Missouri’s marijuana market has seen explosive growth over the last year, emerging as one of the most productive and consistent cannabis markets in the country since the launch of adult use sales in 2023.

In Growing the Industry, Greenway Magazine aims to showcase the talented artisans, scientists, craftsmen, and cultivators behind the plants propelling Missouri’s thriving cannabis market; offering insights into their strategies and the philosophies that drive their operations.

In this edition, we delve into the world of CAMP Cannabis through the eyes of Reed Porter, Director of Cultivation. Porter’s journey from a profound interest in plants to a pivotal role in the cannabis industry illustrates the depth of experience and passion that defines the success of CAMP Cannabis.

Reed Porter moved to Missouri following an opportunity and a sense of adventure.

I relocated to Missouri two years ago with my wonderful fiancé, who shares a passion for the cannabis industry. Together, we’ve created a life filled with our beloved three dogs and five cats. Our adventurous spirits extend beyond our home – equipped with a camper van, we’re enthusiastic about exploring the outdoors, traveling, and making cherished memories with our furry companions and friends,” Porter said.

His connection with plants dates back to his childhood, “As a small child, I actively assisted my mom in caring for her extensive collection of over 400 house and outdoor potted plants. Additionally, my early experiences with my grandfather involved building irrigation, cultivating cacti and trees, shaping my connection with plants from a young age that extended into my adult life.”

That early interest and understanding of plants and agriculture, nurtured through hands-on experience, grew with Porter throughout his life.

“My professional journey has been deeply rooted in my early fascination with plants,” he told Greenway. “At the age of 16, I took my first job at a commercial tree nursery in Arizona, laying the foundation for my career in agriculture. Post high school, my passion for horticulture led me to pursue education in Greenhouse Management and Hydroponic Food Production. I delved into various agricultural roles, including stints in commercial beekeeping, local food production, and hydroponic equipment sales. Notably, I held multiple licenses for high plant count caregiver gardens in both Northern California and Southern Oregon after my college journey. In 2015, I entered the Arizona state-licensed cannabis industry. Since then, I’ve been involved with state-regulated cannabis programs, contributing my skills and expertise to the dynamic and evolving cannabis landscape.”

For Porter, cannabis is more than a crop; it’s a calling. He views cannabis as a multifaceted entity that has played a substantial role in his life and the lives of others. It’s a source of relief, a pathway to connection, and a means of offering others the same sense of purpose and belonging that it has given him.

Reed Porter | CAMP Cannabis

At CAMP Cannabis, Porter oversees a cultivation operation that is as meticulous as it is innovative. The facility, underpinned by 288 lights in the flowering stage, cycles through 24-36 different cultivars, emphasizing diversity and quality. Since the launch of adult use sales, CAMP has seen an uptick in interest from retail locations around the state.

“The legalization and sale of recreational cannabis has significantly impacted our operation in a positive way,” Porter continued. “The shift to adult use has expanded our market reach, leading to increased demand for our products from more dispensaries. This has allowed us to tap into a broader consumer base. However, with the positive changes in the market, there have also been challenges. Despite these obstacles, our dedicated and hardworking team has successfully navigated through them. We remain adaptable and resilient, ensuring that we meet the evolving requirements of the recreational market while maintaining our commitment to delivering high-quality cannabis products.”

The cultivation practices at CAMP Cannabis are a testament to the meticulous approach that Porter champions. Employing indoor hydroponics, LED lighting, and drip irrigation, the operation is a model of efficiency and sustainability. While data-driven decisions guide every aspect of the cultivation process, from environmental controls to nutrient management, Porter and his team still face obstacles.

The most significant challenge we face in a cultivation setup like ours is the reliability and stability of the power grid. In Controlled Environmental Agriculture, where precision and control are paramount, a power outage can have severe consequences, potentially jeopardizing the well-being of the entire operation. Being unprepared for such incidents could pose a big threat to the company’s viability,” he explained. “Moreover, the cannabis industry, characterized by its fast-paced nature, requires constant adaptability. Cultivating cannabis successfully involves being able to navigate and respond to changes quickly. Those who struggle with adapting to evolving circumstances, handling failures or losses, and finding solutions under extreme pressure may find the challenges of growing cannabis to be particularly demanding.”

