Cannabist: You’ve said that you all are starting your own grow. Is that not up and running yet?
Eschino: We have not started our grow yet. We submitted for a license, and we have a building, but we’ve been in a holding pattern for two months to get a CO (certificate of occupancy) for the building. The way everything works now is: You have to have a CO, but the building department moves so slowly. The medical marijuana kitchen took twice as long as a normal kitchen and cost twice as much as a normal kitchen. We’re waiting on one signature that we’ve been waiting on for four weeks to put plants in the ground.
Cannabist: So what comes next for your grow?
Eschino: You can’t get a temp CO to move into a building as a marijuana business. In other businesses you can do that. In marijuana, you have to have a space to get a license, and then you need a CO before you apply for the license. They make you do all the work and the build-out before you get a license.
Cannabist: So what do you do until your grow is providing you with the flowers and trim you need to create the oil?
Eschino: So now we go out and find trim from people who have it, and it’s getting harder and harder to find and more and more expensive every day. Our costs for a bar have doubled in the last four months. That’s all oil. And labor costs, too, for the increase of production. That’s why we just had a price increase, and people are up in arms with the price increase. But we don’t control the most expensive product, and that’s why we have to build a grow.
Cannabist: How much have the trim prices gone up in four months?
Eschino: It’s like we’re buying gas; the prices are shooting up. We used to pay $50-$100 per pound for trim, and now we’re paying $200-$400 per pound — and those are medical prices.
Cannabist: And what about retail trim — how much is that costing?
Eschino: Retail hasn’t worked itself out yet. It’s just started. We don’t know what the prices of retail trim are going to settle out as. What we’re seeing is they’re more expensive.
Cannabist: And how much did the price of your bars increase?
Eschino: There was a 20 percent increase on our medical bars, but our costs doubled. We’re eating most of that hoping that they level will out. But if that doesn’t happen there might be another increase. Or hopefully we’ll get our garden up and then we won’t have to do that.
Cannabist: Do you think the state regulations on the marijuana industry are unnecessarily tough?
Eschino: We’re jumping through all the hoops. We understand why they’re doing it, but it does make it very difficult to do business. It’s not a normal business. There are things that handcuff these businesses from growing and operating the way normal businesses run. Banking is the perfect example. If we had a line of credit, we could go out and buy trim, even at the more expensive price. We also don’t get to take the standard tax deductions that normal businesses take every day. We can’t take those because it’s still federally illegal.
Cannabist: Do you think banking is going to work itself out soon? I’ve talked with some who seem to think it’ll all be good in a couple months.
Eschino: I’m hoping banking will work itself out in a couple months. We’ve learned to work around it, so it’s kind of normal now. The restrictions on banking have slowed down the growth of the industry. We would have bought a building last year if we could. We would have had a 15,000-30,000 square foot grow space pumping out product if we could have taken out a loan in January of last year. But since we have to self-fund it, we have to wait and save up the money.
Cannabist: So you and a partner own the business. Are there others?
Eschino: We’re the primary owners, and we just brought on another partner. And Josh, our executive chef, got some sweat equity. We don’t want to have to sell equity to grow the business, but unfortunately that’s what had to happen. We’re hoping that by the time we get through with this infusion of cash the banking regulations work themselves out and we can get a line of credit.
Cannabist: Is there a competitor out there who you have a lot of respect for?
Eschino: I think there’s plenty of business for everybody. Everyone is concerned about competition, but you have Dixie Elixirs out there — and they’re a standard of the industry, and we need people like that. This industry needed people like Dixie to give it legitimacy. You’ve got the O.penVape guys, the Cheeba Chew guys and everybody else — we’ve got a healthy respect for everybody, and there’s enough business for everybvody. We don’t need to bash our competition. Another chocolate company came into town. It didn’t harm our business at all — we’ve only grown.