By Traci Dial
It has more security cameras than your average bank and you won't find it on any map. Our cameras got an exclusive first look inside one of the inland northwest's mega-grow marijuana businesses.
Inside Experience Organics in rural Benton County is up to 200 pounds of legally and organically grown marijuana.
"It starts with having healthy plants to start with, then we take what we call clones off of them which is just cutting to reproduce the same plants over and over again," said head grower, Sean Gillette. He has more than 2 years of experience growing legal marijuana. He started on the medical side and said he is one of the lucky ones.
"A lot of the best growers that were growing in medical, they didn't have you know a million dollars to start an operation," explained Gillette.
There are eight people total working at Experience Organics. Gillette is training two apprentice growers from the ground up. The man behind the operation is a west side businessman who was looking to capitalize on this budding industry. He picked the east side of the state for growing for a reason.
"The power is less expensive," head grower Gillette explained. "We also have a lot of property to work with. So those are some things producers on the west side can't benefit from."
Experience Organics has what the state calls a Tier Three license.
"That's 30,000 square feet of canopy space. We're using about a fifth of that right now so we have time to grow into that," said Gillette.
There are dozens of legal marijuana growing businesses in rural Benton County alone. But where are they? Well, they're kept private and hidden for a reason.
"We're at a little over 40 cameras and it's all mandated by the Liquor Control Board," said Experience Organics' Media and Marketing representative, Nick Cruz.
The cameras aren't allowed to have any blind spots and Experience Organics must keep 45 days of continual footage on site.
"This is a lot of money sitting around as far as product goes and a lot of these operations are large scale. It's in place for a reason and it's something that's definitely necessary," said Cruz.
Experience Organics takes give months to get a crop to market. They expect to produce 90 to 100 pounds for market a month.
"We will be focusing the majority of our efforts on the west side. It's a bigger demographic, a lot larger market and we're able to capitalize on the tourists that are coming into Washington specifically for cannabis," said Cruz.
Experience Organics is trying to break into the local retail market but there just aren't as many stores. They do have deals set up with Altitude in Prosser and Happy Times in Yakima.