gLeaf is responsible for many of Maryland’s highest testing and most flavorful Cannabis cultivars, so I was really excited to tour the rooms where these premium plants are grown. Crowd favorites like Mai Tai, LA Chocolate, Stardawg, and Grease Monkey have long been delighting the palates of Maryland connoisseurs and patients alike – but I was particularly excited to see one of our first strain of the month features, Mai Tai Cookies, in its full-flowering grandeur.
But before we could get to the flowering room (truly the highlight of any Cannabis tour) we had to find the building first. Like many grows, gLeaf is tucked away in the back of an industrial lot with nondescript outer walls and a security fence that blends in perfectly with the local community.
Often people have a certain expectation of what a grow should look like, but they almost always look just like any other industrial space one might encounter in more mainstream industries.
But after crossing through the security gates, our nostrils were flooded with the familiar bouquet of Cannabis scents and there was no question that this building was in fact where we were supposed to be.
We were greeted and escorted around the facility by CEO Philip Goldberg and National Director of Business Development Eric Berman, who were more than gracious and helpful in guiding us around all the work, sweat and dedication that went into starting gLeaf Medical Cannabis.
Originating in Maryland, gLeaf has expanded to Pennsylvania and Ohio, and even secured a position in the very niche and infantile Cannabis market of Virginia! This is a massive undertaking. We often see established medical companies moving into Maryland, so to see a Maryland born company hustle hard enough to expand to multiple states is really encouraging for Maryland patients and our culture. >
above: gLeaf CEO Philip Goldberg walks past mature gSpot and Mai Tai.
215 employees oversee the facility and plant upkeep is a busy job.
Starting with their 215 employees company wide (many of which are patients themselves), gLeaf demonstrates their commitment to improving the lives of the patient by offering internal growth opportunities and amazing benefits. All employees receive 100% health care benefits and have the opportunity to expand with the company as it grows, as they primarily promote from within. They even have a company beach house that employees are allowed access to, which definitely makes it sound like a very fun place to work! But as someone who has worked in entry level grow positions, the big thing that I feel gLeaf has done for their employees that translates directly to us – the patients – and also distinguishes them from other Maryland grows is their utilization of a wide range of advanced, Cannabis specific equipment that really makes everyone’s lives easier.
Like many grows, they have a state-of-the-art monitoring system that monitors a whole host of conditions for individual rooms, and is able to relay directly to growers’ cell phones to update employees 24/7 in real time. gLeaf definitely has a top notch monitoring system, but such technology is rapidly becoming an industry standard. However, in addition to having some of the highest quality industry technology on the market, they also made purchases into other pieces of equipment that are not necessarily required to start up a grow, but definitely will make the lives of your employees easier and the price of your end product more affordable.
In essence, gLeaf went above and beyond the industry average and bought things like an atomizing humidifier, bucking machines, an industrial filling machine, labeling machines, and a bud sorting machine that ultimately allows them to maintain some of the cheapest price points on the market – while producing some of the highest quality product available to patients.
Without nerding out too much on the details, a machine like an atomizing humidifier is a machine that controls a room’s humidity by controlling the moisture content of the air.
Often a room’s ambient humidity will drop too low and need to be adjusted, so a humidifier will pump moisture back into the air until it reaches optimal conditions for Cannabis. An atomizing humidifier essentially breaks down the moisture particles into the smallest sizes technologically possible, which means it can evaporate off the plants as quickly as possible.
This might seem like a minor detail, but by making the investment into this machine, gLeaf is dramatically reducing their chances of having mold or mildew on their plants, and thus showing that they will make the investment into little details that protect the patients.
Automatic fillers, labeling, and sorting machines make the workflow run much more efficiently and thus eliminate a lot of the headaches and mundane labor that needs to be done in any grow.
As consumers, we really like the idea of hand trimmed, hand grown plants, and yes, many aspects of the Cannabis growth process are improved by a human touch. But as humans, we don’t want to think about someone sitting at a table for hours and hours putting stickers on jars, or sorting pounds and pounds of Cannabis into bigger and smaller nugs by hand.
