Oaksterdam University hosted a virtual tour of the state-of-the-art grow facility Alibi Cannabis on June 8, 2022. Part of OU’s virtual field trip series, the event was an extra-curricular learning opportunity for Oaksterdam students and alumni.
Alibi Owner Marianne Cursetjee walked attendees through the 10,000-square-foot facility in Portland, Ore. where she and her team nurture the hand-crafted brand. She shared insights into the grow op and answered questions about the company’s cultivation process along the way.
“True excellence is art, science, and a bit of magic that comes from a phenomenal team,” Marianne says. “Our cannabis is grown with decades of passion, experience, and attention to detail.”
Marianne started the tour in Alibi’s Mother Room, where plants of 20 different cultivars are hand-watered and cared for to provide 75-100 cuttings each.
“If you start off with healthy and happy plants, that sets them off for the best success their whole life,” she says.
Cultivars are selected for their terpene profile and how well they fit into Alibi’s program, with consideration of size, growing cycle, and market demand.
Varieties include Tropical Gelato, Lava Cake, Kush Mints, Cereal Milk (new to Alibi), Pink Rozay, and Durban Poison — Marianne’s personal favorite.
Cuttings are planted in 72-cube trays containing the same soil as the mother plants. In fact, Alibi uses the same custom peat moss blend for all its plants throughout their entire life cycle.
“There is no transplant shock, they like the soil continuity,” Marianne says.
Clones nestle in their cubes for three weeks until they are moved to locally-sourced 3-gallon fabric pots for their vegetative growth phase.
On the way to the Veg Room, participants got a glimpse of Alibi staff using a commercial soil dispenser to fill the pots that the clones would be moved to. Investing in the large piece of machinery allowed Alibi to trim days off the labor-intensive process of repotting plants.
“A lot of farm work is very menial. Anything we can do to make it less physically taxing and less labor intensive we’ll do. It leaves employees to do things that are more interesting and value adding,” she says.
Like the Mother Room, the Veg Room uses 1000W metal halide bulbs to encourage all 800 plants inside to “set their feet.”
Marianne explains that when Alibi was founded six years ago, LED lights were not as good as they are now.
“With lighting, it’s about ROI and results,” she says “We went with what we knew, and It would be really expensive to throw out all our lights now and start over.”
Marianne says one of her favorite things about growing cannabis is the subtle shifts in odors between each variety and stage of the life cycle.
“It smells like cake and cookies and sweetness in here,” she says.
Marianne then showed attendees the Flower Room, where plants ripen to maturity. Leaves are trimmed back tightly so the buds are exposed to more light, and two rows of trellising guide growth upward.
The room has 90 high-pressure sodium (HPS) 1000W lights, custom rolling tables, CO2 supplementation, and charcoal filters. UV lights and a closed-loop HVAC system ensure clean, purified air is constantly circulating.
Drip irrigation brings the plants water and nutrients.
After 60 days, the plants are harvested.
The goal is one harvest each month, with a yield of 1.5 to 2 pounds per light after the plants are carefully cured and hand-trimmed.
Alibi sells the best buds as flower, packages smaller buds as pre-rolls, and uses trim to create oil, syrups and gummies.
“We use every part of the plant except for stems,” Marianne says.
About Alibi Cannabis
Marianne started Alibi six years ago after undergoing chemotherapy.
“Cancer completely changed the trajectory of my career and personal life,” she says. “Cannabis really helped me during my medical journey, and I wanted to share it.”
Her goal was to produce high-quality medicine “that’s amazing and grown properly.”
Marianne and her business partner Todd Meredith started constructing the cultivation facility in 2016. For the first few years, they grew two cultivars. This allowed them to complete the building.
Chris Eannucci joined the team in 2018 as Head of Cultivation. His expertise brought an additional focus on quality, variety, and yield.
“We are constantly innovating and changing, watching the market, listening to budtenders, finding out what people want,” Cursetjee says.
It takes six months to get a new cultivar to market, but it’s necessary to meet the public’s desire for new flavor profiles and “heavy hitters that are real stony and sedative.”
Advice for Aspiring Growers
Marianne closed the virtual field trip with some words of advice for Oaksterdam students.
“If you want to get into cultivation and growing, it’s important to take classes to understand biology and plant growth,” she says. “But it’s mostly about getting your hands dirty and developing an understanding about the plant.”
Alibi Cannabis is available at dispensaries throughout Oregon. Visit alibicannabis.com to learn more or find a store near you. Watch for merch featuring Alibi’s unique Mariposa NFT at alibi.shop. Connect with @alibicannabis on Instagram.
If you are a business wishing to host a Virtual Field Trip click here to learn more, or contact OU Lead Facilitator Samira Hasib at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (510) 251-1544. Alumni are welcome to reach out to Samira to join Virtual Field Trips.
If you are interested in entering the cannabis industry and working in a commercial cultivation facility, check out Oaksterdam University’s Horticulture Certification Courses. If you are interested in growing your own cannabis as a hobby, check out OU’s Home Grow Elective.