Meet the Newest Member of Senior Management

Laura Pruneda is Grupo Flor’s new Controller and a seasoned CPA having worked in various industries including agriculture, fine arts, real estate, banking and also has Big 4 audit experience. In this ever-changing and dynamic industry, Laura’s expertise combined with her strategic approach is a great asset to Grupo Flor.

Laura is involved in all aspects of financial and accounting functions which includes financial reporting, policy and procedures, systems, compliance, taxes, budgeting, and analysis. She has an undergraduate at Stanford where she studied Industrial Engineering and was a varsity collegiate athlete on the softball team. Laura did her graduate work at UCLA in Latin American Studies and Accounting.

“It is an exciting opportunity to be on the forefront of an industry like cannabis that will help shape California’s history and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be apart of a company like Grupo Flor with its extraordinary leadership team and inspiring vision, ” said Laura Pruneda, Grupo Flor, Controller. “At this point in my life, I am selective about where I invest my professional energy and where I align myself. Upon receiving an offer of employment, I responded, ‘You had me a hello.'”

Fresh Perspective: An interview with Millay Kogan

What’s your role at Grupo Flor?

It’s changing all the time, but technically it’s HR and Legal Operations. Right now I’m working under Gavin mostly, who is Grupo Flor’s General Counsel (and also my brother!), to set up a lot of the legal and HR procedures, and to make sure processes are in place. I’m also doing a lot of compliance work to ensure permits are in order.

What is a typical day like?

A typical day is putting out fires and getting everything set up, as we’ve started from scratch. Right now my work involves a lot of meetings and a lot of organization. We’re also spending time focusing on our company culture and defining what type of company we want to be. For example, we just formalized policies to hire locally from Salinas whenever possible, to promote diversity, and to promote and hire from within whenever possible, which is really exciting and important.

Are there any challenges that come with working at a start-up?

I mean, everything. It’s just that nothing is in place when you are in a start-up. Other times that I’ve gone into jobs it’s sort of like, “oh, use this template” or “oh, call this person.”  None of those systems are in place at the moment, however, so we have to make up a lot of it ourselves.

When you were finishing law school did you ever imagine you’d be working in the cannabis industry?

No, no way. My brother Gavin has been working in cannabis for years, so I always considered it “his thing.” I’m also sort of a city rat – I’m from LA and lived in New York and San Francisco for a long time – so I never expected to be living in Monterey County. That being said, it’s really a fascinating industry in which to work. Similarly to how this company is being started, the whole cannabis industry is also getting started, which is cool in my opinion because there’s a lot of creativity involved.

How does your generation view the cannabis industry?

I’ve found that all generations like cannabis!  I’ve noticed, for example, that a lot of Baby Boomers are pretty hip to cannabis, which is great. I was recently at an event where there were a lot of Baby Boomers around, and when they asked me what I did for a living and I replied, “I work in cannabis, in marijuana”, these seventy-year-old women were so excited! They talked to me about how in the Sixties they used to sit in their  “vans” or in “drum circles” and “smoke grass.” With Millennials, I think cannabis is a little more commonplace–it seems to be a lot more ubiquitous, a given in social situations.

What excites you about being in the industry?

I would say the creativity that is required to succeed in cannabis is exciting right now. Like I mentioned, the industry is so new that there are fewer rules, so people have to kind of start from the ground up with things. In cannabis product development, for example, we look at the product and the packaging (which is common in most retail), but we also look at the smell, taste and the psychoactive effects of the product. There are all of these different components to our products, and how we think about, produce and communicate these components to our consumers is really important.

Is there anything that surprises you about being in this industry?

It’s been really interesting to work in an industry that is required to operate solely within the state of California, especially in the realm of banking and distribution. It’s also been interesting to see the cannabis regulatory framework unfold, both locally and nationally. To be perfectly honest, I’m faced with something new everyday.


Millay Kogan is a Los Angeles native. She is a graduate of Cornell University (B.S.), Columbia University (M.S.) and Golden Gate University School of Law (J.D.). Millay has worked in a number of sectors and industries, including tourism development and operations in Latin America, affordable housing development in California, tenants rights and more. This is Millay’s first experience working in the cannabis industry.  In her spare time, she enjoys hiking in Carmel Valley, visiting art museums and galleries, and consuming new cannabis products.


