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As 2016 comes to a close, I was asked to write a final, year wrap up editorial for GFarma.News

It struck me that it had been months since I was able to sit down for a few minutes to unwind, think and write. I then thought for a few seconds and realized how quickly the last six months had passed, how much we had accomplished and how many great and horrible experiences we had survived in that time period. This year will definitively be remembered in the company’s history as the pivotal point to the beginning of a newly regulated California and for Americans 2016 will represent a victorious effort in the fight for the state by state battle to implement cannabis regulations.

It is a fact that 2016 will go down as the year that most progress was made to date for the expansion of a regulated state by state marijuana industry. It was the Cole Memo that gave the kickstart of the regulatory schemes we have gotten to know and we have not seen a year where more states have joined the movement than we saw this year. More and more people went to the polls and let their voices be heard loud and clear. California, Massachusetts and Nevada passed recreational marijuana regulations while Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota approved medical marijuana regulations. Many industry insiders remain excited to continue helping make the push to tumble federal prohibition.

As a company, G FarmaLabs entered the year with a board meeting where the pace was set for 2016. First, in California… The state was beginning to show signs of a regulated industry beginning in 2018 as MMRSA had just recently been announced in the last quarter of 2015. There seemed to be a twenty-four month transition period that would separate the men from the boys in the most powerful territory in the country. The board all agreed that the game plan would be to put priority and a good part of its efforts into securing the conditional use permit in Desert Hot Springs. In what seemed to be an eternal task headed by an amazing team, G FarmaLabs was granted their conditional use permit to build 102,000sf cultivation and manufacturing facility.

G FarmaLabs led the efforts to educate the city on allowing interim grows to be built in order to help self-fund projects as not every property owner is capitalized the right way. With great knowledge and experience the G FarmaBrands executive Team was able to put this strategy on the table so that all future conditional use permits holders could take advantage of using the same strategy. Desert Hot Springs allowed the brand a place to call home although the California territory arm of the brand was put on a back burner by the board, as they believed scaling further in a gray market was not seen to be as advantageous as in years past. “Maintain the brand in market” was the goal given by the board for 2016. Looking back at the year, I think we were successful at accomplishing all our goals and even going above and beyond…

That was only possible due to a move to consult several applicants in Northern California who were set to be the first legal cannabis growers to have legal product in the state. The opportunity was recognized by G FarmaBrands and the decision to enter into contracts with these applicants for the cannabis they were growing was solidified. This  first of a kind Agreement in the California marketplace did two things, gave G FarmaLabs the surety of knowing where their 2017 cannabis flowers and by-product was coming from. Through consulting the growers, the company model of consistency would be accomplished and they would also be able to instruct the cultivators to grow their seven secret strains and feed them the specific nutrient and foliar schedules that the brand has always used.

Secondly, the applicants did not need to worry about selling their cannabis after it was harvested. It was a win-win for both parties and again, most likely a first of its kind in California but what is sure to become the standard in the future of regulated cannabis cultivation within the state. Things couldn’t have been lining up any better for G FarmaLabs as they were hitting all the goals set by the board for 2016 and were seizing legal and regulated cannabis related opportunities that were all above board. What happened next, we cannot ignore or not write about. It probably ended up overshadowing everything else we accomplished in 2016, that would of course be… “The Calaveras County Airport Bust,” as it was called.

Looking back at the year and appreciating the perspective that a late December reflection gives you over the past year, it all makes better sense somehow. The picture becomes clearer as time goes on and I am sure that December 2017 will give us an even clearer picture of why that happened. It still bothers me that it occurred, as it should have never happened. To date, no charges have been filed on anyone involved in that raid. There shouldn’t be, or else it would be called malicious prosecution! That event should have never occurred period, there was nothing being done at that facility that merited such actions by the local authorities. To further add insult to injury, they illegally removed 2.5 Tons of legally grown and harvested medical cannabis and dumped it in the county dump, according to official reports.

