One thing is certain, Advanced Nutrients CEO Michael “BigMike” Straumietis cares about the cannabis community, both at home and abroad. Although the company’s been in business for 18 years, BigMike confesses, “I first started growing 34 years ago because I wanted to make money, but then I fell in love.” His adoration for the plant eventually led him to create one of the best-selling, cannabis-specific nutrient lines in the world. If you’re a cannabis grower or consumer, chances are, you’ve reaped the rewards of BigMike’s work through Advanced Nutrients.
Advanced Nutrients works with growers and cannabis industry folks in over 93 countries and the company is also one of the leaders in cannabis research, thanks to the dozens of scientists and PhDs it employs. Synonymous with the art of hydroponics, the water-based agriculture process involving nutrients instead of soil, Advanced Nutrients helps innumerable growers enhance their product to cultivate the best cannabis possible.
In addition to devoting his life to the science of growing bigger and better buds, BigMike’s hydroponic fertilizer company has gifted over a million dollars worth of Advanced Nutrients to patients, constructed a grow room for CannaMoms, and started the Holiday Heroes charity, feeding over 26,000 people in need. Between his generous donations to the Marijuana Policy Project and advocacy efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Bulgaria, BigMike and the Advanced Nutrients team are on a mission to make the world a greener place.
BigMike isn’t shy about sharing insider insight and doling out advice gleaned from his 30-plus years of maneuvering in the global marketplace. The master gardener-turned-business-guru was even kind enough to talk with MERRY JANE and share seven helpful tips for finding success in the cannabis industry.
“Always be a few steps ahead of where the industry is trending. For me, that’s looking at what our industry needs from a grower’s point of view. What will help growers and provide better quality yields, better terpenes and aroma? Review the marketplace. Pay attention to how you’re doing it, so you can forecast effectively.”
Do Your Homework
“Get in the trenches and speak to insiders who are actually conducting business at all levels. Research. Find out what is really going on. Right now, people are asking astronomical prices for products and services. You’ll find that many of these people engaging in price gouging haven’t been involved in our community for very long. They’re just in it to make a quick buck. Find out the real pricing of materials and services to avoid getting ripped off.”
Use Science to Innovate
“Science sets us apart from our competition. What most people don’t realize about Advanced Nutrients is that we are one of three who have a National Government License to grow cannabis for research purposes. You’ve got GW Pharmaceuticals in the UK, Tikun Olam in Israel, and Advanced Nutrients in Bulgaria. We’ve had a research license for 11 years and work with up to 23 PhDs, depending on how many different trials and protocols we’re running. Not only that, but they’re all professors, so we have their undergraduates writing masters and doctoral theses on the nutrients needed to grow better cannabis as well as cannabis in general. That has given us a huge advantage. When it comes to growing cannabis, we’ve got the most research in the world hands down. When it comes to the medical side, we’re probably damn close to GW. We’ve got a lot of bright scientists working with us and we’re building a super team in California. One of the things we’re doing is focusing on the cannabis genome. People say, “Oh, it was mapped out.” That was one female sativa plant. We’re mapping out the entire cannabis genus—male and female of cannabis sativa, indica and ruderalis. Once it’s mapped out, we’re giving it to our community to study.”
Put Quality First
“Do things the right way. I’ve never cut corners building my products. Others may find some of the materials I use to be cost prohibitive because the margins are extremely thin, but I don’t care. I just want to grow the best cannabis out there. That’s my goal.”
“The biggest challenge our community faces is that the mainstream has not been properly educated about marijuana. For the last 50 years, negative propaganda has been forced into their heads and shoved down their throats by our government. Their belief system is much different than those of us who are members of the community. We’ve seen the positive impact cannabis can have for a person and for our society. They haven’t. We’ve done a lot of surveying and research. What people want is a basic education about cannabis and they aren’t getting it. Let’s teach folks, and turn them into advocates.”
Get Involved in Politics
“I’m an activist. In fact, I just started Cannabis Freedom Fund and will be donating $100,000 dollars to it. Our aim is to go after political candidates at all levels of government, those who are bottlenecking the cannabis industry and keeping it from moving forward, those who are going against the will of the voters where medical and recreational use has been legalized. We have politicians using antiquated arguments that are not only incorrect, but they are not aligned with what Americans want. That’s got to stop. We need to get their attention, educate them, and remove them from office if they continue to stand in the way of progress.”
“My personal life and business life are enmeshed and I like it that way. If I’m ever not having fun with my business, then I’ll get out of it. I’m still having a ton of fun, though. Every day I get up and I’m excited to go to work. Sure, I’ve got my crappy days like everyone else. I had to cancel this year’s annual Super Bowl party, last minute, due to anti-marijuana harassment from government officials. I’ll be going after those folks shortly...So days like that, you kind of hold your head and sigh. But, I have no desire to quit working. Let’s have fun while we’re educating and growing the space!”