4 Common Questions About Investing In Cannabis

It’s been 168 years since the gold rush and with legalization of cannabis California, Grupo Flor is smack dab in the middle of a well publicised “green rush.” This is energizing a whole new crop of investment and participation interest in cannabis. It seems whether we’re at a local basketball game or dinner party, whenever someone hears that we’re in the cannabis industry, the first questions is, How do I get involved? This is usually followed by a litany of questions about investing in cannabis and Grupo Flor’s activities. Here’s the top 4 most common questions we get asked together with our answers, about investing in cannabis, including Grupo Flor’s current investment round.

1. What’s all this talk about a “Touch” and “No-touch” Cannabis Company?

“Non-Plant Touching” or “Ancillary” companies are generally involved in providing a product or service to the cannabis industry, but are not directly involved with monetizing the cannabis plant itself. In contrast, “Plant-Touching” companies on the other hand, are cultivators, distributors, producers of concentrates or any company that “touches” the plant in some way, and earn funds directly from monetizing the cannabis plant.

The distinction is valuable to investors because there is a higher degree of risk perceived with “plant touching” investments. Most of the investments discussed in major news outlets concerns investments in cannabis that are actually investments in non-plant touching, or ancillary, cannabis businesses. Examples would be greenhouse manufacturers, commercial real estate, law, cultivation nutrients, compliance software systems, etc.

Grupo Flor is unique in that its bedrock endeavor, commercial real estate, is Ancillary, or Non-Plant Touching while it also holds future interests in Plant Touching endeavors that it may access when the federal cannabis enforcement position softens. Unlike competitors in the cannabis space, Grupo Flor’s advantage is economic and operational diversity, allowing a great amount of flexibility as we learn the nature and nuances of California’s newly regulated cannabis environment.

2. Is your company currently producing revenue?

Yes. Unlike most cannabis companies, Grupo Flor is currently producing a monthly profit. The Grupo Flor ecosystem was founded at the end of 2015 and is today generating monthly revenue from our commercial lease portfolio of two million square feet of commercial space throughout Monterey County, CA.

3. What are the opportunities to get involved as an investor?

In January, 2018, Grupo Flor launched its first round of funding to expedite the build out and expansion of our ecosystem to take full advantage of the recent regulatory “reset” in the California cannabis industry. The funds are being used to more quickly develop cultivation activity, build out manufacturing and distribution facilities and support roll out of retail establishments through 2019. The financing round seeks to raise $5,000,000 and the investment opportunity is the purchase of preferred shares of equity.

Finally, investment is but one form of participation. At Grupo Flor, we maintain a culture of remaining open to expanding our ecosystem of relationships, from landowners and equipment financiers to cultivators and all type of entrepreneurs looking to add value.

4) How do I get involved?

If you want to learn more please send an email to and we will contact you to set up a meeting to discuss further details.

A New Era For Grupo Flor

With the New Year well underway, we enter a new era – right smack dab in the center of the biggest legal, adult-use marijuana market in the world. At Grupo Flor, we’ve hit the ground running with plenty of great news to share…

But first, why Grupo Flor?
If you’ve been around this thing for a minute, you know the California cannabis marketplace is severely fractured and regional. Grupo Flor’s goal has been to create a regional “ecosystem” that is strong in a diversity of relationships… READ MORE

Seed to Store Model
Grupo Flor’s family of cannabis companies, both subsidiaries and affiliates, have all received permits in cultivation, manufacturing, retail dispensary and distribution. By having permits in all areas of the cannabis supply chain…READ MORE

Open for Business (almost)
Grupo Flor affiliate East of Eden Cannabis Co. will open its flagship retail dispensary in Salinas, California in the next few months. While East of Eden will offer top high-quality brands from across the entire state, the store will showcase a vast selection of best-in-class products grown and produced just a few short miles away.
“Being in the heart of the Salinas Valley, we are working hard to ensure that our space reflects the local community. We hope to open our doors to the public in late March, where we are committed to providing the highest quality, all natural, pesticide free and tested products.” Steve Podell, President of East of Eden

Fueling Grupo Flor’s Growth
Grupo Flor is excited to have secured much of the capital needed to complete facility build-outs, fuel hiring, purchase compliance technology and launch partnership brands through Grupo Flor’s affiliate distribution arm, Flor X, Inc.

