Grower Story

DawgStar Cannabis

Featured Grower

DawgStar Cannabis

6 MINUTE READ

DawgStar Cannabis is an industry leader with a historic resumé to match. We recently visited their facilities in Seattle and learned more about their premium line of products.

DawgStar Cannabis, a leading brand of top-notch cannabis products, is committed to providing the Northwest with quality,  sustainably produced products. But their story is much bigger than that. A series of events that would eventually put DawgStar in motion happened nearly a decade ago and has since influenced the legal structure for the cannabis industry, the coalition for ethics, and a continued journey to responsibly bring recreational marijuana to Washington residents.

“There’s a ton of people growing great product, but then they throw it in a bag.”

In order to understand what DawgStar is all about, we tracked down Trek Hollnagel, the Director of Operations, for a quick chat about his role in DawgStar, Dope Magazine, and creating the legal structure of recreational cannabis in Washington State. Hollnagel is a true golden child of the cannabis legalization movement. He got involved for all of the right reasons, and has done terrific work helping West Coasters have (legal) access to some of the most high-quality and responsibly grown strands available.

As a self-described “hippy at heart” and someone so deeply rooted in the cannabis movement at such a young age (35), you might be surprised to know that this is not Hollnagel’s first successful business venture. In fact, Hollnagel had been in mortgage business and telemarketing, and even had a healthy brokerage firm with 20-30 employees. All of that changed when the market crashed and the Florida native found himself looking for a new path. His father, who Hollnagel said had always been a “fight-the-man” kind of person, had started to experience health issues, including a stroke,  and was looking for alternative forms of medication. This coincided with a snowboarding trip that Hollnagel took with his friend Alex Cooley (now the Vice President of Solstice Grown). Cooley explained to Hollnagel that he had recently gotten a medical marijuana card, and that he was legally growing. Within a month, Hollnagel was too.

Excited by the possibility of a new career, Hollnagel was soon looking for a way to fully break into the industry. Together with Cooley and another friend who worked as an educator, he started the Cannabis Association for Recommendation and Education (CARE) and began writing recommendations for patients. They then started a coalition of cannabis ethics and eventually started to get involved in the political side of things. Armed with the protection of the Obama Memorandum, Cooley and Hollnagel opened one of the first cooperatives in Washington – Cooley was responsible for growing, and Hollnagel for retail. It wasn’t long before one location turned into seven. One of those locations, in Ballard, led him to meet David Tran with whom he would eventually co-found DOPE Magazine.

This leads us to present day, where Hollnagel is proudly a part of DawgStar, a 6000 sq. ft. location in Seattle, Washington.dawgstar_smallphoto_1

When I ask Hollnagel what DawgStar is all about, he tells me that they wanted to make DawgStar a premium brand and that they are taking the necessary measures to do so. All of their plants are hand trimmed, hand watered, and the product is always stored, and sold, in glass jars. “There’s a ton of people growing great product, but then they throw it in a bag,” he said. “They lose 20-30 percent of what it is by throwing it in a bag. The curing process is almost as important as the growing process itself.”

Practicing responsible growing and production practices is very important to the company, Hollnagel says. “DawgStar is trying to grow sustainably. We know that indoor isn’t the best, so we’re expanding to greenhouses and outdoor. We don’t use plastic bags. We don’t use major chemicals, and we grow pretty organically. In the end, we grow as efficient as we can, we treat the plant with respect and provide good quality tested products.”

Another part of their branding strategy, he says, is to be clear about what you’re getting in each strain. “We have Mind, Body, and Mood – Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid. But people don’t know what the hell that means. Indica, in my mind, is a body high, so we use the term Body. We use Mind for sativa because it’s a more upbeat, energetic, and creative feeling. Hybrids are a mix of the two, it’ll put you in a good mood.”

“We’ve completely looked over what is probably one of the most amazing medicinal plants on the planet.”

Hollnagel isn’t worried about competition. He’s excited to see the market grow, and happy to be a part of it. “We’ve completely looked over what is probably one of the most amazing medicinal plants on the planet. There are hundreds of cannabinoids inside of cannabis, and we’ve only explored two,” he said. “It’s exciting to see what it can do for medical patients. There’s going to be competition, but hopefully that grows the industry, and we can ride that wave. I welcome the competition.”

When asked what he hopes to see next in the industry, his appreciation and respect for the plant become apparent. “I’m hopeful that big pharmaceutical companies won’t get ahold of it, and that it will be a liberating industry. I’d love to see a booming recreational industry like beer, wine, and spirits. Mostly I just hope that we take care of the plant. Or as Steve DeAngelo of HarborSide Health Center said, ‘let the plant be free.’”

He pauses. “The plant has been around for longer than we have, so let it do its thing.”

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