Seed to Sale: Inside a High Tech Pot Farm

We tour a cannabis dispensary in Oakland, California that grows and sells weed for medicinal purposes.

NAT: “Waxes, shatters, hash, hash oil, pretty much anything you can think of.”

Track 1: Welcome to Blüm, a small facility in Oakland, California that’s a haven for all things cannabis. Blüm specializes in selling and growing weed products for medicinal purposes. And it’s a far cry from the back rooms of illegal growing operations.

Track 2: Blüm is actually a subsidiary of marijuana company, Terra Tech, and has been in operation since 2012. Since then, they’ve been perfecting their rather technical cultivation process from seed to sale.

Track 3: It all starts out here: in the veg room, where plants are exposed to high intensity discharge lamps meant to simulate natural sunlight. Sometimes the lights are switched off to simulate nighttime. Then, green lights are used to allow cultivators to see inside the room. The plants don’t recognize the hue.

Track 4: Cannabis plants require precise conditions at every point of their growth cycle: that means lots of sensors. CO2 meters and Nest thermostats in every room maintain temperature and air quality, and carbon filtration systems remove any impurities in the air and diminish the smell of cannabis.

Track 5: Cultivators are also currently experimenting with different hues of light.

“We’re also testing out LED lights in our cultivation. We’re hoping that that will reduce the amount of leaves and stem and produce more flowers. Which basically gives us better ability to produce larger quantities of flowers of the strains that we’re doing.”

Track 6: With so many plants to look after, automation is key. This sludgy looking substance is actually a mixture of nutrients and organics. It is produced in-house and automatically pumped into these black tubs which the plants sit on. No watering by hand needed.

Track 7: Every plant is also followed from the moment that it enters the facility using a barcode, which is recorded in a central database.

Track 7: But cultivation is not all Blüm does. The facility also has its own lab, where chemists extract the plant’s raw materials and separate them into individual compounds. Two of the newest products are called “shatter” and “wax”, which are essentially concentrated doses of cannabis.

Track 8: AJ Fabrizio is the mastermind behind the operation. He says he was inspired to work with cannabis after finding out that it really helped him with his epilepsy.

“I went from having 20 seizures a week to having 1 every 6 months. I’ll have a cluster of them every 6 months, because of cannabis treatment.”

Track 9: Following extraction, some of the products will undergo an additional purification step. Using a distillation column, chemists are able to separate the cannabinoids into even smaller fractions. A similar technique is used in the petroleum industry.

Track 10: Of course, no seed to sale operation would be complete without a store front, and the selection at Blüm is enough to give any cannabis enthusiast a high. Patients can peruse all available products online and choose what they want before coming into the facility.

Track 11: Edibles, shatters, waxes, pens…all are accessible to the close to 53,000 registered patients the dispensary services. And with several dispensaries opening up in Nevada, chances are Blüm will continue to innovate and automate their growing process.