Fledgling Fairbanks pot business sees high startup costs

The state has begun issuing licenses to marijuana growers, processors and sellers. That has entrepreneurs gearing up operations, hoping to get into a fledgling enterprise. One local farm has been cleared to start pot cultivation. The operation is seeing large capital outlays to accommodate state regulations.

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(Photo courtesy of Rosie Creeks Farm)
(Photo courtesy of Rosie Creek Farm)

Mike Emers knows how to successfully raise and sell crops. His Rosie Creek Farms has been in operation for almost 20 years. Gazing across his fields you might be looking on any small farm with a weathered tractor standing beside of rows of planted crops. But getting to his farm is just a little harder these days.

“On top of that security fence is actually a security system, which is probably the most expensive piece of the puzzle,” Emers said. “And the state requires live video feed, video recording for 40 days, facial recognition in the marijuana crop at 20 feet.”

Emers said there are so many security requirements he has turned to an outside security agency to accommodate them. Not that he’s complaining. He said the state has thought through process of growing and selling marijuana. But, like any business, he’ll be passing on the costs when pricing his certified organic product.

“We have ball park figures from other states on what the going price per pound, per ounce or per gram of marijuana is,” Emers said. “And just like any other business commodity, we’ll see what the costs of production are, and we’ll price our product accordingly.”

Additional requirement mean his kids will no longer be able to access the farm. Emers says he wouldn’t be going through the hassles of entering the marijuana market if age and the thin profit margins weren’t forcing his hand.

“The alternative is quitting farming because it’s getting too hard to make minimal profits with vegetables as I’m getting older,” Emers said.

Despite that, Emers will also tell you he’s excited about entering a frontier industry. But for now he’s racing to get a crop into the ground and see what the first harvest will bring.

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