Disclaimer: This article is intended for readers age 21 and older.
Clyde Stephenson Jr. wakes up early, while his wife and daughter are still asleep. Sunrise is still hours off, but his day as begun, much like many other American farmers. He works long hours and knows a lot about his crop. On his drive into work, he thinks about soil needs and nutrition, pests and getting his product to market.
If you’re picturing Clyde heading off in a pickup truck and pulling up to a vast field of green corn stalks or sweeping golden grain next to a big red barn, your image might need a bit of adjusting. While average American farmers head off to massive fields of corn, wheat or other food crops, Clyde heads to a big grey warehouse in an industrial sector right off highway 101.
Clyde grows cannabis.
The inside of Clyde’s warehouse is divided into different rooms, which allow the growing, processing and packaging of Capital City Chronic’s cannabis products. Unlike food crops, cannabis is strictly regulated. There are many things that make working in the cannabis industry different from working in other Washington industries. However, for all the differences, there are quite a few similarities.
Similar to many small scale farms and small businesses, Capital City Chronic is a family business. Clyde, the owner, employs family members and trusted friends. In order to spend time with his wife and children, he goes into work very early in the mornings. “It was a promise I made to myself and my family,” he says, “that I would be there for my kids when they got home from school every day.”
Competition to get on store shelves is one of Clyde’s biggest challenges. Current trends suggest the industry favors larger production operations, which Washington State breaks down into tiers. Tier one operations are allowed to have a growth canopy of up to 2,000 square feet. Tier two operations are a bit larger, allowing between 2,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet. Tier three is the largest, allowing a growth canopy of up to 30,000 square feet. And make no mistake, large production operations use every bit of the allowed space.
Clyde wants customers to know that there’s a difference between the products they buy. “It’s somewhat like the difference between a microbrewery and a large beer manufacturer,” says Clyde. “Tier one and tier two growers know every single plant they grow.”
Clyde thinks that once the public knows about the differences in the tier sizes, they could take that information into consideration when deciding between brands at the store. For customers, it’s often difficult to discern between the small-scale tier one and two growers, and the larger tier three producers on the shelf. As consumers become familiar with his brand, Clyde hopes to win them over with high quality, increasing his regular customer base and demand for his product at different retailers. Clyde also looks for distinctive packaging that will stand out to consumers while still meeting state regulations.
Capital City Chronic offers quite a few cannabis varieties at Gypsy Greens in West Olympia. “Clyde is probably our number one seller,” says Jeremy Howard, Gypsy Greens manager. Jeremy loves working with Clyde because of his high level of professionalism and reliability. “He’s really easy to work with and in this business that means everything to me,” Jeremy says.
Growing cannabis can be a profitable business, but there are some expenses that cut into that profit. One of the largest expenses growers incur is energy consumption in the form of grow lights. Farmers across America have a deep understanding of their crops – literally down to a science – and cannabis growing is no exception. Clyde’s crops need 18 hours of light for maximum growth potential, which simulates spring and summer growth seasons. He switches to 12 hour days when he wants the green leafy plants to bud and produce flowers, which happens in the fall. Powering grow lights is expensive, but Clyde reduced his cost with a grant from Puget Sound Energy by switching from high pressure sodium (HPS) lights to the more energy efficient LED lights. This change cut his energy consumption by a third. It has been a win-win for Clyde. It means more green for his bottom line, and it’s more green for the environment as well.
Clyde’s products are available at Gypsy Greens in Chehalis at 1570 North National Avenue. To see more about Clyde’s products, follow Capital City Chronic’s Facebook page or, to view all the products Gypsy Greens offers, check out their website.
Warning: This product has intoxicating effects and may be habit forming. Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product. For use only by adults twenty-one and older. Keep out of the reach of children.