In this episode of our cannabis business podcast, we interview Andrew Orange, the Founder of Happy Cannabis Farms in Oklahoma.
His story is unique because he went from being a CNC machinist to full-time cannabis solopreneur.
Jim and Andrew chat about:
- What it’s like being a cultivator with no experience
- Tips for newbie cultivators (DON’T start too big!)
- What he focuses on when growing specific strains
- The ONE thing Andrew wants to stop doing in his business
If you need help with improving the financial performance of your cannabis business or starting an Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Business then please reach out to GreenGrowth CPAs via our website https://greengrowthcpas.com/get-started/ or call 800-674-9050.
All right. So we are here with Andrew Orange from happy cannabis farms. Andrew, thank you for joining me today.
No problem, Jim. Thanks for making time for me.
Good. So I want, you know, for people that don’t know you, Andrew or your business, tell us a little bit about your business, where you’re at, what you’re into, what you’re up to the verticals. Give us a little color and context to who
We’re talking to today. Okay. I’m a small organic cannabis grow medical cannabis in Oklahoma. Where in Northeastern, Oklahoma and Fort Gibson. We’ve been doing it since day one. Got our license like 13 days after August 25th, 2018. It’s a glorious day. I started growing about 10 months later. I got started in a small 800 square foot house, a little eight light, eight flowering light grow pulling about three pounds every month. And now I have moved out of that one because that building was falling apart and I have actually got land leveled and a 14 by 67, there was 16 flower and lights in my garage. Ready to go, waiting on power. Wow.
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. So you started off as a small individual grown guests growing for patients and then into a commercial grow.
Yeah. Well, it’s been commercial the whole time. Yeah.
Gotcha. Okay. So in Oklahoma, different than other States where you can actually run a commercial grow inside your primary residence, it sounds like,
Oh yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s just a building on my property. I’ve got quite a bit of property out here in the country. Yeah. So that, that helped quite a bit
For sure. For sure. Then. Good. So for the prior to being licensed, you know, most operators have some type of legacy behind them before they go commercial and go legit. So kind of give us a little color and context. How did you get into the cannabis industry? Was it starting off with cultivation? Was it working in other shops? Tell me a little bit about how happy farms came to be or how you actually got into
The cannabis industry. Indeed. Ah, well, I I’ve been a CNC machine is for the last like 10 years. I didn’t know anything about growing anything, nothing. And I’ve loved cannabis. My entire life loved it. I was, I hurt my back in 2011 and I was on opiates. Got me off all of that. Several years ago. I haven’t taken a pain pill in many years. It’s glorious, glorious cannabis. Got me off cigarettes. It’s it’s wonderful. I’m sorry. I kind of digressed.
No, it’s not a good story. That’s part of your story. Yeah,
There you go. There you go. It’s it’s just I love it. I love it. I love everything I do. Yeah,
That’s good. So you have no cultivation or agriculture background? I know when I was in Oklahoma, a few, like two, three weeks ago and I just drove by and it’s like, everything is your agriculture or oil and gas. So indeed. Yeah. There’s growing up into a place where there’s like, not much, or you’re not having a first hand experience at that. You jump into cultivation, there’s lots of different options. You can go retail or manufacturing. What made you choose cultivation as the business to jump in?
Just the plant touching. And I read Jeff Lowe, Winfield’s teaming with microbes and that just like set off an explosion inside me and ever since then, I’ve been, Oh, I love it. I, I sing to my plants. I love my plants. I water my plants, talk to them. I mean, absolutely. And the microbes and the nutrients, the nematodes and all that. It’s just fascinating.
Sure. You do. You do so you do a growing in the ground then, right? You don’t do hydroponic yet.
Well, I use grow bags indoor yet, and I did some outdoor this summer also in grow bags though. I don’t plant in the, in the dirt I use soil.
Oh, that makes sense. You’ve got to have a clean clean work surface and clean up products to work in. So that kinda leads me into your products. You know, I was looking through your Instagram. Wow. Wow. You could have been a California cannabis grow that for some of the plants you’re looking at. I’ll put some pictures wherever, somewhere on this video over here. Right? Tell me a little bit about, you know, these very beautiful plants. Where did you source your genetics from our develop your genetics? Is this something you’ve acquired from friends and family or something over time? You’ve developed. Tell me a little bit about that.
Well, when I first got the license, I had originally planned to hire a lead grower because I didn’t know much about cultivation and it’s a very expensive company, you know? And so I, I got this guy, Matt and it’s actually Oak Grove cultivation down in Poteau and he ended up starting his own. And we developed a friendship as he was going to be the lead grower. And then he kind of started his own thing before I could get mine off the, off the ground. Cause I had this big $1.4 million thing planned. It was just a monstrosity. Yeah. But it’s so much better to go small. Yeah. That, that would be the best advice. Don’t go big first, no way. But yeah, he, he actually bred some of my genetics. Like my marshmallow, he bred that it’s 30% THC, 37% total cannabinoids. He bred Oh, another one too. And then alpha chronic. I got one of my word winning strains. I want to know bell cup for THC CBD flower with alpha chronic cheese CrossFit, Stephen Hawking, Kush, just kind of all over the place. Quality genetics. Is it quality, genetics, quality inputs, quality time. And you really can’t skip any quality.
