US: Rapid City native growing international cannabis industry

Kyle Detwiler got involved in the cannabis industry almost by accident.
Detwiler, a Rapid City native, is the CEO of Clever Leaves, a Colombian-based cannabis cultivator. The Stevens High School graduate attended Princeton University, then worked in the financial industry for 10 years, investing in healthcare and natural resources, before visiting a cannabis-growing facility in 2016.

He was confused about why people were growing cannabis indoors. Producing an ounce of cannabis indoors creates as much carbon emissions as filling a car’s gas tank. Indoor production is a result of the criminalization of cannabis, he said, and a relic of the past.
“Someday, somebody is going to say, where does this stuff occur naturally? That’s what is going to become the long-term winner, and that’s what Clever Leaves became,” Detwiler told.

After 100 years of cannabis prohibition, stoked by the war on drugs beginning in the 1970s, legally transporting cannabis across international borders is “weird," Detwiler said. The logistics of doing so are not easy; cannabis is still federally illegal and on the DEA’s Schedule I narcotics list. Detwiler said Clever Leaves has spent years readying its 18 greenhouses and acquiring the necessary permits to export the cannabis.


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