Dakota Sigler is the propagation manager at Green Leaf Medical, LLC (gLeaf). The company operates a 45,000 square foot cultivation facility in Frederick, Maryland along with a processing lab in Bishopville, Maryland and will soon open another cultivation and processing facility in Pennsylvania. The company produces cannabis flower and concentrate products and also operates a dispensary in Ohio.
CBMD: Can you share a bit about yourself and your background?
Dakota Sigler (DS): I’m 22-years-old, and I was born in raised in Frederick, Maryland. I’ve been living there all my life, until recently moving up to Pennsylvania for my new position. I graduated from high school in 2014 and didn’t go to college. I went straight into the workforce. For about six to eight years, I built cabinets at my family’s business. Then I started working at grocery stores.
CBMD: How did you get into farming?
DS: I was working at a co-op grocery store in the produce department. They bought a farm and had this great idea to have some of the produce staff go down there and work occasionally. I hopped right into it and started growing kale, potatoes, beef, everything. I’ve always been passionate about cannabis, so I realized I could take what I’d gathered through this commercial farming experience and translate it into the medical cannabis field.
CBMD: What were your first steps to get into Maryland’s medical cannabis industry?
DS: This is my first job in the industry. I was so frustrated doing something that I didn’t love, I quit my job and set out to find a job in the cannabis industry in Maryland. I reached out to local growers and one day I got an email from Next Big Crop, a consulting company in Maryland that was working with gLeaf, which led to an interview and getting hired as the propagation manager.
CBMD: What does your job involve?
DS: I’m in charge of starting the whole growing cycle. I maintain the mother plants and grow them so that they can produce clones, anywhere from 150 to 300 clones per plant. Then once I have those clones, I plant them. I also work closely with sales to plan future cloning rounds to see what we’re going to be cutting over the next couple of months to a year. I get everything rooted and planted, and I grow them into big beautiful plants and get them ready for flower for seven weeks. Then I send them out for processing.
CBMD: What is cloning and why is it beneficial in medical cannabis?
DS: Cloning is taking an exact DNA copy of that genetic material from a strain. You cut off a branch of a plant, remove all of the extra nodes or leaves on the stem. You want a set of nodes at the top. Then you expose the inner layer of the epidermis and dip it in rooting hormone to promote root growth right off of the stem. It helps create the cell division needed for roots to be able to grow.
CBMD: How many clones do you generally get from one mother?
DS: It depends on the mother plant, but when everything has gone right, you can get 175 to 225 clones. Cloning is the fastest way to maintain and keep your production rolling.
CBMD: Could share a bit about your experiences as a woman in this industry?
DS: I don’t feel like it’s a boys’ club. The issues I have had or some of the tougher times I’ve had have just been with specific people. A lot of the men that I’ve met in the cannabis industry in Maryland are really good, open-minded people. I stand up for myself and let people know I’m good at what I do. I made it very clear from the beginning that I can get down and dirty with the boys. Whatever you need, I’m going to do it. And they respected that from the start.
CBMD: What gives you the most satisfaction in your job?
DS: I literally put blood, sweat and tears into my veg room, into all my mothers and all of my plants. I’m so glad at the end of the day, even if I’ve had the worst day ever, that somebody out there is getting relief in the state of Maryland thanks to my plants. And I hope medical cannabis becomes part of the solution to the opioid crisis in our state. Being part of that would make me really happy.
CBMD: If a woman, especially a young woman, wanted to get into the industry, do you have any career advice?
DS: Make sure your voice is heard. Be loud, and if you have questions, make sure that you ask them. Let people know you want to learn. You have to be confident and just got out and do it. If it’s really what you want to do, you will get there. If anyone wants to be a part of this industry, don’t be afraid because you don’t have a background in this industry. I think we are creating something different here on the east coast, where people are willing to share their knowledge and teach people how to grow, which is different than on the West Coast.