William Simpson joined a panel of medical cannabis growers to testify to the Measure 91 Joint Committee, outlining how Chalice’s farming practices embody the high standards regulation and licensure will require. Providing a “virtual tour” of one of our farms, he covered internal security practices, tracking systems from seed to sale, best practices to minimize the harmful effects of chemicals, and the benefits of our perpetual growth method that provides consistent availability of medicine for patients.
Testimony of William E. Simpson Owner, Chalice Farms
Member, Oregon Cannabis Grower’s PAC
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of offering a tour through my grow site to several members of this committee. Today, for those of you who were unable to see that facility, not only do I invite you for a tour, I want to spend my few minutes today talking about what my site looks like in terms of security, controlling the environment, tracking our product and carefully preparing it for market.
When you first walk up to the site, the first thing you will notice is our security system. Similar to how dispensaries operate, the facility has a secure locked door only accessible to those of us who have the access code. There are cameras above the door and circling the entire building. There are motion sensors on the doors. We have a fire suppression system in place and an alarm company is notified if there is any breach of security.
The first thing you notice when you enter the facility are patient cards tacked up on the walls. We opened this facility at the same time dispensaries began operating. Prior to that I had grown for four patients and was able to provide all my product to them. But when the Legislature passed 3460 and it became clear there was a growing, legal business, we expanded our operation and now have patient cards for 12 qualified patients on our walls.
Inside that front room we also have our control center for our CannaGuard alarm system. This system allows us to control who has access to what areas of our facility. We can see who accessed what room and when they were there. This is all of course being recorded 24 hours a day. We have also added an infrared camera for the safety of our staff as when they are planning to leave after dark they can see any heat signature outside and would know if someone was waiting for them to exit.
We also have incorporated BioTrackTHC into our garden. Every plant has it’s own “social security number” and is tracked throughout its life cycle in the garden. We can log in and get all types of reports on approximate yield dates to yields. We use this system to track every gram of cannabis through the facility all the way to the dispensary so we know there isn’t any diversion of Chalice Farms Cannabis.
We also have implemented a Garden Log, which is a protocol for all garden employees. This protocol ensures safety of plants and people inside the facility as well as the health of all the plants growing. It also gives us a history on temperatures, humidity and any other relevant variant. We also have the controls for our air and water filtration systems. While not everyone uses or will use the type of high-end filtration systems, we use a commercial level reverse osmosis, carbon sediment and ultra violet bacterial sterilization system for our water. We use HEPA filters for all air coming into the facility which filters out 99.5% of all bugs, mold and mildew spores, pollen, etc. We also use high level carbon filtration on any and all air leaving the facility so that we can remain a considerate neighbor without the odors coming out of our facility. We believe these are key components in helping us to control pests, molds and other microbial enemies of our plants, as well as being a good member of our community.
Because of these systems, we are able to limit our use of any types of chemicals. If they are required, we use organic materials approved by OMRI. At no time do we use harsh and dangerous chemicals. And we believe that while some growers will resort to using harsh chemicals, you heard from a number of labs and growers last Monday that it is critical that we test for the right compounds to ensure the safest product possible.
As we move from our control and entry area into our series of grow rooms, we always put on booties. One of the easiest things growers can do to limit the entry of pests into their site is to minimize direct contact to the outdoors. Walking across the grass or gravel, people can pick up spider mites or other pests and carry them into the room. The use of booties minimizes that risk.
Once you enter the main part of the facility we have a series of rooms where the plants move from the small, four-inch vegetative state, to a second room where they are transplanted into 1-gallon pots. They are then moved into ten-gallon pots and are grown there for another six weeks. We gradually increase the intensity of the light as to not stress the plants as our ultimate goal is to have a very high quality, safe medicine for our patients and in the future the same for a recreational user. The plants then move into our Flowering area and are there for around 9 weeks (variances depend upon strains). Our method is considered a perpetual growth method and works best to have consistent availability of medicine for our patients and going into a recreational world a more stable business model that replicates closer to the beer and wine industry.
After the plants are done growing we cut and hang the plants whole to cure. Not only does this allow for a much better tracking system with our BioTrack, but it also is better for the product. We then have every plant weighed whole on a scale that is connected to the BioTrack computer system. We then break the plant down into 4 different groups, fan leaves, stalks/stems, trim, and flower. Each of these groups is reweighed and reconciled to match the starting weight of the entire plant we started with. We then record where each part of that batch goes to, whether that is our dispensaries, edible creator, or an extract maker.
Chalice Farms is really looking forward to regulation and licensure. We love and believe in this business and know for it to be successful, we must be willing to track and account for our product to ensure that we don’t have diversion into the black market. As a dispensary owner, as well as a grower, I have truly come to appreciate the regulatory system and security it brings to our much deserved industry. Someday, we believe this new and emerging industry will be similar to the thriving microbrew craft industry in Oregon.