MMAC – Los Angeles, California


In this Growers Spotlight, we interviewed the Marketing Director and Master Grower for MMAC Los Angeles about a new premium cannabis brand (Triple 7) they’re developing and marketing. Read on to learn more about what’s going on.

Jonathan Anthony is the Marketing Director for MMAC Los Angeles, and we will denote his responses in green.

Michael Petercsak is the Head Grower for MMAC Los Angeles, and we will denote his responses in blue.

Michael Petercsak

The following is an interview with industry experts. 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.


Abbreviated Article


Editor’s Note: Growers Network appreciates its readers! If you are limited on time, we are now offering abbreviated versions of our articles. Click below to view.


Tell Us About Your Grow Operation


What’s the facility like?

We’re growing in an indoor, two-story facility that measures a total of 35,000 square feet. Around half of the facility is dedicated to flowering. The rest of the facility is split between our other important functions. The facility was retrofitted not too long ago, and we’re already excited to see what’s coming out of it.


What kind of equipment are you using?

For lighting, we’re using Nanolux DE MH fixtures in veg and Gavita DE HPS fixtures for flowering. We use a Netafim fertigation system to maintain our nutrients and irrigation. We also use rolling top benches in the growing rooms to conserve on space.

Our cooling system was designed by Data Aire, a company which specializes in serving the computing industry. It has all sorts of automation tools built into it that can maintain specific temperatures, humidities, and even CO2 levels. It can run 24/7 and has proven to be a massive boon to the grow.


What strains are you growing and how did you select them?

We started out with 45 strains spread out in four different rooms in our first cycle. Our goal was to get down to a total of 20-24 strains that performed and sold really well. On our first cycle, we had a few strains that performed phenomenally, and a few that didn’t do too well. Naturally, we’ve eliminated the poor performers, and our next round will see reduced numbers of strains.


What kind of automation are you using?

The Data Aire system almost entirely automates our climate control. Our irrigation systems and reverse osmosis systems are automated by the Netafim system, and the lighting, ventilation, and fans are controlled by a Wadsworth controller.


What nutrients and media are you using?

We grow in a coco coir and perlite mix. We’re using General Hydroponics nutrients, but we’re also in the process of testing fertilizer products by Plant Prods. We’re also experimenting with rockwool, but we aren’t quite ready to implement it on the full scale, because with rockwool, you’re really living on the razor’s edge.


What’s your pest management protocol?

As a species, cannabis has a variety of particular pests that follow it. One of those pests is powdery mildew. Powdery mildew pathogenesis is generally a symptom of poor environmental control. This is where our processed cooling HVAC system really comes in handy.

For spider mites and other common insects pests such as thrips or aphids, our first go-tos are biological controls. Lady beetles, minute pirate bugs, and a proprietary “blend” of different predatory mites help keep our main insect pests under control.


What procedures do your employees follow to keep the grow pest free?

The people who work in the grow itself must go through a foot bath and change into a set of work clothes before they can enter the grow proper. We have showers and locker rooms available for these employees.

Our facility is also laid out in such a way that our growers enter the part of the grow that we want the cleanest at the beginning of the day, and gradually work their way towards the parts of the grow that don’t need to be as clean. Our propagation and cloning rooms naturally are their first stop in the day, as those rooms need to be kept meticulously clean to make sure that we don’t lose our genetics.

In the event that we suspect an infestation in a particular room, we quarantine that room, and anybody that enters that room must put on a Tyvek suit when they enter the room, and take it off when they leave.


What’s your post-harvest process?

We place the stems and buds in a commercial dryer for about a week. Once the cannabis has had time to dry, we put it through a bucking machine to destem it. After the flower has been separated from the stems, we take it over to the trimming space where it is hand-trimmed.


How do you feel about pesticides?

For cannabis specifically, pesticides must be used very sparingly. Cannabis is a product that’s meant to be smoked when it’s consumed, similar to tobacco. The chemical process of smoking cannabis can produce particularly nasty chemicals if there are pesticides in the flower, which is the last thing we want our consumers inhaling.

