One of the first things Patrick Frakes, COO of Rair Cannabis, says to me is, "If you've been to other grows before, you're going to notice that we do things a bit differently. Rair is our name for a reason."
Before meeting Patrick, I was already a believer in cannabis. I've witnessed firsthand its life-changing medicinal value, and the economic benefits of both recreational and medical sales are hard to ignore.
I also was no virgin to the world of cannabis growing, having seen some impressive (and underwhelming) operations since legalization. All of those were supposedly different, too, but they were largely interchangeable—just like their products.
So, what was Rair doing that was truly new?
"First," Patrick says, "We have mostly women in key leadership roles, managing everything from how we grow and process to how we market. That's rare."
He's right. It is a male-dominated industry. As a new mother to a daughter, he has my attention.
Patrick continues to speak about Rair's science-based approach to growing and processing, which results in higher quality, better tasting products. But I can't help thinking about his leadership team. I want to meet the women who are helping Rair live up to the name.
That team—Ashley Hubbard, Marley Hodson and Molly McFadden—are all innovators in their own right. They've come from different, if not unlikely, backgrounds to change Michigan's cannabis industry from the ground up.
Ashley, the head of growing operations, takes over from Patrick as we don our Tyvek suits. She's an industry veteran, transplanted from a successful grow in Colorado. She's quick to point out the painstaking care she and Rair have taken to build a cannabis company that's unlike any other in Michigan.
As we step inside a room equipped with forced air jets to remove contaminants, I'm struck by how many measures are in place to ensure consistency and quality—and I haven't even seen a plant yet. The word "care" comes to mind over and over.
It's vital to the quality of the products, she explains. So is Rair's growing method, a one-of-a-kind aeroponic process that constantly monitors and adjusts to what each plant needs, ensuring optimal health.
Healthy plants yield healthy cannabis, which means a better, more consistent experience. As she carefully lifts a plant from its pot to expose the long, pristine white tangle of roots, I immediately understand.
Ashley walks me through their process, which is about slowing everything down, concentrating all the good things in cannabis. As she speaks, her expertise is clear. So is her passion for the plants and their incredible differences.
This same feeling continues as we meet with Marley, who leads the laboratory and is in the middle of producing distillate. She excitedly shows us a small glass dish of perfect little diamonds.
"Do you dab?" Marley asks. "These are incredible quality! You need to dab ..."
She takes a moment to explain what she's working on, how she can tease out the smallest flavor profiles and shape the effects into something spectacular. Striving for perfection.
"You need to dab," Marley says again as Molly intercepts the tour. Molly is the "she" behind everything.
"So, what do you think?" Molly asks.
What I think? Rair is indeed more than just a name. And it's clear who makes it happen.
Rair has dispensaries and delivery in Big Rapids, Muskegon and Bay City. For more information about or to order products, visit Rair.
Written by Sjonne' Badgerow.
Courtesy of Rair.
Photo courtesy of Rair.