Chemistry Visits: Full Circle Economy with Oakland’s Root Logic
Robert Jenkins is a cannabis genetics specialist and owner-operator of Root Logic, a small cannabis nursery in Oakland, California. He specializes in quality genetics and has been cloning plants for over 20 years all over the Bay Area.
When California legalized cannabis in 2016, Jenkins heard whispers from within the community about a cannabis equity program available through the city of Oakland. The program’s mission is to address the disparities and inequalities within the industry by minimizing entry barriers for minorities and those affected by the War on Drugs.
Jenkins applied and credits this move as one of the best decisions he's ever made.
As one of the program's official cannabis incubators, Chemistry supported the long journey for Jenkins to launch his clone startup. And he’s persevered through many challenges to build his dream business. The most recent fruition of this partnership is Chemistry’s latest diamond infused pre-roll pack: Maroon Baboon.
“We’ve been focused on building quality partnerships and a sustainable supply chain since the launch of Chemistry and I’m extremely proud of how this release not only highlights our Oakland roots, but our equity partnership with Rob and Root Logic,” Chemistry CEO Paul Roethle said. “Maroon Baboon was born in Oakland, grown in Mendo and is now being sold around the state. It’s a great example that a hyper local, full circle economy is possible in California’s cannabis industry.”
Chemistry synced Jenkins up with Radicle Herbs, a small-scale regenerative cannabis farm located in Mendocino County where his Maroon Baboon clones were planted in the rich native soil of Round Valley and grown under the sun, moon and stars. (Side Note: Radicle Herbs won the Emerald Cup’s Regenerative Farm Award in 2018 and is both Sun+Earth and Dragonfly Earth Medicine certified.)
Jenkins believes that flavorful, potent experiences are the most important factors when consumers choose which flower they'll roll up. And Maroon Baboon, a THC-heavy indica hybrid, delivers on both fronts with its exotic flavors of nutty, sweet vanilla and skunky diesel. A cross between the dank Gelato and potent Grease Monkey strains, Maroon Baboon flawlessly fuses the bold, full-body effects of its parents.
"I never imagined when I graduated college I would be doing this. It's what I love doing," Jenkins said. "There's nothing like seeing something start so young and fragile and then grow into something so amazing and beautiful. It's a work in progress that I love to see and I’m constantly working to get better.”
Jenkins’ career in the cannabis industry started during the Prop 215 days as a budtender in one of Oakland’s medical dispensaries. Eventually, he made his way back into the nursery and worked his way up to managing one. Here is where his education in cannabis cultivation accelerated, and his passion developed. Passion only gets you so far, though, and Jenkins’ experience in the industry has been far from easy.
"It's really hard for any business to work, let alone cannabis," Jenkins explained. "I have to deal with being in heavily regulated California and cannabis. And then I have to deal with these insane Bay Area prices. I think the people who can just keep their head above water these next few years will make it.”
Keeping one's head above water is a sentiment shared by many cannabis companies throughout the state. Transitioning into the recreational market of Prop 64 brought on its own set of challenges, including incredibly high taxes and limited retail space. Despite the obstacles, cannabis has exploded into a multi-billion dollar industry. Still, small and equity-operated companies are the ones that continue to be disproportionately affected.
"We're just trying to survive. A lot of things were misconstrued with Prop 64 and also when the equity brand was created. The laws should have been thought out better to help the community," Jenkins said. "Regular people can't survive this cannabis space, much less somebody from the hood with no capital."
How does Jenkins compete in the dynamic California market? By maintaining high standards of integrity and hyper-focusing on the combination of potency, flavor and quality with his genetics. He also pays close attention to ever changing market trends. Decades ago, it was almost impossible to find cultivators growing the same strains and now popular strains saturate the market. But growing these strains is essential to his business’s success.
"It's really tough," Jenkins shared. "It's kind of hard to sell to brick and mortar and delivery services if you don't have what they want, but I do try to put my own touch on things while still listening to the feedback I receive.”
And that combination is working. Anytime he indulges in his flower with a fellow connoisseur, Jenkins feels nothing but positivity and gets big smiles. And despite the struggles within the market, he believes the most significant win is pursuing something he loves while following his dreams. He continues to cut, root and transplant up to 4,000 clones a month.
Jenkins is now starting his second grow company, Loud 7, where he will expand his cultivation footprint and display more of what his plants can do for current and potential buyers.
Be on the lookout for future Chemistry collaborations with Root Logic.
Written by: Rebecca Olmos