“Scale Up or Go Niche” Dustin Powers Advice to Manufacturers and Dedication to Open-Source Cannabis

Like many in the industry, Dustin Powers never planned on making cannabis his career. But whether he found the plant or the plant found him, the plant is now his life’s work.

Powers was only a casual cannabis consumer when he moved to Washington State shortly before the state coincidentally legalized cannabis in 2012. A couple twists of fate later and Powers found himself working for the renowned Skunk Pharm Research collective.

Powers was fascinated by Skunk Pharm’s meticulously scientific approach to cannabis and revolutionary model of sharing knowledge communally. “That’s where I learned the open source model,” he said in our interview. “That’s how I got really deep into cannabis science, the extraction side of things. It all snowballed from there.” 

As Powers continued to learn and experiment, eventually striking out on his own, that snowball came to include multiple pioneering breakthroughs in the industry, from the beginnings of ethanol extraction to advancements in pesticide remediation.

Crucially though, throughout his successes he’s remained dedicated to an open-source model of cannabis science. That dedication is what led him to launch the cannabis manufacturing forum Future4200, and to begin his latest venture, Good Life Gang, a members-only community committed to supporting each other with knowledge, networking, and other resources.

If that approach seems radical, especially in the face of cannabis’ rapid corporatization, that’s exactly his intention. Powers see the globalization of cannabis as eventually inevitable, and so in order to survive manufacturers will either have to master their craft, or master mass scale production.

“If you look at consumers now, they all want distillate and vape pens, and the name of that game is scale up or go home.

That really is it. You either scale, or you go really niche, like a really high end propane extract. Those things are harder to replicate at scale, especially if you’re working directly with the farmer, so you have some potential staying power as the price falls out.”

No matter which side a manufacturer chooses, mass scale or niche concentration, Powers deeply believes that success never comes alone, and so Powers is excited to not only speak at the Microscopes and Machines conference, but have the chance to connect with and answer questions from the community.

We hope that you’ll join us in Los Angeles on July 27 for the opportunity to talk to Powers and our entire speaker line-up. For tickets and more information,