Federal Legislative Look

We are also excited about a number of federal bills that seek to synthesize federal and state marijuana law. Among a handful of others, these five measures are pending in Congress that address some of the gaps once filled by the Cole memo…READ MORE

State Legislative Look 

After Jerry Brown swatted down the beehive of legislation that tried to show up at the end of 2017, things are calmer this start of 2018, with more emphasis on refining the regulated marketplace at the division levels of the Bureau and various departments handling different aspects of the supply chain. We are particularly excited about some negotiations underway that could change child proof packaging laws and maybe, just maybe, (fingers crossed) eliminate the difficult Adult Use and Medical distinction in the supply chain before it gets to the dispensary counter. We will keep you posted.

Local Legislative Look
If you have not yet, please join the Monterey County Cannabis Industry Association (“MCCIA”) which was created to advocate and promote all aspects of the industry. MCCIA is providing much needed industry representation, education and leadership throughout the region. If for no other reason, consider this one word: tax…READ MORE

Grupo Flor CEO Shares 5 Takeaways From SoCal Investors Forum on Attracting Investors

Grupo Flor’s CEO, Paul Henderson, was a panelist at the Southern California Cannabis Investment Forum where he and top industry leaders shared their collective wisdom with 250 plus people. Now with legal adult-use cannabis sales in California less than three weeks away, Paul Henderson shares his top 5 Takeaways from the SoCal Cannabis Forum for those cannabis companies looking to attract investors:

  1. Proof is in the Pudding
    Raising money from a business plan is very difficult, especially if you are asking for a high valuation.  Get started and bootstrap your business so you can provide “proof of concept” in your business model.
  2. Bring on Legal Eagles
    Get lawyers involved early and often. Fundraising adds a layer of complexity and the way the businesses are set-up from a legal standpoint matters. Securities laws can easily be compromised without owners realizing it, putting themselves and the company at risk.
  3. “Touch” vs. “No-Touch” Companies
    “No-Touch”companies are generally involved in providing a product or service to the cannabis industry, but are not directly involved with the cannabis plant itself. Investors are typically more comfortable with investing in these types of businesses that provide soil, technical support, testing labs, hydro shops and more. However, more and more investors are getting comfortable investing in “Touch” companies.  These are the cultivators, distributors, producers of concentrates, or any company that “touches” the plant in some way.
  4. Due Diligence is to be Expected
    Many investment groups are entering cannabis from other industries and you’re not going to get a pass because you’ve been operating a cannabis business. Term sheets, investment decks, historical financials, local and state licenses, pro-formas, use of proceeds budgets, PPM, appropriate disclosures, and offering paperwork prepared by law firms are all examples of what it’s going to take to complete a deal.  Start this process as early as possible to make sure you have a complete packet to present. Most operators wait too long before they realize they need financial backing, or discover that they don’t have the necessary paperwork, putting their companies at risk.
  5. Don’t set out to build a business to quickly sell it.
    This is not a get-rich-quick deal.  Many of these operations are capital intensive and require strong fundamental management skills.  Focus on efficient and low cost operations.  There will eventually be consolidation and successful companies will get acquired.

Cannabis Attorney and Industry Expert, Hilary Bricken, Talks Emergency Cannabis Regulations

California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (along with its Departments of Public Health and Food and Agriculture) dropped their much-anticipated emergency rules (see herehere, and here) to fully implement the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act in California. The agencies kept a lot of what we saw from the withdrawn rules under the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) (see hereherehere, and here), but there are also some new, notable additions and some interesting gap-fillers that now give us the foundation for operational standards across cannabis license types.

Though I can’t cover every single change or topic from these rules in one post (and because I’ll be covering the license types and application details in other posts in the coming days and weeks and at our SoCal Cannabis Investment Forum), I will instead focus on the following highlights of the emergency rules:

