Mike Jennings is an intriguing gentleman. He is a legacy grower and cannabis afficianto, from childhood up. His father (pictured here) was a legacy grower in the industry- before it was legalized. That’s OG! Mike is no newcomer to the business, it’s part of his DNA. And the enjoyment of cannabis? Mike has the chops, it’s crystal clear by examining his plants. The Next Green Wave crushes the competition. But why let me tell the entire story before we’ve even started? May I please present Mike Jennings, CEO of Next Green Wave. Cheers!
WB: What brought you to the cannabis business? What did you do originally?
Mike Jennings=MJ: From day 1 cannabis has been in my blood. My father grew and sold commercially in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s up until I was born in 1975, and then continued for some years on a smaller scale after that. From as early as I can remember my dad was growing, selling and smoking cannabis; I couldn’t have been more than 4 or 5 and I remember walking into the hothouse (greenhouse in old school parlance) attached to the side of our farm house off of my bedroom and it being full of big, green sticky plants in big white buckets. From the ground the plants were taller than I was and all I remember is loving the smell… I’ve always loved the smell of cannabis. So fast forward a little to 1998 and since then I’ve been growing, breeding and selling cannabis in the California medical market. However, during that time I received an education, owned and operated many other businesses, at one point even attending law school because I wanted to be a lawyer. But ultimately my heart was always in cannabis and I have been drawn back to it over and over again.
WB: Do you have a mentor?
MJ: Not really. It’s very difficult to get any helpful information in the cannabis cultivation game, especially back in the day. You have to remember, predating the internet and Youtube (I’m not kidding, I’ve been in the game that long) the only IP a new grower could get their hands on were poorly written grow books from ‘has beens’ that never knew how to commercially grow in the first place. So the only information available to us were empty anecdotes and useless peripheral grow tips. The only real, valuable resources available to us at that time would be directly from the Og successful growers, but there was only one problem: Back then they kept their trade secrets to themselves. I mean think about it, if there are no other resources other than a select few who are actually doing it and making a ton of money in the process why would they help some new guy like me out? So no, no mentors for me… I had to learn the hard way every step of the way.
WB: Did you always want to do what you do today?
MJ: I could say yes, but that would betray the fact that I ever thought it could be possible to be the CEO of a public cannabis company. For me growing up, any form of cannabis legalization seemed so far in the future that I couldn’t imagine it not being illegal; in 1996 when prop 215 passed I was already 21. In that context I never imagined the chance would present itself in the way it has over the last 5 or 6 years. In fact, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if not for complete legalization in Canada and the subsequent explosion of capital into cannabis based business models, so in that context I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
WB: Who inspired you?
MJ: I’d have to say my father because he instilled in me all of the traits necessary to succeed and inspired me to be the man I am today. I watched him work tirelessly to grow our family farm and do whatever it took, day in and day out, to get the job done, and that made a huge impression on me early on. He taught me that you can’t expect from your partners or employees what you don’t give yourself and therefore half measures are unacceptable. So from the time I was 8 he expected me to contribute my abilities in every way possible and constantly reminded me that anything less was unacceptable, which pretty much embodies my operational business philosophy.
WB: What are your goals in business? Six and twelve month? What about the obstacles? What about stigmas?
MJ: My current goal is to continue to grow Next Green Wave into the mature, profitable company it is already becoming and expand on that business model into strategic markets. Over the next six months that means getting our extraction facility online and beginning the process of expanding our flower production capacity. Over the next twelve months I’d like to continue to focus on the CPG side of Next Green Wave by further expanding our product portfolio in the California recreational market to continue to capitalize on the rapidly growing demand for our artisanal grade products. That being said, the main obstacle we have in the short term is supply, because we are consistently 100% sold out of everything we produce, sometimes weeks in advance, so we need to expand capacity and fast. As far as stigmas go, that’s so far in my rearview mirror I don’t even see it. Honestly at this point the best thing I can do to reduce the stigma, or any other cannabis CEO for that matter, is to continue to operate the most compliant, efficient, profitable company I can, period. In those terms the only thing that’s going to remove any remaining stigmas on the cannabis space is legitimacy.
WB” Do you have a favorite food memory?
MJ: Interestingly enough, yes I do have a favorite food memory. Although the older I get the more childish it sounds to say anything is my favorite, I do have a food memory that was so off the charts amazing that I can say it is bar none my favorite: Proposing to my wife at Eleven Madison Park in New York. The entire restaurant, patrons and staff included, gave us a standing ovation. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it; I planned it months in advance and it was simply a surreal moment in my life that I will never forget and it went off flawlessly and ended in a way I could have never imagined.
7. What is your favorite strain to grow and why?
MJ: Over the years my opinion on that has changed many times, but I’d have to say that GMO Cookies is my favorite strain to grow at the moment. The strain has all of the aesthetic and quantitative qualities that matter in the game right now, and on top of that it’s the most fire smoke I’ve had in a long time, bar none. Her aroma profile is off the charts, she has great structure, she yields (both flower, hash, wax) and she hits. What more is there to say?