The HempList #39: Hemp Prerolls: Common Questions & Building A Distribution Network w/ Hemp Rolls

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In Summary

David Powers & Hemp Rolls joins us on the HempList this week, hosted By Chase Nobles, Founder of

Hemp Rolls has grown in the last few years and currently is distributed in over 30 states and produces around 7 thousands hemp prerolls a day. David, the CEO of Hemp Rolls discusses everything prerolls on this HempList podcast. What is the shelf life a preroll? Do different Cannabinoids change the preroll / rolling process? How do you source the best flower for prerolls?! All these questions and more answered here!

Transcript (auto-generated)

all right and we’re live chase nobles
here founder over at i’ve got
david powers on the show with us today
for another episode of the hemp list
welcome to the show david
thanks for having me chase how you doing
today i’m doing well
doing well uh calling out of chattanooga
tennessee you know i’m a
i’m a good old boy from knoxville um
what’s it like down there in chattanooga
how’s the hemp industry tennessee went
through a little bit of a rough year
two years ago with a lot of growers
growing a lot of crop and uh
not enough buyers in the space but uh
how’s it been for you all
uh doing what you do yeah you kind of
hit it right on the
nail right there um 2019 tons of people
enter the industry after the
farm bill passed and you know we had 3
500 plus growers growing and you know
you still see a lot of that product on
the market today
kind of sitting in barns storehouses um
what you saw was a lot of people eager
and saw the opportunity there but
unfortunately lack the resources the
prerequisite knowledge to
you know properly drive properly cure it
um tennessee is really hot and humid
especially in the summer so when you’re
pulling plants down late august
early september october you still have a
lot of humidity unless you have a really
you know high-end facility then you run
the risk of mold unfortunately
um for us however not being farmers um
that’s kind of our main business being
parole makers we’ve been able to
you know stay in business by picking and
choosing the people we work with to
that we’re getting products free of mold
heavy metals pesticides so we can kind
of stay afloat and
there’s no lack of hemp out here it’s
just picking and choosing
you know who you want to work with and
where the quality is no i believe that
you’ve got to be the farmer’s best
being the ones that are actually you
know buying some weight putting into
pre-rolls and getting to market
now how have you gone about that in such
supply-heavy side market how do you go
about picking the farms that you work
with because you’re like you said you’re
not doing any of the growing yourself
what what goes into choosing the flower
that you end up putting into your
pre-rolls at the end of the day
it really goes um kind of a two-pronged
approach so we offer a lot of white
label services so
if a customer reaches out to us and they
need our services to roll pre-rolls um
they typically send their flower but on
the other side of that we have a retail
with our hemp rolls with our hemp
cigarettes and pre-rolls and blunts and
other finished goods that
we typically you know partner with some
people at oregon esport collective is a
great company
usually have usda certified organic
outside of that we just really look for
what holds the standards of our brand
we feel hemp has immense opportunity and
it’s not just getting high you know it’s
something to relax with something to
maybe take the edge off without seeing
any medicinal benefits but
people do find value in these products
so if we’re going to sell them to them
we want to make sure they have something
that’s quality and
our standards is you know tested for
potency first and foremost
and microbials heavy metals pesticides
to make sure that
what someone’s putting into their body
isn’t just riddled with a bunch of you
know quote-unquote crap
and that’s good to hear that you’re
doing all that testing and not a lot of
that is required in the space right now
um especially yeah especially on the
heavy metals and pesticides and that was
one of the big things that rocked the
industry up here where we are in seattle
um and california market as well they
saw the cannabis the thc side of it
saw heavy regulations come in and a lot
of stringent tests need to be done on
the products that you’re selling the
consumer which is really important
now when you get a lot of flour that
comes through
what’s the process you take it through
what what kind of packaging what kind of
what kind of manufacturing are y’all
and uh how’s that been spinning that up
uh and kind of the chaotic environment
that we’re in
yeah so we first got started um we
started with hemp cigarettes um
i flew out to seattle with my best
friend and we bought a hemp cigarette
machine off of um
craigslist it was made for tobacco would
inject them in there
had high hopes that this would work and
turns out it’s it can it’s just not
suitable for
it um from there we translate much
different product right
it’s a lot stickier tobacco‘s long it’s
