The seasons change as I walk through the front doors, the weather inside has turned tropical and I have to put my shades back on. The warming glow can be compared to the feeling a parishioner must have when they walk into their church. In front of me is row upon row of White Widow, Girls Scout Cookies, OG Kush and the smell of cannabis is all I know. I believe I have found El Dorado. Then I snap out of it and remember I am actually in a cannabis grow facility in Pueblo, Colorado.
Tucked into an industrial warehouse on the outskirts of town, this place is larger than it looks from the outside. Usually no more than a couple thousand square feet at best, grow houses in Colorado tend to be fairly small for what they require. Due to the amount of space needed to operate, the laws surrounding where you may grow, and the weather, most dispensaries in the state are unable to have one location where they can produce all their cannabis. Your favorite dispensary most likely has three to five grows that are all spread out around the state. It can get frustrating to collect product from those, especially if you plan to do it in one day. However, one group of investors has a plan to turn frustration into ease. Doyen Elements, an investment firm outside the cannabis sector is planning to break ground later this month at an old Pepsi bottling plant in Pueblo, on a state-of-the-art grow facility roughly the size of four football fields.
Head southeast out of Denver for an hour or so and you will run into the town of Pueblo. Not exactly the city most people imagine when they picture Colorado. Pueblo lives in the shadow of an old steel industry. Abandoned smoke stacks jut out of the ground just like the mountains to the west and an abundance of abandoned buildings scatters the city. Most have been repurposed to store heavy machinery or act as home to a thriving pigeon population. No ski areas lie up the road, Grateful Dead stickers do not adorn local cars, and the common sight of the cannabis green cross is not as saturated as it is in most other Colorado towns. It is not as funky and vibrant as Denver or Boulder. It is a devastated town desperate for a little revitalization, and they may have found their solution. Currently suffering from a high unemployment rate, Pueblo is becoming more receptive to the possibilities of cannabis and the money that follows. Due in part to the lower real estate costs and the current lack of space elsewhere, Colorado cannabis entrepreneurs have been looking at land in Pueblo, and Doyen Elements may have just found the perfect location in the old Pepsi plant. Nicknamed “Steel City”, it may not be long before Pueblo is known around the state as “Weed City”.
Doyen Elements is an ancillary consulting firm with plans to innovate the world of cannabis in Colorado. They are the first cannabis-adjacent business to be accepted by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Several segments of the ancillary market such as staffing, equipment, packaging, and human resources are still largely underdeveloped in the cannabis industry, meaning Doyen will not grow or distribute the cannabis but their firm will service the industry operators that do. They have positioned themselves strategically to aid the cannabis industry within the sectors of real estate, management consulting, research and development, industrial equipment, and green construction operations without ever actually touching the plants. They will provide the services required to bolster the growth of cannabis businesses with their consulting and infusion of money.
Having partnered with the minds behind the industry-leading dispensary from Colorado Springs, Today’s Health Care (team THC), as well as the geneticists from The Boulder Hemp Farm (team CBD), Doyen intends to have a vertically integrated cannabis operation in place by next summer in the abandoned bottling plant. The plan is to have this flagship facility producing upwards of seventy thousand pounds of cannabis per year, enough to fully stock twenty-five dispensaries. Their goals for this facility exist far beyond just growing though. Today’s Health Care has their sights set on an infused products line as well as an expanded line of concentrates. Additionally, space has been carved out for research and development that will allow The Boulder Hemp Farm to develop new genetics, along with microbial and potency testing. They intend to utilize the knowledge of past mistakes, build on core industry knowledge, and turn a desolate old plant into a sophisticated operation.
To get their facility built in the limited amount of time, they will utilize a new building method that consists of a material called Syntheto Foam. Doyen plans to build not only this grow facility with it, but three more of the same size by 2020 as well. Resistant to pests, mold, and moisture it appears to be an ideal material to house a grow of any size. In addition to their building techniques, reducing their footprint is currently of great importance for the folks at Doyen and they are attacking this from the start. Their Phase I plan also includes turning any waste into CO2 to assist in the cooling of the facility, cutting back on what could mean an otherwise high energy bill.
Doyen Elements is one of a growing number of investment firms that are making profits in legal weed without actually touching the plant. Their mission involves raising capital to assist in growing the industry, in filling the voids, in redeveloping the storyline. They believe what they are doing will help in creating the infrastructure this industry badly needs. “Innovation is a key focal point at Doyen” said founder Geoff Thompson. “We want to see this industry thrive without having to cozy up to the likes of big pharma and big tobacco”. Doyen expects to be integral in assisting the suppliers that generate Colorado canna-tourism and they are aware they have a great deal of uncharted territory in front of them. Already in the works alongside their new facility the team at Doyen Elements has commissioned an art project as a gift to the city of Pueblo to say thanks. Anticipation is high. Their hope is to beautify a town that has fallen on hard times by not only adding opportunities to the economy, but a little extra character as well. They have a long road ahead of them, I wish them luck.
Author Bio: Chris Fisher grew up in Dover, Delaware with his sights set on the wild west. Inspired by 80’s and 90’s- era ski movies Chris found his way to Gunnison, Colorado in 1999 to attend Western State College, now Western State University, and to ski Crested Butte. In this little mountain town in the heart of the Sangre de Cristo mountains Chris also found a lovely little plant called cannabis. Chris still lives in Colorado, having moved to Steamboat Springs after graduating to follow his love of skiing, mountain biking, and all things outdoors. Currently working as a budtender with 7 years experience in the cannabis industry Chris has a passion for cannabis, a desire to write, and a love for Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter at @Chrisher929