When 2016 began my vocabulary didn’t even know the word was used for anything more than in the Spanish language, to mean skull. Yet somehow, someway there were powers from above that lead us to Calaveras, and it was not to a bunch of skulls but to an amazing and beautiful county in Northern California. I want to keep that beauty alive because that’s the only feeling I want to have of that gorgeous area, tucked away and secluded with many great neighbors. Let the winds take away any negative energy and may 2017 bring tremendous support from the local authorities and opportunities for those hard working farmers. They truly deserve it. Many of those applicants risked everything they had to register and become compliant in hopes to obtain their commercial license. Others got hard money loans or borrowed from wherever and whomever they could. Not fair for the county to be focusing more on denials for any small reason, rather than working with people on correcting mistakes to help them obtain their licenses. Hopefully 2017 brings in a new Board of Supervisors that can capitalize off the tax measure passed by voters and help Calaveras County sail into being one of thee first California Counties to regulate the cannabis industry.

During all these crazy up’s and down’s, we have all aged another calendar year but compounded with the high stress levels lived in the Cannabis industry, it definitively seems to take its toll on you. We have an amazing team that doesn’t stop, they don’t quit, they are called out at whatever time of the night and you know to depend on them for whatever emergency is needed. We can only be as strong as our Team, we would be nobody without them. Theirs many heads of households that come work everyday for us and all our children have gotten one year older. They all hear about the G FarmaLabs day to day as it’s become infectious to talk work wherever one is at. Never are we disconnected from the job, it’s always problem solving something or coming up with a strategy to make something happen from nothing. A bit more and we are labeled magicians in this company. From Washington to California, I would put the G FarmaTeam/Family against any other and would be confident to come out victorious! We are not cocky or ego driven, we just know what difference having the tremendous experience we posses makes. But further than that, we are becoming masters at placing people in the right positions to not allow them to fail.

In 2017 we will move forward in the Washington marketplace and continue our organic growth of that territory. We are looking forward to locating and beginning the build-out of our processing center in that state. G Stiks continue to be our only product in the Washington State marketplace for now but we hope to capitalize upon the amazing 2016 Washington crop to help us self fund all machinery needed to process the full line of G FarmaLabs products. Staying lean and mean is the path we look to travel in 2017, no matter if we are talking Washington or California, we don’t want to be that debt riddled fat elephant in the room. Not acquiring too much debt and having the right sized facilities in both these states is a goal of ours between 2017 and 2018.  Now that California passed regulated recreational Marijuana, we are expecting a huge surge in sales and want to make sure we are ready to capture the market. Again, maintaining the brand in market in California in 2017 is the goal but you will see some product line expansion coming during the first and second quarters.

What tasks am I personally handling for G FarmaBrands in 2017? That’s a good question… The short response is that I will continue Consulting for the company and its executives. I will further elaborate on that to further explain my roll in the success and growth of the global brand. The past several years have been a change of pace for me. I stepped down from being CEO of G FarmaBrands and took on a consulting roll. During the first year of stepping down I focused on building a complete in-house marketing arm of the company. I was successful in launching www.GFarma.TV and www.GFarma.NEWS and our social media sites. Today, all company marketing arms are led by Brittany Uribe. Under her leadership all media entities have launched what should be award winning, marketing campaigns. Mrs. Uribe and her Team control all content put out on a daily basis throughout the family of websites and/or social media sites, whether pictures, video or written content, this Team is responsible for it all. Their email list keeps getting bigger and bigger and brings more power to captivating a unique and specific niche audience which consists of both, investors and consumers of the cannabis industry.

All the while I was focused on launching the marketing arm of the company, I always kept my eyes to the horizon, scanning for opportunities that lay out there in silence. This is something that has always been important to me, many things are identified but not all are recognized to be opportunities. Further time and energy must be invested into researching each identified possibility in order to determine if they truly are an amazing opportunities or just a dud. One of our strategies in the cannabis industry has always been to outwit those who come into the industry with multi-million dollar budgets and think they can take over the industry. We capitalize on our experience as operators and our industry specific relationships to be one of thee first to posses information regarding amazing opportunities. It allows us to make a play before others even hear about it. I am the one normally  locked inside the war room, on top of that aspect of the battle to make sure we defend our market position against those who feel throwing money around will make their brand or product stick. The amount of pressure I put on myself is great to make sure that I can constantly produce excellent results for the company. I police myself by drawing a line in the sand and telling myself that my consultant work with G FarmaBrands is only as good as the last opportunity I found. This keeps me on my toes, I never want to get comfortable and loose sight of the importance of always scanning the horizon. The Team comes in after the opportunity is located and they capture it by implementing their skills and kaboom, the magic happens!