We only use products approved by the CDFA. In large part, the list is restricted to compounds that are derived from natural sources (such as soaps and oils) or things that have been historically understood to be safe for general use, such as sulfur powder.

As such, we must take proactive steps to prevent infections and infestations in the first place. We regularly scout our facility for potential problems, use beneficials to target pests, and should we find the need to use something in a spray bottle, we will use materials that are on the list of approved products.

If you like the abbreviated article, let us know in the survey at the bottom of the article! We’re always interested in hearing your feedback.

If you want to read more, you can read the full article below.


Tell Us About Your Grow Operation


Michael: We’re growing in an indoor, two-story facility that measures a total of 35,000 square feet. Around 17,500 square feet, or half of the facility, is dedicated to flowering. The rest of the facility is split between our other important functions, such as propagation, vegetative, drying, and trimming. There’s also a retail dispensary next door that’s attached to the grow.

The facility was retrofitted not too long ago, and has only been in operation for around six months. But we’re already excited to see what’s coming out of it. The building that we retrofitted was about 25 years old, and the only pieces of the original building that remain after the retrofit, besides the structure itself, are some stairs and an elevator.

Michael: Because we’re an indoor grow, there’s a large amount of equipment we’re using. For lighting, we’re using Nanolux DE MH fixtures in veg and Gavita DE HPS fixtures for flowering. We use a Netafim fertigation system to maintain our nutrients and irrigation.

For heating and cooling, we use processed cooling instead of comfort cooling. Our cooling system was designed by Data Aire, a company which specializes in serving the computing industry. It has all sorts of automation tools built into it that can maintain specific temperatures, humidities, and even CO2 levels. It can run 24/7 and has proven to be a massive boon to the grow.

We also use rolling top benches in the growing rooms to conserve on space, and Pipp Mobile shelving in the drying rooms for vertical, hang-dried cannabis which also maximizes the available space.


How did you decide to use that particular combination of lighting?

Michael: To be perfectly honest, it’s the industry standard, and our growers are comfortable with it. We didn’t have enough experience growing with LED lighting when we were first retrofitting our facility, so we designed the facility in accord with what we were experienced with.

That said, we’re working with LEDs in our research room right now, and we’re hoping to implement them in future spaces that we’re designing.

Michael: We started out with a wide diversity of genetics because we wanted to learn what worked best in the facility and what sold best. So we began with 45 strains spread out in four different rooms in our first cycle (~11 strains per room). Our goal was to get down to five or six different strains per room, or a total of 20-24 strains that performed and sold really well.

On our first cycle, we had a few strains that performed phenomenally, and a few that didn’t do too well. Naturally, we’ve eliminated the poor performers, and our next round will see reduced numbers of strains. We’re planning on repeating the process a few times and dialing in our environmental controls.

Michael: The Data Aire system almost entirely automates our climate control. We keep an eye on it of course, but so far no real problems. Our irrigation systems and reverse osmosis systems are automated by the Netafim system, and the lighting, ventilation, and fans are controlled by a Wadsworth controller.

Most of the non-automated processes around here are monitoring the plant quality and size, and pest management. Other than that, we have an excellent suite of tools for growing plants of consistent quality.

Michael: We grow in a coco coir and perlite mix. We’re using General Hydroponics nutrients, but we’re also in the process of testing fertilizer products by Plant Prods.

We’re also experimenting with rockwool. We aren’t quite ready to implement it on the full scale, because with rockwool, you’re really living on the razor’s edge. You need your nutrients and environmental controls dialed in, or you risk a lot of problems. But, the benefit of rockwool is that you end up with a cleaner room with less opportunity for pests to proliferate.

Michael: As a species, cannabis has a variety of particular pests that follow it. One of those pests is powdery mildew. Powdery mildew pathogenesis is generally a symptom of poor environmental control. This is where our processed cooling HVAC system really comes in handy. It keeps the humidity under much more careful control than a traditional AC unit, preventing the formation of powdery mildew.

