“Terpenes & Tenacity” in Cannabis Business Times
Puffin Farm’s CEO Jade Stefano is on the February cover of the Cannabis Business Times! Thank you, CBT! In the article, Jade talks about terpenes, tenacity and the story behind Puffin’s competitive edge.
After being one of the first states (along with Oregon and Alaska) to legalize medical marijuana in 1998, after only California (1996), Washington lost control of the reins and could not do anything except witness the development of a highly unregulated cannabis industry. For some, it was a beautiful time; for others, a cutthroat business. But almost everyone was unprepared for what was to come more than a decade later.
When Washington voters passed Initiative 502 in 2012 to legalize recreational cannabis, state regulators made a commitment that everyone who applied and qualified for a producer license would get one, but capped the number of retail licenses. This turned out to be an attempt to bring in the state’s gray market cannabis growers who operated as caregivers with patients registered directly with them.
“Cannabis is a specialty crop that does not grow itself or grow dollar bills. It is a very thin margin business at this point and is not easy money in any way.”
The result made Washington’s cannabis market unlike any in the country: Licensed growers outnumber dispensaries by a ratio of nearly three to one, according to recent data from 502data.com.
With production outpacing demand, retailers in the Evergreen State rarely worry about a lack of supply. Producers, however, often find themselves scrambling to get their products on store shelves and reducing wholesale prices before their wares become unsellable. Most producers barely turn a profit, and some consider breaking even a good year.
Jade Stefano, owner and operator at Puffin Farm, an outdoor cultivation business on the outskirts of Ellensburg, knows these tribulations all too well. Her operation, situated east of Mt. Rainier, has only closed two months with sales over $100,000, although the company did come near that mark on several occasions, Stefano says.
She says Puffin Farm fluctuates between making a slight profit and breaking even, but adds that, as an outdoor grower, she has advantages over indoor producers. While she might not be able to achieve the manicured look indoor cultivators produce, nor produce the same volume they can in a year, she says she counters that with a cheaper wholesale price from much lower overhead than her indoor competitors, and an increased terpene content that she attributes to her crop surviving outdoor life’s daily stresses.