Missouri’s cannabis industry has become one of the most successful and rapidly expanding marijuana markets in the country. In 2023 alone, Missouri dispensaries generated more than $1.3 billion in sales at retail. While dispensaries often get the bulk of the attention from consumers and patients, the cannabis industry begins with cultivation.

With Growing the Industry, Greenway aims to highlight and introduce the individuals behind the plants that Missouri’s marijuana market is built on.

As Missouri’s cannabis industry grew in 2023, so did many of the state’s most popular brands. One of those brands is Elevate. At the heart of that success is the growing popularity and recognition of Elevate’s cannabis flower, along with a plethora of other offerings. 

In this edition of Growing the Industry, Greenway speaks with Ian Peak, Chief Operating Officer of Elevate about their growth and successes in the cannabis industry.

Born and raised in the mountains of Colorado, Ian Peak has spent the majority of the last three years in the Kansas City area working on the Elevate project, living here full-time for over a year. An outdoors type, with a passion for nature and creativity, it’s no surprise that Peak found his career path in cannabis. 

Peak’s journey in the cannabis industry began in 2010 in Colorado, where cultivation became his passion. He had the opportunity to learn and grow alongside some of the best in the industry. At that time, the cannabis industry was in its infancy, paving the way for future markets. Over the past 13 years, Peak has played a pivotal role in opening and operating nine cultivation and manufacturing facilities across six states. In the last four years, his responsibilities expanded to oversee the overall operations of these facilities. In 2023, Peak was promoted to COO for Elevate Missouri.

What came first for you, a passion for plants or cannabis?

“I would say both happened at the same time. Learning from other plants’ reactions and applying that to cannabis and vice versa has always been fun.”

How big is the Elevate grow?

“We recently expanded our footprint to double the size of what it previously was, operating just shy of 20,000 square feet of canopy space, containing about 7,000 flowering plants.”

How did recreational marijuana legalization and sales impact your operation?

“Well, pretty simply, it made us realize we had to expand and produce more. We want everyone across the state of Missouri that wants to have access to Elevate products to have that ability. We are getting there.”

A look inside the elevate cultivation facility.

What are you doing to keep up with increased demand?

“We already expanded our existing cultivation to the maximum for what that site can hold, and we are now currently in the construction phase of a new 44k square foot building in KC as well.”

Can you tell us about the new grow location? 

“We have designed this facility to the maximum. Utilizing some of the most advanced systems available, we are thrilled to get this operation going and continue to produce more beloved products to the state of Missouri. This facility will have 8 different flowering rooms, and within each of those we will continue to cater to the cultivar. We will achieve this by using specific lighting, irrigation methods, and full climate control to bring out the highest potential in each individual strain.

“Every cultivar has its own temperament, its nuances, you could say. When you can cater to this and group those cultivars that have similar characteristics/needs together, it truly will bring your cultivation to another level. We are thrilled to continue this process and will have even more capabilities at the new facility”

What information can you give me about your grow method?

“We grow in coco/perlite-based mediums, all under LED veg and flower lighting.

“There is a happy medium between simplicity and overcomplication of the cultivation process. I personally know that you can throw too many variables at the process, thinking that more is better, and losing sight of what variable was actually adjusted that made a positive or negative impact on the crop. We utilize a perfect hybrid model, in my opinion, of technology and classic farming. Relying too much on technology can leave you in a bad spot at points, whereas not utilizing the tech that is available will not bring out the fullest potential. Having a keen eye for what the plants need while verifying and cross-validating with the technology, you have a guaranteed, reliable system.”

Tell me about your genetics and what went into your selection process.

“We take a lot of pride in our genetics. Every cultivar we maintain goes through diligent testing processes to ensure unique profiles and immense stability. When we select a variety to become a ‘staple’ strain, we want to ensure it has longevity, so consumers can continue to enjoy the products time and time again. I also am a big sativa fan. They can be more difficult to properly cultivate and dial in, but once you figure them out, they are very unique and are harder and harder to find these days.”

What makes good flower?

“All of it, right? The smell, the shine, the cure.”

What makes Elevate-grown cannabis unique?

“There are many things that make Elevate-grown cannabis unique, starting with our genetics, but we also have an absolutely fantastic garden crew of extremely motivated and passionate cultivators. You can give someone the nicest guitar or car in the world, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will know how to play it or drive it. The time and energy put into the process truly shows in the final product, we have an amazing team.

“We also have a very unique, state-of-the-art curing process. The technology actually initially came from the food industry, and those products require such tight, stringent parameters to properly cure, so now we apply a similar process to our cannabis. I’ve seen it time and time again, you can have the best harvest come down, but ruin it in the dry/cure stage. We have dialed our process in and have a consistent, high-quality dry/cure week over week, no matter what the surrounding elements may be.”

Elevate

What is the biggest obstacle you face with a grow like this?

“I think our biggest obstacle will be initial commissioning and start-up of all the equipment. This is a hurdle that always needs to be done in a very aggressive time frame. That being said though, we have a great group of devoted individuals that want to learn, we will get it done.”

What’s your favorite cannabis cultivar and why?

“That’s a loaded question, they are all my favorite. If I had to pick one though it would be Headband Cookies.”

What are the most important things when growing cannabis?

“Building a team that truly cares, managing your environment, genetics, not changing more than 1 thing at a time, and last but definitely not least, patience.”

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Change, even for the better, is difficult, but it is a necessity.”

Parting wisdom or additional thoughts?

“Keep trying, if it doesn’t work the first time don’t give up. Always learn from your mistakes, and don’t make the same mistake twice.”

 

Danielle Million contributed to this piece.

The post Growing the Industry: Ian Peak of Elevate appeared first on Greenway Magazine.