest a couple of pounds of dried, cured, trimmed cannabis flower. Typically, you would just store your flower in a couple of mason jars in a dark, cool place. Boom! There’s your cannabis assembly.

 

How about a commercial scale grower though? Mason jars are not going to cut it, especially if you’re a large-scale cultivator growing a thousand pounds per month. That grower is going to have to break down the harvest into smaller chunks (oh, let’s say for fun…a smaller chunk like an eighth of an ounce). Other than Willie Nelson or Snoop, very few people are going to be able to burn through 1,000 lbs of cannabis per month. Historically, eighths of cannabis have always been hand-filled. Unfortunately, this is labor and time intensive, which means it’s also expensive. If it’s expensive to produce, that means it will be more expensive for you to buy at the dispensary. There has to be a better way, right?

 

Correct! There’s always technology there to help. We are starting to see high-throughput machinery that can assemble 1,800 packages of cannabis per hour. If you’re a large-scale grower producing 1,000 lbs of cannabis per month, one of these packaging machines can handle all of your packaging for the month in just over 1 week of normal working hours. Not only that, it can do it with an accuracy of +/-0.2 grams. That saves a lot of simoleons.

 

Figure 1 The MICRO420 Marijuana System from ActionPac.

 

Assembly Technology For Cannabis Pre-Rolls

Pre-rolled joints are awesome! It’s truly one of my favorite ways to consume cannabis. The flavors and aromas are consistent throughout your smoke sesh since the tip of the joint is the only part that is burning. They are easy. They taste great. They are popular. So, how do we assemble pre-rolls efficiently so they aren’t also expensive? Traditionally, joints were rolled by hand. This is laborious, time consuming, and rarely accurate time and time again. Luckily, once again technology is here to help. The standard we see in the industry right now is the KnockBox 2 by Futurola. It can fill 100 cones in 2 minutes.

Figure 2 The Futurola KnockBox 2.

 

Cannabis Packaging aT Dispensaries Prior to CA Regulations

I want to tell this quick, little story because I think it’s amazing, and it perfectly illustrates how far we’ve come in the cannabis industry:

The Reynolds Kitchens company produces a variety of items for use in the kitchen. Items like aluminum foil, parchment paper, a variety of bakeware, wax paper, etc. They also produce a large turkey size oven bag that is used for…well, cooking turkeys. These are plastic bags that you place your turkey and veggies in before you put in the oven. Essentially, they are just large plastic bags. Of course, the Reynolds Kitchens company analyzes their sales of all their products. They analyze where and when sales are strong or weak. As you would guess, the company would see a peak in sales around Thanksgiving time throughout the United States. However, they also saw that in Northern California, sales of turkey bags were abnormally hot throughout the year, and especially high in Autumn, but well before Thanksgiving where they would expect to see such high sales numbers.

After a little bit of research on their part, the Reynolds Kitchens company discovered that their turkey bags were being used to store, package, and ship bulk cannabis flower. Essentially, cannabis assembly consisted of storing weighed out bulk flower in turkey bags, which would be delivered to the dispensaries where they are sold by the pound. The Reynolds Kitchens company decided to play along and fully stocked the grocery stores throughout the Emerald Triangle with their turkey bags. Although the flower needs to be broken down into smaller portions now before they head to the dispensaries, you can still see the aisle endcaps at the grocery stores in places like Ukiah completely stocked with turkey bags. It’s still a tradition for some growers to use turkey bags to store their product before they sell it. I guess it’s just another way of giving thanks for their bountiful harvests of fragrant flowers.

 

Figure 3 Dr. Robb Farms Production Manager, Zack N., getting a whiff of terps from a turkey bag full of flower.

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