With a one-of-a-kind watering system, production extraction machine and multiple strains of the plant grown under very specific conditions, Nevada Organic Remedies 12 employees and CEO Andrew Jolley harvest up to 50 pounds of "flower" every five days in the Las Vegas grow warehouse — a process that soared to new heights, when the company's first matured plants were ripe for the taking.
"We're constantly improving methods and techniques to get a better, more purer, more desirable product at the end of the day. This is a commercial agriculture facility. It's not a warehouse; it's not some dude's basement grow," Jolley said.
"Today's our first harvest."
On the outside, the commercial agriculture facility looks exactly like a warehouse. It's in the middle of a south valley industrial area. There are no bright colors or signage, but there are bars on all the windows.
Inside, however, staffers and the other few individuals allowed through the front doors see nothing but green.
More than 60 cameras guard the building's cloning, vegetation and flower rooms. Each room is conditioned to best meet the needs of the stage of plant blooming within it.
"Plant health is our number one priority," Jolley said. The ones clipped from their base Saturday afternoon have been growing since November 2015.
Even the water pumped into the plants is specially designed to feed them based on their age. It goes through a custom-built reverse-osmosis system that filters out impurities.
"The first step in the growing process, the way that we grow at least, is creating clones," Jolley said.
Cloning is one of two ways to create "baby" plants, Jolley explained. The alternative and less predictable method is to use seedlings.
"At the end of the day, seeds are extremely inconsistent," Matthew, director of product design, said. He asked that his last name not be used.
Cloned plants, or "clippings," about 4 to 6 inches tall, sit in individual cubes under an incubator until they have created a root system and are ready to be moved into the vegetation room.
Lavender Jones, Boss Hog No. 6, Pineapple Express and Mother's Finest were just some of the varieties establishing their roots in the cloning area Saturday.
"We try to carry a variety of known strains that our patients would recognize and look for specifically, as well as some of our own strains that we think are unique or proprietary," Jolley said.
Once the plants have sprouted, they've reached the "teenage years," Jolley said.
In the 70-degree vegetation room, the teenage plants will be transferred into gallon pots and grow up to 18 inches tall in 30 days.
For the remaining two months of the cycle, the plants are moved to their flowering environment, called the flower room.
You'll need sunglasses if you're ever invited into the football field-sized garden area, where the full-grown, flowering plants near the end of the cultivation process. Orange, fluorescent ceiling lights keep them in a sunlike environment.
"They'll put on about 30 percent of their weight in the last week or so," Matthew said of the final seven days plants spend in the flower room.
The three-month growing process comes to an end when the flowers are harvested. The harvested buds are dried for two weeks on coat hangers, before they are de-fanned and de-stemmed.
By volume, most of the plant has no medicinal properties, which would translate to monetary value.
"We send it through a wood chipper, and then we mix it with an inert soil, essentially, so that it can't be used for any purpose," Jolley said of the waste.
Growing your own cannabis with a doctor's permission and a state card has been legal in Nevada since 2001. State voters twice approved legalization for medical use, in 1998 and 2000.
Jolley's company opened with the passing of Senate Bill 374 in 2013, which allowed the legal operation of regulated medical cannabis dispensaries. Decriminalizing and destigmatizing the pot industry have not solved all the problems, though, he sauid.
The medical card needed to legally purchase medical cannabis is hard to come by and can take months.
"If we're gonna treat this as medicine, let people buy their medicine," Jolley said.
Another problem is where cannabis entrepreneurs can put their money.
"Banking is an issue for the entire industry," Jolley said.
Because the plant is considered a schedule one drug and is outlawed federally, banks don't want to touch the businesses.