by Chloe Summers
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Image Courtesy of Chloe Sommers
Meet Cassandra Maffey, the master grower at Verde Natural cannabis cultivation center in Colorado. The high bar she sets for her grow has attracted the attention of big-name stoner celebrities getting into the cannabis business, like Tommy Chong.
“We treat it like our home grow, if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have the level of quality cannabis we have here,” said Cassandra.
The female master grower has been doing this since she was 18, and started in Humboldt County, California. Known as the marijuana-growing mecca, her old growing grounds are in the political spotlight as voters prepare to decide on Prop 64. A California ballot initiative, it’s unclear who, exactly, will benefit from its passage, says Cassandra.
She said her background gave her the foundation for doing things the right way, which carries directly into her business today at Verde Natural. The 25,000 square foot warehouse is divided into nine, soon to be ten, flowering rooms. It allows Verde Natural growers to have two people take care of each room.
“We pay attention to each plant, two growers per room gives each plant more of a hands-on caring technique as opposed to handling them in an industrial manner,” Cassandra explained. Specifically, their process includes hand trimming each plant. “Fifteen of us are trimming, not machines,” she points out, “it’s all by hand.”
Verde Natural began as a smaller medical marijuana shop, Verde Wellness Center, in 2009. The shop still operates on Colfax Avenue, in Colorado. The company now has 35 employees and a mid-sized ‘boutique grow’ that’s attracting lots of positive attention.
Verde Natural CEO, Rudy Ellenbogen, is proud of his team and their dedication to the details of the growing process. “We don’t treat cannabis as a commodity and understand the good of quality organic cannabis and put value in it,” said Rudy. Rudy and Cassandra’s first big partnership is about to come to a head with the official Colorado launch of Chong’s Choice cannabis brand on November 10th. “We love working with people with similar values caring for high quality, organic cannabis,” he added.
Verde Natural has solar panels that produce about 20% of their energy. “Every bit helps,” says Rudy. Compost is the bulk of their waste, as they recycle their planting matter. “We just reintroduce nutrients. It’s easier than dumping it each time,” Cassandra pointed out.
Cassandra also takes pride in her employees. “I mentor them, train them to be master growers, not minions.”
Verde Natural and Chong’s Choice have a combined passion for health and quality that transcends into the products. For example, Chong’s Choice pre-rolls are made from the flower, not trim or shake and Chong brand cookies are handmade using cage-free eggs. Chong’s Choice flower is already available in cannabis stores throughout Colorado. Look out for Chong’s Choice pre-rolls to hit store shelves mid-November and edibles sometime in December.
Chloe Sommers is an award-winning journalist reporting on drug policy, medical marijuana, and the cannabis "green rush". Chloe is based in Washington, D.C and is the Senior Writer for The Marijuana Times, Digital Producer and contributor to Leafly, The Weed Blog, and Ganjapreneur. Twitter, Instagram, MassRoots: @ChloeCannaNews Facebook page: Chloe Sommers