Photo: SKYMINT X DNA Genetics; courtesy of SKYMINT BRANDS
Written by: Amanda Domenech
Those who thought they knew the Wolverine State might be in for a surprise as Michigan looks to be the fastest growing cannabis market per capita outside of California. Though recreational sales only started in December of 2019, Michigan’s adult use market is on track to surpass $1 billion, a milestone achieved by California just three years ago. From January 2020 to August 2020 alone, the state’s recreational sales jumped 566% with the largest average basket sizes found anywhere in the U.S. ringing in this year at $84.59.
Many of those baskets were purchased at one of 10 SKYMINT retail locations throughout the state. As the Chief Brand and Product Officer of the largest vertically integrated cannabis company in Michigan, SKYMINT BRANDS Laurie Gregory says her company is on a mission to not only put Michigan cannabis on the national map but to also produce premium Michigan-grown cannabis that can compete with the best of the best on the West Coast.
To that end, the company recently joined forces with the Los Angeles-based DNA Genetics – the company whose proprietary strains have won more than 200 national and international best-in-class awards – to bring Michiganders the world’s most globally awarded and sought-after premium flower, SKYMINT x DNA Genetics.
Photo: SKYMINT X DNA Genetics; courtesy of SKYMINT BRANDS
“It would be a mistake to underestimate Michiganders’ knowledge of and appreciation for world-class cannabis,” says Gregory. “We conduct a significant amount of market research ahead of every brand launch, and what we’ve gleaned is that there’s great demand across the state, as well as neighboring states, for high-quality OG strains. In fact, in the first four days of sales for SKYMINT x DNA Genetics, six of our retail locations completely sold out of their inventory.”
The genetics developed by DNA have won more awards than any other seed company to date, consistently taking 1st place titles – in every category – at prestigious cannabis events around the world, including the High Times Cannabis Cup, High Times Cannabis Cup Amsterdam, The Emerald Cup, IC420 Breeders Cup, Spannabis, and many more.
Photo: SKYMINT X DNA Genetics selection at SKYMINT Nunica; courtesy of SKYMINT BRANDS
Originally founded in Amsterdam in 2004 by Don Morris and Aaron Yarkoni, DNA Genetics has spent nearly two decades building and curating a seasoned genetic library while also developing many of the standard operating procedures for genetic selection, breeding, and cultivation in use across the industry today.
Photo: Don Morris and Aaron Yarkoni, Founders of DNA Genetics; Courtesy SKYMINT BRANDS
“Breeding cannabis is an art form,” Morris says. “We spend on average three years to ready a new strain of seeds. Only 1 in 10 test plants makes it to market, and those that do are certified to have genetic stability and cohesion, meaning that you can trace their genetic make-up back to the original, highly coveted landrace strains that form the backbone of modern cannabis breeding. ”
Since 2015, DNA Genetics has partnered with leading cannabis cultivators in Canada, California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and now Michigan to bring their genetics to new medical and recreational markets.
“When we enter a new market, we are incredibly selective about our collaborations,” adds Rezwan Khan, President of DNA Genetics. “We consider these opportunities to be true partnerships as opposed to ‘seed transactions.’ We carefully evaluate every variable that can affect the quality of the end product from the expertise of a prospective partner’s cultivation team to soil testing and grow facility temperature conditions… literally everything. We train partners on how best to grow our varieties so that they perfectly present. We also require testing throughout the grow season from seed to harvest. We provide the best possible genetics, and for consumers to really enjoy the fruits of our labor, we require that partners have the best possible cultivation standards and commitment to quality.”
The SKYMINT x DNA Genetics collaboration began in 2018 when Gregory and SKYMINT’s lead cultivator James Barr began their search for OG strains based on a set of five criteria: those known to be among the world’s most reliably potent, featuring an abundance of trichomes; having powerfully strong flavor profiles; cannabinoid diversity; and, most importantly, genetic cohesion.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Jeff Raber, Executive Director of the Association of Commercial Cannabis Labs, among 1,000 samples of California marijuana tested, there was little genetic cohesion between varieties of the same name.
“Michiganders have had access to medical cannabis since 2008, and while our state is moving away from a caregiver market, we still need to be able to provide consumers with high-quality cannabis that they can consume therapeutically,” Gregory notes. “The overall lack of genetic cohesion poses a serious problem for consumers looking for consistent health benefits. If I am someone relying on finding Strawberry Banana to help me manage my chronic pain, PTSD, or insomnia, for example, then I shouldn’t have to purchase a number of Strawberry Banana strains from different retailers before finding the real Strawberry Banana. This is one of the main reasons we partnered with DNA Genetics. Their genetics are certified.”
Photo: STRAWBERRY BANANA by SKYMINT X DNA Genetics; courtesy of SKYMINT BRANDS
The SKYMINT x DNA Genetics collaboration, which launched October 9, features eighth-ounce jars of nine world-class strains, sustainably hand-cultivated by SKYMINT’S team of cultivators. Pre-rolls will become available by the end of the year.
Photo: SKYMINT X DNA Genetics pre-roll box; courtesy of SKYMINT BRANDS
“For any cultivator, having the opportunity to grow DNA Genetics seeds is paramount to being handed the keys to the Lamborghinis of cannabis,” says Barr. “Don and Aaron are pioneers of effect-based strains that express broad characteristics – smell, taste, look, yield, structure and effect. Hands down, the varieties we cultivated are the “terpy-ist” I’ve ever worked with. Walking into our grows during late flower was just on another level, a full sensory experience.”
For Michiganders reading this, Don and Aaron highly recommend SKYMINT x DNA Genetics’ Chocolope (High Times Cannabis Cup winner of 2007), a sativa strain that pays homage to the chocolate strains of the 1980s. The hefty sativa buds give off earthy, sweet coffee flavors and provide a dreamy cerebral effect that is smile-inducing and beloved by all, including Leafly’s entire staff. For Indica lovers, DNA points to Kosher Kush (winner of High Times Cannabis Cup’s Best Indica in 2010 and 2011 as well as Best Strain in 2011). Kosher Kush produces staggering levels of THC with some samples testing over 29%.
“Cannabis is meant to be shared,” Gregory says, whose 30+ year background in premium product brand development led to her being tapped by SKYMINT BRANDS’ CEO Jeff Radway. “It’s beautiful that a Michigan cannabis company can partner with a Los Angeles-based cannabis company to harvest 9 High Times Cannabis Cup 1st place winners. The SKYMINT x DNA Genetics collaboration is literally the best cannabis our state has to offer.”
Photo: Chocolope, Kosher Kush and L.A. Confidential by SKYMINT X DNA GENETICS; courtesy of SKYMINT BRANDS
“When people ask us what’s the secret to our genetics, we tell them the truth,” says Morris. “When developing a new strain, we always make sure that it is something we would enjoy smoking. It just so happens that other people enjoy the same weed we do.”
While Morris says he doesn’t have a favorite, he does admit that he has a special place in heart for L.A. Confidential. It’s a cross between OG L.A. Affie and Afghani, and according to Morris, “gives you a unique psychedelic buzz that will put Michiganders right into a California state-of-mind.”