It is that spirit of adaptation and resourcefulness that informs many of the decisions and focuses of Porter and the CAMP grow. Navigating the balance between market trends and grower appreciation, the CAMP team meticulously select strains that resonate with both connoisseurs and casual consumers. 

Tahoe Scotti Strain Cultivar Cola | CAMP Cannabis

What are you doing, or have you done, to keep up with increased demand?

“To keep up with the increased demand, we are strategically focusing on several key initiatives:

“Cultivar Selection: We understand the importance of cultivar selection in driving both quality and demand. By carefully choosing and rotating through a diverse range of cultivars, we aim to meet consumer preferences and maintain a high standard of product excellence.

“Expansion: Recognizing the growing demand, we have initiated expansion efforts in both cultivation and manufacturing. This involves scaling up our production capacity to ensure that we can meet the needs of the market without compromising on the quality of our cannabis products.

“By combining a thoughtful approach to cultivar selection with strategic expansion plans, we aim to not only keep up with the increased demand but also to position ourselves as a reliable and high-quality supplier in the competitive landscape of the recreational cannabis market.”

What information can you give readers about your grow method?

“Our cultivation method is centered around precision, efficiency, and data-driven decision-making within an indoor controlled environmental agricultural setting. Here are key aspects of our grow method:

“Indoor Hydroponics: We employ a hydroponic cultivation system, ensuring a controlled and optimized environment for plant growth. This method allows for precise nutrient delivery and efficient water use.

“LED Lighting: Our cultivation utilizes LED lighting technology, providing the necessary spectrum for optimal plant growth. LED lights are energy-efficient and allow us to tailor more specifically the light spectrum to specific stages of the plant life cycle.

“Drip Irrigation: We implement a drip irrigation system, enabling controlled and efficient water distribution directly to the plant roots. This method contributes to water conservation and ensures accurate nutrient delivery while driving growth strategically.

“High-Performance Approach: Like a high-performance sports athlete, our cultivation processes are fast-paced and intensive. This necessitates a high level of precision, attention to detail, and a commitment to daily excellence.

“Data-Driven Practices: All cultivation processes are guided by performance metrics and driven by data. We collect and analyze data across multiple departments, covering aspects such as environmental conditions, root zone health, canopy development, plant growth rates, harvest data, and even microbe levels. This data is crucial for making informed decisions and continuous improvement.

“Cleanliness and Industrial Hygiene: We emphasize a “part-time growers, full-time janitors” philosophy. Maintaining a clean and sanitized environment is paramount for consistency and overall cleanliness. Industrial hygiene practices play a significant role in our approach, ensuring that our facility is not only optimized for plant growth but also meets rigorous cleanliness standards.

“By integrating technology, data analytics, and a commitment to cleanliness into our cultivation practices, we aim to achieve a consistent and high-quality cannabis product while remaining adaptable to the dynamic nature of the industry.”

CAMP Cannabis Cultivation Team transfer plants

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

“Our genetic selection process is driven by a strategic mix of “hype” market trends and preferences favored by experienced growers. Recognizing the distinction between what growers appreciate versus what the average consumer enjoys, we aim to stay ahead of consumer preferences.

“In the year 2023, our focus was on providing a well-rounded selection that includes both highly sought-after “hype” strains and classic varieties known for their appeal among growers. The chosen cultivars reflect this dual approach:

Hype Strains:

Apples and Bananas
RS 11
Lemon Cherry Gelato
Cheetah Piss
Pink Certz
Gary Payton
Gasy/Funky Range:
Stray’s Little Stinkerz
Chem Dog D
Tahoe Scottie
Sour Dough
Triangle Kush

“This selection strategy allows us to cater to the evolving tastes of both growers and consumers, anticipating that what growers appreciate today often becomes the preference of the average consumer tomorrow.

