Prolific Growhouse NJ Cannabis Grower Underground legacy to legal social equity

Prolific Growhouse is a Black-owned underground legacy to legal cannabis grower that recently entered the New Jersey cannabis market.

Several dispensaries featured in Heady NJ, like Indigo dispensary, Fire and Oak dispensary, and Baked By The River, are among those that have been selling it.

CEO David Nicolas was shocked they made it across the finish line. They needed a lot of help, like others who have gotten into the New Jersey cannabis market. Like the underground legacy to legal operator Matha Figaro of ButACake, he has preserved and received help from deep pockets.

Nicolas was born and raised in north Trenton as a 1st generation Haitian American now wants to give back to his community now.

His mother was a housekeeper for the church who became very sickly at one point.

“Seeing those struggles, it grew me up,” he said.

After college at Rowan University, Nicolas worked as an accountant.

Going Underground Leacy to Legacy

“I come from the legacy market. Got this status back in 2019,” he recalled.

Nicolas was eager to emphasize his legacy side. He is a Social Equity license holder meaning he got caught. Nicolas explained as a medical cannabis patient he kept getting harassed and arrested by Trenton police.

“Our theme was to represent the legacy side. That’s what taught me everything about the game,” he explained.

As a legal New Jersey cannabis grower Nicolas wants to bring legacy strains that were in the market previously but disappeared, like Haze. He has many seeds from Maine and California.

“We kept a lot of good seeds and good genetics,” Nicolas argued.

Getting into the NJ Cannabis Market

He said he “started off with a dollar and a dream.”

Prolific Growhouse applied to the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) as soon as they could in December 2021. They were first approved in March 2022 among the first wave of conditional license winners. Prolific Growhouse converted to the annual license needed to open last June.

Capital was a big issue, but they made great progress. He took out loans from friends and family. Many personal loans were made to him. Most put up about $15,000 to $20,000.

“I was able to keep everyone passive,” Nicolas noted.

But even that wasn’t enough. He had 6 credit cards maxed out at one point.

“Everyone was trying to lowball me or didn’t have faith,” Nicolas said about potential investors.

He says he owns about 98 percent of the company and gave about 2 percent of the stock to his father and friend Roger, who married his cousin, and his security consultant. Nicolas was working with Dioh Williams, a former associate of NJWeedman who recommended a security expert who then invested in the company.

“It was almost like I was gambling on myself. I’m a risk taker at the end of the day,” he noted.

“Working with this group was the best option for me,” Nicolas said. “It has gotten me way further than I would have gotten there by myself.”

Making Deals for Prolific Growhouse

“I overcame almost 200 to 250k in debt,” he noted.

That did not include his own money invested in the company.

Big companies reached out to do deals. He had opportunities to work with many corporate Multi-State Operators (MSOs) that had a lot of downsides.

“They were going to try to capture my business. I would rather struggle,” Nicolas declared.

He said he had bad deal offers from a range of companies that tried to buy his company for a low price and take control of it.

“They thought I didn’t know what I was doing,” Nicolas noted. “We went through 30 potential investors. I only chose one.”

Missouri Cannabis Company Comes Through

He went to the Benzinga cannabis industry conference last September with his White sales manager and only $500 left. During the conference, they met a Missouri company after a casual conversation.

“Our boss would love to speak to you,” one of them said.

Boston Dickerson of Show Me Organics and Vivid Cannabis was impressed.

So they signed a Management Service Agreement. Nicolas said they helped on the management side and with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) along with a loan.

“So, we don’t make the same mistakes they did,” he noted.

“It’s just a short-term agreement “to give me the opportunity to… help each other make money. It’s an evil world we live in. A lot of these companies… will try to take you over your company and use you as the face. I stood my ground,” Nicolas explained.

He was grateful to his lawyer, Kenneth Lao, for his help in the process.

Nicolas is confident Prolific Growhouse can pay back the loan quickly.

“My contract was contingent on the license approval,” he added.

Converting a NJ Cannabis License to Open

The Prolific Growhouse cannabis grower or cultivation site is in Mount Holly in Burlington County. Nicolas said he did his own advocacy and lobbying efforts to secure town approval.

“Most of these towns are expecting you to pay a lobbyist,” he noted.

Prolific Growhouse initially had Mount Holly approval for a separate building that fell through. The landlord wanted them to buy the building for $1.2 million. His current landlord initially said no in March 2022. But by June, they were more open.

Nicolas insisted they kept everything compliant in their operations despite quickly getting to market.

“We started growing ahead of time. As long as the plants aren’t budding, they’re considered hemp plants,” he argued.

Things have been going well recently for the cannabis grower.

“Investors are trying to put money into my business. It’s almost like a domino effect,” Nicolas said.

He said he is better positioned to help others now because of his success which he wants to do.

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Dan Ulloa
Dan Ulloa is the Editor and Publisher of Heady NJ, with a background in politics, journalism, and a passion for the cannabis community. He curates and publishes news, events, and insights on the industry. Dan has been a leading voice in the New Jersey cannabis scene, educating and informing the public about this rapidly evolving industry. He ranked #35 on the INSIDER NJ Cannabis Power List out of 100 in 2022.