stringy tobacco‘s granular it’s small
you know the resin in it it just doesn’t
work as well as it should
um from there we found a good supplier
that helped us you know kind of get off
the ground with our hemp cigarette side
um with the pre-rolls we started out
with just a knockbox you know just like
most people do
futurolla makes a great machine got the
knockbox started making enough joints
had excess time on the machine where we
started offering our services to other
stores in town
from there just kind of kept growing and
you know reaching out to people across
the country to different trade shows
finding clients that needed our services
so from there i was able to reach up
and purchase a fully automated machine
so now we’re not using the knockbox
anymore it’s a
kind of a five by five box you load the
flower in you load the cones
it just kind of meets in the middle and
rolls them up twist it without a human
ever having to touch it so
from there we can ensure that there’s
consistent weight
the grind’s going to be the same every
time the joint’s going to look the same
but the knock boxes it’s really down to
the end user
how are they packing it twisting it
everyone’s different so it’s hard to get
that uniformity with our machine we can
ensure that if you want a gram joint
it’s going to be a gram exactly every
yeah it’s uh it’s interesting to see how
far that technology has come right you
know it’s not just a bunch of guys in a
back room you know rolling something up
and licking it and putting it together
right like
you have you have quite a bit of
automation going on if
you know you’re not you’re not even
touching the pre-rolls at that point
so um that’s pretty amazing how how many
pre-rolls can you make
in a in a day at this point um you know
if the demand’s there
uh with demand there um right now we can
do about ten thousand a day
um realistically we’re pushing about six
to seven thousand a day with the demand
we have that we have extra capacity
so with this new machinery we have i’m
beginning to
reach out to other potential you know
people who need our services who
may have grown their brand very quickly
and have great marketing and sales but
they may not have the time to go produce
and they may be in a state where labor
costs are a little higher it’s hard to
find labor during the pandemic and it’s
hard to get people to come in and work
and just with sanitation alone you have
someone touching the product over and
we offer a service that kind of
eliminates the labor the
mitigates the risk of contamination and
all the other things that
as you build a brand and grow with more
eyes on you you want to ensure that
you’re doing things properly and that
everything’s tested and
you have good practices involved and
that’s really tough for a lot of
companies when they put all their eggs
in one basket of cells and marketing
building a brand
you can grow way too quick if you don’t
have your manufacturing down and that’s
the service we
offer our brand is great we do well with
it and we enjoy it but we want to offer
value to other brands
to help them grow as well because
ultimately the more companies on the
market doing it the right way
and growing with us is the better for
our business and the industry as a whole
we want to stay legalized and we want to
see the right players
involved and not be taken over by the
big pharmaceutical companies and the big
people who
are just coming in and seeing dollar
signs without actually
caring about the consumer the products
reach and that’s what we’re all about is
to really try to bring that value
right on and when it comes to the the
the manufacturing side is it different
rolling you know cbg joints versus cbd
um it does that affect the the machine
that you’re working with because cbg is
a lot less sticky or
or is it all pretty much the same or do
you have to like change the set
you know i’m just so curious about how
this works for anybody out there
listening that’s
dealing with these kind of challenges
absolutely every flower is different
every flower is different depending on
the time of day unless you have a
really solid climate controlled building
it gets hot in the day your flower gets
fluffier moisture comes in it changes so
thankfully with our machine we have it
in a room it’s climatized so
you have the same input from the
beginning of the day twisting but flower
to flower
depending how you grind it how long you
grind it how you sift it everything goes
into it that makes
a huge difference it may seem so small
on the front end but
you start producing a thousand joints
and at the end of it they’re not looking
the same
why is that it’s the machine is going to
do the same function every time it’s the
it could be the cone because these are
all handmade the maybe a little too
tight a little too wide or the flour may
not be grinded properly
so those are the things that we put our
time and resources in
our need to make sure that we can have
the same input every time
you mention cbg it’s a lot dry every
plant there’s not a lot of trichome
heads on it or sticky there’s trichomes
but they’re not sticky of a head
so it breaks up very fine into a powder
