Do’s and dont’s from MMJ business owner/college professor

Economics professor and MMJ processor shares lessons from inside and outside the classroom

Recognizing the business opportunity of legalized marijuana, Jim Parco took an eight-month sabbatical in 2014 from Colorado College where he is an economics professor to work at a MMJ dispensary to learn first-hand about the industry. Not long after that, he and his wife, Pam, opened Mesa Organics, a seed to sale operation in their hometown of Pueblo, CO. We asked Jim to share his best advice with our readers.

Don’t try to do it all. A common mistake manufacturers succumb to is trying to be everything to everyone. Those who pursue this model end up being nothing to anyone. Successful manufacturers understand their core business. At Mesa, we decided to focus on extractions, not manufactured products.

We supply extracts to some of the largest end-product manufacturers in Colorado. Our oils are preferred because of their high quality using cold processing technologies from Apeks systems. We can extract at 100 degrees Fahrenheit without losing terpenes. People ask why our extractions are so good. I tell them it’s the cold separation technology. It allows for a superior product.

Extractions are an art and a science. Even though we use Apeks extractors which are fully automated, there was still a learning curve. It took us more than a year implementing our own research and development and lots of trial and error to develop our extraction skills to where they needed to be.

You’ve got to be patient and very deliberate. The machine is not a blender or a toaster! Batches require frequent testing for terpenes and potency. We’re continually trying to increase yields, but yields are always second to quality. Quality must come first.

Don’t skip the maintenance or you’ll lose business. As demand for cannabis increases, you can’t afford to let your system go down. This can be devastating to a small business because customers will go elsewhere. If you’re a full-scale processor, you should have a complete stock of spare parts for repairs. We lost a full day because I did not have a replacement seal kit. We won’t make that mistake again.

Simple things we do to keep our systems running smoothly: 

1. Clean thoroughly separators 1 and 2 at the end of every run.

2. Do a two-hour clean run once a week: one hour forward-flow, one hour reverse-flow.

4. Check the system for CO2 and coolant leaks on a regular basis.

5. Make sure the flow lines are not rubbing up against each other which can damage the lines.

5. Check levels of oil and coolants weekly and change annually.

Cleaning and maintaining your equipment may seem trivial and time-consuming but proper maintenance is critically important. It will increase your success rate and decrease unnecessary downtime.

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