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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Inside Fluresh: Michigan's Second Largest Cannabis Producer

In 2009, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program came online spurring an explosion of small, often residential, MMJ cultivation across the state of Michigan. Ten years later, fully legalized and being produced on a commercial scale, “cannabis” is a main street venture which has realized huge investment and is transforming minds and the economies here in the Great Lake State. Needless to say, for many it has been a learning process, and for us at the MM Report understanding licensed operators is new as our focus in the past has been primarily on small businesses. So, when we were invited to take a behind-the-scenes look at Fluresh’s two very different, state-of-the-art cannabis grow and processing facilities operated by their highly skilled cultivation and processing teams, curiosity was contagious. The experience was exciting and broke down some of our preconceived notions and inspired us to rethink the role of licensed operators in the legalized cannabis space. 

The Eco-Friendly Facilities

Adrian Hybrid Greenhouses

Set in the corn belt of southern Michigan, Fluresh’s hybrid greenhouse facility captures the power of the sun which shines through the pitched glass ceilings of massive grow rooms. Cannabis plants begin to “flower” in the fall when the days become shorter. In order to extend the grow season year-round, fully automated blackout curtains roll out of the ceiling of the rooms to shorten the days, and full spectrum LED lights lengthen the days on the opposite end of the calendar. Separate rooms hold varieties of different stains in various stages of maturity.  We were allowed to watch the curtains close making the room come to almost complete darkness, which felt like we were experiencing a solar eclipse.

This extremely efficient, environmentally responsible system not only reduces the energy footprint, but allows Fluresh to sell sun-soaked cannabis products at really affordable prices.  And similar to sun grown cannabis, Fluresh wins big for potency and terpene expression. Adjacent to the greenhouses, Fluresh has a processing facility that also produces a huge variety of products including vapes, concentrates, a fast-acting drink enhancer and edibles. 

Grand Rapids Indoor

In the heart of GR’s industrial district Fluresh’s innovative and repurposed indoor facility (formerly a Benteler Automotive plant that had been vacant for 10 years) is a space-aged wonder that takes the cannabis plant to its maximum genetic potential. High tech systems control each grow room and optimize every aspect of the environment to ideal conditions that create unprecedented levels of terpenes and cannabinoids.  Boasting 100% water reclaim, all plant-related water is recycled onsite and residual moisture is sucked out of the air and recondensed in an advanced water processing system at the center of the building. This facility is also illuminated by 100% LED lighting.  Each fixture requires only 58% of the energy input required by a DE HPS light fixture which is the most common type of grow light used by 2/3rds of the commercial growers in the flowering stage.

Both facilities are immaculately clean, always a plus for a bio-secure work environment. Air showers at access points and sanitize mats protect the plants being cultivated. There is no mess, clutter, or unclean surfaces. All Fluresh cannabis products are tested by state-approved laboratories to ensure that they are safe for patients and other consumers. 

Results are the proof. Carbon, the newest Brand by Fluresh, offers unique strains of potent, super tasty, dank, sticky buds, for those looking for an exceptional flower experience and terpie extracts that bring hope to any concentrate connoisseur.  Most products produced at both facilities are sold to top retail locations, AKA dispensaries, all over Michigan. However, in Grand Rapids, one can shop all the products made by Fluresh, at the Fluresh retail store at 1213 Phillips Ave SW.  Residents of GR and surrounding areas can get a real hook-up here, which is definitely worth a trip to check it out and stock up. Fluresh boasts that this dispensary has some of the widest selections in the state. 

The Teams

Happy people and plants everywhere at Fluresh. “Our people are everything,” explains Heather McDonough from the human relations team. “We offer competitive wages, 401k, health insurance and vacation time.” James Haley, 27 and former caregiver, was recently promoted to Director of Cultivation. “I love my job,” grinning Haley told us as he showed off his healthy green baby female plants in Grand Rapids. Environmental Engineer Ryan McGinn, who explained to us the advanced water systems, shared his transition from working for the Grand Rapids Water System that takes water from Lake Michigan to supply Kent and Ottawa counties, to Fluresh where he focuses in part on water conservation and water quality with genuine and well-deserved pride. 

Fluresh hopes to be at three hundred-plus employees by the end of the year with a number of the workforce made up of former caregivers. While caregivers and other cannabis experts are highly valued, many entry level positions require no prior cannabis experience and passionate people can be trained on the various roles. Have a professional background or degree and considering a change? There are plenty of opportunities to make a difference. We met several highly talented professionals with a positive attitude who seem great to work with (especially the marketing department). Employees also are a big part of their local communities, participating in beautification, neighborhood clean-up and local art projects, which is great for overall morale. The company launched an accelerator program last year that has already had a significant impact on local entrepreneurs and the second cohort will be selected later this year (watch their social media @flureshcannabis for applications).

The Strains

Featured on the cover is Apple Tartz (hybrid of Apple Fritter x Runtz) and is my favorite from their new Carbon line. Super smooth and with a sweet aroma, this strain gives one a super sense of pain relief, uplifting spirits and tasting deliciously fruity. Seriously, a must try. Other great unique Carbon strains are Orange Creamsicle and Rainbow Zlz.

My other favorites from Fluresh are their greenhouse staples like Gorilla Glue and Blue Dream, and some of the newer strains like Apple Mintz and Kiwi Kandy.  Another awesome strain is the Creamberry, which the company launched in the spring to commemorate the new Clean Slate Legislation—Fluresh donated $1 for every pack sold to various statewide expungement efforts.  Fluresh products are easily recognizable by their unique and bold packaging, although you can also buy from stores who purchase bulk.

The Overview

We absolutely love Fluresh and appreciate how they do what they do, which is to make great cannabis for an awesome value. 
The genius behind these facilities was a man I could relate to and a long-time reader of the Michigan Marijuana Report. It was fun to connect with him and have a few laughs about mutual acquaintances and the misconceptions about the history of cannabis law reform. This guy has been abused at times by folks that are either jealous, confused or just dumb. That’s typical when you are actually accomplishing good things. 

He told me that Fluresh is a Michigan company and the owners are cool dudes. He is a real hard worker, coming up from the Medical Marijuana cottage industry from all the way back to 2010. Not a pompous rich asshole, he is probably the single biggest reason I feel so good about Fluresh and its impact on this new frontier that we the people of Michigan created.