Episode 12 - Bloom Farms Shows that Cannabis can Change the World
Mike Ray of Bloom Farms is a man with a mission.
The go-go green rush isn't exactly filled with do-gooders these days. But in my travels I have found a cohort of men and women who are reaching beyond the almighty dollar to create businesses that create value for owners but also create real value in the world. It’s heartening.
At first glance Bloom Farms, is a company that sells great oils and vape pens. But the founder, Mike Ray, is a man with a mission. Having grown up in Calaveras County, one of the poorest regions of California, on the 200-acre Bloom Farm that his folks bought in the 1970s, he left to find his fortunes as a Wall Street trader. But after a decade of weathering the tech turn down, the 2008 recession, and the brutish assholism of the sharks in that sector, he hung up his hat and headed back home to explore the world of cannabis.
He was betting that CA voters would legalize the plant and that they wanted more than just the Cheech and Chong stoner experience. He also knew that a lot of rural Californians, despite living in America’s breadbasket, go hungry. That’s why today every Bloom Farms product sold buys a meal for a person in need--to date Bloom Farms has bought over 500,000 meals to people whose bellies are not full.
But there’s more to this story. The less sexy, but important, side has to do with safety. Since there are no regulations guarding manufacturing processes of cannabis oils consumers are in the dark about how their products are produced. A lot of makers use butane or hexane, known carcinogens, to extract oils, claiming that the toxins are cooked off in the process. This may be true, there is no assurance and many of us don’t want to take the risk. The way around this is to use CO2 extraction, which is proven safe and which Bloom Farms has ridden to success.
The sexier part of the Bloom Farms story involves strain specific oils and beautiful products such as the rose gold vapor pen, an inhalation device so attractive that it catches the eye of even those who have no interest in the plant.
Mike and I spoke at his Oakland, CA HQ about good products that are also doing some good in the world.