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For those of us who grew up in Portland, it’s been a strange process to watch items from everyday life be elevated to artisanal status. Locally roasted coffee, small batch beer, and Sriracha were never something special before the rest of the world caught on. My mother brewed kombucha in our kitchen in the 90s.

And until I made the mistake buying a dub sack on the slopes in Utah during a ski vacation – and was perplexed by the dried up brown leaves in the bag – I never knew that low-grade marijuana was a thing. So in the city of all craft everything, it’s no surprise that some producers in the marijuana industry take a little more care when it comes to growing their product. This is Craft Cannabis.

When we catch up with Oregon’s Finest, a vertically integrated dispensary and grow operation that prides itself on only producing and selling the best of Oregon marijuana, the team is enthusiastic. It’s obvious that they take pride in their work, and though they show us their top-grade, they also stop to point out the B Grade product, which never makes it to full production runs. Troy Moore, the founder and co-owner of Oregon’s Finest, walks us through his growing facilities and points to a small row of five-gallon buckets growing what appears – to us – to be some perfectly decent marijuana.

“Probably not a keeper for us,” he says, as he points to the Mickey Kush. He mumbles something about the plant’s structure. We take him at his word. He turns across the aisle: “This Thunderberry 4 right here is stacking on a little nicer. Definitely worth a bigger run.” Troy continues, explaining that “this is a tester. Typically, we run testers right out of a five gallon [bucket]. … We don’t want to waste space and time running a plant that we probably won’t keep.”

But for the guys at Oregon’s Finest, strain selection is only a tiny part of the process. Back in their retail space, the Oregon’s Finest team breaks it down for us:

“One of our taglines is ‘The strain is only as good as the grower.’ … A lot of people have this perception that Durban Poison is Durban Poison.” says Troy. “Well, that’s not true. It’s really more about the grower. I’ve always felt that way and that’s why I started branding the farms from the beginning.”

The care taken to grow and sell quality weed is evident. As the conversation turns to the grow, Oregon’s Finest co-founder Mark Seid chimes in: “If you can get your product on our shelves, you probably have a 95% closing rate on any other dispensary you can go to. … We have these farms who have done a really good job of building their brand. And now the customer is coming in and seeking that product.”

Sofresh Farms owner, Tyson Haworth makes it clear that organics are a big part of that difference. “[Customers] will come in and ask about Clean Green certification, which wasn’t known a couple of years ago. This is an important aspect of the cannabis business and [smokers] should support businesses that support similar practices.”

And for Mark, that’s a big part of what makes Oregon different. “During my trip to California,” he tells us, “I visited some dispensaries down there. Everything there is hydroponic. Organic was scary to them. It was outdoor B Grade to them. It’s funny that we’re winning all these awards …,  but the story down there is quite different.”

Back in the growhouse, Troy makes the point again. “We grow completely organic. All the products we use are completely Clean Green certified. We use predatory mites…” and with that, he picks up an envelope full of tiny creatures and shoves it in front of our camera. “Friendly bugs, we call them.”

Given Oregon’s history, both as a producer of cannabis and as a haven for those with leanings towards green, small batch production, it’s no surprise to find this kind of careful cannabis coming out of the Beaver State.

But because Troy says it best, we’ll leave him with the last word:
“The foundation of Oregon’s Finest was built off of growers trying to make it happen. We weren’t funded by some out of state cats with a whole bunch of money. We did this as growers. We built this whole business around growers and it’s still that way. We’re not all about margins. Were not telling people that we only pay $1,800 a pound. We reward growers. We pay probably more than anybody in the state for good quality cannabis, and we don’t mind doing that.”