“Looking ahead to 2024, we plan to continue cultivating staple strains like Sourdough, Pink Certz, and Triangle Kush while introducing new and exciting cultivars to our lineup. Our commitment to staying abreast of industry trends ensures that we provide a diverse and appealing range of genetics for our customers.”

What makes good flower?

“Good flower is a nuanced concept that goes beyond mere test results, such as THC and terpene percentages. In my perspective, the quality of flower is determined by a combination of factors:

‘Aroma and Flavor: The smell and taste of the flower are critical aspects of its quality. Aromatic, flavorful profiles contribute to a more enjoyable overall experience.

“Potency vs. Enjoyment: While potency is often emphasized, personal preferences may lean towards a more moderate THC content. Enjoyable experiences are not solely dependent on high potency, allowing for a more nuanced and pleasurable consumption with the essence of the plant and culture.

“Appearance: Personal preferences may vary, but many appreciate big, chunky, and sticky flowers. Proper drying, trimming and curing contribute to the appeal of the buds.

“Curing: Curing should be carefully managed, with a preference for a period not exceeding 20 days. Extended curing may lead to degradation in quality.

“Smooth Inhale and Exhale: A smooth smoking experience, both in terms of inhaling and exhaling, is indicative of well-balanced cultivation practices. This includes environmental conditions, nutrient balance, and the absence of late-flower spraying.

“Moisture Content: The moisture content plays a crucial role in how the flower burns. Ideal moisture levels contribute to smooth hits and even ash stacks in joints or the color when smoked in a pipe.

“Ultimately, the definition of good flower is subjective and may vary from person to person. The balance of factors like aroma, flavor, appearance, and a smooth smoking experience collectively contributes to what is considered a high-quality cannabis flower.”

Strays Little Stinkerz Strain Cultivar | CAMP Cannabis

What makes CAMP-grown cannabis unique?

“The unique qualities of our cannabis are rooted in our unwavering commitment to quality, consistency, and cleanliness. What sets our cultivation apart includes:

“Stringent Standards: We adhere to and exceed state standards, incorporating established agricultural practices into our cleanliness and cultivation protocols. This commitment to high standards ensures the production of top-tier cannabis.

“Pursuit of Perfection: Our focus on quality extends beyond compliance. We continuously strive for perfection, pushing the boundaries of good agricultural practices to achieve the highest possible standard in cultivation.

“Consumer-Centric Approach: The cannabis we grow is held to a standard that we,as cultivators, would want to consume. This personal investment ensures that every step of the cultivation process is geared towards producing a product of exceptional quality.

“Blend of Organic and Conventional Practices: Our cultivation approach involves a thoughtful blend of organic and conventional practices. This hybrid approach allows us to harness the benefits of both methods, resulting in a unique and high-quality product.

“Regulated Product Usage: We use regulated products in our cultivation processes, avoiding the use of unregulated hobbyist-level products commonly seen in commercial cannabis cultivations and local stores. This dedication to using reputable and regulated inputs contributes to the overall safety and quality of our cannabis.

“By emphasizing these key aspects in our cultivation practices, we not only meet but exceed industry standards, ensuring that the cannabis we produce is distinctive, reliable, and held to the highest standards of quality and safety.”

What does marijuana mean to you?

“The term “marijuana” personally resonates with me as a derogatory term that reflects the current era of prohibition and contributes to the dehumanization of individuals within its subculture. Beyond the negative connotations associated with the term, the plant itself holds immense significance in my life.

“For me, cannabis serves as a multifaceted vehicle that has accompanied me through various aspects of life. It’s not merely a means of sustenance through a career, but a profound passion that provides me with a sense of purpose and belonging. As a form of medication, it has been a source of relief and well-being.