For spider mites and other common insects pests such as thrips or aphids, our first go-tos are biological controls. Lady beetles voraciously eat aphids and a variety of different small insects. We regularly release them into the growing rooms, and they hunt 24/7. We also release minute pirate bugs into our grow, and they target thrips as their main source of food. And last, but certainly not least, we also use a proprietary “blend” of different predatory mites to target spider mites.

Lady Beetle eating an aphid.
Predatory Mite near a spider mite.
Minute Pirate Bug eating drinking an aphid.
Lady Beetle shoveling more aphids into its mouth.
Predatory Mite attacking a thrip.
Minute Pirate Bug eating another insect (Top-Down View).


Michael: The people who work in the grow itself must go through a foot bath and change into a set of work clothes before they can enter the grow proper. We have showers and locker rooms available for these employees, and the work clothes we provide are a comfortable polo and sizeable pants.

Our facility is also laid out in such a way that our growers enter the part of the grow that we want the cleanest at the beginning of the day, and gradually work their way towards the parts of the grow that don’t need to be as clean. So our propagation and cloning rooms naturally are their first stop in the day, as those rooms need to be kept meticulously clean to make sure that we don’t lose our genetics. That’s not to say our final rooms are dirty; rather, any pest that accidentally hitches a ride won’t affect our genetics stock nor our other critical rooms.

In the event that we suspect powdery mildew in a particular room, we quarantine that room, and anybody that enters that room must put on a Tyvek suit when they enter the room, and take it off when they leave.

You too could be the proud owner of a Tyvek suit from the ’90s.

For our other employees who aren’t working directly with the living plants, they only need to put on a lab coat to keep any outside contaminants from getting on the products they’re working with.

And, at the end of the day, even with all these protections, we still get diseases and infestations. We scout our rooms regularly, and use our beneficials and sprays as needed.

Michael: Once we cut the plants down, we gather up all of the wet material and remove the leaves. We then place the stems and buds in a commercial dryer for about a week. Our commercial dryer is specifically designed to dry cannabis and it has its own dehumidification system and AC. Once the cannabis has had time to dry, we put it through a bucking machine to destem it.

After the flower has been separated from the stems, we take it over to the trimming space. We hand trim all of our product, and we have a regular crew whom we’ve trained personally. We keep the extra trim for resale to some of our extraction partners.


The Philosophy Behind the Grow


Michael: Prior to my work here at MMAC, I worked with DuPont, one of the largest agricultural companies in the world. Many of my colleagues working for DuPont produce pesticides that are used nearly everywhere.

My opinion on the matter is that there is a time and place for pesticides in agriculture. However, for cannabis specifically, pesticides must be used very sparingly. Cannabis is a product that’s meant to be smoked when it’s consumed, similar to tobacco. The chemical process of smoking cannabis can produce particularly nasty chemicals if there are pesticides in the flower, which is the last thing we want our consumers inhaling.

The CDFA produces a list of active ingredients that can legally be applied to cannabis in the state of California, and the list is rather small. In large part, the list is restricted to compounds that are derived from natural sources (such as soaps and oils) or things that have been historically understood to be safe for general use, such as sulfur powder.

Editor’s Note: Curious about the right way and the wrong way to use pesticides? Check out this article from Casey Lohrenz about the wrong way to use pesticides.

As such, the pesticides available to cannabis growers are extremely limited (and in my opinion, should be extremely limited), and we must take proactive steps to prevent infections and infestations in the first place. We regularly scout our facility for potential problems, use beneficials to target pests, and should we find the need to use something in a spray bottle, we will use materials that are on the list of approved products.

Editor’s Note: What Michael is referring to is typically described as Integrated Pest Management. Check out our related article on the subject.

