California's Famous Cannabis Goes To Europe: Rescheduling Drives Demand For De-Risked, Pest-Free, Low-Cost Plants


In an exclusive interview with Benzinga Cannabis, Kevin Brooks, CEO of Conception Nurseries, discussed his company's potential impact on the cannabis industry amid the anticipated federal rescheduling.

Brooks, who began his professional career in Silicon Valley, transitioned to the Sacramento region, drawn by the burgeoning cannabis market. Conception Nurseries specializes in tissue culture propagation technology, which aligns with the FDA and pharmaceutical standards expected to be required under rescheduling.

From Cookies To Conception

Brooks was CEO of the Sacramento-based team that managed the Cookies brand's white-label cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and retail. Upon the termination of the Cookies agreement, the organization rebranded as Connected Cannabis under founder and current CEO Caleb Counts and acquired the world-famous cannabis brand Alien Labs.

This experience highlighted the importance of reliable genetics in large-scale cannabis cultivation, ultimately leading Brooks to found Conception Nurseries to address supply chain challenges using advanced tissue culture propagation technology.

Choosing Tissue Culture: Lower Price, Fewer Risks

Conception Nurseries adopted micropropagation, or tissue culture, to tackle significant issues in cannabis cultivation. This process begins by selecting a healthy plant and extracting tiny pieces of vegetal tissue, which are then reproduced in a sterile environment.

Tissue culture is a method that ensures that the plants are free from pests and diseases. Brooks explained that this technology was chosen due to its ability to produce healthier, more consistent plants that meet high standards. "We're trying to put out a better superior plant at a lower price point that de-risks their investment," he stated.

The crucial process for large-scale cultivation is highly automated. Initially, a few healthy plants are selected and grown to a certain size in a nutrient-rich medium. These plants are then cut into tiny pieces, each of which can grow into a new plant. Over time, this results in a rapid multiplication of plants. "If we start with 100 baby plants, in four weeks, we're looking at 3 to 400 plants, and a few weeks later, over a thousand plants," Brooks explained.

Unlike traditional propagation, where growers cut plants and hope they root successfully, this method ensures health and uniformity and reduces labor costs. "Most of our customers do not require any overages from us because of the high success rate of the plants," Brooks said, highlighting a 97% success rate.

Conception's plants are guaranteed to be disease-free, which leads to improved overall crop performance and reduced integrated pest management (IPM) costs.

Additionally, the uniformity of the plants leads to better light penetration and less labor required for tasks such as trimming. "We're seeing deeper light penetration in the plant, less leafy structure, and reduced labor for trimming," Brooks explained.

Potential In A Rescheduled Market

One of the key advantages of rescheduling is the expected alignment with FDA and pharmaceutical standards. This shift will likely necessitate higher quality control and more rigorous scientific studies on cannabis, opening the door for traditional capital to enter the market.

Brooks believes this will encourage innovation and elevate industry standards. "We'd like to see a higher emphasis on actual scientific studies around the power of the plant and what it can do," he emphasized.

Rescheduling also presents opportunities for Conception Nurseries to meet the demands of new market entrants who require high-quality, scientifically-backed cannabis plants. With its advanced tissue culture propagation technology, Conception is well-positioned to provide clean, consistent genetics that adhere to these new regulatory standards.

"For any companies that want clean stock, there are not many options. We think we're perfectly positioned for that," Brooks noted.

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Technology For International Expansion: From California To Portugal

Conception employs sophisticated lab facilities with stringent protocols and automation to meet the rigorous demands of large-scale cannabis cultivation. "We have around 100 employees in California doing everything from making media to quality control and shipping," Brooks noted.

The technology allows Conception Nurseries to multiply plants rapidly while maintaining a low mortality rate, to meet the growing global demand for high-quality cannabis products.

Conception is building a facility in Portugal to serve the European market. "We're seeing a higher demand for cleaner consistent products in the international market, particularly from California genetics," Brooks mentioned.

This expansion aims to provide European growers with the same high standards of plant health and consistency that Conception is known for in the U.S. The new facility will enable Conception Nurseries to deliver West Coast genetics to Europe, addressing the demand for premium cannabis plants. "We're looking at any market that allows for imports, and we think the demand for cleaner, consistent products will only grow internationally," Brooks concluded.

Photo: AI-Generated Image. 

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