Northeast Missouri cultivation hopeful set to retrofit ag experience
CJ’s Cannabis, owned and operated by James Stevens and Champ Caldwell, is a cultivation facility hopeful in Perry, located halfway between Moberly and Hannibal in northeast Missouri.
Stevens and Caldwell both come from an agricultural background and saw an opportunity to help, not only patients but the surrounding community, through cannabis and the revenue it has the potential to produce.
“As a veteran of the Navy, I have many friends that struggle with various ailments that they have been self-medicating with cannabis for some time,” Stevens said. “Some of them even leaving the military and moving to legal states rather than their homes because of the immense benefits derived from cannabis.”
“I have seen what is currently available in Missouri for patients with terminal cancer having lost a family member,” Caldwell said. “I have seen where cannabis can help these people with pain management, appetite improvement, and just overall quality of life. I also see a chance for the small family farm to have a chance in the world of corporate agriculture and not just survive but thrive.”
Their plan is to focus on a single strain and to diversify to new strains as we grow to full scale. This plan allows them to see what patients and the market are searching for and grow from that research. Eventually new strains could be developed, they just don’t see it as plausible at initial startup. They will focus initially on sales to manufacturers, as many patients can not smoke or smell like traditional flower, but will also make raw flower available to dispensaries as soon as possible. They plan to focus a good portion of those sales to rural areas that we feel are generally ignored by the rest of the industry.
“We want to show that big money and big names don’t mean success,” Stevens said. “We want to show that small family-controlled businesses are the true asset of Missouri’s cannabis industry. We can focus on quality and patients rather than pleasing shareholders and rushing to meet made up goals of large corporate grows.”
The pair have both been involved in agriculture in some way their entire lives. Caldwell was raised on the farm they will be growing on. They have both worked with medium to large scale farming operations that focused primarily on row crops and cattle production. Though their experience is a lot different from indoor hydroponic plant production, they say their experience and their plans hold the same principles.
The pair told Greenway Magazine that their first priority is a safe work environment, followed by quality and compliance.
“We think our priorities allow us to always keep the patients and community in mind as we want to be a benefit to both.”
GREENWAY MAGAZINE: What do you see as the outlook of the medical cannabis industry in Missouri?
CJ’S CANNABIS: Honestly, we believe once people begin to see local dispensaries the industry is going to explode further than current market predictions that the state has distributed. The people we interact with every day at work or otherwise seem to be excited but either have false information or no information regarding Missouri’s new amendment.
GREENWAY MAGAZINE: What are your biggest concerns and hopes for the industry?
CJ’S CANNABIS: Our biggest concerns center around the possibility of large out of state businesses receiving preferential treatment because of the amount of money they are throwing at the program. The application deadline extension, seeing the list of applicants, and the statistics of applications filed after original deadline should be a large concern for any applicant that complied with the original set rules from the state.
GREENWAY MAGAZINE: What do you consider the most challenging part of entering the industry? Funding, application, etc.
CJ’S CANNABIS: We found the application process taxing but not impossible by any means. We did not employ anyone to consult or coach our application, we started writing as soon as we saw the rules and questions posted. We worked on it for months to meet the deadline and even filed on a weekday so we could call with issues. Funding was based on a lean business model so that we focus on the assets we already have as a business such as property and existing structure. The most challenging part of the whole thing is the waiting.