No, they got to have it. Yeah. There’s so many different levels to it. Like I love how you say you sing to your plants. You talk to your plants, your relationship with the plants, you know, it’s more than just a plant to some people it’s a medicine, it’s a lifeline. It sounds like from your, your firsthand experience has been, you know, almost essentially a new lease on life. It gives you a new business, a way to make cash as well as, you know, it takes you away from those chains of Opio opioids and cigarettes and things of that nature. Very, very true. Good. And then, so do you still do the CNC machining as well? Do you still have a day job or is this a full-time gig?
I’m gig now? Yeah, I stopped machining about 13 months ago. So I’ve been doing this full-time for 13 months. Got it.
So what made you make that big jump? Because we know some businesses or some growers, you know, they kind of fancy at another job or do another job as well, growing as well. And they’re smaller scale. What was the sign of the signal that said, all right, it’s time to jump. There’s something legit to this. This is really going to help me and my family out.
The first harvest. I still kept my CNC job all the way up until it was like almost a solid 12 months after I got the license. And then after that, I, I couldn’t, I just couldn’t do it anymore. Working all day at the CNC job and then coming home, watering the plants, taking care of the plants, singing to the plants and loving the plants. And yeah, it was just, I was working till 11 o’clock seven days a week and it was too much killing an old guy like me. Yeah.
All guy like you, you look like a young guy. Yeah.
It’s just because I’m all shaved up. I’m white and white. Yeah.
Dig it. Dig it, man. So then when you look back at those first 12 months, or even before then you got even license, you know, you did bring up the tip of like, Hey, go start small. Don’t try to boil the ocean. That’s one great tip that everybody has to learn is like, you know, don’t try to become the biggest and baddest right away, because there’s so many little nuances and truing up your system. Right. I’m sure your growth system now does not look like it does day one, right?
No, no. Nowhere near it. Yeah. All of these things you had to learn and it’s all strain specific or co or cultivar specific, you’ve got to learn your strains. Each individual strain. If you start with 10, like I did it. Oh Lord. It was a nightmare trying to figure out each individual how they like to grow, how they want to be watered and nutrients and then learning to be a compliant element, may grower and learning all the compliance and the growing cultivation part on top. So yeah, small couple of strains, few lights. That’s how I would do it now, but not now. I’ve got 16 lights. I’m getting rock and roll.
That’s a, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. And so, you know, what is the future hold? Is this something you’re going to, you said you built that new building. Is this going to be something where, Hey, we’re going to take over our Northeastern part of Oklahoma and then either distribute out to other places in Oklahoma. Are you going to go to other States? What’s the future hold for happy cannabis farms? What are you really looking at?
All of the above verdict has been where I want to be. I want to grow and process package and then sell and then eventually open up and do nationally. And then world, like, you know Columbia has got the market on good weed right now, going all over the world. I think Oklahoma could totally, totally take it away.
I a hundred percent agree when I was in Oklahoma. At the beginning of September, I spent some time with our salesperson Lawrence and speaking with the OCI, the Oklahoma cannabis industry association. You know, you just look at, you know, where Oklahoma is, it’s in the center. You don’t know if you’re watching this internationally. Oklahoma’s in the center of the United States. The I 40 cuts, right? There’s a lot of agricultural intelligence there. There’s transportation intelligence and distribution intelligence. It seems like this is going to be one of the epicenters of the crossroads of the national cannabis industry. And it seems like that’s been on your mind as well.
Very much so very much. So part of the licenses is when they open it up nationally, we’ll be able to participate nationally. It’s already built in. So it’s just waiting for the federal government.
Yeah. But that interstate commerce of cannabis, you know, I’ve, we made a video a couple of weeks ago talking about, you know, there just needs to be one pact between two States, potentially it’s going to be Oregon and California. This, you know, the, the government national government, federal government will accept that. And then it can become a kind of a thing for everybody. So that seems like it could really blow off the lid and, you know, really allow you to focus on your specific aspect of the industry and cultivation. I think, yeah. It’s going to be, the epicenter is going to be down in Oklahoma, Missouri if Texas ever opens up their doors.
