Today, I am very happy to be joined by Graham Farrar and Scott Slater. Graham is CEO at Glass House Farms, and Scott is President and CEO at Cadiz, a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq that is the largest agricultural operation in San Bernardino, California (the largest county in the United States), where it has sustainably farmed since the 1980s. It recently announced a joint venture with Glass House, one of the largest privately held, vertically-integrated, eco-friendly cannabis and hemp companies in the world and to organically cultivate hemp on up to 9,600 acres.
Before joining Glass House, Graham was partner and owner of Elite Garden Wholesale, an agriculture technology company developing products for the hydroponics industry. He was a founder and partner at zuuka, a publisher of electronic children’s books for mobile devices. He was also part of the founding team at Sonos and prior to that was part of the original team at Software.com, which developed the first high-end email infrastructure servers for telephone companies and ISPs.
Scott Slater was appointed to the role of President in April 2011 and CEO in February 2013. In addition, he has been a member of the Company’s Board of Directors since February 2012 and is also a partner in Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, the nation’s leading water practice firm. For 30 years, his practice has focused on litigation and the negotiation of agreements related to the acquisition, distribution, and treatment of water. He also authored the California Water Law and Policy, the state’s leading treatise on the subject, and has taught water law and policy courses at a number of universities.
- 12:30 – Graham’s path to cannabis industry started decades ago and professionally for last 5 years. One of the largest cannabis producers in California. 1/2 million sq. ft of operational greenhouses. Products made through a cannabinoid lens, THC and CBD are only 2 – JV with Cadiz is a natural progression. Cadiz has been involved on the ag side for a long time and looking to maximize use of its assets – land and water – previously focused on citrus and lemons, but with Farm Bill passing, hemp space came calling. Partnering with Glass House made the most sense because of their joint strategy and complementary focus.
- 14:40 – Glass House brings operational and product background, Cadiz has the land and water and it doesn’t disrupt Cadiz’s main mission. Unique kind of opportunity with 10,000 acres in the California sun – isolated region which has drawbacks but also many agricultural benefits., especially for organic crop. Cadiz only US listed company in partnership with hemp/cannabis company.
- 20:00 – Running a company during this pandemic – Cadiz perfectly situated for these times as it’s such an isolated location. 30 minuted from any town and limited workers per shift, but supply chain and logistics is something they take day by day, but have small number of staff per shift so made for social distancing measures.
- 24:40 – No major concerns about Cadiz maintaining cash during COVID and this capital and economic crunch. Good position with cash and debt so while there might be concerns elsewhere, Cadiz is well situated.
- 28:00 – Partnership has taught them lessons on best growing practices. First full planting – 250 acres – which is actually their third planting happened this month. Have incorporated lessons learned at the beginning. Direct seeding project also providing important lessons. Should continue to see continued consumer demand – ups and downs are just a settling of the market.
- 34:00 – Thoughts on CBD market – it will find a good home in the marketplace likely in the multi-vitamin space. Many other cannabinoids coming in the near future beyond just THC and CBD. Already taking advantage of those innovations with new products. There’s a good amount of hype, but it’s not all hype. Setting sustainable agricultural practices.
- 37:00 – Vision for Cadiz over next 5 years is wanting to continue to be opportunistic. Looking at environment for growing hemp, and citrus and lemons and conserving water and using it for municipal and industrial development. Great opportunities to choose where to deploy water. Happy with its strong cash position and relatively modest debt of $65-75 million. Risk profile in hemp space is different as regulatory pressures are less than in cannabis space. A good time to be in the sustainable business with water and hemp.
- 43:00 – Cannabis looking strong right now – pure play THC side store sales are best they’ve ever been. Society telling us that cannabis is essential like toilet paper and medicine. If COVID and lockdown continues, expect to see more cannabis consumption. And over the last month Cadiz is also up over a dollar likely thanks to the cannabinoid connection.