Northern California's biggest public media station stopped by Northern Emeralds' operation in Humboldt County recently.
Founder and CEO Cody Stross provided San Francisco-based KQED Newsroom an insider's view of a connoisseur-grade cannabis business on the threshold of legalization -- and also provided a few clues as to why Northern Emeralds commands platinum status in the current California cannabis marketplace.
Viewers received a peek inside Northern Emeralds' production, processing, and marketing stages, and heard directly from founder and CEO Cody Stross about what it's like to run a fully compliant medical cannabis business in the months before recreational legalization.
Put simply: it's still a big risk.
"Making Humboldt County the 'Napa Valley of Cannabis' takes a great leap of faith," the television station's reporter notes.
"People think we're raking in the dough -- it's really not that way," says Stross, who notes that being a transparent producer requires taking risks -- with service providers, from payroll to construction, who charge a cannabis businesses a premium, as well as with law enforcement. In the end, the reward is about being a pioneer, not a profiteer.
"It's a relief we have the opportunity to come out of the shadows," Stross says. "It's a lot more work, but it's a big relief."
*Northern Emeralds uses power derived from renewable sources and recycles as much as 85 percent of the water we use;
*There are as many as 12,000 marijuana-growing operations in Humboldt County, but we are one of the few that has gone through all the available permitting processes to become fully compliant with current state and local law;
*We produce anywhere from 50 to 100 pounds a month and can't seem to meet the demand -- but any end product that does not meet our strict quality guidelines is immediately downgraded.
Humboldt County, California has a reputation. In the 1970s, people steeped in Bay Area counter-culture wandered up to Northern California and started planting cannabis among the old growth forests and fertile river basins that give Humboldt its distinctive character. The favorable climate and expertise of local cultivators soon made Humboldt County synonymous with high-quality cannabis. Humboldt cannabis has long been considered among the world’s best, and Northern Emeralds is a medical cannabis company deeply rooted in that tradition.
Starting a successful company requires passion, and we founded Northern Emeralds because we are passionate believers that responsible cannabis consumption makes a positive contribution to the health of individuals and communities. We are committed to growing our industry using safe, legal, and transparent methods while producing premium quality flowers on an increasingly large scale. We currently distribute to dispensary and delivery services across the state, with a strong presence in both San Francisco and Los Angeles.
We are a company in constant pursuit of the perfect cannabis flower. The best way to understand why Northern Emeralds cannabis is quickly becoming a gold standard in the industry is to meet the people who got us to this point.
The superior quality of Northern Emeralds cannabis derives its value from the superior quality of our Head Cultivators, Tyler and Alex. Truth be told, Northern Emeralds wouldn’t exist without these two experts.
Alex, the man behind Titan OG, has perfected his craft over nearly a decade of dedication. After a two-year vetting process, Alex chose to singularly devote himself to Titan. That was six years ago; since that time, Titan’s reputation has played no small role in helping Northern Emeralds become a major player in the California cannabis scene.
How did Alex master this remarkable but notoriously difficult strain? “It’s my style to stick with something, and stay stubborn until it’s right. We can’t grow the same quantity as we could with other strains, but we hear so much great feedback from people who love Titan, and that makes it worth the extra effort. The pride that comes from producing such an elegant and nourishing flower inspires me to keep perfecting my methods.”
Most cannabis companies would be thrilled to have one such master cultivator on payroll, but we have two. Tyler, the mind behind Sapphire Kush, is a staunchly science-based thinker and tireless innovator. His drive to constantly improve our cultivation spaces and growing methodologies is unmatched. Tyler is a master designer of “systems that minimize resource demands while simultaneously creating a product that is truly exceptional.” Those systems have rocketed Northern Emeralds to the cutting edge of our industry.
Even the best cannabis flower needs a top-notch manicurist to bring out its true form. “Our job is to make every single flower look unaltered, like it was plucked from the plant, put in a jar, and presented to the consumer,” says Emma, our exceptionally talented Manicure Team Leader. “The perfectionism that underlies our methods makes invisible the thousands of tiny movements and steps in the process that brought the flower to its final condition.”
Most people only experience our products in their final forms, and rarely imagine the myriad steps our flowers take to find their way to consumers. To streamline this process, we rely on big picture thinkers like Kristyn, our Director of Marketing and Internal Operations. “Striving for perfection means always being careful with decisions and not cutting corners,” Kristyn says. She plays a key role in helping Northern Emeralds “balance our ambitions with the realities of our product and our organization. Collaboration is critical to our success, so it’s a matter of integrating different skill sets in an effective and fruitful way. When we do this, Northern Emeralds is at its best.”
Within every great company, there’s at least one visionary at the heart of the organization––an individual who articulates and embodies the purpose of the whole. Cody, our Founder and Chief of Operations, firmly believes that “in the pursuit of perfection, you have to sweat the small stuff.” His business philosophy encompasses the entire Northern Emeralds process, “from clone cutting all the way to the dispensary door.” This holistic approach guides his every decision. Cody’s expertise doesn’t stop at the production of great cannabis; he brings people together, effortlessly connecting cultivators, industry innovators, and aficionados:
“Our ultimate goal is to deliver a flower that generates a positive stream of feedback from every single person who works with it or consumes it. In fact, sometimes our goal is to get no feedback at all. When someone experiences cannabis in a perfect way, they don’t have a critical reaction. They just lose themselves in pure enjoyment. Our work is all about creating that moment, and it’s from that moment that the rewards of this business flow––experiential, financial, and interpersonal.”
We started Northern Emeralds because we believe perfection is not a goal to be attained, but rather an unattainable wellspring of constant inspiration. Each member of our team plays an indispensable role in creating an exceptional business environment where people and plants thrive together. For Northern Emeralds, there is no distinction between the cultivation of great cannabis and the cultivation of great people.
This blog is where we will share the stories of the people and personalities behind our flowers. We hope you’ll join us for the journey.
We appreciate you taking the time to join us at the new home of Northern Emeralds.
This blog is our medium for telling the Northern Emeralds story. It’s a platform for our experiences, opinions, ambitions, news, photography, and anything else we want to share with you. We want you to know who we are and why we cherish our work. Our relationship with cannabis is an ever-evolving, never-ending process that inspires us to strive for the perfect flower, each and every time.
Drawing from a rich history and deep knowledge, driven by a tireless curiosity and work ethic, Northern Emeralds grows the best cannabis in California.