so there we may grind it um less we may
not sift it as much
and we run it at a different pressure so
it’s not just packing down really tight
you can’t get a
good draw off of it um you’ll have a one
grand joint of one flower
put it next to the same one gram with
another flower of the same machine and
you know it might be a 25
difference in size and those are things
that we’re trying to figure out of um
where the flower needs to be stored
properly how it needs to be ground how
it needs to be sifted so you can get
that same result every time
that moisture content everything there
i’m sure is a factor
now what are your thoughts on the
infused pre-roll market
i’m sure you’re looking at it i don’t
know if you’re doing anything there but
it’s definitely you know kind of getting
its feet underneath of itself and people
are looking for that a little bit more
what are your thoughts
of that entire market but it’s
it’s different um you know you can look
at you know caviar joints you can look
at uh you know delta eight and fortified
joints there um it’s it’s tough right
now just the uncertainty of
um the regulations in the hemp side it’s
something that we see value in for the
caviar joints down the line you know
put some rods on the outside or some
distillate and sprinkle its keys those
are great um
but that’s still more of a craft product
um the infused joints as far as you know
spraying the flour and putting it in
that’s great and all but we’ve still
found that unless someone really has
that process dialed in
on the back end of purging it properly
using the right solvent everything
you know it’s a risk for us because we
know that it may not be the cleanest
product going to the consumer
we have worked with people who you know
do it the proper way and make sure
everything’s purged and
tested properly and it is what it says
it is and we happy to roll this for them
in that case and we offer our best
advice but we’re purists you know
naturally and we just want to put out
clean quality products people that are
adulterated with a bunch of chemicals
and i think that’s great um as far as
uh it comes to kind of the purity of the
what has tennessee’s stance been on
total thc
or delta 9 thc i know they’ve been a
little bit relaxed
how do they measure that when it comes
to a pre-roll or is it just measured you
know from the farm down and then
they don’t really take a look at it too
much how do you
how do you manage the compliance with
such changing rules and
such you know big gaps in
in in the specificity of
the 0.3 thc mark yeah
thankfully tennessee has been a great
state for us um they’ve really been
accepting um of the hemp industry as a
most people here doing it the right way
we’re growing what we say we are and you
we put out a product that is what it is
we test it on the farm
we test it when it gets to us and we
test it before we send it to someone
those are things that we’re not required
to do on the back end but
we do just to ensure that the flower
we’re getting is what it says it is
because that’s the risk and liability
for us
um tennessee has stayed at a delta nine
state so
it hasn’t really gone total thc um
especially for this year they’re going
to stay that way
i’m looking like it might change next
year but you know regulations change
overnight anything can happen
um it’s it’s always a struggle it’s a
balancing act but we do the best we can
we test everything we can and operating
under the guidelines that we know we
have and outside of that when things
we adapt and we grow as a business and
we follow suit and
keep going now when it comes to
the the products that you all are
manufacturing you said you do a lot of
white label service for
for farms and other brands out there
that you know want to have a pre-roll
do you also have your own finished good
lines that you’re selling you know
around the country how’s that look for
you all or is it are you you know kind
of staying right in the white label
services area
no we started out with our brand um hemp
pros is our brand we have a brand of
hemp cigarettes
they’re available in regular and menthol
if you see
just 20 pack him cigarettes look regular
like tobacco cigarettes but
we feel like it’s a different
alternative to someone that might be
addicted to nicotine and they just want
switch over maybe not smoke as much
anymore this could offer them
you know a different alternative to that
um aside from that we have our own
and we do blunts about bagged flour a
bunch of different things and
we’re sold in about 32 states right now
um kind of predominantly here in the
southeast but we have some
you know stores on the west coast that
are selling our products and it’s
beginning to grow
kind of a balancing gap between the
white label and our brand but we feel
like we can do both if you do it well
32 states that’s a that’s a that’s a lot
of distribution
for a market that’s seen a lot of people
struggle with distribution
and reach and scale how how have you
been able to acquire those types of
do do you place most of that success on
the product
or or the sales team or um you know
different partnerships
how have you all been able to to reach
that kind of a market and get
