Things are changing at dispensaries, but Chronic Therapy’s concentrate labs haven’t missed a beat

Things are changing at dispensaries, but Chronic Therapy’s concentrate labs haven’t missed a beat

Shatter, wax, hash and oil labs are still going strong

VicesMay 19, 2020 By Will Brendza

Things have changed a lot for those in the business of selling pot since all his COVID-19 madness began.

The cannabis industry as a whole has proven itself to be immensely agile: leaping through the seemingly unending hoops that federal, state and local governments have continually made them jump through. They’ve had to change their systems on a dime, overnight in some instances, to adapt to changing laws and regulations. And at the same time, they’re working hard to make sure their employees’ and their customers’ health is protected.

It’s been a wild ride, for just about everyone. But those on the store-front side of things have definitely seen more changes than those in the back-end. On the grow/distillation end of the industry, changes have been made, but they haven’t turned the whole operation on its head.

“The biggest changes definitely came at the front of the house,” says Matt Saunders, the owner and founder of Chronic Therapy. The retail side of their business had to switch to curbside pickup, and window pick-up. People in line all have to stand six feet apart. And everyone must wear gloves and masks all day long.

“Yeah, [the dispensaries] have been scrambling the whole way. And we've gotten through it and it's going well.” Matt Saunders says. “Our employees that are on the front lines deserve a big thank you, just like grocery store workers and everybody else out there … They're doing an amazing job.”

Chronic Therapy  is a Colorado cannabis company with recreational dispensaries throughout the state. And they’ve got a reputation for making some dank concentrates. And on the grow and lab side of Chronic Therapy, he and his team say that the COVID changes haven’t really thrown too big of a monkey wrench into their operations.

“It's actually probably just been a good reminder to be more diligent on everything,” says Matt Saunders.

His grow master, Travis Miles agrees that it really hasn’t affected their workflow too much. Grows are supposed to be pretty clean, and there’s never too many people in them to begin with, he says. So, they’ve been relatively well-insulated from the threat of infection. And, of course, they’ve been extra committed to maintaining a clean environment.

“The grow has probably become the most intensely clean it's been in years,” says Miles, chuckling. “So that's really that's kind of a positive thing for us.”

Their hours in the grow have been reduced (just to limit the amount of time any one person is inside there), they’re wearing masks as often as possible and changing out gloves as frequently as they can. And they’re making sure that only one or two people are ever in the same room at the same time.

That kind of social distancing and work-place hygiene is far easier to control in a grow operation setting. And, for that matter, in a cannabis concentrates lab as well. As Matt Saunders explained about their own labs, the hygiene standards at their labs were already very high, so adjusting to the COVID requirements was a little easier.

“The biggest change that we've done [at the Chronic Therapy labs] is we’ve reduced the amount of people in there at one time,” he says. “We used to overlap between our packagers and grammers … now some people work a little bit earlier in the morning. And then the second shift comes in a little bit later at night.”

Life in the labs and at the grows continues on, it seems. Gloves and masks were already a big part of those workplaces, and now they’re just standard issue. People are adjusting to the social distancing aspect of the new workplace standard, but aside from that, Chronic Therapy’s lab and grow teams haven’t been tossed around like their budtenders and dispensary managers.

“I think that the Chronic team did a really good job of staying ahead of everything and being able to make those pivots,” says Jason Saunders, Chronic Therapy’s co-founder and CEO. “Especially the front of the house on the retail side of things. Completely changing our operations four to five times in the course of two weeks was pretty intense, but we were able to get through it.”

They’re working hard to keep their employees employed, to keep their doors open, to keep The People of Colorado high and happy and to keep everyone safe and healthy. And they are all immensely grateful for the hard work their front-line employees are doing, and the work that’s coming out of their grows and labs.