Business is booming, but the industry is handicapped by shifting rules and major research gaps
by Melody M. Bomgardner | Chemical and Engineering News


The products the growers were keen to use include Marrone Bio’s Regalia for prevention and control of powdery mildew. Its active ingredient is an extract of Reynoutria sachalinensis, or giant knotweed. For mites, growers can turn to Grandevo, a strain of the Chromobacterium subtsugae bacteria, or Venerate, made from another bacteria called Burkholderia.

Marrone says the company decided to support the use of its products on cannabis after learning about the risky pesticide residues that have been showing up in cannabis samples. The company hired a master cannabis grower for its sales team, obtained state approvals for its products, and made smaller packages. Marrone says Regalia is now undergoing cannabis field trials in Canada.

The company’s fact-finding also convinced Marrone that the business opportunity is growing rapidly. A study the company commissioned from the University of California, Davis, estimates today’s market for cannabis inputs at $91 million annually. With more states and Canada now or soon to be on board, the company expects it to reach $1.4 billion by 2021.

“That growth sparks a lot of interest from investors,” she says. What’s more, organic products are very well positioned in the market. “You don’t need synthetic products to drive high yield, and our products are cost competitive,” Marrone asserts. In addition, “Consumers, by and large, have a pretty strong bias toward the organic model.” Her firm will soon launch a new brand to target the industry: CG, which stands for cannabis garden.