  1. We now have a revised definition of “canopy,” which is “the designated area(s) at a licensed premise that will contain mature plants at any point in time.” In addition, canopy shall be calculated in square feet and measured using clearly identifiable boundaries of all area(s) that will contain mature plants at any point in time, including all of the space(s) within the boundaries. Canopy may be noncontiguous, but each unique area included in the total canopy calculation shall be separated by an identifiable boundary which includes interior walls, shelves, greenhouse walls, hoop house walls, garden benches, hedgerows, fencing, garden beds, or garden plots; and if mature plants are being cultivated using a shelving system, the surface area of each level shall be included in the total canopy calculation.
  2. “Nonvolatile solvent” has been further defined to mean “any solvent used in the extraction process that is not a volatile solvent,” which “includes carbon dioxide (CO2) used for extraction and ethanol used for extraction or post-extraction processing.”
  3. Temporary licensing has now been fully detailed to include online applications, the personal information for each owner that must be disclosed, contact information for the applicant’s designated point of contact, physical address of the premises, evidence that the applicant has the legal right to occupy the premises for the desired license type, proof of local approval, and the fact that the temporary license (which is good for 120 days) may be renewed and extended by the state for additional 90 day periods so long as a “complete application for an annual license” has been submitted to the state. No temporary license will become effective until January 1, 2018.
  4. For the full blown “annual license,” the application requirements are pretty much the same as under the MCRSA rules except that you must disclose whether you’re applying for an “M License” or an “A License” and you have to list out all of your financing and financiers which include: “A list of funds belonging to the applicant held  in savings, checking, or other accounts maintained by a financial institution, a list of loans (with all attendant loan information and documentation, including the list of security provided for the loan), all investment funds and names of the investors, a list of all gifts, and a list with certain identifying information of anyone with a “financial interest” in the business. “Financial interest” means “an investment into a commercial cannabis business, a loan provided to a commercial cannabis business, or any other equity interest in a commercial cannabis business.” The only exempt “financial interests” are bank or financial institution lenders, individuals whose only financial interest is through an interest in a diversified mutual fund, blind trust, or “similar instrument”, and those shareholders in a publicly traded company who hold less than 5% of the total shares.
  5. As part of your licensing application, you will still need to submit a premises diagram drawn to scale along with all of your security procedures and inventory procedures (and pretty much all corresponding operational SOPs). A $5,000 bond is still required for all licensees (as well as mandatory insurance) and all owners must submit their felony conviction criminal histories as specifically enumerated in the regulations, as well as rehabilitation statements.
  6. Several new licenses have been created (and/or brought back from the dead from MCRSA): the cannabis event organizer license (to enable people to take advantage of the temporary cannabis event license), the distribution transporter only license (which allows this licensee to only move product between licensees, but not to retailers unless what’s being transported are immature plants or seeds from a Type 4 nursery), the processor license (a cultivation site that conducts only trimming, drying, curing, grading, packaging, or labeling of cannabis and non-manufactured cannabis products), the Type N and P manufacturing licenses are back, and there’s now a Type 9 delivery only Non-Storefront Retailer license.
  7. We also now have the non-refundable licensing fee schedules and though they vary depending on the license type they mostly are nominal, though some increase with increased gross receipts, and small and medium-sized growers will have to pay pretty robust fees.
  8. If you want to make changes after the fact to your premises or to your ownership structure, you first must secure state approval to do so.
  9. All growers are again limited to one Type 3 medium cultivation license each, whether it’s an M License or an A License.
  10. A retailer can sell non-cannabis goods on its premises so long as their city or county allows it (this excludes alcohol, tobacco, and tobacco products). Retailers can also sell non-flowering, immature plants (no more than six in a single day to a single customer). M-licensed retailers and micro-businesses can also give cannabis away free of charge to qualified patients or to their caregivers.
  11. Notably, until July 1, 2018, licensees may conduct commercial cannabis activities with any other licensee, regardless of the A or M designation of the license.
  12. The renewable energy requirements for cultivators have been revamped hopefully to the satisfaction of cannabis growers.
  13. Again, the licenses are NOT transferable, so we’re looking at folks only being able to purchase the businesses that hold them.
  14. Distributors will be able to re-package and re-label flower, but not infused cannabis products unless they hold a manufacturing license. Distributors also cannot store any non-cannabis goods at their premises. The state has laid out what must take place during a distributor’s quality assurance review and the chain of custody protocol with third party labs for testing.
  15. We have a detailed list of all permissible extraction types, including that any CO2 extractions must be done within a closed loop system.
  16. The prohibited products list is pretty much the same as it was under the  MCRSA rules (so, no nicotine or caffeine infused cannabis products).
  17. In regards to “premises,” the Bureau’s regulations mandate that a licensee may have up to two licenses at a given premises of the same license type so long as they’re owned by the same company and one is an A-License and  the other is an  M-License.
  18. In addition to other relatively onerous advertising requirements, licensees must “[p]rior to any advertising or marketing from the licensee involving direct, individualized communication or dialog, . . .  use age affirmation to verify that the recipient is 21 years of age or older.” Direct, individualized communication or dialog, may occur through any form of communication including in person, telephone, physical mail, or electronic. A method of age verification is not necessary for a communication if the licensee can verify that “the licensee has previously had the intended recipient undergo a method of age affirmation and the licensee is reasonably certain that the communication will only be received by the intended recipient.”
  19. Retailers and micro-businesses are now required to hire third-party security to protect and watch their premises.
  20. To hold a micro-business license, a licensee must engage in at least three of the following commercial cannabis activities: cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and retail sale. There are also now a slew of regulations surrounding each activity a micro-business can undertake.
  21. Live entertainment is now allowed at a licensed premises so long as it follows the bevy of regulations regarding content and presentation.

