Kyle Moffitt, STEM Cultivation CEO

"Growing medical cannabis is nothing but manufacturing THC or CBD from biomass"

Generally speaking, growing for the recreational market is different than growing for the medical one. Indeed, growing medical cannabis should follow very strict standards, as patients are going to be the end-customers. However, many cannabis growers struggle with complying with such high standards, and the reasons are many. “Thing is, a substantial number of growers assumed that they could just scale up everything they have been used to doing when growing cannabis illegally, in a basement, for instance,” says Kyle Moffitt, STEM Cultivation CEO. “This is not how indoor commercial agriculture works, at all.”

Hand-made vs mass produced
“To give an example, you have a super car,” Kyle further explains. “You make a super car, and you make it by hand for just a few customers. As such, there are only a few of them, since everything is lovely and carefully crafted. But then, you have Volkswagen, which produces more than 20 million cars per year, yet must still maintain a good enough standard. My point is that you cannot assume that a grower’s recipe for success at a small scale will be the same when you are mass producing.”

So, according to Kyle, it is important to set high standards, but also to be able to meet them, regardless of what kind of operation a grower is carrying out. “The objective is to create an environment that you can repeat at any scale,” he points out. “That is, what if you have that medicinal level of care and quality, even if you are growing for the recreational market?”

A clear objective in mind
That is why STEM Cultivation has created STEM Box: an indoor cultivation system that follows the strictest GMP standards with high efficiency. “Through STEM Box, you have the whole growing process in your control,” Kyle explains. “The space within this growing system is manageable to have high quality at the lowest cost, with the most consistency. That was our objective when we were designing the STEM Box.”

Kyle further recounts: “If I am looking at a normal indoor grower with a 50m by 50m facility, which is 10m high. You would fill the whole area with canopy. Yet, 95% of the volume is not growing canopy, is just space, which directly affects the economics of the facility. Indeed, that empty space needs to be environmentally controlled as well, which of course comes at a cost. To put it bluntly, physical architecture is a limit on how efficient you can be. You have to work around that, and come up with a plan and a system that can capitalize on the facility as a whole.”

A too grower-centric industry
STEM Box works as a sort of widget, from which growers can control each and every aspect of the growing process, and tweak it if necessary.  “Through the STEM Box, we wanted to also address the fact that this industry is very grower-centric,” Kyle points out. “Most of medical cannabis grows heavily rely on the master grower. But what would happen if this master grower leaves? The most common scenario is that a new master grower comes in, and they are not familiar with the processes and methods of the old one. Thus, they change everything, or they have a hard time catching up with the old method, but often with little evidence that adopting their methods offer higher quality or lower costs. Applying an evidence-based, repeatable model to cultivation with the right equipment and procedures ensures that you will maintain predictability and consistency as you scale up.  This is the difference between growing and manufacturing.”

The difference between growing and manufacturing
Indeed, Kyle points out that growing medical cannabis is nothing but manufacturing THC or CBD from biomass. “And if you need to manufacture something on a large scale, you need to be able to repeat that process over and over, with the same consistency. Even more so in the medical cannabis sector, as the end products are medicines that people use therapeutically. It is of the utmost importance to understand that this industry is not about growing plants, per se, but about manufacturing the active ingredients that make these plants useful to users. People on the production side sometimes forget about patients, who have been priced out of the market because growers produce in a very expensive and inefficient way. With systems like STEM Box, you have a sort of a widget from which you can see how the whole manufacturing process is carried out, and you can repeat that over and over, and also to scale it up if necessary.”

A manufacturing mindset
And this is exactly the precious lesson that Kyle takes care to point out. “Growers need to have a manufacturing mindset, or they will have a hard time in this business. With things such as GMP pharma standards, you must have an incredibly high level of precision and predictability, which can be hard in this biomanufacturing scenario: you are taking a living organism and you want to make it as regular and consistent as you can. And this is exactly where the distinction between growing and manufacturing comes into play. Standardize your process through following the strictest standards, with efficiency always at the top of your priorities. The objective is to produce the highest quality at a large scale. This is exactly the reason why we have developed a self-contained environment designed to manufacture THC through biomass at the lowest production cost.”

For more information:
STEM Cultivation  


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