In 2017 I will continue consulting for G FarmaBrands and it’s executive Team, on many levels. My focus will continue to be finding cannabis related opportunities where I can recommend to allocate capital. Whether it is finding real estate, a dispensary for sale or equipment that we can acquire for pennies on the dollar. Our goal is always the same, where do we get the best ROI to continue fueling our organic growth. I am also constantly looking ahead into future territories, both national and international opportunities, either to acquire licensing or license the brand to other groups. I make myself available to the company to speak  with potential investors and get them vetted. I am on daily talks and discussions with our attorneys, no matter the state or their specialty, the industry moves fast and I need to always be up to speed on any new law or rule that can potentially affect the brand in any way.

Besides locating opportunities that provide an amazing ROI for the company, my second favorite aspect of my job is helping with Team building. Whether it is recruiting and/or recommending to hire for the executive level of the company, it’s a task I enjoy. From day one when it was just my wife and I, the focus was to always make our Team stronger and better with each passing day. It has never been easy, we definitively have enjoyed a great deal of luck to run into really amazing Team members but it is always a constant battle to find good people that you can trust that have common sense. We had to learn the lesson of not just hiring someone with a glittery college resume by failing at it so many times. In the early days of G FarmaLabs, we wasted a lot of time with the wrong hires, they simply exhausted our energy and then we realized they were not the ones that fit our corporate culture.

I have never been told not to recommend a good hire for the executive level but in 2016 my focus was more into finding where to allocate money and time. This year those investments mostly went into Real estate or licensing. I did not find any potential Team members to bring into the executive level of the company yet I knew that continuing to map out and bring to life our Organizational Chart was extremely important for growth. My personal style of hiring for the executive level might not be what a regular company looks for, I recognize the obvious differences between what we have built and what others try to build. I have seen these so called “Super Groups” implode and collapse, several times. We never set out to build a Super Group, we simply started working hard and little by little started adding and building ourselves through the natural motions of a growing company.

The first thing that I look for in a new hire is, trust. I have seen so many things in this industry that would make the hairs in the back of your neck, rise. Corporate espionage is real and in the cannabis industry, it is an everyday occurrence. I learned this early on by watching it happen to others and then as we grew to new levels, it also happened to us. Breaks were immediately pushed all the way to the ground and the train came to a complete stop! We had to figure out this hiring thing or else we were gonna change the name of our brand to, “G FarmaUniversity,” get paid while learning the cannabis industry would become our slogan. Again, it brought us back to reality, trust will be about 75% of the job description that I cared about and 25% would be the capabilities of doing what the job title required the future Team member to do.

That being said, an amazing free-agent popped up on my radar via my wife and I am very happy to announce that we will be adding a new Team member to the development of the executive level of G FarmaBrands. Mr. Hector Fernandez is our latest hire, he will fill the position of Chief Investment Officer. Mr. Fernandez will become the 28th member of the Team to make the move from South Florida. Yes he is also Cuban! I cannot wait to get started working with Hector  in January, there are so many things of value that he will bring to the organization that I cannot wait to look back at his first year on the job… and he has not even started! That’s how amazing of a hire I feel, G FarmaBrands made, by taking my recommendation to hire Mr. Fernandez.

 

PS- I cannot stress the importance of every G FarmaLabs Team member. Whether in Washington State or California, we appreciate your hard work and dedication and we know that without each and everyone of you making the magic happen, there is no G FarmaLabs, there is no Liquid Gold or G Brands products. You are the reason we are who we are, couldn’t find better words to give you our thank you and our appreciationAta Gonzalez

G FarmaBrands, Founder

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