Overall, we have a close-ish copy of the withdrawn MCRSA rules that will lead us into 2018. Be sure to read the rules again and again before pursuing your California cannabis license. Applicants will have their work cut out for them on both the state and local levels.

Hilary Bricken is an attorney at Harris Bricken in Los Angeles, and she chairs the firm’s Canna Law Group. Her practice consists of representing marijuana businesses of all sizes in multiple states on matters relating to licensing, corporate formation and contracts, commercial litigation, and intellectual property. Named one of the 100 most influential people in the cannabis industry in 2014, Hilary is also lead editor of the Canna Law Blog.


Grupo Flor Expands Its Executive Team

Steve Podell joined Grupo Flor to oversee the retail and distribution of the dispensaries and licensed product. In addition, Steve is focused on developing strategic sales plans based upon company goals and ensuring customer satisfaction in all brand touch points. Prior to joining Grupo Flor, Steve was an executive at Cypress Consulting where he helped his clients implement customized solutions for key business challenges such as revenue growth, cost reduction, technology utilization, process improvement and profitability enhancement.
David Hessler joined Grupo Flor’s manufacturing company, 710 Combinator to lead all manufacturing and engineering activities to ensure effective and efficient use of facilities and personnel so that the best practices are in place. David has over 20 years of global experience in Supply Chain Management in the tobacco industry (Europe, Russia, Asia-Pacific) working with Japan Tobacco Intl, RJ Reynolds Intl and Phillip Morris Intl. With eight overseas assignments in executive management and operations in Europe, Russia, and Asia, David gained a deep understanding of global and regulatory challenges and played a key role in developing strategies to defeat or mitigate those challenges.

From Silicon Valley To Salinas Valley – Grupo Flor Hires Former Apple Finance Manager As CEO

Grupo Flor and its family of cannabis companies, announced the appointment of Paul Henderson as Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining Grupo Flor, Paul served as the Chief Financial Officer at Indus Holding Company, a cannabis manufacturer where he helped guide them through a vertical integration strategy. Prior to Indus, Paul served as the Worldwide Financial Services Manager at Apple, where he was instrumental in establishing the global Enterprise and Educational financial structuring teams.
“I am very excited to join Group Flor. The company has built an incredible business based on real estate assets and cannabis licenses that is unmatched in California,” said Paul Henderson, CEO of Grupo Flor. “Our leasing company, Grupo Properties is the springboard for the vertical integration of our other business units as well as our strategic partnerships that allow us to operate in a very efficient way. You can expect to see our flagship dispensary, East of Eden, open in Salinas by January 2018.”
Paul has spent the majority of his career successfully launching new initiatives and business units within larger enterprises. Immediately after graduate school, Paul joined GE Capital in their globally acclaimed leadership development program where he worked on the most challenging projects with senior leadership. Prior to graduate school, Paul spent five years at the prestigious investment banking firm, Goldman Sachs, where he led the global team responsible for building their private bank that grew to become a $25 Billion entity.
Paul received an M.B.A. in Finance, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University and a B.A. from Brigham Young University. He and his wife and son live in Morgan Hill, CA. Paul spends most of his free time cycling and trail running. He has completed several half Ironman triathlons and trail ultra-marathons.
The Grupo Flor family of cannabis companies is shaping the future of the market, by inviting visionary entrepreneurs to participate in all aspects of the cannabis industry. They have developed a vast ecosystem of private equity, real estate leasing, cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, equipment financing and retail operations, providing necessary resources throughout California’s regulated market. Grupo Flor has emerged as leaders in the local cannabis industry.

Grupo Flor’s Co-founders added to the Upstart 50 List of Bay Area Top Business Creators

The San Francisco Business Times and Silicon Valley Business Journal will honor Grupo Flor’s Co-founders, Mike Bitar and Gavin Kogan as part of the Bay Area’s Upstart 50, which celebrates innovative, disruptive and creative business professionals. The Upstart 50 Event will be held the evening of Tuesday, September 12, 2017, at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center.

