Carver Family Farm was the first micro-producer of cannabis in Albuquerque to gain their growing license. Now, it’s full steam ahead for business partners Andrew Brown, Erika Hartwick Brown and Mathew Muñoz as the Friday, April 1 start date for recreational cannabis sales has passed, and they opened up their odorless storefront.
Passionate about providing clean, organic cannabis, they settled on no-till organic growing as the best option for them in their own personal medical growth, according to Hartwick Brown. All of their product is currently grown in-house through the no-till organic method, including their flagship “Carver” strain, which Hartwick Brown said helps her personally with her migraines.
Brown and Hartwick Brown got their personal medical production licenses together and have been growing since 2009. They teamed up with family friend Muñoz as fellow lovers and advocates of cannabis. Muñoz, chief innovation and finance officer, was instrumental in the process of infiltrating the “red tape” necessary to sell recreationally.
Hartwick Brown began using cannabis medically when she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2008. She then began seeing Brian Krum, a New Mexico therapist and long-time medical cannabis advocate, who recommended medical cannabis to her. She has not looked back since.
Brown has been making glass art and “functional glass” for 26 years under the name “Carver B,” a moniker he earned from his unique method in which he carves into glass with a diamond-encrusted blade. The name Carver Family Farm was created in an effort to cross-market between the two communities with their logo being based on a pendant created by Brown.
Brown has been involved in growing since he was a teenager. He currently serves as the company’s chief cultivation officer and is incredibly passionate about the plant and the horticulture behind it.
“When you get into it, there’s a subculture. There’s people who are helping you with the science of it. There’s people who are helping you push the limits of your understanding. There’s people helping you understand crossbreeding. I’m just extremely passionate about it,” Brown said.
Though cannabis is his first choice as a gardener, Brown also loves all varieties of horticulture and likes to grow tomatoes and cacti. Some of his cacti propagations are for sale at the store, along with locally made functional glass, a few of his own included.
Prior to the creation of the company, Muñoz was working in the University of New Mexico’s governmental relations department. Brown said the two waited for years for recreational cannabis legislation to clear before finally proceeding with the business plan.
“I grew up, as a lot of teenagers do, smoking cannabis, did it through college. It’s always been part of my life … When Colorado legalized it, Washington legalized, and then seeing all the other states going forward going fully legal, it was just a fascinating policy perspective for me to follow. It’s a really interesting policy area because it’s fresh; it’s new. It’s not your typical land-use policy, your higher-ed policy. It was just something that was out of the blue,” Muñoz said.
All three agreed the licensing process required to get the business up and running was incredibly strenuous, particularly the regulations put up by the city of Albuquerque, including thorough outlines of security, growing and social equity plans along with background checks.
“The biggest hurdle in order for most cannabis businesses to get over in order to get into this industry has been the city (regulations) … It was a lot of stress, getting up to that point. It’s just been red tape after red tape. I mean, they were building the airplane as they were flying it,” Muñoz said.
The trio was excited to begin selling, though understandably nervous for all of the unknowns that come with the territory after years of stigmatization and criminalization of the plant.
“For me, it’s amazing just to have a retail space where we can talk about other people’s experience, what they think, their opinion, what it did for them. There’s just so much you weren’t allowed to do before,” Brown said.
Hartwick Brown is particularly excited to reintroduce older generations who grew up around much stigma surrounding cannabis back to the plant, both medically and recreationally.
“I’m excited to bring people who had a real appreciation for it before it became über-taboo to get reintroduced to it and feel like they have a safe place to ask ‘stupid questions’ because they feel like they haven’t been part of the scene, and to bring it back into people’s lives,” Hartwick Brown said.
Zara Roy is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @zarazzledazzle