Classic genetics such as Bubba Kush Pre-98 and OG Kush varieties will be available on a global scale, as two powerhouses team up. On September 21, Colombia-based multinational juggernaut Clever Leaves announced a partnership with legacy brand House of Kush, to be the exclusive grower and distributor of genetics globally.
Clever Leaves will produce genetics for House of Kush—thus expanding their reach outside of the United States and Canada.
Clever Leaves will cultivate House of Kush’s genetics at facilities in Colombia and Portugal over the course of the next three years. Clever Leaves’ footprint is global with smokable flower already being sold in Germany, Israel, and Australia.
Clever Leaves will produce House of Kush’s signature strain—Bubba Kush Pre-98—as well as other classics such as San Fernando Valley OG Kush. Different theories abound, but Bubba Kush appeared on the market in the ‘90s, noted by its sedative effects. People have turned to it to help with pain, anxiety, and insomnia.
The scale is massive: In Colombia, Clever Leaves boasts 18 hectares (44.4 acres) of cultivation. More importantly though, the company holds European Union Good Manufacturing Practices (EU GMP) Certification, a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) Certification by Colombia National Food and Drug Surveillance Institute – Invima, and Good Agricultural and Collecting Practices (GACP) Certification.
In Portugal, Clever Leaves operates on about nine million square feet of land, with 260,000 square feet of greenhouse facilities. They also have regulatory privilege there with a license from INFARMED I.P., the Portuguese pharmaceutical regulatory authority, with (EU-GMP) certification and are (GACP) certified.
House of Kush Genetics
The partnership will deliver House of Kush’s genetics to a wider market. “Going international was really a big step,” says House of Kush co-founder and Chief Sales Officer Steve Gardner. “Clever Leaves do such good work. And we’ve been so impressed with them. And we’ve really been working on this deal for almost a year. But when you get plugged in with a group like that, that can take you all over the place.” Gardner’s roles as serial entrepreneur, advisor, investor in sports and entertainment date back 30 years.
“I would echo that sentiment and also just bring in the point that other countries are more quickly adopting and having more open, flexible laws than what we’re experiencing currently in the U.S.,” says House of Kush co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Reggie Harris. “So having the opportunity to get there early in our growth strategy not only helps us improve our status as a U.S. company, but everybody’s in the game to be able to spread that knowledge and the product and be able to get out there. So [it’s as much of an] exposure type thing as it is a financial benefit as well, that the two kind of go together. It’s not one without the other.” Harris’ background as a senior executive in sports and entertainment goes back two decades.
“Our first introduction to Bubba Kush was actually through Matt Bubba Berger, who was one of the original cultivators, and obviously Bubba Kush was part of that founding group that came up with OG Kush as well,” Harris adds. “And I was looking at it and reached out to Steve [Gardner] and said, ‘You know, I got this interesting call, product opportunity. Let’s go sit down and talk about it.’”
Protecting those genetics is another story. While House of Kush has explored blockchain technology and other ways of protecting their genetics, continuing to develop their reputation as a brand is more valuable.
“The biggest protection for us is quality assurance,” Harris adds. “We’ve created a kush certified program, to where we go through and we tell people, these are the recommended ways of growing the genetics, this is the proper way, the proper soil, the proper water, all that type of stuff, because we know ultimately, right now, federally, we can’t protect it, it’s going to be some somebody could take it, we will lose more money trying to defend it, then we will just go on out being better than they are. So we spent a lot of time just trying to have the great genetics and the great SOPs around that to make sure that it comes out right on the other side and up to our standard.”
Regulatory Perks of Going International
Clever Leaves’ footprint is all over the globe, but each facility has a distinctive purpose. “We have two facilities, one in Colombia, one in Portugal,” says Julián Wilches, co-founder and Chief Regulatory Officer of Clever Leaves. “The Portugal facility is focused on flower. And in Colombia, the Colombian facility has been focused on extracts, raw materials, and finished products such as oils. Now, we have the opportunity, also of exporting flower from Colombia, which is something that we plan to do in the coming months. But now it is very important for us and we’re going to have access to additional genetics.”
One of Clever Leaves’ advantages is holding certifications in Europe. But one of the keys to growth is expanding internationally to improve chances of success.
“If you cultivate in the U.S., you cannot export it, because of the federal prohibition in the U.S.,” says Gustavo Escobar, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Clever Leaves. “So the fact that we can cultivate in Colombia and export it for medicinal purposes, opens the global market. We’re focused on four markets in addition to the U.S.: Australia, Israel, Germany, and Brazil. In Brazil, we cannot sell flower. So I would say three markets for flower: Israel, Australia, and Germany. But there are additional markets like Portugal and Italy, U.K., Ireland, most likely France, and Spain. Now we have Thailand. So the world is moving towards medicine and medicinal legalization.”
The partnership benefits both companies in ways that were not possible before.
“Working together, you can do better things,” Wilches adds. “So partnering with people with good genetics, and having the capabilities that were described—that will give us a better opportunity of success in those markets. So we believe in partnerships and we believe in working together and creating long-term relationships for being in the market in the long term with really high quality and good product.”