But, gLeaf bought the right kind of tools for their employees to maintain product quality, and move efficiently and effortlessly from start to finish without requiring the type of soul-sucking hard labor that hurts our hearts. By reducing the amount of time it takes to do some of the more tedious tasks, gLeaf has opened up more room for employees to focus on growing the plants themselves, as opposed to being just a cog in an assembly line.
The thoughtfulness and care that went into their facility design, and the extra expenses they incurred, were extremely strategic and on behalf of their patients/employees, not their profits. The end result of this design has led them to have some of the highest quality flowers with some of the cheapest price points on the market!
Indeed, at their home dispensary you can find gLeaf products cheaper than anywhere in the state, renewing their commitment to the ‘patients before profits’ mantra echoed by our community. This stands in stark contrast to some companies that have their personally branded flower as the most expensive flower in their home dispensaries! If you can believe it.
But I digress. The layout of gLeaf’s grow was pretty traditional in that they utilize your standard design of mother-clone-veg-flower room, but with some notably more advanced or specific technology than one might expect. The employees working at their various stations also seemed notably more energetic and positive than average, and having suffered through many hours of tedious tasks myself, I can attribute that energy to being provided the right tools for the job. Every room we entered, whether it was a veg room, drying room or packaging room, had energetic employees smiling, working autonomously and efficiently!
Having this kind of positive energy in an industry like Cannabis directly translates to the quality of your end product. You simply cannot produce quality Cannabis with unhappy or unenthusiastic employees. gLeaf has consistently produced some of the highest potency Cannabis and some of the most vibrant terpene profiles – as a direct result of their company culture and technological investments. Nowhere was this more evident than their flowering room, where all of the cultivars were vigorously growing side by side.
Table after table had robust plant lines absolutely oozing with the quintessential aromas of their heaviest hitters on the market.
Normally a flowering room kind of blends all the smells together into one massive Cannabis scent, but one thing I noticed about these flowering rooms was the fact that different places in the room smelled like different Cannabis strains.
As I walked up and down the room, I would distinctly be able to pick out a Stardawg scent from a Grease Monkey scent to a gSpot scent.
It seemed that the superior air quality conditions that they meticulously invested in made the air so clean that individual scent profiles were able to remain intact, as opposed to washed out and blended. If nothing else, it allowed me to experience the nuances of the different cultivars with way more acuity than I typically am able to, and left me walking away with a strong sense of purity for each and every cultivar I passed.
And the Mai Tai Cookie flowers were every bit as beautiful and seductive as the smoke itself. Naturally, I lingered just a bit longer around the bed of one of my favorite cultivars and spent some extra time examining its health. I was not disappointed! The bud structure of this cultivar is truly beautiful, as it seems to almost create a spiral like cola that is reminiscent of a rose shape. All of their cultivars were growing vigorously with thick colas and perfect bottom trims, with the notable extra step of wrapping every individual rock wool brick with a pest net.
When your facility churns out over 500lbs of Cannabis per month, taking the time to individually secure each and every plant with a pest net is no easy task, but no doubt the time they created for themselves in their workflow affords them the opportunity to put the extra time into protecting the plant health itself.
All in all, I was very pleased with the gLeaf grow, not just because I love so many of their products – but because having seen their respect and dedication to their employees and their patients, I feel very ethical about consuming their products. As the age of modern Cannabis starts to take shape, there is a whole world of unethical practices being done in our industry and it is starting to become difficult to navigate the ominous waters of market manipulation, false advertising, workplace scandals and price gouging. As you journey through the Cannabis ocean, never fear, as there is a beacon of light guiding the way to quality products and ethical industry practices. And that beacon is gLeaf Medical Cannabis!
story by Taylor MARTIN @MDCANNAINSIDER | PHOTOS by ERIC KAYNE @PHOTOKAYNE for MARYLAND LEAF