as many hemp cigarettes which is
beautiful packaging by the way it’s
something very familiar for people
especially as an alternative to
how have you been able to get that kind
of distribution as you know a startup
company like you are
it’s it’s impressive i’m blown away that
you’re in 32 states you know
you know manufacturing 7000 cigarettes a
day hip cigarettes
i appreciate that it’s um it’s a hustle
for lack of better terms um
every day you wake up and if you believe
in something you go and do it if you
think that
you know you have an opportunity and
you’re doing it the right way then
i’m a believer that you got it you got
to pursue that so i wake up every day
try to create products that i can and
put the right people around us that
help us grow you can’t do anything
yourself it takes a team
it takes a team of hard-working
individuals that you know buy into your
vision and
belief and they believe in what you’re
doing and they help it grow
really just outside of that traveling to
trade shows um you know texas hemp
convention last year we’re going back
this year as well
right on i’m excited to see you we’re we
thought we were gonna have to take the
year off and and uh
you know texas being texas that dallas
being dallas there they’re
all about us coming back and doing a
show in november so we couldn’t be more
excited and uh
get you guys out there again and have
some fun i think that’ll be a good time
i think everybody’s about ready to get
back out in the world and see everybody
yeah likewise and it’s been great you
know during the pandemic um
we thought we were going to take a huge
hit and thankfully during that time we
were able to grow and
you know staying safe and you know
keeping our employees safe and doing the
best we can to operate within the
guidelines the city and state puts down
on us
but there was a large demand and we saw
a lot of people shake out of the
business and
we stayed strong and you know stayed
lean as a company and kept our expenses
low but
made sure that we never sacrificed the
bottom line and for us it’s quality
and outside of packaging it you know you
got to make it look nice for people to
want to go buy it and to see it and
question it but outside of that it has
to be a good product and
once they see it and they taste it and
they can tell that it’s it’s not quality
they’re probably not going to come back
again and then you’re scrambling
you can get the distribution all day and
there’s companies that make us look
and they do great with you know sales
and marketing and all this but
sometimes the product quality inside is
not all there and i think
consumers are becoming more conscious
and you know of what they’re putting in
their bodies of quality and you
know see people switching to plant-based
diet and you know watching what they eat
and they put in
i think the same thing with what you
smoke or you know put on your skin with
cbd products people
care and they start to listen and that’s
where we come in and
we take their advice and we take their
opinions and we make sure we craft
products that
meet their needs and their demands as
long as that doesn’t sacrifice you know
our morals or what we believe is quality
then we want to offer them those things
now in a competitive market with the
cost of raw materials dropping like
how have you all thought about margin in
your go to market strategy
and you know what is what is the best
way to look at this
is it go get the market go grow as fast
as you can drop your margin as low as
you know possible or is it still you
know you need to reinvest in the
business and keep the quality
how do you think about the margin and
the role that it plays to the expansion
of hip rolls as a company
it’s a it’s a great question it’s it’s a
tough balancing act as well you know
with our white labeling our margins are
gonna be significantly smaller than it
is with our
you know consumer brand and that’s
something that we decided to do to
diversify you know as
it is got so competitive and there’s 10
15 hem cigarettes on the market that
competing for shelf space with you have
to kind of diversify
um without sacrificing your product you
know racing to the bottom to someone
which you don’t ever want to do in my
um because the market’s not there for it
yet um ten years down the road when you
see this on every shelf sure you can
operate on five to ten cent margins and
you see it right now but i don’t think
that’s sustainable
um with the pre-rolls um on that side
it’s a little bit better because we can
say all right we can roll 10 000 joints
today with our machine so we just set it
to where we need to make an x amount to
keep the lights on and grow at a certain
with our brand it’s a little different
we have to be competitive we have to be
crafty and
you know it’s tough out there but we
feel like
hemp shouldn’t be expensive and it
shouldn’t be cheap um you should be
paying 20 bucks for a pack of cigarettes
but they probably shouldn’t be four
dollars either
um you might but you but you want it in
the hands of as
many people that want to try it as
possible you know it’s it is it’s got
to be a tight balancing act especially
with um
you know kind of the prices of flour and