Dig a man. Dig it. So then you know, tell us a little bit more about your products. You know, you, you know, you got these great strains. Are you growing just specific types of strains? What are the, what makes you choose a strain you want? Are you looking for biggest yield, highest THC? This is kind of the, the debate in, in cult or one of the debates in cultivation. Do we just focus on getting 30%? Yeah,
No, no, that’s not it. I don’t focus on the numbers at all. I grow for smell flavonoids turpines I grow for specific cannabinoids trying to go for some of the rare ones. Like the Hindu Kush has got a whole w it’s one of our strains. It’s got a whole lot of the rare cannabinoids and that’s something I’d like to get into is trying to breed those over into not necessarily numbers, but just the actual having those cannabinoids in them. The entourage effect is more of a, is how I believe more so than a high THC numbers. High numbers are great on paper. And that’s how most dispensers by. I mean, I show them that and I’m like, yeah, come on. Yeah. But that’s not what it’s about for patients. They don’t really care. Most people are like, eh, I don’t even know. Yeah.
Yeah. They’re looking for that symphony that the synergies between all the cannabinoids. Right. And you can have one and it can be very high, but it needs to be accentuated by adding in other cannabinoids to allow again, this symphony effect inside the body. Indeed. Yes. Gotcha. Gotcha. So, you know, we talked a little bit about the future and you want to do all of those things. Is there any next vertical that you feel is the right next step? Right. We talk about the future in broad terms, you know, three to five year outlook. What’s the immediate next step as a cultivator in Oklahoma, from what you’re seeing, you know, what does that next step for you? What do you think is that next step?
Bigger grill, probably a 5,000 or 8,000 square foot Grove indoor facility got to be the next one. We’re out hiring some more people and really get rock ’em sock ’em robots in a processing facility and then a dispensary somewhere.
Gotcha. Gotcha. So is this a, let’s kind of switch gears here. Let’s talk about your team. Is it a team of one? Is that a team of a few? Tell me a little bit about that
One guy. That’s it. I had an involved my brother-in-law for a little while and that just didn’t work out. He had a job and the other one just lived out of state. And so it’s just me basically been the whole time produced about 30 pounds, 33 pounds in 12 months that I’ve grown water, trimmed, bagged and sold. Maybe
You’re doing the whole thing top to bottom.
Every bit of it’s hand trimmed, hand grown organically and loved cannabis. Gosh,
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. And what would be one thing out of your business that you would love to maybe hire somebody else for get to export? Like what’s the one task you either dread every day or every, like, what’s the one thing you want to let go of as a cultivation
Books and taxes, taxes and compliance. Yeah. Basically what you do. Yeah. Yeah. Compliance stuff. Yeah. Taxes. Oh Lord. Like my taxes and bookwork. It’s a nightmare. You would be like, Oh yeah.
To be a resonating thing with people, you know, because you want to focus a sound. It sounds like you want to focus on just working with the plants and like all the compliance stuff, as long as it’s done. Right. I don’t care.
Good. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s it just as long as it’s done.
That makes sense. That makes sense. Good. Good. Well, is there any last things that you’d like to share with the audience about your brand, about the industry? Anything else you’d like to share?
Oklahoma’s where it’s at. That’s we got the loosest laws to get a license. There’s 6,000 Grove here, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. You’ve got to find a dispensary to buy your product. Lots of people have grow licenses and they’ve got product that they can’t sell. And it’s just, it looks easy and there’s nothing easy about it. Growing weed is not an easy job. It’s agriculture with the most regulation and compliance that Oh Lord paperwork. Yeah.
Yeah. And beyond. Yeah, for sure. What you brought up one thing that I should’ve brought up earlier is the distribution. Yeah. You can grow cannabis. That’s one thing. But getting someone to buy your cannabis, how did you find your first few customers? I know. Cause a lot of licensees are your friends, you know, in other verticals or how did you get into dispensary’s or to distribution centers?
Well, you have to sell to a processor or a dispensary in Oklahoma. You can’t sell straight to patients. So there was a dispensary in town, just not very far from my house, like seven minutes. And I went in there, I have good smell and product. So they bought some of it. It was $2,600 a pound back then Lord. Yeah. And after that just kind of took my product Dan, after I’ve got it into tested and people have been like, wow, wow. You know the smell. If I could get it in front of you, you’ll be like, Oh yeah, I’ll take that. How much do you have? And when we have more,
Wow. That’s a, that’s a good problem to have every time you show up, it’s like I drop it off. That’s it? That’s it. That’s great. That’s great. Well, lastly here, where can anybody find you on the internet? Are you on Instagram? Are there social channels by email, telephone? How can people find it and get your products? If they’re in Oklahoma?
Indeed. Instagram happy cannabis farms on Instagram, happy cannabis email@example.com.
Well, if you guys are looking for great product in Oklahoma, then please reach out to happy cannabis farmers via their Instagram. The email. If you’ll make these collisions, make these connections and see where the industry takes us over the next 12 to 18 months.
It’s wild. I can’t wait.
That’s it. That’s it. Well, Andrew, thank you very much for your time. It’s been great to learn about having cannabis farms, your journey and what the future holds for you. Indeed. Jim, thanks for having me.