Five Succinct Questions With Michael Steinmetz- Founder: Flow Kana

Source: Warren Bobrow, Forbes

I'm a big fan of Flow Kana. They have taken the axiom of outdoor grown, sun drenched cannabis flowers and given the word craft, at least in the cannabis world new meaning. Craft cannabis means micro-farming in smaller amounts, not massive corporate grows. Craft cannabis means to me the similar approach to craft spirits. Something hand-made, with love. Flow Kana empowers the small growers with the art and science of cannabis growing. They have given new meaning to the word, craft.

1. Warren Bobrow=WB: With all the "high net worth flowers" on the market in California, how does Flow Kana rise above their competition? What sets them apart from other high-end cannabis products and especially their flowers? Tell me about your company? 

Michael Steinmetz= MS: Flow Kana is California’s number one selling flower, and I truly believe the reason lies in the incredible farmers we work with, and our ethos. Californians are conscious consumers who want to know where their produce comes from, how it was cultivated, what kind of carbon footprint was produced in the process, and whether the farmers were treated fairly. Flow Kana is powered by over 200+ mindful family farmers, most of whom grow cannabis right alongside their organic fruits and vegetables. All of our farmers practice cultivation methods that feed, cool, and nourish the planet, which is an absolutely critical point given that the practice of traditional big agriculture is the single largest contributor to our climate crisis. The family farms from which we source all of our flower are located in a region of Northern California that features the most ideal natural conditions for growing sun-grown cannabis. The area’s rich soil and Mediterranean climate are to cannabis what the geology of the Napa Valley is to wine. The result is an unparalleled craft product full of incredible flavor and aroma, or more accurately, they have beautiful cannabinoid and terpene expressions. Californians appreciate the generations of cultivation knowledge that go into each harvest and that’s reflected in the end product, and they love knowing that when they purchase Flow Kana flower, they are supporting small-scale legacy farmers while protecting our environment.

2. WB: Outdoor or Indoor? What is your preference? Do you have a favorite cultivar? Why? What makes this so desirable?

MS: Sun-grown! If you had a choice of purchasing an apple that was grown indoors or outdoors, what would you choose? Indoor is simply a relic of prohibition and a cultural phenomenon that emerges when farmers have to go into hiding to protect their livelihoods while they cultivate this amazing plant. Indoor cultivation produces 25 times more CO2 than outdoor grows, and are 70 times more energy intensive than commercial office buildings. To produce just one kilo of cannabis indoors is equivalent to driving across the country five times! Our family farmers have a very low carbon footprint, utilizing solar panels, rain catchments, and diversified crops to promote biodiversity with different plants performing different functions so that all can thrive without the need for harmful pesticides and herbicides. Biodiversity and crop rotation also provide nutrients to the soil, allowing it to not only retain water better but also sequester carbon and therefore help fight climate change.

My favorite cultivar would have to be Harmony Rose or Pink Boost Goddess, the former being a balanced CBD/THC cultivar with incredibly soothing and potent effects. Pink Boost Goddess is a rare cultivar that contains THCV, an incredibly powerful cannabinoid that gives you a clear-headed, energizing high that is simultaneously calming. We are just discovering and learning about the full potential of THCV. It would not surprise me at all if, within the next few years, THCV becomes as popular as CBD. 

3. WB: Do you cook? If so, who taught you? Do you have a favorite dish that you prepare? Why? What about a favorite restaurant? Where? What kind of food? 

MS: Food plays an integral role in our life as well as the culture and fabric of Flow Kana. Flow Kana was founded over a home cooked meal of braised pork shoulder by farmers Casey and Amber O’Neill of HappyDay Farms. My wife and I love to cook, though I usually take the role of sous chef and cleaning department. We enjoy the experience of gathering around the kitchen and preparing a heartfelt and delicious meal. We usually cook a wide variety of seafood dishes with a Latin or Mediterranean influence such as grilled fish with cilantro and platano maduro or arroz marinero. Most of our fruits and veggies come to us directly from the farmers with whom we work. There’s something truly special about knowing, each and every time we sit down to eat, where our food has come from and who specifically grew it. Our meals are absolutely delicious, and we appreciate every last bite. Also, my wife is an environmental activist and for the past four years, she’s been volunteering at The Marine Mammal Center in Marin, so based on everything she’s learned there about ocean conservation and health, wild-caught seafood is our protein of choice.  

4. WB: Where do you see your company in six months? One Year? If you travel, how do you combat stigmas of working in the legal cannabis business? Who was your inspiration? Why?

MS: We would like to be the number-one selling flower brand in the country, and later the world, distributing northern California’s finest sun-grown cannabis, and supporting even more local family farms. We’re growing very fast. My wife and I started Flow Kana just a few years ago by delivering sun-grown flower packaged in beautiful glass jars; we rode our Vespas through the streets of San Francisco. Today, Flow Kana is the second largest employer in Mendocino with operations all along the golden state from Humboldt to San Diego. Our ultimate goal is to transform cannabis into the world’s first fully sustainable agricultural product rooted in environmental stewardship, transparency, heritage, and shared equity. In the short term however, our goal is to prepare for national legalization by building a solid infrastructure and supply chain. We’re about to complete a 200,000 square foot facility at our Redwood Valley headquarters that will allow us to expand our operations into extracts, oil-based vapes, topicals, and tinctures along with an on-site, third party research laboratory. The road ahead - which I think about daily - is one we’re paving in real time. There isn’t a precedent. The best we can do is learn from the lessons of industries past while never ceasing to be inspired. Richard Branson inspires me. He got his start from a mail-order record business some 50 years ago, and today Virgin is synonymous with music, mobile phones, air travel, cruise ships, and even galactic travel. I believe wholeheartedly that cannabis too has exponential potential to influence all aspects of our life and culture, and that excites me.

5. WB: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would that be? Doing what? With whom? 

MS: I would be exactly where I am right now - at home in Redwood Valley at the Flow Cannabis Institute. My wife and Co-Founder, Flavia Cassani, and I as well as our baby, Mia, live on 300 acres of lush foliage in the same house that was once home to the Fetzers of Fetzer Wine. They purchased the home in the mid 50s with the exact same pioneering spirit we did some 60 years later. There’s a quote by Barney Fetzer that I just love, because it’s timeless and perfectly honors the work our farmers do for nine months out of the year: “Farming, like no other way of life, teaches man’s great dependency on the Supreme Being - the necessity of patience, philosophical attitude, hope.” I also adore a quote by Barney’s wife, found in a book she published about her family’s business called Kathleen’s Vineyard. “When we were getting started, even the bankers would say, “Oh, golly, you’re making a big jump, going into the wine business!” Barney had done his homework, however, and calculated that he could make more money selling wine by the bottle than he could by selling grapes.” The parallels of our stories move me. We have a beautiful life here that often reminds us of our life back in Caracas, Venezuela. We’re surrounded by a community of farmers, all of whom are passionate about changing the world with cannabis. I love that my daughter is going to have the most unique, rich, and socially conscious upbringing.

Sean Doyle