How the self-proclaimed Farm-to-Fork Capital of America quietly blossomed into California’s boutique bud capital.
BY ED MURRIETA
Not only is Sacramento the Farm-to-Fork Capital of America, it’s California’s designer cannabis capital, home to elite cultivators whose exotic, meticulously grown plants burst with frosty trichomes, odoriferous terpenes and trippy sex appeal, marketed, priced, packaged and sometimes hard to find like estate wine and craft beer. All are multiple winners of High Times Cannabis Cup awards and cite local growing success on Sacramento’s friendly regulations, including the city-designated “green zones,” and lower rents vs. the Bay Area.
Roots in Sacramento
Launched in Sacramento in 2004 as Fruitridge Health and Wellness, Connected popularized the Cookie Fam’s Girl Scout Cookies, Gelato and Sunset Sherbert strains, all now widely copied. After growing gold with Girl Scout Cookies and rebranding as Cookies, the cultivator and retailer finally rebranded as Connected Cannabis, running dispensaries in San Francisco, Long Beach and Santa Ana from Sacramento.
Specializing in eco-friendly flowers, Michael Ish began working in and growing for his father’s medicinal cannabis dispensary, South Sacramento Care Center, in 2010. Post-legalization, Ish now grows in 6,000 square feet and is seeking a permit for an additional 10,000 square feet. “The city was working with dispensaries and grows before Prop. 64 and it attracted people to ‘safe spots’ because the city was so welcoming as long as you played by the rules,” Ish said, who also operates Symbiotic Genetics.
Roads to Sacramento
Founded in 2014 in now-fire-ravaged Redding, Alien Labs moved 160 miles south to Sacramento in 2016 due to Redding’s harsh regulations. Alien Labs grows in 10,000 square feet in one of Sacramento’s “green zones” and outdoors in adjacent Yolo County. “Sacramento was the first to offer licensure,” said Lidie, a former budtender at the capital city’s All About Wellness. “No cities offered it at the time. Sacramento’s where we always felt our home was.”
Lumpy’s CEO Josh Veal and partner Jason “Lumpy” Dias started growing in Napa County 15 years ago. They made a big impression with gassy-funky Apple Fritter six years ago. Napa’s anti-cannabis regulations drove them to Sacramento last year. Lumpy’s currently grows in half of its 25,000-square-foot facility in one of Sacramento’s city-designated “green zones.” “Sacramento is very friendly and prices are cheaper than Oakland,” Veal said. “You’re less likely to get your door kicked in by people with AR-15s. So Sacramento it is. The city has been more than helpful for us.”
A member of the original team that bred the blockbuster Girl Scout Cookies and numerous follow-up crosses, Sherbinski crafted Gelato and Sunset Sherbert, powerful strains that burst with dessert flavors, Sherbinski started growing outdoors 15 years ago in the Emerald Triangle’s Mendocino County and eventually migrated indoors in San Francisco and Oakland. Sherbinski moved to Sacramento, his hometown, in early 2017, partnered with local store Zen Gardens and currently grows in a 22,000-square-foot space.