Jonathan: One of the biggest challenges we’ve had comes down to marketing. How do you convince an average cannabis consumer that there is a difference between premium cannabis and typical cannabis? Unlike your average cannabis you can find in a dispensary, premium cannabis is typically not available to be sampled by the consumer prior to its sale. That’s part of why it’s premium; you generally don’t have “black label” samples available for free use. I expect that as the market matures and grows, we’ll start to see increasing acceptance of premium cannabis brands among the consumer base.
Jonathan: Honestly, we’re proud to see the kind of response we’ve seen both professionally and by our customers. It’s good to see that people are recognizing the value in a premium brand of cannabis.

Michael: Something I really want to mention is that I’m really impressed by our staff of growers. We have a staff of about 10 people all coming from different backgrounds. I have nearly 30 years of experience working in controlled agriculture and some of the other growers who are classically trained like me, but we also have individuals who are fresh out of college and even some who learned on the job. I’m proud of the quality work that they do.

Jonathan: Right now, we’re looking forward to a release of our premium brand in the early fall. We want to see the brand expand and find its way into stores all across California.

Our current focus has been on flowers and prerolls, but we’re also working towards producing vape cartridges and other extracted products as well. There are also a few other premium brands we’re working on, but I can’t publicly disclose what those are yet.

Jonathan: It might seem somewhat strange, but you should think of cannabis as any other consumer product, without any stigmas or taboos attached to it. When you approach cannabis from that angle, you truly become a professional. And as prohibition wears off, cannabis will become just that: a normal luxury good. People who approach it with professionalism in mind will find themselves primed to reap the greatest reward.

Michael: I also want to second Jonathan’s point on this. I originally didn’t understand the cannabis industry prior to joining it. I went to a conference about two years ago where I met people in the cannabis industry who were just as professional as the people I worked with at DuPont. It really changed my mind about the industry. If you find yourself hesitating to get involved, talk to different people in the industry and really learn what is happening. It’s probably different than what you might imagine.

This industry needs talent across the board, regardless of gender or ethnicity. We’re going to need people with Ph.D’s and people with high school diplomas or GEDs. There’s a lot of potential to grow, and don’t limit yourself with narrow thinking.


About Jonathan, Michael, and MMAC


Jonathan: Triple 7 is a premium cannabis brand that’s being grown in a state-of-the-art facility located in Downtown LA. We use a food-grade process to grow it and keep it clean. We launched the brand at the end of April 2018, and we’re planning on launching more brands in LA over the next several months.
Jonathan: I originally come for the corporate liquor world. I worked in brand development for the Bacardi Company and their numerous franchises and products. I worked with our CEO Scott Ginsberg prior to this, and not long ago he called me up and let me know MMAC and Triple 7, and I got involved.

It turns out… cannabis is not that different when compared to alcohol. They’re very similar in terms of marketing. It’s something people like to consume, and it’s something that will never really go away. We’ve had Red Bull as a sponsor for one of our cannabis events, which isn’t uncommon in the liquor industry.


Michael: I first started growing tomatoes when I was five or six years old with my grandmother. That’s how it all got started. Thanks Grandma!

Joking aside, I was a very diligent farmer when I was young. I would grow gardens in the summer out east, and would take really diligent notes. I’d track the quality of the harvest, the volume of the harvest, the quality of the harvest, the seasons and weather.

I ended up applying to a bunch of schools and studied Plant science and breeding at Rutgers. I worked with several small biotech companies for a few years, and then started working with the DuPont Pioneers program, managing controlled environments on both the east and west coast.

A few years ago, I got a call about MMAC, and at first was skeptical, but when I got to see it in action, my thinking really changed.

Jonathan: Scott Ginsburg, our CEO, started Clearchannel, which eventually turned into iHeartMedia. He’s always been a huge advocate for cannabis, and believes in its medicinal value. He’s seen its medicinal benefits in his relatives. We’re planning on introducing a premium brand that will be named after him.


Do you want to receive the next Grower’s Spotlight as soon as it’s available? Sign up below!


Want to get in touch with MMAC?

You can reach them via the following methods:

  1. Website: https://triplesevenla.com/
  2. Phone: 928.392.1932
  3. Email: [email protected]


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.