By Heidi Simmons
“It’s a dream come true,” said Randall Patten, Master Cultivator and Founding Partner in Canndescent, the first permitted and licensed cannabis cultivator to begin growing marijuana in Desert Hot Springs. “This is a state-of-the-art facility. It’s incredible to be doing business at this level.”
Canndescent is located on Two Bunch Palms Trail in Desert Hot Springs’ light industrial area, where three-million square feet of city land has been designated for cannabis growing.
A state-compliant cannabis company, Canndescent purchased two existing buildings, did significant renovations, and had their grand opening last week. Calling the twin structures Brad and Chad after the names of the contractors who worked tirelessly to get the nearly 10,000 square foot structures finished, the actual grow space — which is taxable — totals 6,000 square feet.
When Patten wanted to expand his marijuana growing business, he approached his brother-in-law, Adrian Sedlin, a retired Harvard MBA, living in Santa Barbara.
Sedlin, who is in his mid-40s, made his fortune building and turning around early-stage, web-based, consumer services companies. Between his junior and senior year at Georgetown University, Sedlin created his first multimillion dollar business all while managing to graduate Magna Cum Laude. Sedlin is CEO of Canndescent.
The eleventh grower to apply in 2016, Canndescent submitted its application to the city in January, received its Conditional Use Permit in February, the Building Permit in July, and opened in September! The first crop of custom marijuana plants are already five feet tall.
Married, and a stay-at-home dad with three kids, ages 11, 13 and 15, Sedlin was intrigued after Patten presented him with the financials of his growing business. Sedlin’s business acumen — perhaps genius — includes business strategy, development, consumer marketing, cash flow management and more.
To say Sedlin saw the potential is an understatement. Sedlin learned everything he could about growing cannabis and the marijuana business. He is a hands-on CEO and knows every detail about every little thing that pertains to his cannabis growing facility as well as the business model for production.
After putting together a business plan, Sedlin went after funding and quickly raised $6.5 million in seed money — no pun intended.
“Our grow site is designed to be like a conveyor belt,” said Sedlin. “We will produce 65 pounds of flower [buds] every 10 days.” Canndescent expects to turn out 220 pounds of premium marijuana a month. “We have incentives, and if our team can produce 250 pounds or more, there’s a bonus.”
All Canndescent’s employees are stock holders. Currently they employ 27 people that include, security, managers, gardeners and trimmers. The city of Desert Hot Springs requires growers to hire 20 percent of their employees from the local community. This has proven to be a bigger challenge than first anticipated since growing involves a specific skill set.
The Canndescent facility features a quarter of a million dollar security system that spans from an encrypted live feed for police, to rooftop sensors. Entrance requires passing through a “man trap” and there are vaults built with metal mesh. Prominently displayed are the framed city permits and licenses.
Impressive at every turn, Sedlin gave a tour describing how the Canndescent facility intends to grow, clone and package premium weed.
He proudly, and probably with more detailed information than necessary, showed how the plants require the perfect temperature, water and light for maximum growth.
The facility is equipped with a 160 ton air conditioner. DHS water, known for its award winning minerals and taste, is not however good for cannabis, so Canndesecent has to use a reverse osmosis system with a 5,000 gallon water backup supply. Plant fertilization is electronically distributed. A shiny outdoor tank containing 1,000 gallons of liquid CO2 pumps the right mixture into sealed rooms producing the ideal growing environment. The light spectrum is specifically manipulated to treat and destroy harmful bacteria that may be in the soil or on plants.
Canndescents’ grow rooms look like something on a Mars’ space station. Everything appears sterile, bright, well-organized and utilizes every inch of space with custom, stainless steel, movable grow beds. Hi-tech monitors are taking constant readings of the air quality. Fans insure the air is moving evenly.
Rooms include veg and mom, flower, dry, and trim. Trimmers have ergonomic chairs and tables where they can comfortably sit or stand. And trimmers never touch the flowers to keep the product contaminant free. There are no windows anywhere.
Canndescent is the first to grow and has set the cultivation bar very high. In addition to growing, Sedlin intends to change the culture of how cannabis is consumed.
“I want soccer moms to feel good about using marijuana,” said Sedlin. “I envision one day a soccer mom will take some premium cannabis as a hostess gift rather than a bottle of fine wine.”
Whether or not Proposition 64 — legalizing marijuana for adult consumption — brings about the end of prohibition in the state, Sedlin sees a bright future for marijuana and he is ready to go toe-to-toe with the federal government if he must.
Sedlin is an advisor to the California Department of Food and Agriculture regarding cannabis regulation. He plans to grow medicinal and commercial if the initiative passes. Sedlin can rattle off a myriad of aliments and diseases that medical cannabis successfully treats like cancer, ALS, palsy, insomnia, opioid and alcohol addiction.
“Marijuana doesn’t harm your liver or give you a hangover,” said Sedlin. “It doesn’t have calories or harmful side effects. We are shaping the modern look and use of cannabis.”
Sedlin and his marketing team have developed five marijuana types. He calls them the five pillars: Charge, Connect, Calm, Create and Cruise. Each cannabis strain will appeal to a specific “soccer mom” mood. Sedlin sees his only competition as the pharmaceutical companies and the alcohol industry.
At the Canndescent ribbon cutting, Sedlin handed a check to the city of Desert Hot Springs for $135,000 in tax revenue. The Boy Scouts of America presented the flag and lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Mayor Scott Matas said he was “Thrilled!”
The following Saturday, after the official opening of Canndesent, the city of Desert Hot Springs celebrated a Fall Festival with live music, bungie-jumping, games, food, art and a spectacular fireworks display that illuminated and reverberated against the beautiful hillside community. Friends, families and neighbors enjoyed the event that was privately funded, in-part, by cannabis industry donations.
Two years ago, the residents of DHS voted in favor of selling and growing marijuana to help improve their community. That vision has now come to fruition and if Canndescent is an example of what’s to come, the city’s future looks very, very good.