Indoor cannabis growers have always been a pretty resourceful bunch, particularly when it comes to the rudimentary carpentry, framing, duct, electrical, and irrigation work that traditionally needed to be done to keep the average semi-legal to not-so-legal grow op functioning efficiently and somewhat stealthily.
This was mostly out of necessity in those darker days of prohibition as it was nearly impossible and rather risky to find skilled tradesmen in those fields who would be willing to skirt landlord and/or inspector approval for such a “remodel” and would be cool knowing what is quite obviously happening or is about to happen.
Some of the most incredible cannabis we ever grew or smoked came from situations like that but it’s fair to say that if you have to spend nearly as much time camouflaging your grow as you can spend optimizing it, there is probably room for improvement in both the quantity and the quality of the buds you are yielding at harvest.
Today, in 2019, the regulated cannabis market here in California leaves very little wiggle room for Do-It-Yourselfers and even less for unpermitted improvements. When it comes to legal cannabis cultivation, everything must be by the book. Which book? Well, there are several books really, in the form of state-level regulatory agencies and local level lawmakers, all of whom must be satisfied before you can plant a seed or plug in a light.
To complicate matters, Prop 64 gave every municipality in the state the power to craft their own cannabis-related rules and ordinances. As a result, nearly 75% of counties in the state currently do not allow for any commercial cannabis activity, including cultivation. This de facto ban blanketing large swaths of the state has led to increased competition and demand for the handful of licenses being issued in more progressive jurisdictions. This rush has produced a new crop of cannabis “consultants”, many of whom have never planted that seed, or plugged in a light, or swung a hammer, or really given much consideration at all to cannabis until it became a legal commodity.
Stories of such snake oil salesmen are all too common these days and have made many legacy cultivators wary of seeking outside help to slice through all of the red tape associated with becoming and remaining compliant in their quest to legally grow the plant they love growing. Even if you happen to find the ideal consultant to help guide you through the bureaucracy, have you found a building that will meet all specifications? Have you found a contractor that can transform that building into a compliant and efficient grow site? Have you sourced all of the optimal hardware for the buildout?
The Beard Bros. were recently faced with all of those questions, and more, concerning a potential project in Coalinga, California. Once they met Matt Machado, though, only one question remained – when can we start working together?
LAYING THE FOUNDATION
In the early-to-mid-2000s, Matt Machado spent most of his days sweating under the California sun working in high-end residential construction until the bottom fell out of that market in 2008 with the nationwide housing collapse and the recession that followed.
Armed with an Ag Business Marketing degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Machado took his talents to work for a massive corporate entity called Baker Hughes essentially as a “chemical doctor” in the oil fields of Kern County in Cali. Those chemicals kept massive amounts of cash flowing and Machado’s pivotal role in that process ensured that plenty of that cash flowed his way. Money though, as we all know, doesn’t buy happiness and the corporate life was not cutting it so in 2015 Machado left it all behind, looking to build a more satisfying life. “I was looking for something more,” he says now, looking back, “but I didn’t know what that ‘more’ was yet.”
In that summer of 2015, Machado was helping to shore up the accounting side of two of his father’s companies when he ran into an old friend who had a new hustle. His buddy preached about the recently passed MMRSA (Medical Marijuana Regulation & Safety Act) which aimed to regulate – and, in theory, add legitimacy to – the state’s 20-year old medical marijuana market that had operated in a legal grey area for so many years. His friend needed a contractor who could build out a state-of-the-art production facility for his new upstart cannabis company.
Inspired, Machado returned to his roots. Combining years of building experience with his specialized college degree, Matt Machado Construction, Inc. (MMC) was born. Matt would soon come to realize, though, just how important those years in Corporate America would prove to be as well.
By April of 2016, MMC was a fully licensed entity with the state of California but by then Matt had been trying his hand at a different type of building. Brick by brick, city by city, he and his partners had discovered a talent for constructing pro-cannabis coalitions in an ongoing battle to open up the state for cannabis-related business by opening the eyes of local lawmakers to MMRSA, the new law of the land.
Their first validating victory came that same year in the traditionally conservative community of California City, where Machado and two partners were able to convince the powers that be to rewrite their local cannabis laws to match the language contained in MMRSA. Not only did Machado gain invaluable experience in seeing how those early days of local permitting would play out, but he also discovered a new talent and a new passion as an outspoken advocate for the cannabis plant.
Let’s not get it twisted, 2015 was definitely not the first time that Machado had heard of, or took interest in, cannabis. Anyone who attends Cal Poly can likely attest to some exposure to weed, and Machado’s “exposure” while enrolled was substantial, smoking on the finest attic and basement-grown buds that the Central Coast had to offer. Aside from his decade working in the oil fields, the plant has played a role in most of Machado’s life and knowing how he was able to balance it with his own accomplishments, he finds it easy to speak on the plant’s behalf anytime the opportunity arises.