the quality you know quality has gone up
price has gone down and that’s that’s
something that’s been interesting to
watch because people just got
better at growing and it’ll be i’m
curious to see what happens this year
you know into this year i think it’s
gonna be really telling what happens to
the price of hemp going forward
and um when it fluctuates that much
you know you might have to renegotiate
the deals it’ll be it’s a special time
to be in this space with so many things
changing so fast
it is and you know back to the you know
just the margins on that with
distribution you see
you know i could probably get my
products in a lot more places really
quickly by
you know undercutting the market but
what is that doing to your brand long
um you know we feel like our prices are
fairly priced
that’s what the product probably should
be and as we grow we want to come down
on that but we never want to sacrifice
the quality and
first and foremost you know that’s
that’s kind of where we need to stay as
we push the hemp rolls brand forward
which is
we fill within five years you know these
will start to replace tobacco cigarettes
like i said people are more health
conscious they want to not have a bunch
something a bunch of poison in there and
smoking’s bad inherently we all we can
all agree that it’s carcinogens
but if you’re going to do it we want to
offer them something a little
a little better in our opinion and uh
you know thinking about it
as far as um kind of the the
the product is there a shelf life on a
pre-roll is there a manufacturer’s
recommended shelf life on a pre-roll
because you know after
after a year that thing’s got to be so
dried out right or how do you think
shelf life on a product that uh isn’t
completely dry tobacco‘s
much drier than hemp is whenever you
consume it um how do you maintain yeah
i actually have no answer this question
in my own head i’m curious how you
maintain that for
you know long-term you know shelf life
yeah that’s a great question it’s
something that unfortunately is not
required right now and i
i feel it should be um because like i
said earlier you know there’s still hemp
out there from 2019 that i see passing
to the market on a regular basis and
to an untrained eye you can look at that
and say oh this is fine it’s the temp
but if you you know you’ve been around
it and you know what to smell for and
know what to look for and you know how
to break a bud open
um nine times out of ten it’s riddles
mold and you see that all over the
market and
there’s the products that go downstream
into your extractions your lotions your
tinctures and everything and
sure by that point it’s probably fine
but you know having a pure product
in the beginning is really what you need
and um with us
thankfully everything we do is fresh um
everything we’re getting now with the
partner we work with they keep
everything stored properly it gets a
tougher you know around january or
february once kind of everything’s
drying up
but thankfully by then you know things
are starting to come in um there’s
really no shelf life back to your
question because
it’s not required um we put produce
production dates on the bottom of all of
our hemp cigarettes to make sure that
you at least know when it started from
and i get that question from retailers
all the time and i typically say
if you have it after six months then it
probably wasn’t a good fit for your
store we’ll happy to buy it back and
destroy it at that point but i’ve seen
these last for over a year as well
i have some from our first production
run that we kept just because i’m
curious about that um
so you’ll buy it back from the retailer
that’s a hell of an offer
that is a hell of an offer yeah i mean
we just
we don’t want the burden to fall on the
retailer we feel with our products going
to be sustainable and this is ever going
to grow into something the consumer
if they don’t want it then we need to
rethink it in the first place we don’t
want to put that burden on that store
ultimately we want to be in there and we
want to offer them other products
they can sell and you know hopefully
they can make a little profit off of and
to do that you need to keep those
relationships and
you don’t want to put the burden of
something that’s not selling on them
right on that’s amazing that’s uh that’s
good to hear
now when it comes to you know kind of
community down there what what
what’s bringing people together how does
how does how does
tennessee operate as far as the
community goes you know
there’s a lot of farmers especially from
nashville on over
how do you how do you um kind of fit
like back to that original question
how do you choose who to work with
there’s just so so many people and so
there’s a lot of good
quality product out there it’s got to be
a tough decision
for you know for as many people that are
probably knocking your door down
absolutely it’s for me it’s our
relationships you know
i’m always open to work with someone new
and if they have you know
something that we could use and they can
help bring value and we can bring value
to them
it’s a good fit and we’ll move forward
with that um
like i said we go off quality and we