Cannabis visionaries, Bitar and Kogan are in good company as the Upstart 50 honorees are comprised of the Bay Area’s top inventors, creatives, backers, and masters – all of whom are driving the creation of the worlds new innovation capital.

Mike Bitar is paving the way for this emerging industry by helping entrepreneurs lease over 2,600,000 square feet of properties in cannabis permitted zones throughout Monterey County. Bitar leverages his extensive experience managing and owning real estate companies, to create Grupo Flor Leasing, a subsidiary company of Grupo Flor that provides cannabis tenants and partners access to extensive political, regulatory, legal, financial and commercial agriculture resources.

“It truly is a great honor to be selected as part of this prestigious group of accomplished innovators,” said Mike Bitar. “I feel fortunate to have this unprecedented market opportunity to shape the landscape of commercial cannabis real estate and work closely with policy makers to help guide the industry forward.”

Gavin Kogan, commercial cannabis attorney, and founding member of California Cannabis Manufacturers Association (CCMA) pioneered the concept of the canna-business ecosystem that connects entrepreneurs to the entire supply chain. Kogan also recognized that industry lacked access to capital and investors lacked a clear path to invest. Hence, the Ag Pistil Fund is born, a subsidiary of Grupo Flor.

“I am exceedingly honored to be included in this cohort of the Upstart 50 business professionals,” said Gavin Kogan. “I’ve been long attracted to solving problems arising from seismic culture shifts. Cannabis presents a virtual bounty of such opportunities. Grupo Flor is designed to stabilize an entirely incoherent, fractured and regionalized California cannabis supply chain.”

The Grupo Flor family of cannabis companies is shaping the future of the market, by inviting visionary entrepreneurs to participate in all aspects of the cannabis industry.  They have developed a vast ecosystem of private equity, real estate leasing, cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, equipment financing and retail operations, providing necessary resources throughout California’s regulated market.  Grupo Flor has emerged as leaders in the local cannabis industry.

Why Ag Tech?

“To a hammer, everything’s a nail,” goes the saying. The problem with the deep focus on a subject is that everything starts to filter through that lens. On the upside, however, is that unexpected connections arise that before weren’t immediately obvious.

Such was the case at the end of June 2017 when 50 or so agriculture technology evangelists from around the world walked off the Forbes Ag Tech Summit tour bus onto Grupo Flor’s cannabis production facilities near Salinas, California. The Forbes Ag Tech Summit is an invitation only event bringing together more than 600 of the most entrepreneurial minds in agriculture to tackle the global food production crisis. The City of Salinas sponsors this summit in hopes of marketing itself the epicenter of thought leadership on this critical and expanding subject.

Grupo Flor, a Salinas based cannabis enterprise of which I am a founder, chose this site because it gave attendees a unique opportunity to tour the entire cannabis wholesale supply chain at one site, from nursery and bloom to processing and extraction, and finally packaging and distribution. Grupo Flor’s attendees, from far-off places like Japan and Poland, were about to get first-hand exposure to processes that easily 90% of California legislators have never witnessed; but that’s a complaint for another blog.

“Yes, that’s correct,” Mark said, in a matter of fact way, wearing a surfer t-shirt and standing in front of an indoor field of stout plants, trichomes glistening, “we recycle 100% of our water; we use the same water 4-7 times before we replenish.” It was little flourishes like this that amazed the attendees, who knew not what to expect, but clearly not detailed attention to sustainability and energy conservation. I’m not exaggerating when I say that after the Grupo Flor tour, cannabis was the belle of the Forbes Ag Tech ball; however, the “why” might surprise.

You see, agriculture works on amazingly small margins, making it extremely difficult to deploy new technologies desperately needed in food production. Black market cannabis, on the other hand, enjoys massive margins, but these fat margins actually retard the need for innovation. Enter regulated cannabis, threatening fat black market margins with taxes, regulations and defined competition. To my surprise, what Grupo Flor’s attendees saw was not just a crop inviting innovation, but actually, a crop maybe having enough margin to encourage adoption.

And there’s the unexpected connection, cannabis offers ag tech entrepreneurs a novel opportunity to deploy innovations critical to global food crisis management. While some saw the Salinas sponsored Summit as little more than a political boondoggle, fostering creativity and unexpected results is not math, it’s risk calculus. Risk calculus is what makes California a top 6 global economy; it’s what enacted Prop 215 and it’s what undergirds our state’s new experiment with regulated cannabis. Is it too much to imagine that in some strange way, regulated cannabis can actually improve our world in ways not immediately obvious today?