People who wonder what cannabis will look like in five years should try to keep an eye on the nimble little Western U.S. cultivation brand “RB26.” Winners of nine cannabis awards and hyped by VICE for growing the ”strongest strain in the world” the four-year-old California company has grown from a 12-light operation to over 250 lights, and from one full-time employee to 12.
Driven by founders Grayson Miller, and Mike, RB26’s high-octane, boutique herb isn’t some mystical aberration. The New Yorkers apply high technology and business school acumen to produce, elite, top-shelf Gorilla Glue #4, #5, and other exotic strains that are snatched up off shelves in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, and Berkeley.
This fall and into next year, RB26 obtains state licensing in California and brings their “really high-yield, and really high-potency” formula to the state of Nevada, as well as back to Miller’s training grounds in Colorado.
Call it a higher calling, but Grayson graduated Cornell Business School in 2012 and moved out to California to launch a cannabis career. Meanwhile, Mike had been traveling the world doing management in the tourism industry.
“Desk jobs have just been very difficult for both of us,” Grayson said. “Cannabis had a big influence in both of our childhoods, teenage years and college years … Both of us come from an entrepreneurial background and both of us come from a culture of cannabis that’s very prevalent in New York as well.”
They didn’t know anything about growing back then, “but we do now,” said Mike.
“We learned what we learned from the net and trial and error and trying to do it ourselves and we failed 100 times,” Grayson said.
For about two years, it was a struggle.
“California is an incredibly expensive place to live with massive overhead. You’re out of money by the end of your run — that’s a really scary thing. Scrimping, saving, reducing overhead, maxing out credit cards — the whole nine.”
They moved to Colorado in 2014, worked on the medical and recreational side, and “kind of took what we learned there about regulations and where things were going and brought it back” to California in 2015.
Named for the model number of a “well-made foreign engine” in an old Nissan — RB26 takes a precision approach to growing: indoors; under commercial voltage, double-ended fixtures; using exotic genetics; a proprietary nutrient blend; and “like-hydro” drain to waste. Every single room in the warehouse submits to remote iPhone control.
“A lot of these growers are stuck in their old ways. We’ve embraced the new technology and it’s made our lives much, much easier,” said Miller.
The duo are friends with the Nevada breeders of Gorilla Glue #4. They brought award-winning cuts of it to clubs like CannaCruz in Santa Cruz, Berkeley Patients Group in Northern California and G-Mile, as well as Zen West X and CCCN in Southern California. RB26’s Chiquita Banana is a highly sought after delicacy, as is its extracts like Chiquita Banana shatter.
Instagram acclaim, awards, and media coverage for their 30% THC Gorilla Glue have all followed.
As RB26 expands, they take a modular approach to maintaining quality. They eschew rooms too big to control “so the consumer doesn’t know we’ve scaled beyond our 12-light room.”
“We created a formula … and it’s really dialed in,” Mike said.
Up next is the release of Gorilla Glue #5 — a cross of GG #1 and GG #4. The #4 ranks among the top strains of 2016, and RB26 says it’s hunting for more 30%-THC-plus strains in breeding projects with Exotic Genetix and Cannerado.
“This time is the only time where the atmosphere is going to be like this,” said Miller. “We’re at the right place at the right time, and it’s a huge opportunity, but more than anything — we love being able to have a formula for creating these high-end, sought-after products. That in itself is a big driver — a big high — whenever you’re producing anything.”
TELL US, what’s the highest THC percentage strain you’ve come across?