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Cannabis retailer aims for 'beyond organic'

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Smells Like Quality "The industry needs a new standard for people who care about what they put in their bodies," says HerbaBuena's Alicia Rose.
  • Smells Like Quality "The industry needs a new standard for people who care about what they put in their bodies," says HerbaBuena's Alicia Rose.

HerbaBuena is back after an 18-month sabbatical spent securing funding and permits to operate in the volatile cannabis industry.

"We have a holistic vision and are setting standards for sustainable and 'beyond organic' quality," says founder and CEO, Alicia Rose.

These days it's tough to raise cash in the cannabis industry. Banks don't make loans, and there are too many state and local hoops to jump through, even for the bravest of souls. Plus, in the rapidly growing legal marketplace it's increasingly difficult for consumers to know what they're smoking. Indeed, in the absence of federal standards—the Food and Drug Administration doesn't wade into the marijuana industry, given federal cannabis prohibition—growers, distributors and merchants are flooding the market with products nobody ought to consume in any way.

That's where HerbaBuena comes in with a vision of what the industry should look like.

"There are two camps today in the cannabis world," Rose says. "In one, folks believe in money. In the other, folks believe in the plant itself. They are two opposed philosophies."

Starting in 2015, Rose ran BuenaHerba (which translates as "good herb") almost single-handedly. Two years ago Michael Straus joined the company to help with operations and public relations. She grew up on a farm and saw that organic farming could be sustainable and families could actually live off the land. He was born and reared on the Straus Family Farm in the thick of the Marin County organic food and dairy industry. She has a degree in ecosystem science and worked in the wine industry for a decade and a half. He owned and operated his own PR firm, Straus Communications, and served more than 100 clients.

While wine and milk don't mix, Rose and Straus found ways to blend their backgrounds and work together to advance the cannabis cause.

"The industry needs a new standard for people who care about what they put in their bodies," she says. He adds, "We're bringing the organic ethos, which has developed for years in the world of food, to the cannabis industry."

HerbaBuena sells high quality, biodynamic, Demeter-certified cannabis grown outdoors and harvested after a full season in the sun. Concentrates are made without chemical additive.

Rose plans to open a brick-and-mortar megastore in Santa Rosa. She describes it as a "purpose-built, immersive retail destination" that won't touch the kind of industrial, mass-produced items available all over California.

Meanwhile, online shoppers can buy from HerbaBuena's curated selection of cannabis products that includes biodynamic joints and "Quiver"—an "intimate oil" that will heat up the coldest of bodies.

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