Machado’s experience advocating in front of skeptical citizens, community groups, city councils, and law enforcement taught him how to speak positively and honestly about pot, rather than resorting to doom and gloom or promises of cure-alls or endless riches. A migraine-sufferer himself, Machado finds medicinal relief in cannabis but he learned early on in his advocacy quest that far more people can relate to the fact that it is simply equal parts enjoyable and harmless.
Machado realized that if that approach could work in California City, it could work elsewhere. He and his partners’ success there became a template that they could then overlay on any municipality that seemed to be even relatively receptive to MMRSA and a more regulated medical marijuana market. Such info was not as readily available then as it is now, but Machado became an expert researcher on the topic and he and his partners were soon blazing trails in their dusty pickup trucks looking to clear the air in city council meetings across the state.
ADVOCACY TO TURNKEY
Once Machado realized that he had established a viable strategy to get cannabis regulation onto the agenda of not only California City, but in counties and cities up and down the state, he studied past, current, and pending decisions on the topic in each individual municipality in search of his next target for reform.
That search turned up an article about the small farming town of Coalinga, California where a long-shuttered prison was sold to a cannabis company faced by Damian Marley for over $4 million. That sale relieved the town of well over $3 million in debt which, as you might imagine, made the decision-makers there a bit more receptive to the sort of pitch Machado was looking to give.
Using the mainstream legitimacy of his construction business as a foot in the door with the city of Coalinga, Machado learned that an MMRSA-related ruling was expected that very same week so he hit the road. Sure enough, the ordinance was passed putting Coalinga on the right side of history and providing a spark for an otherwise stagnant real estate market.
Of course, MMRSA evolved into the MCRSA and then evolved again into MAUCRSA, the placeholder before the storm that is AUMA/Prop 64. Got that? Not confusing at all, right? The past five years of cannabis reform in California have been a roller coaster but Machado’s admittedly overactive brain thrived in that chaos and in the process he discovered a real talent for navigating it all.
Pooling his resources and his courage in that chaos, Machado was able to obtain licensing from the city and state for cultivation, extraction, distribution, and transportation for a company called Next Green Wave. On April 19th in 2018, MMC turned their first shovelful of dirt on the new build site for Next Green Wave and 11 short months later the company turned the key on their brand new 36,000 square foot, 950 light cultivation facility.
In the early spring of this year, as Machado was putting the finishing touches on that project, the Beard Bros. Bill and Jeff crossed his path as they explored Coalinga for potential opportunities. When opportunity turned into reality for the Bros., contracting Matt for the buildout was a non-negotiable plank of the agreement.
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
Matt Machado Construction began the new Beard Bros. Pharms buildout on September 16th of this year and currently stands at about 40% completion. The final operation will be roughly 5,000 square feet and will feature 150+ double-ended HID lights and DPS foam paneling throughout. The system will be controlled by TrolMaster products provided by MangoTech and the plants will be fueled by Heavy16 nutrients.
“This project is built with integrity and it’s built with love that’s the product that we deliver and it coincides with who Bill and Jeff are and what they represent. It’s exciting to be involved in this,” says Machado. “When guys like that go to bat for me, that’s when I really shine because I will not let them down so I have rallied my team and we are going to give them a badass product.”
He estimates that Beard Bros. Pharms could be growing again as early as April of 2020 (that means you could be seeing Beard Bros. Extreme Cream on dispensary shelves by August! Rejoice!)
Although he does not have another construction project lined up yet, Machado is once again looking to level up using the experience he has gained in this most recent chapter of his life. Building on his solid foundation of advocacy and legislation, research and education, and a can-do work ethic handed down by his father, Matt Machado has formed a new company, an off-shoot of MMC, named Armada.
“Armada is a turnkey consultation service,” explains Machado, “from the earliest stages of advocacy to construction consultation, to cultivation advice. We can take you through the licensing, design, permitting and engineering phases, through construction and into your startup phase, and then help you to keep the facility staffed, maintained, and operational.”
Much like his duty as a general contractor but with a much wider reach for resources, Machado can call on everyone from lawmakers to laborers to legacy cannabis operators to get your project rooted in success.
Matt Machado’s unique ability to walk the line between the often contentious and confusing cannabis landscape and the often contentious and confusing political one makes him a valuable asset to anyone looking to build their own legacy in California cannabis.
To learn more, you can contact Matt Machado Construction, Inc. / Armada at www.mattmachadoconstruction.com