//California Top Crop: It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock a grow.

California Top Crop: It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock a grow.

 By Dave Fountinelle | dave@fresnoflyer.com

To appreciate the vision of Woodlake-based cannabis company California Top Crop, it helps to understand a little about the modern history of cannabis in California.

For over seventy years, California has held the reputation of being one of the premier producers of high-grade cannabis – a reputation carried primarily by a region of the state known as the “Emerald Triangle.” Comprising three adjoining counties – Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino – the triangle was the largest cannabis-producing region in the United States. Since California adopted Proposition 64 in 2016, which legalized adult recreational cannabis use and sparked the dawn of a new commercial industry, the entire state has been turning green from a wave of cannabis investments. The Central Valley is on track to becoming one of the hottest areas in California for this new market to flourish.

In the years since the passage of Prop. 64, the Central Valley has experienced a “green rush” of businesses seeking to capitalize on some of the state’s cheapest and most abundant real estate. At the same time, many Valley communities have been eager to welcome these businesses and forge strong relationships with cannabis entrepreneurs. One community that has been on the forefront of cannabis investment is the town of Woodlake, which was among the first Valley towns to approve recreational cannabis licenses for retail and production. Their willingness to work with cannabis businesses has been mutually beneficial, bringing in good-paying jobs, revenue, and community investment. In doing so, Woodlake has set an example of how embracing the cannabis industry can be a true boon for the Valley economy.

One of the companies making waves in Woodlake is California Top Crop. In just under a year of operation, California Top Crop has placed its high-quality cannabis products in over 60 locations across the state. An impressive feat for any business, the accomplishment is made all the sweeter by the fact that California Top Crop is literally built from the ground up by the owners’ very own hands.

“Our blood, sweat, and tears are seriously in every beam, wall, and piece of equipment in this building,” Co-Owner Chad Whited beams proudly.

The result of that sweat equity is California Top Crop’s fantastic ten-thousand-square-foot warehouse facility. It is insulated well enough to keep inside temperatures in the low 70s, even as Valley summers push the mercury into the 110+ range. Moreover, it’s rigged up with an integrated electronics network that could have come straight out of a decommissioned space shuttle. The quality of construction would be impressive coming from any of the biggest cannabis corporations in the state. That three determined friends constructed it with help from a handful of contractors is nothing short of amazing.

The attention to detail and uncompromising quality are for a good reason. California Top Crop seeks to set itself apart from the big hitters in the cannabis industry by proving there’s a space for top-shelf, small-batch growers to thrive. The team produces high-end cannabis products for discerning consumers looking for quality over quantity. 

Whited describes California Top Crop as a “farm to dispensary” company.

“What that means is we grow and process everything here in our facility. Then we package and deliver every order to the dispensaries personally,” Whited explains. “This way we can guarantee that every single California Top Crop product is the highest quality. Otherwise, we wouldn’t put our name on it.”

“For us, it’s really all about respecting the cannabis culture and remembering how we all got to this point,” Co-Owner Jack Aldridge says.

With much the same spirit that spawned a booming microbrewery industry that has peacefully and profitably coexisted with juggernauts like Anheiser Busch and Coors, California Top Crop hopes to prove that independent, high-quality cannabis producers can carve out their own space in the retail market alongside industry-dominating brands like Cookies and Stiiizy.

It is a concept that grew from a humble seed planted by three friends many years ago.

“We all came from different professional backgrounds that gave us each a unique perspective on the cannabis industry.” Parker explains, “And when we saw medicinal cannabis legislation gaining traction, we jumped in with both feet.”

It wasn’t long after CA Prop. 215 passed – the medicinal marijuana act –  that Parker, Whited, and Aldrige were already adeptly navigating the medicinal cannabis industry and refining their craft. When Prop. 64 hit the ballot, the trio knew that the window of opportunity to get in and make a foothold for themselves in this new market would be incredibly small. Every large cannabis corporation in the US and Canada would be flocking to California to snatch up as much of the pie as possible and chasing away any small, independent entrepreneurs trying to get a bite. 

“It was an all or nothing moment,” Parker shares. “We couldn’t afford to hesitate, either we were all in, or we were out. So we went all in. And that’s when California Top Crop was born.”

The “Prop. 215 era” could be loosely compared to the early gold rush days in that the industry’s growth and success moved faster than regulators could keep up. By the time legislators passed Prop. 64, state officials had learned from their mistakes. They had prepared a daunting amount of fees, tax laws, and regulations for anyone who wanted to try their hand at the recreational market. Enter Kamee Whited. “When Chad became a Co-Owner of California Top Crop, he asked me to research the newly adopted regulations for the cannabis industry. I began researching and quickly realized that in order for California Top Crop to succeed, they needed someone to dedicate themselves full-time to keep up with the ever-changing state and county regulations,” Kamee explains.

And with that, Kamee became California Top Crop’s compliance officer, systems manager, accountant, and HR manager.

The founding trio have managed to form an adventuring party that would be the envy of any gaming nerd. Brandon and his team have logged thousands of hours on the road promoting California Top Crop products to dispensaries all over the state, accomplishing the impressive feat of landing over 60 accounts in their first year. Chad is the architect, using the knowledge gained from years in the construction industry to design and build their warehouse headquarters. He brings the same attention to detail and high-quality standards to every grow cycle and strain they develop. Jack is the mad scientist in the group. He does his best work using washers, freeze dryers, and hot presses to cook up some of the most potent concentrates on the market, bar none. 

Even with years of experience under their collective belts, what the team at California Top Crop has managed to accomplish in its first year of business is remarkable. They made a bet that there was a significant enough customer demand for top-shelf, locally-grown cannabis products that California Top Crop could fill that niche successfully without getting run over by the corporate giants. So far, that bet has been paying off.

California Top Crop cannabis products are available in over 60 dispensaries statewide, including Token Farms (Tulare), Herb n Joy (Hanford), and more. For more information about California Top Crop products and where to find them, follow them on Instagram @californiatopcrop, or visit their website www.californiatopcropcannabis.com.