Grown Rogue of Medford has started marketing Nitrogen-Sealed Pre-Rolls, which it creates by sucking out all the air, then introducing inert nitrogen, thus “ensuring customers they’re getting it as close as possible to the state it was in at harvest,” says CEO and founder Obie Strickler.
The half-gram joints, which hit the shelves in September, come two to a tube or similarly sealed flower jars — both of which offer a satisfying “poof” sound when you open them, letting in air, which is 21 percent oxygen — and that’s the stuff that, over time, breaks down weed and just about everything else in the world.
“As a consumer, you want it fresh, not old,” says Strickler. “A lot of product out there is put in plastic and it dries out. We use glass, and it not only lets you control what gas is inside, but glass is much more environmentally sound, and we also accept returns for reuse.”
Grown Rogue is distributing the product, which eliminates light, moisture and oxygen, in dispensaries all over Oregon, as well as from their branch in Eureka, he notes. The product received a patent from the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C., which cost an investment of about $10,000, including the cost of a patent lawyer.
Pointing to Oregon’s volatile up-and-down market in recent years, Strickler says Grown Rogue has ridden it out well, proving it can thrive in any market — and having the patent on nitrogen-sealed weed should help revenues for years to come as consumers learn — if they do — to accept cannabis they can’t smell or touch.
“Oregon consumers like the bulk model. They like to purchase weed they can see, feel and touch, so we’re trying to change that perception, which will take time. Consumers are concerned about bait-and-switch, like what they get might not be what they felt and smelled. But our quality is consistent.”
Reflecting on today’s Oregon market, Strickler said the glut of last year is gone, prices are way up and the media haven’t written about declining inventory and “the compression of prices that drove many people out of business when they couldn’t make ends meet.”
Showing stats on his phone, he notes Oregon weed prices are up 100 percent from last year.
“I can’t find product in Oregon,” Strickler said. “Everything’s gone to hemp. The flower market has dried up. Sun-grown product is now $700 to $800 a pound. But those with good business plans and smart management are making it.”
Strickler demonstrated his vacuum-generating machine — the size of a large microwave oven. You put joints in test tubes in a rack, with rubber seals on top, suck out air and gush in nitrogen, then equalize pressure, which sucks tops down. In a few moments — viola! — you’ve got “certified fresh” weed, with all terpenes intact, and that’s a claim Strickler believes no other packaging can say.