“Moreover, cannabis has enabled me to extend these benefits to others. I’ve had the privilege of helping people discover career opportunities within the cannabis industry, cultivating a shared passion for plants and nature. The plant has been instrumental in providing a sense of purpose, belonging, and medical relief to those in need. I see being a steward of this plant and sharing its powerful benefits as my life’s purpose—a calling to contribute positively to the lives of others through the remarkable properties of cannabis.”

A view inside the CAMP Cannabis Cultivation facility in St. Louis, MO

What lessons have you learned from day 1 to now?

“The journey from day one until now in the cannabis industry has been rich with lessons.

“Consistency: Maintaining a consistent approach in cultivation practices has proven to be key. Consistency not only ensures the quality of the product but also builds trust with consumers. It is a cornerstone that underpins every aspect of our operation, from cultivation techniques to product quality.

“Cleanliness: The significance of cleanliness cannot be overstated. It is not only a matter of compliance but a key factor in producing high-quality cannabis. A clean environment is crucial for preventing contamination, maintaining plant health, and ultimately delivering a product that meets the highest standards.

“Adaptability: The cannabis industry is dynamic, and the ability to adapt has been a critical lesson. Being open to change, whether due to regulatory shifts, market trends, or unforeseen challenges, has been essential. Adaptability allows for continued growth and success in an ever-evolving landscape.

“These lessons, rooted in agricultural principles, have been applied consistently and have become ingrained in the daily operations. They serve as guiding principles that contribute to the ongoing success and resilience of the cultivation operation.”

What are some pet peeves you have related to cannabis, growing, knowledge, or otherwise?

“Misinformation to Consumers: The lack of accurate information reaching consumers. The notion that test results alone equate to quality, or the oversimplified classification of cannabis into Indica and Sativa categories, are examples of misinformation. Dispensaries promoting such inaccuracies for sales can mislead consumers.

“Lack of Control Over Effects: Debunking the myth that growers have complete control over the effects, THC percentage, smell, and flavor potential is crucial. Emphasizing the role of genetic potential and the grower’s ability to maximize it, along with consistent cultivation practices, helps set realistic expectations.

“Myth of ‘Frosty’ Weed Equals Potency: The misconception that the frostiness of the trichomes directly correlates with potency is debunked. It’s essential to highlight that the genetic potential of the trichome, and not the frostiness, determines the potency of cannabis. Acknowledging the appeal of frosty weed while emphasizing genetic factors can contribute to a more informed consumer base.”

What are the most important things when growing cannabis?

“Quality: Prioritizing quality involves cultivating cannabis that meets high standards in terms of appearance, aroma, flavor, and overall potency. This not only satisfies consumer expectations but also establishes a positive reputation for the cultivation operation. Quality cannabis equates to quality time.

“Consistency: Consistency is crucial for maintaining a uniform and reliable product. Whether it’s the cultivation techniques, environmental conditions, or harvesting processes, consistency ensures that each batch meets the established standards, fostering trust among consumers.

“Cleanliness: Cleanliness is a fundamental aspect of cannabis cultivation, impacting both product quality and compliance. A clean environment minimizes the risk of contamination, pests, and diseases. It also contributes to the overall health of the plants, supporting robust growth and optimal cannabinoid and terpene production.”

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

“The most impactful advice I’ve received is that in the tight-knit community of the cannabis industry, where connections are pivotal and everyone is just a phone call away, your reputation is the number one currency.”

Porter left the interview with the same spirit of adventure and thirst for passion that he entered with, leaving us with one final thought.

“While the cannabis plant is truly remarkable, remember to explore life beyond it. If cultivating cannabis is a passion, consider expanding your horizons by growing various other plants and crops. Embrace the challenge of diversifying your cultivation skills. The knowledge gained from this broader experience will undoubtedly enrich your understanding and proficiency when you return to the art of growing cannabis.”

The post Growing the Industry: Reed Porter of CAMP Cannabis appeared first on Greenway Magazine.