MedMen – Los Angeles, California


MedMen — Los Angeles, California

In the second issue of our Grow Operation Overview series, we interview Damian Solomon, the Ag Technology & Systems Director for MedMen. Damian has a background in commercial agriculture, with an emphasis on commercial-scale, controlled-environment agriculture. He has worked for some of North America’s largest hydroponic greenhouse operations and was the NAFTA region greenhouse expert for international vegetable seed company DeRuiter Seeds.

MedMen is a company with the express purpose of “mainstreaming marijuana by fundamentally changing the way cannabis businesses are capitalized, built and managed.” MedMen is based in Los Angeles, California and has operations and investments extending throughout North America, including Canada, California, Nevada, and New York. They recently broke ground on a new cultivation facility in Nevada measuring 45,000 square feet.

The following is an interview with an industry leader. Growers Network does not endorse nor evaluate the claims of our interviewees, nor do they influence our editorial process. We thank our interviewees for their time and effort so we can continue our exclusive Growers Spotlight service.

To skip to any section within this article, click the links below:

  • MedMen
  • A Little History
  • Operations
  • The MedMen Vision
  • Resources
  • Comments

  • MedMen

    MedMen is a growing company based in Los Angeles, California. The company currently manages two indoor cultivation facilities; one in the Sun Valley area of Los Angeles with 4,100 square feet of canopy, and a second facility in Utica, New York. The company is also managing construction of a new greenhouse cultivation and production facility outside of Reno, Nevada that measures 45,000 square feet and is expected to open in the summer of 2017. A similar greenhouse project is slated to start construction in Desert Hot Springs, California in the summer of 2017.


    A Little History

    With modern greenhouse technology and precision controls, we can rival and surpass the operations of indoor grows.Damian Solomon
    I got my start in the cannabis industry by consulting for several of Canada’s largest LPs (Limited Partnerships). I currently manage cultivation operations for MedMen, a Los Angeles based cannabis management company. I started growing because I love growing and have a passion for it. I’ve been involved in the high-tech, controlled-environment agricultural industry for close to 20 years.
    MedMen is headquartered in Los Angeles, but we manage grow operations on behalf of license holders in several locations, including near Reno, Nevada, and the Sun Valley area of LA.

    Construction work on the cultivation facility outside of Reno.

    When we build cultivation projects, we select locations based on many factors, such as the availability of natural resources like sunlight, water, and elevation. We prefer to build high-technology glass greenhouses. However, in a warehouse-retrofit situation, we can optimize indoor operations by incorporating modern agricultural technology.

    With modern greenhouse technology and precision controls, we can rival and surpass the operations of indoor grows. Because greenhouses use natural sunlight as the primary source for lighting, they use up to 70 percent less electricity.


    Operations



    The actual number of plants will vary depending on the square footage of each facility. Generally speaking, our flowering density is 2.0 plants per square foot. Vegetative density is 8.0 plants per square foot, and our clone density is 39.0 plants per square foot.

    MedMen implementing a Screen of Green methodology.

    We choose strains based on customer demand and qualities such as aroma, flavor, yield potential, and shelf-attractiveness. We understand the importance of meeting customer demand and are always looking at new strains to trial in our R&D trial section. Currently, we have a set of eight core strains we are working with.

    Irrigation

    Our designs are based on commercial hydroponics, using our proprietary nutritional recipes. Each plant receives roughly 1.5 liters of irrigation spread over 5 to 6 irrigation cycles per 24 hour period.

    Media

    1. For propagation, we use composted peat plugs.
    2. For both veg and flowering, we use Grodan stonewool blocks.
    3. However, we are currently working with Riococo to develop new coconut coir transplant blocks specifically for use with cannabis.

    Nutrients

    We do not use pre-blended, hydroponic store fertilizers. These range in price from $25 to $50 per gallon. We produce our own fertilizers at a cost of $0.40 per gallon, using our own proprietary hydroponic nutrient recipe for all life stages.

    MedMen utilizes Integrated Pest Management (IPM) protocols. We believe that early detection, coupled with the use of natural predators, is the best way to catch issues early and mitigate problems without using harsh chemical pesticides.
    We use a variety of tools to help control the insect pest situation:

    1. Beneficial insects (Bioline is a great resource.)
    2. Sticky cards for monitoring
    3. Weekly scouting by our IPM technician

    Maintaining the proper climate within the growing environment also helps keep away foliar pathogen issues. Monitoring and controlling plant/leaf temperature, especially in the hours before “sunrise” is a key tool for controlling mildew and molds.

    Editor’s Note: Check out our related article on Integrated Pest Management!

    We are utilizing Fluence Bioengineering LED lighting technology for all of our projects:

    1. For propagation, including clones and tissue culture, we use the Fluence RAZR series LED fixtures.
    2. We use the SPYDRx LED fixtures for vegetative.
    3. We use the SPYDRx PLUS fixtures for flower.

    With the LED lights, we’re using 40 percent less electricity compared to HID.

    We use Hortimax to control lights, CO2, irrigation, cooling, heating, humidity, temperature, and even labor management.

    Some facility designs feature automated moving benches. All our inputs into the system are automated to reduce labor needs. Irrigation is based on drip irrigation, so each plant gets the same amount of water every time. The black-out screens are also automated and controlled very easily by the push of a button.


    An automatic benching system used for orchids.

    There are very few tasks performed by hand in our facilities. We are always looking for ways to incorporate modern robotics in our facilities.



    The MedMen Vision

    This is the industry to be in if you want to innovate and leave a lasting mark.Damian Solomon
    Regular Challenges

    Since we are working with a biological process, we have faced the normal agricultural challenges like pests and disease, nutritional issues, and even labor. However, by incorporating Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), we can find issues early and mitigate them quickly to reduce any economic loss.


    Current Challenges

    It’s proving difficult to find suppliers and manufacturers from commercial agriculture that are willing to participate in the emerging cannabis industry, especially those from Europe that specialize in controlled environment agriculture.
    Successful integration of modern technology into cannabis production. After all, a plant is a plant, and 90 percent of what it takes to optimize tomato production is the same for cannabis. And a good grower can easily adapt to the final 10 percent that is species-specific.
    I wish I had entered the cannabis industry sooner and not just in agriculture. This is the industry to be in if you want to innovate and leave a lasting mark.
    We want to continue making MedMen a market leader. Our processes and technology are years ahead of our competition. I want to help shape the future of commercial cannabis production.

    Damian Solomon in a MedMen Grow Room.
    Rely on the experience and know-how of commercial agriculture/horticulture growers when designing your grow operations. It will be the way of the future for growing crops. Always look for better ways of doing things.

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    Want to get in touch with MedMen?

    You can reach MedMen via the following methods:

    1. Website Contact Form
    2. Phone: (855) 292-8399
    3. Email: [email protected]

    Resources:

    1. If you’re interested in following the Medmen, take a look at the MedMen Website.
    2. Want to learn about the advantages of greenhouses? Check out our article on shopping for greenhouses.
    3. Curious about LED Lighting? Fluence Bioengineering produces the LED lights for MedMen.
    4. Construction has already begun on the MedMen’s new facility in Nevada. Click here to learn more about it!
    5. If you’re interested in learning more about pest management, check our article on Integrated Pest Management.

    Do you have any questions or comments?

    Feel free to post below!


    About the Author

    Hunter Wilson is a community builder with Growers Network. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 2011 with a Masters in Teaching and in 2007 with a Bachelors in Biology.