Crews work on cultivating by hand at Veritas Fine Cannabis on May 3, 2017 in Denver. (Kathryn Scott, YourHub)

What it’s like to be a cannabis cultivation entrepreneur: Interview with Colorado’s Veritas Fine Cannabis

"It's easy to grow weed -- but it's difficult, time-consuming and much more expensive to grow quality weed," says one owner

Business: Veritas Fine Cannabis
Address: Produced in Denver, sold in various dispensaries
Hours: Depending on dispensary
Founded: 2016
Contact: 303-500-6577, veritascannabis.com, @TrustVeritas
Employees: 50

Interview with Toby Ripsom and Mike Leibowitz, founding partners

Q: How did you get involved in this business?
A: Toby: I moved to the Denver area in 2012 from Idaho where I had built a career in institutional finance and real estate. I quickly realized that there was a space for entrepreneurs to transition into the cannabis industry, as much of the risk was optical — perceived risk versus actual risk. I knew that with the right partner we could mitigate any potential issues, and that the right business model could be very successful.
Mike: I worked in real estate through 2009 toward the end of the crash of the market and knew I needed to make a shift in my career. I have always been interested in the cannabis marketplace, and I began working with various cultivation warehouses and companies before settling into my current role with Veritas as a cannabis wholesale distributor.

Q: What distinguishes you from other businesses in your category?
A: We do not automate any part of our grow, whereas most commercial grow operations automate the majority of the process. It’s easy to grow weed — but it’s difficult, time-consuming and much more expensive to grow quality weed. From seedlings, we nourish our plants with premium plant food and attentive care, also using proprietary genetics in order to protect our product from being emulated. Our team of experienced master growers works tirelessly to care for the plants, a meticulous process completed without any automation, resulting in buds with high density, richer flavor and more vibrant colors. The cost of growing Veritas is about three times more than the average marijuana plant in Colorado, resulting in a superior product that offers consistent effects each time for the consumer.

Q: What do you like best about your line of work?
A: Working in this industry is emotionally, physically and financially rewarding. We’re kicking open the doors of this emerging market and fighting the stigma of marijuana, which has been demonized throughout history. The industry is still very young and it’s up to entrepreneurs like ourselves to shift that perception.

Q: What is your business’ biggest challenge?
A: Because this is an emerging industry, legislation regulations and taxation are constantly changing. With a highly saturated and competitive market in Colorado, it’s also important for us to differentiate our products and distinguish them as the best. We’re constantly innovating new strains and grow techniques, focusing on separating ourselves from commodity weed. We like to make the comparison of weed to wine — there are cheap options and the quality scales up to extremely gourmet and specialty products. With this diamond market mindset, we know that we have loyal customers based on the superior quality, all-encompassing nature of our products.

Q: Something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business:
A: This line of work requires constant attention and focus, and we’re obsessed with what we do. We don’t view our positions as merely jobs, but as a way of life — something more meaningful than clocking in and out each day. Everyone employed with us has a major sense of ownership and of pride in the knowledge that we are doing something different, something better, and we believe in it.

This story was first published on DenverPost.com