Green Market Report Michigan Awards: Best Cultivator Common Citizen

As the company has grown, it had to adapt to ensure it scaled up effectively.

At the first ever Green Market Report Michigan Cannabis Business Summit in Detroit on Sept. 6, we recognized some of the stellar industry players with the GMR Michigan Cannabis Awards.

The winner of Best Cultivator was Common Citizen, which runs a 70-acre greenhouse near the town of Marshall.

The Common Citizen team accepts the award for Best Cultivator at the Green Market Report Michigan Cannabis Awards.

Michael Elias

CEO Michael Elias, who got into the cannabis game in 2016 following a long career in health care, said it was marijuana’s medical potential that first attracted him to the industry.

“The prospect of being part of a movement that could revolutionize health care through the application of cannabis for therapeutic purposes excited me deeply,” he told Green Market Report. “It’s an extension of my life’s work in health care, but in a groundbreaking new context that offers untapped possibilities for patient well-being.”

The speed with which the cannabis trade itself has grown has proven to be one of the more difficult obstacles, Elias said, “which is exhilarating but also fraught with challenges.”

“While scaling the business, it has been incredibly difficult to stabilize our systems and processes, because the pace of growth can outstrip the rate at which operational refinements can be made,” he said.

But that’s exactly where he found his proudest cannabis business moment. He introduced a management program for the Common Citizen greenhouse using “Lean Six Sigma,” which he credits for much of the business’s success. It improved efficiencies throughout the organization and allowed the company to scale up quickly without toppling over.

Elias called it Common Citizen’s “bedrock.”

“Lean manufacturing principles are geared toward speed and innovation, but they also focus on stability and process optimization. In an environment where we have to make rapid, on-the-fly adjustments, lean has provided us with a structured framework to manage these complexities more effectively,” Elias said.

Looking to the future, Elias said he’s quite excited about the potential for federal reform in the near future, including rescheduling, banking access, a boost in cannabis research and development, and how all of that will combine to help the marijuana trade continue growing even more.

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