CANNABIS CORNER CEO CHAT: Michael Yorke, CROP
Hey buddy, got a light?
Or a vape pen? Patch? Edible?
Cannabis, in one shape or form is everywhere one looks these days. It’s in the supermarkets and health food stores as CBD. But, as recent legislation and public opinion shows, cannabis in its whole form is coming. Michael Yorke, CEO and Director at CROP Corp, a cannabis company, took time out of his schedule and spoke with Traders Magazine on the state of cannabis legislation and funding and other hot topics in the growing (no pun intended) sector.
Traders Magazine: Please explain the state of cannabis funding. How can federal action, such as the SAFE Act help? Does the SAFE Act go far enough?
Michael Yorke: Currently Cannabis businesses do have not access to traditional banking or lending services, this hamstrings businesses looking to participate in the evolving Cannabis industry. The SAFE banking act will help businesses in this space by providing them with traditional banking services. Specifically; safe Harbour to federal bank regulators which means that banks are able to be insured on deposits in Cannabis related businesses. It also includes Cannabis-related business protections which provide safeguards to businesses, employees, assets, and real-estate.
For CROP specifically, it would allow our subsidiaries to use traditional banking services, allowing us to scale our operations. The SAFE banking act protects businesses, employees, and assets working in these areas. This is a good start towards federal legalization but it does not include consumers.
TM: Without the SAFE Act, how do you get funding for operations?
Yorke: CROP funds investments and operations through equity and debt raising on the public markets and do not rely on the US federal bank for funding. Once a location is self-sustaining (as is the case for our Washington Wheeler Park location), they do not require more lending. However, the SAFE banking will greatly improve our subsidiaries abilities to use traditional banking services.
TM: What are the hottest topics or trends in cannabis? Canna-farming? Extraction process? Isolates? Marketing? Sales? Funding?
Yorke: As Cannabis is in infancy; saturation, sentiment, laws, legislation, regulations and trends differ across states and within the supply chain. AI and automation is a hot topic and the technology surrounding it is ever increasing. This will greatly assist with the health and growth of individual plants and the entire crop.
New products, and new methods of extracts are coming on to the market every day and different states prefer different things. The evolution of the non-smoke consumable market is ever increasing. Unlike traditional flower, extracts and isolates are more versatile, discreet, with less mess and odor. We believe that extracts will overtake flower consumption in all markets and believe that the current sales data is confirming that.
Hopefully, with the safe banking act, regulators will become more relaxed in areas of posting online and providing public information.
As someone with an auto-immune disease, the most interesting and exciting thing to me is the further understanding how the endocannabinoid system and different cannabinoids assist with homeostasis and relief from various ailments.
TM: What is technology’s impact on the cannabis industry and growing? What technologies are being employed in farming/cultivation?
Yorke: Technology will be able to change more than the production yield and quality of cannabis. Further research and development by growers and geneticists are working on discovering new strains of different cannabinoid compounds such as CBG, CBN, CBC as well as increasing the potency/yield of these cannabinoids within each plant. Further, strains are also being designed for specific effects (relaxation, excitement, increase/decrease hunger, promote creativity, etc.). This will allow for the greater development of derivative cannabis products that consumers are looking for in the market, leading to increased sales. This will be vital to the success of producers, as the cannabis space becomes more crowded and competition for customers increases. The technology used to make more accurate predictions of yield, quality, and timing of cultivation can be used to make output and financial predictions as well, benefiting companies overall.
Technological advancements such as automation and machine learning have allowed cultivators make more accurate yield predictions. These predictions therefore allow them to expand their operations while taking on less risk and maximizing efficiency. The ability to have plants monitored and attended to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is a unique advantage over cannabis cultivators that must rely solely on manpower. For example, the use of AI in sensors and high-definition cameras can be used to keep track of and adjust multiple inputs in the growing environment such as water level, PH level, temperature, humidity, nutrient feed, light spectrum and CO2 levels. AI also helps automate trimming technology so that it is able to de-leaf buds saving countless hours of manual labor. Similarly, it can be applied to automated planting equipment to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of planting. AI can also identify the sex of the plants, detect sick plants, heal or remove sick plants from the environment, and track plant growth rate to be able to predict size & yield.
TM: What does the future of cannabis hold? Do you see speedy legalization or speedy passage of the SAFE Act?
Yorke: Legalization, yes. I wouldn’t say speedy, but it is inevitable and undeniable. Sentiment towards legalization has grown tremendously and the network effect is well underway, critical mass towards legalization has been achieved and it’s only a matter of time. The 2019 SAFE banking act is demonstrative of this. It is greatly significant as this is the first marijuana bill ever to pass the first 2 stages of towards becoming a bill. It is hard for me to speculate on how speedy this bill will pass, especially in an election year, however with federal legalization as an initiative of multiple presidential candidates, it is only a matter of time.