It all started with just one Honu

02.15.2018 - by Mike Arnold: In 2016, after the Malheur Refuge/Bundy case, the 48 Hours feature (“Trail of Tears”) and after authoring Finishing Machine, I was keeping a watchful eye on the cannabis industry due to my representation of black-market growers in federal court and assisting other startups with the OLCC process. I had also advised medical grows over the years as well and represented them after they screwed up (i.e., were arrested).

In October of 2016, we brought the entire law firm to Kona for the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association conference.  At this point I was at the pinnacle of my criminal defense career billing $450/hour, traveling statewide on major felony cases and overseeing several associate attorneys and managing a 9-attorney law firm that included one retired circuit court state judge.  However, I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the shortsightedness of my cannabis friends and clients.  In particular, I was seeing a lot of problems with their cultivation practices and inability to contemplate and anticipate commoditization.

One day in Kona I was thinking a lot about the problems I was seeing in the industry. I was talking to another lawyer at the conference about the problems with the outdoor harvest in Oregon due to rain/mold.  The problems were scale and timing of harvest. 

To clear my head I grabbed some snorkeling gear and swam out past the breaking waves into the coral reefs.  At one point I saw a honu (sea turtle) swimming along and followed him out to sea.  We got into the deep waters with the coral caves and arches at the edge of the open ocean.  I dove down about twenty feet and followed the honu into a cave and lost sight of him and resurfaced quickly.  He eventually emerged and I took another deep breath and followed him underneath a coral arch. However, I was exhausted at this point and couldn’t fight my buoyancy.  I caught my foot on the arch and lost my right fin in about thirty feet of water which was hopelessly too deep to retrieve.  So I continued to follow the honu as he turned out to the deep. 

He was about thirty feet below me with a backdrop of deep darkness.  After getting about another hundred meters out to sea with just one fin – scared and exhausted – I turned back.

At this point the tide was going out and there was a pretty steady current against me as I had to make the swim back to the beach.  I started to get a little irrationally paranoid about getting eaten by a shark while I was out in the open ocean (I was also bleeding from the coral scrape).  To calm my breathing I started contemplating the cannabis commoditization problem.  It was on this hour journey against the current that I created a rough outline at what eventually became One Gro.  I decided to form a company, raise money, lease property, and go big quickly in Oregon and do it all before spring of 2017 starting with nothing.

The company was originally named Green to Gold Cannabis Holdings (when my website launched in December 2016) and then G2G, Inc. for banking reasons. I searched for partners to assist in the startup in December through February finally settling on a construction contractor to assist with development of the farms.

We ultimately settled on the name “One Gro” because the company started with just one grow. Our only initial asset (and liability) was a lease of a 7 acre floodway property with fluvent soils, where I had a completely different model of low cost agriculture based on sensible Midwest farming practices. 

But for that honu, I don’t know if I ever would have came up with One Gro. I probably would have been just an investor or just another “cannabis lawyer.” It was during that exhausting journey back to the beach against the current with one fin that I got the guts to go “all in” in the cannabis space.

Hawaii will likely be one of our first territories up and running.  My business partners, Caitlin Kalihilihiokawai Maile and Peter Machacek, and I traveled to Hawaii February 8th to 12th to meet with industry leaders and attend the Hawaii Cannabis Expo. Caitlin (whose middle name means “eyelashes of the ocean, beautiful and serene”) is of native Hawaiian ancestry and attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  She has significant connections there within the chemistry community.  

But for that one honu, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and but for my business partner Caitlin, I wouldn’t have had the courage to separate from the companhy I founded to start this new adventure. 

To pay homage to the honu and our Hawaiian roots, I chose to include "Honu" in our name and a traditional honu symbol in the mark.  The "Xpress" part of the name is due to our emphasis of fast-acting delivery of cannabis.  Hence, the name "Honu Xpress."

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Are you interested in learning more? Contact founder Mike Arnold at 541-232-9112