Common Citizen’s “Principle” Centers People Over Profit

From concept to execution, this cannabis company considers community

At Common Citizen—one of the largest cannabis operators in Michigan—marijuana is more than a hobby. It’s a catalyst for community, a pathway toward healing and an opportunity for equity. With Principle, their newest one-gram pre-rolls, the purveyors put this ethos to action, donating 100% of the wholesale profits to local Michigan organizations that are hand-picked by Common Citizen’s partner Cannaclusive, an initiative dedicated to facilitating diversity within cannabis spaces. Together, the partners will redistribute proceeds from Principle to create more opportunities for social equity.

Courtesy of Common Citizen

Common Citizen’s range of products, dubbed “Common States,” range from pre-rolls to bulk flower and edibles, all of which respond to consumer needs. Daily Dose, for instance, acts as an everyday wellness ritual, intended for those who want a rejuvenating and productive high, while other states like Sweet Relief or Unplug feature relaxing strains to help unwind and ease tension.

Like these original offerings, Principle is cultivated within their 70-acre, state-of-the-art greenhouse farm facility in Marshall, Michigan, where an impressive number of technological partnerships and experimentations have led to the company’s 60 unique strains of high-quality yet affordable marijuana. Part of the their cultivation success lies in their optimization of a hybrid indoor/outdoor space. Overhead, a canopy allows natural sunlight to soak the plants, while moveable panels can fold out to provide shade and protect against overexposure. A customized tracking system notes humidity, temperature and airflow, adjusting the room’s features as needed.

Courtesy of Common Citizen

“Nothing grows plants better than the sun, so why not use it?” asks the brand’s co-founder and CEO Michael Elias during our tour of the grounds. “We have engineers that are constantly monitoring conditions. The system self-regulates thanks to sensors in the canopy which instruct it to close the blinds, open the blinds, put the shade blind in. Literally, we can hit a button and turn the whole thing into an indoor if we want it. And in the wintertime, when the sun’s not up, we can supplement with over 600 UMOLs [mircomoles] of light.”

Courtesy of Common Citizen

In addition to increasing their control over environmental conditions, Common Citizen pays fastidious care to the individual growth of plants. “We’ve also partnered up with MIT and we’re doing a lot of AI work. There’s a lot of cameras in the grove facility to take analysis of pathogens and look at abnormalities in the plant before they manifest and compound. That way, we can get predictive about the issues before they become big ones,” continues Elias. This collaboration is just one of many the company has done to improve and ensure reliable cultivation. They’ve also partnered with Philips Hue to experiment with how LED lighting affects plant growth and currently underway are more collaborations with robotic companies, including mechanic company Kuka. “That’s the most loose partnership we have right now,” he tells us. “It’s still being looked at, but because of the tech in the facility, it’s attracted a lot of these big innovation companies.”

by Kelly Pau

Much of the facility’s innovative technology focuses on bolstering sustainable practices, especially in regard to water, carbon emissions and raw materials. Underneath the floor, a power station cleans the distributor’s water supply, purifying the dirty water and pumping it back into their tanks in order to limit runoff to the sewers. In the greenhouse, 30 boilers capture carbon and repurpose it for the plants. “This is a way of keeping our CO2 footprint to a minimum but also harnessing CO2. A lot of our competitors will have to go buy it and pump it in. This system was designed to capture it and conserve it. Everything here is closed loop, including the water,” says Elias.

Courtesy of Common Citizen

Even the materials used to fortify the soil and plant growth reflect the company’s dedication to sustainability. Nestled in the soil lies upcycled cacao husks, which help increase water-retention while also being loaded with antimicrobials, the agent that disrupts the growth of microorganisms that harm the quality of the plant. “We’ve been working with companies to design a supply chain,” the co-founder elaborates. “Using the husks has been a partnership out of a company in Colorado, where we’re forcing them to think more sustainably in terms of how we manage the operation.”

At every level of production, Common Citizen has analyzed, upgraded and re-evaluated how its operation can impact the environment and inequalities within their community. It is this thorough consideration for the world around them, as well as their keenness to keep innovating on a humanitarian and technological front, that makes us eager to see how Principle will provide equity to overlooked communities and, going forward, how Common Citizen’s partnership with Cannaclusive will continue to evolve to shape the brand and industry to be more noticeably diverse and inclusive. While it may only appear as a single, ordinary pre-roll, Principle is undoubtedly one of many steps toward realizing an equitable future.

Hero image courtesy of Common Citizen