Designing the Thousand Dollar Ounce

Cannabis is in flux. California, the world's leader in legal cannabis flower cultivation, is quickly becoming the leader in how to kill the golden goose.

What is the golden goose? I would contend that it is highly crafted cannabis grown by the best cannabis cultivators at the smallest scale. The challenge is, everyone has been trying to scale up. Grow more cannabis and sell it for cheaper. It's a race to the bottom. A race where nobody wins. The second challenge is, California has made it nearly impossible to get started as a very small grower, as the barrier for entry is very high.

But there are a few companies out there who could start this trend. The race to the thousand dollar ounce. The race to the top.

Here's the trick. In order for an ounce of cannabis flower to be bought at this price, it has to be authentic. It has to be cared for at the highest level from seed to sprout, to location of planting, the food fed to the plant, the music played to it throughout it's life, where the water comes from, the way it I harvested, hung, dried, trimmed (or not), cured, how long it's cured and how well, how it's packaged, shipped, presented and finally sold. Not to mention the sales and distribution pipeline has to be perfect and timely because the customer can't buy this product at the wrong time or they will not get what is intended.

That's just the beginning, because not only do you have to build the processes and presentation and distribution to make the ounce authentically worth a thousand dollars, you have to tell the story of that process in a way that educates the consumer why it's worth that. What would happen if I don't buy this on the right day? What if the cannabis got too warm or too cold or exposed to sunlight for a few hours while it cured or sat in the dispensary? You need to tell us every detail of every little decision. When you cut down this particular plant that is this particular ounce, I want to see photographs of the trichomes on the day that it was cut and an explanation of why you made the decision based on all of the attributes of the flower that day. This level of detailed storytelling has to be done in order for you to distill that volume of words down to simple, clean, brand messaging that educates me without bogging me down.

It's not easy. That's why very few have even tried. But I know one thing, if California legacy cannabis is to survive the next fifteen years, we have to start racing to the top and stop competing with cheaper, scalable cannabis. If there is to be a Steve Jobs or Elon Musk of cannabis who will attempt to take on and disrupt the big world players, then there will only be one, and if you are reading this, more power to you, I hope you win. The rest of us have to think like Seth Godin and design for scarcity, rareness, and make our cannabis unparalleled.

Be the Golden Goose.

Jesse Barney

November 24, 2019