want to go with someone that’s doing it
the right way that has the right
um as far as the community you know
tennessee is kind of a long state it’s
kind of divided in three sections you
know the
west with memphis and nashville in the
middle then you have knocks on the east
side and we’re kind of here at the
bottom and
everyone kind of stays in their corner
but we all work together you know we do
a lot of business with people in
nashville and knoxville and
it’s still a small state you know we all
work together and
just try to grow the industry and push
quality products forward and
shake out the bad players when you can
because you have people that come in and
push the limits and they try to be
renegades and
that’s fine you know but if this
industry is ever going to be sustainable
we’re ever going to push it forward to
the mainstream where
you know the older people or the people
who may be skeptics of it or you know
still have the stigma of cannabis want
to be involved
and we have to make sure that we do our
best to
push the right quality forward but also
make sure we’re working with those
who have the same intentions to help it
grow we
there’s plenty of room for everyone in
the cannabis industry
now you’ve been to our trade shows uh
texas hemp convention last year and
it’ll be in the largest
hip trade show in the country um when it
comes to the southeast though if we were
thinking about doing a
a southeast hem convention right now
what city would you pick we’ve looked at
we’ve looked at florida we’ve looked at
you know a couple of different
states and cities where is the epicenter
of hemp
in in the east in southeast right now
that’s a tough one i mean without being
biased i say chattanooga is
a really major player in the industry
and that’s
a lot a lot of reasons really we’re a
great central hub you know you’re an
hour and a half from atlanta you’re an
hour and a half from uh
nashville you know birmingham’s not far
um birmingham is also a great city
you’ve got
magic city organics down there you know
great company there’s a lot of really
good players
and these little pockets in the south
that you never think of
and that’s really where the majority of
us are you know you look at
cigarette statistics you know people who
smoke you know 30 of them are
concentrating these seven states in the
you know it’s kind of like a not a
culture here but you know there’s more
people that do that and
we’ve been denied cannabis for so long
access to these products where people
have been criminals and
you know just to get something that they
might think helps them whether it does
or not it brings value to them
ultimately it’s a plan it’s not harming
anyone um
so we’ve been left behind and people
here are very eager and very passionate
about the plan
just as much as people on the west coast
so you see a lot of people concentrating
this area
really involved in the hemp really
pushing it forward you know trying these
products supporting companies supporting
brands coming out to events
and you know just right here alone
between nashville chattanooga birmingham
i think would be great places to do that
and even asheville um it’s just a little
bit further away you gotta go over a
mountain to get there but
it’s not like a secret place it really
does yeah i mean it’s
growing up there it is a beautiful place
to to to be so i i i
i do miss it but uh we we might have to
get something going down there
we’ll have to work together on that
after we get off the show but uh
you know uh you know kind of wrapping
this thing up you know
it’s exciting to have you all on the
platform um doing what you do
you know you you make the community what
it is companies like yours and so
if anybody’s looking for for for hemp
rolls hemp pre-rolls anything like that
uh you gotta get in touch with uh hemp
rolls over here
and uh david powers it’s been a pleasure
talking to you you know
when it comes to next year what’s what
is the plan
where are you going how are you gonna
get there that’s the million dollar
question um
every day is uh every day is a struggle
and we get through it and
like i said earlier you know if you
believe in what you’re doing and you do
the rings right way and
hopefully it pans out and we’re just
going to double down on what we’re doing
produce the best pre-rolls the highest
quality we can and you know
take every day you know don’t take it
for granted and just keep pushing
forward and
hopefully by this time next year we have
some more automated machinery and we can
take a lot of that labor and the
uncertainty out of it and
continuously push the industry forward
to make sure we have the same quality of
the same consistent products and people
are actually getting what they paid for
right on well david it’s been a pleasure
talking to you uh good luck with
everything uh
words of wisdom from you really
appreciate it for the community it
sounds like you’re saying keep your head
up and work hard and
believe in what you’re doing so uh
can’t wait to see you in november over
in dallas and uh we’ll we’ll be in touch
hey likewise you have a great one sir
you too

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