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Damian Solomon, MedMen:

"Many people in this industry have no clue what they're doing"

In March last year, Damian Solomon joined The MedMen, a full service turnkey management company in the cannabis industry. Carrying years of knowledge from his extensive career in the greenhouse vegetable industry, Damian was challenged by The MedMen to help them design a cultivation system that would set the standard for the legal cannabis industry.

Solomon is a familiar face in produce land; he started his career as a grower at EuroFresh Farms in Wilcox Arizona, by then the largest producer of greenhouse vegetables in the North America. Later he continued his career setting up and operating several California based organic greenhouse operations like Origin Organics in Carpinteria and Grimmway Farms in Tehachapi. Over the past few years he served as the technical expert for glasshouse crops at De Ruiter Seeds (Monsanto Company) throughout North America and has operated his own crop consultancy firm, Plant Geek Consulting, LLC.

Damian Solomon at the Indoor Ag-Con in Las Vegas last month.

Working as a consultant for several licensed Canadian MMJ producers, Damian got in touch with several investors who were planning to enter the legal medicinal marijuana industry. Over the past 18 months, he has focused solely on cannabis, and is amazed at how new and premature the industry still is. "Everybody is trying to jump in on the legal medicinal marijuana market, investing millions of dollars and making plans for large scale growing operations. But the truth is that many people in this industry do not have a clue of what they are doing."

According to Solomon, this is the result of the fact that many of the growers involved are undergoing a transition from a small illegal production. "MMJ is here to stay, but in order to create a high end, year round and premium supply, the industry is demanding a more professional and thought out approach, an approach that is ready for the future. This was also MedMen's vision, hence they hired me in order to establish a cultivation design that is based on the extensive experience from a parallel industry; commercial greenhouse vegetable cultivation.

Over the past year, Solomon has been analyzing the problems in MMJ cultivation and created a plan for MedMen to outline what a professional industry would require from a production system. For this, Solomon and his team look closely at food crops, because there is a big overlap between the efficiency of growing premium quality tomatoes year round and growing medicinal cannabis year round. "I design the systems as if I am designing a cultivation system for a food crop. Whether you are growing lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers or medicinal marijuana; the technology and the procedures are exactly the same."

Solomon explained that it is necessary to optimize the operations and increasing the efficiencies as if they are a commercial greenhouse vegetable grower in order to be prepared for the future. "Right now nobody is looking at increasing operational efficiency or decreasing production costs, because they make very high revenues due to the bubble and upward slope that everybody is in. But that bubble is going to pop someday.

That is why we apply the efficiency of growing a commercial vegetable crop into a system to grow marijuana; with maximum efficiency from the very beginning to still make a valid return when the bubble pops."

As an example Damian talked about technical issues like fertilizer systems, as many of the current MMJ growers are not aware on how they should upscale their production, because they don't know how they should apply fertilizers on a large scale; most of them are not able to make their own mixes and nutrient schemes. "what about introducing breeding and tissue culture programs, or think about stable and consistent large scale propagation of starting material and young plants? No one is thinking about making all this more efficient and professional. I think about these things, and MedMen is the only professional company who is introducing all of these progressive technologies and procedures for marijuana production.”

MedMen is dedicated to develop not only these standards for cultivation systems, but also professionalizing the entire chain; from licensing and application of designing cultivation and dispensary plans to realistic operation and cultivation layouts. All with consultancy and management via their large team. "We have the best in class technology and people on board from parallel industries, all with the goal to implement their knowledge in helping new investors producing and marketing the highest quality cannabis on the market, year-round and on a commercial and efficient scale."
For more information:
Damian Solomon

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