As a New Jersey medical cannabis program patient, I can tell you that low THC cannabis is what my particular affliction requires. But good luck going into a dispensary and asking for strains that test lower than 10 or 12 percent THC. The consensus is pretty clear. The chasing of (high) THC levels is something that is not going away. You’re going to get blank stares, or worse, should you ask the budtender for anything that actually alleviates your ills. With the marketing behind cannabis driving up THC levels, it’s truly refreshing to find people like Joshua Steensland, who studies low THC level cannabis
Warren Bobrow: Please tell me where you’re from and where you live now? What do you do? Please tell me about your company.
Joshua Steensland: I was born in Northern California and grew up in SE Washington state. After serving in the Marines and going through
my roaming gypsy phase, I set roots back in the area I grew up to raise my family. I currently work with our family business, Regenerative Ecoworks LLC, to help cannabis cultivators develop living soil cultivation systems around the world. I also own and operate a premium living soil, low THC, flower facility with two of my Marine veteran brothers, Ohio Fire Factory. The barrier to entry in the high THC space in Ohio is steep and nearly impenetrable in its current state. We decided to leverage the emerging low THC flower market and build out an indoor facility to the same spec one would build a high THC facility with the intention of switching to high THC as soon as the state will allow or recreational gets voted in. Our flower is cold cured, hand-trimmed, and grown in living soil beds under LED lights. Our attention to detail and commitment to treating the flower with the same care and consideration one would with high-value THC flower produces a quality not seen very often in the smokeable hemp flower game. We actually don’t really like calling it hemp because of the negative associations of hemp flower being low quality. Our product is indistinguishable from top shelf, high THC flower. We prefer to call it what it is; ultra-premium, low THC, cannabis.
WB: What obstacles do you face? How do you anticipate removing them? What are your six and twelve-month goals?
JS: These are great questions! I’ve really found over the years, nearly all of the obstacles to my success have been self-imposed in some way. What I mean by that is in the past, I wasn’t open to the deep self-analysis that is necessary to make course corrections on the fly and be a more effective communicator.
Balancing being self-critical with giving myself grace and allowing for forgiveness when I’ve been a less than an effective communicator. Yes, it still happens. This has been a critical thought exercise that helps me retain my sanity when the juggle starts to feel chaotic or if things start to feel unstable. It gives me the time to analyze objectively and not make important decisions based on emotions only which tend to be a very temporary and limiting headspace.
In 6 months, I would like to see Ohio Fire Factory’s three-phase build-out complete, and in a years’ time, I would like to see our product changing the low THC flower game nationwide while inspiring veterans and cultivators alike to cultivate with living soil systems.
WB: Who is your mentor? Who taught you your craft?
JS: I have several mentors, and they are, either directly or indirectly, my teachers also.
Firstly, Masanobu Fukuoka. He is the author of “The one-straw revolution .”His book really opened my eyes to the possibility of simplifying farming and cultivation by paying attention to the forces of nature and learning to work with mother nature’s design as opposed to against it and hammering it to our will. It’s a very easy and inspiring read. His story of how he transformed his property is nothing short of amazing.
I need to include Dr. Elaine Ingham in this list. Her decades of work studying the important role biology plays in plant growth, and nutrient cycling deserves more attention than it receives. Her body of work, “Foundation Course” classes and microscopy training were fundamental in helping me connect the dots as to what I was observing in my living soil cultivation journey and strengthened my resolve when it comes to my Fukuoka style of minimal input, hands-off cultivation.
I think some honorable mentions would be Rudolf Steiner, John Kempf, Dr. Tom Dykstra, and Dr. Arden Andersen. I highly suggest checking out the body of work these gentlemen have produced regarding regenerative cultivation practices and finding ways to incorporate them into your systems.
WB: What is your favorite food? Restaurant? Why?
JS: Favorite food!!! That’s a tough one. We love food in our house. My daughter and I actually have spent hours watching street food videos
and already have our dream Japanese street food vacation planned! We don’t eat at many restaurants because we like to cook and prepare food at home as much as possible. We try to eat healthy, vibrant, and nutritionally dense foods but recognize the need for flexibility and balance and enjoy a slice of cake or cookies from time to time, probably a little more than we should, but what’s life if you aren’t living it right?! My absolute favorite foods are any authentic Mexican food or a pan-seared rib eye, bloody rare, with sweet potatoes and broccoli. Pretty simple guy to please here.
WB: What is your passion?
JS: My passions are pretty simple. Family. Cannabis and simple living. The real joy has been finding a way to put all of those things together and create revenue streams that put a roof over our head, food on the table, and explore and deepen my relationship with cultivation in general. This also affords my wife the ability to explore her passions and set the example to our children that one can quite literally forage their own path in this world if you lead with integrity and courage.