Grower: Phat Panda
Location: Spokane Valley, Washington
Owner: Robert McKinley, CEO, Johnny Wilson, vice president. (The interview below is with Johnny Wilson)
How did you get into this industry: “My best friend (McKinley) from high school asked me if I wanted to go in on a business project,” Wilson said. “He’s never smoked weed in his life, but he’s a guy who knows how to run a business very well.”
Wilson, on the other hand, is an avid long-time smoker. He said he jumped at the chance to join the fledgling industry.
“I’ve been smoking a good long time, maybe 20 years,” Wilson said. “We grow top shelf cannabis. And what we really want our company to be about is relationships, customers, great products and transparency.”
What sets your farm apart from others: “The obvious thing is our branding, but there’s more to us than that,” Wilson said. “Our facility, for instance, is top notch. We have maximum light penetration, extremely clean production and amazing quality. Our people are also some of the best in the business.”
Beyond that, the company also prides itself on its strain genetics, he said.
“We had, when we came into I-502, a really strong focus on genetics, and on tracking down very solid stable genetics,” Wilson said.
As an example, he noted the company’s popular Golden Pineapple strain – it’s a strain that was developed for medical use in Southern Oregon. The company looked at several similar strains prior to startup, but the genetics of that particular Golden Pineapple was superior – and the flavor is consistently amazing, Wilson said.
Lighting method: High pressure sodium.
Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor grower, tier 3. “We’re the first indoor facility tier 3 to be completely built out – at least I’m 99 percent sure of that.”
The company started with 16 rooms, and now has 26 of them – with 29,550 feet of canopy space.
Pesticides: “We do use pesticides, but they’re all state compliant and we only use them as needed. Trace Analytics just did an independent pesticide test of our products and we passed with no residuals.”
Soil/Growth medium: Coco Coir
Signature strains: OG Chem, Golden Pineapple, P91 F?#K Yeah, Platinum Girl Scout Cookies, Bubba’s Gift, Gorilla Glue.
Other strains or products of note: “Keep an eye out for ‘Hot Sugar’ – that’s our new line of edibles, and ‘Panda Pens’ – which is our new line of vapes. They’ll be in stores very soon!”
What would you like to see next as the industry evolves: “I would like everybody to learn what terpenes are, and also to know why THC percentage isn’t the best way to pick a cannabis strain, because terpenes and other cannabinoids play such an important role.”