Unity Rd Is New Name for One Cannabis, But Chief Grower Misses Old Days
Corey Buffkin, chief cultivation officer at One Cannabis, at its grow facility in Aurora, Colorado. Unity Rd is the new brand name for the franchise’s retail stores.
Corey Buffkin, chief cultivation officer for One Cannabis, is “the best effing grower in the world,” exclaimed COO Mike Weinberger as we toured the young franchise’s 118,000-square-foot, $15-million grow facility in Aurora, Colorado, today.
Buffkin shows off 120 different strains of marijuana, each with different psychoactive effects as well as distinctive smells and tastes, and with names like Jungle Cheese and Starkiller that soak up $90,000 in electricity each month and take 30 employees and 30 subcontractors to nurture.
The operation is highly regulated and totally buttoned down today, with strict rules including weighing regimens, lab testing and employee scrutiny. “Everyone has been background checked by the FBI,” Buffkin explains, and can have no felonies and no defaults on student loans, child support or taxes going back for several years.
Later, Weinberger takes me to Green Man Cannabis, one of its three corporate-owned dispensaries in Denver, which will soon be re-branded to Unity Rd with a sleek new design that looks more like an Apple store than a pot shop. We’ll have a larger story on the franchise cannabis business in an upcoming issue.
The business has come a long way from 2009 and the “Eric Holder memo,” as Buffkin calls it, when then-U.S. Attorney General Holder said the Justice Department would no longer aggressively prosecute marijuana sellers and growers in states where medical cannabis was legal.
“Everybody out here jumped on it,” Buffkin said, including himself, when he went from growing for five patients as allowed under the medical marijuana program in Colorado that started in 2000, to 20 times that amount and more. “It was a free-for-all. The dispensaries were frat houses where everybody was smoking and drinking. It was a big party.”
Within a couple of years, regulators cracked down.
Which does Buffkin like better, then or now? I ask. “Then. It was more fun. I think most guys would say that,” he said. “It was like being a cowboy, an outlaw.”
But he clearly relishes his role today. The best part of his job? “It’s pride in what you do, and we like to be the best. We like to be the best product with the lowest cost of goods and the highest price in the market,” he said.