Brothers James and Giono Barrett have had a dream to be the purveyors of quality marijuana for the community of Sitka, Alaska for years. And now – since the passing of Ballot Measure 2 in November, which legalized cannabis for recreational sale – that dream has not only become a reality, it’s becoming a reality TV show as well.
The focus of the new reality show, “Get Growing Alaska,” will document the Barretts as they navigate the trials and tribulations of expanding their relatively small marijuana grow business into a large-scale manufacturing site under the wild backdrop of an Alaskan frontier town.
In an episode of “Get Growing Alaska,” the partners discuss with Cannabis Now editors their first steps to acquire a 5,000 square-foot production facility and become a main supplier of marijuana for the state. They also talk about the small steps they’ll take toward helping to normalize the use of cannabis in the Sitka community.
“We had a really great interview with the local newspaper in town, the Daily Sitka Sentinel, and I think the community was able to see who we are,” says James Barrett, co-founder of Rainforest Farms. “People were able to put faces to the names and see we are a couple of regular guys.”
The Barretts, who hail from Minnesota farm country and moved to Alaska in 2008, say they initially got into growing the plant because of the lack of good marijuana available in the area.
“Good cannabis is really hard to find in Alaska,” says Giono Barrett. “The herb I was finding was really musky, just not good at all. So we started growing for ourselves and we realized how much we enjoyed it.”
With other Alaska-centric shows like “The Deadliest Catch” and “Life Below Zero” gaining wide popularity amongst viewers, the show’s producers are excited about their potential audience. Filmmakers, Inc. – the company producing “Get Growing Alaska” – has put Spike TV and National Geographic high on the list of prospective networks they’d like to see acquire the show.
Filmmakers, Inc. founder Thomas Oliver, who currently also produces “Coast Guard Alaska,” says he was drawn to the story of the Barrett’s marijuana grow business because of their passion for cannabis cultivation and the increasing acceptance of the plant nationwide.
“They have a passion for growing marijuana that really shows,” says Oliver. “Also, the concept is timely with so much cannabis reform happening across the nation and, of course, the recent Alaska ballot measure passing.”
The Barretts have their work cut out for them, as the marijuana industry went from almost non-existent in Alaska to fully legal in a short period of time.
“Alaska is unique because we never really had a good, functioning medical marijuana system that’s worked here,” says James Barrett. “So we’re really jumping into a full commerce situation with cannabis that has never existed here before. This documentation is really about the whole process.”[Originally published in issue 13 of Cannabis Now Magazine]
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