Boutique cannabis grower determined to stay on top


EUREKA, Calif. - Cody Stross, owner of Northern Emeralds said darkness is in the past- every time he opens the door, he sees gold.

"Well I didn't like living in fear and I also felt that there was a greater opportunity to impact our culture in a positive way because this is brand new to us. It's very rare that there's something brand new," Stross said.

His company is an indoor medical cannabis grow in Humboldt County, and behind the closed doors are hundreds of marijuana plants blooming adorned with giant flowers awaiting harvest. The grow is permitted with the county. Next is trying to get a permit from the state.

"We're always in an odd position," Stross said. "The cannabis industry and everyone around is still trying to figure out their piece or their part in the whole thing." However, he said they found their piece.

Stross's team is focusing on a boutique grow that produces high-quality pot.

"We keep it simple because there are so many variables in one strain, from how you grow it, propagate it, trim it, how you cure it," Stross said.

They only have one strain listed on their website: Titan OG. Focusing one strain at a time is their plan to stand out from the rest.

"Northern Emeralds along with the other businesses in Humboldt County really need to have a niche," Stross said. "They have to be very good at something."

They have total control of the environment where the plants live. Lights simulate the sun cycle, while filter panels allow fresh coastal air inside, and the temperature and humidity are all specific to the plants's needs.

"The big companies that come in are going to go for the low hanging fruit, which is having a lower cost of goods and creating bulk," Stross said.

He said the arrival of big marijuana companies is inevitable. The director of planning for the county, John Ford, said he has yet to receive applications from outside big marijuana.

"Haven't seen any applications that have a fortune 500 corporation name on them but there are some larger applications for cultivation sites," Ford said.

According to Ford, some of the bigger permits are for about 8 acres, and from local growers. Still, everything about legal marijuana remains pretty new, and nothing is set in stone.

"It really is interesting to see what's going to happen in Humboldt County in terms of who will continue to supply the market," Ford said.

But Humboldt County's location could be somewhat of an obstacle for big businesses. The director said the county's windy and deteriorating roads are not ideal for big companies.

"This is a location where historically, cannabis cultivation has been of extremely high-quality," Ford said. "Humboldt County is known for the quality of marijuana that is produced here, and that hopefully will continue to be the branding for Humboldt County."

As for small cannabis businesses, Northern Emeralds has big plans. Stross said, "They're excited, people from Europe and from all over, not only the United States, but the world is going to come here and there's one more wonderful thing that they could do, right after Napa Valley they will head to Humboldt County and have a similar experience."

Stross said legal cannabis tourism could be the next boom for Humboldt County.

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