Leaf Nation Logo
Photo Courtesy of District Cannabis

District Cannabis: Raising the Bar

"We want to tell people what we’ve learned and help people grow Cannabis on a global scale.”

Follow your dreams. 

That was the message relayed by District Cannabis owner Andras Kirschner after celebrating a monumental win at this year’s National Cannabis Championship.

“I’m really proud,” said Andras, hoisting a title belt into the air like a prized fighter.

District Cannabis’ indica-dominant hybrid strain of Layer Cake was dubbed the top Cannabis strain at the 8th Annual National Cannabis Festival in Washington, D.C. on April 20. Swamp Boys Seeds was credited for providing the genetics, crossing crowd favorites like Wedding Cake, Triangle Kush and Skunk No. 1. 

The win followed a clean sweep of the 2024 Maryland Leaf Bowl category for Mixed-light/Greenhouse Flower, capturing a triple crown of championships with strains like Gelato Cake, Devil Driver and Cherry Limeade Cake. Greenhouse production has been a staple of District Cannabis since opening its doors in 2015, relying on a warehouse design Andras fashioned as a young cultivator on the West Coast. 

“We’ve hired some great people in this organization, and that has really allowed me to focus on what I love to do,” said Andras, who delights in being a hands-on owner, serving as the organization’s head grower. 

The 46-year-old was drawn to Cannabis at a young age, crafting a thesis paper in high school on why the plant should be legal. While in college, Andras was invited to tour an underground Cannabis operation in Vermont. The visit inspired him to begin a small grow in his college dorm room, and he’s been cultivating ever since.

“In 1997, I started like a lot of people,” he said, letting out a nostalgic laugh. “With two lights and a closet!” 

After earning a bachelor’s degree in sustainable agriculture from the University of Maine, Andras put his newfound skills to use on an 80-acre organic vegetable farm in Vermont. However, his desire to grow Cannabis remained larger than his will to grow vegetables. So Andras followed an age-old American pastime, traveling West to chase his dreams. 

“Back then, it was pretty much illegal everywhere,” Andras said. “But Cali? That was the land of the free. They were the only state that was allowing it.”

While working in California, a chance encounter with a National Geographic article altered Andras’ career path, encouraging him to mimic the growing practices of Dutch greenhouses. 

“I read about this little tiny country that was producing the majority of the veggies for Europe,” Andras said, referring to the Netherlands – the largest exporter of fresh vegetables in the world. “I thought, ‘These guys know what they’re doing.’ Right then, I knew that was going to be the future of Cannabis.”

As he climbed the career ladder, Andras was given more freedom to design his own grows. Greenhouse practices, he explains, allow for “much more efficiency in capturing drain water,” recycling nutrient-rich H2O back into the plants, while saving natural resources. 

“I’m always thinking about sustainability,” he said. “And I very much consider what we’re doing [at District Cannabis] sustainable agriculture.”

District Cannabis is currently collaborating with a data analytics platform called Let’s Grow in an effort to encourage more Cannabis companies to mirror healthy practices. The focus of the endeavor revolves around making a conscious effort to use less fertilizers. As more large-scale Cannabis grows come online around the world, Andras warns against the overuse of fertilizers, explaining their overall scarcity and the larger importance of growing food for the populace.

“Of course, we want to make great Cannabis and share it with as many people as we can,” he said. “But our higher purpose is trying to do good for the world. At this point, we’ve been doing this long enough where we don’t feel like we need to keep ‘The How’ a secret. We want to tell people what we’ve learned and help people grow Cannabis on a global scale.” 

Such philanthropy was part of Andras’ upbringing, he said. But, it’s also been a building block of District Cannabis, molded by late co-owner Ed Weidenfeld. Ed served as a lawyer to the Ronald Reagan administration in the 1980s but later rebuked such hardline conservative stances on Cannabis as he publicly shared his struggles with Parkinson’s disease. While Ed succumbed to his battle in December 2022, his presence remains felt throughout the organization.

“Ed was a great friend and mentor,” Andras said. “He would talk to everybody and give anybody the time of day. He always said, ‘Try to help people as best as you can without expecting anything in return.’ Generally, that’s a really good rule to live your life by.” 

District Cannabis opened up its “flagship dispensary” this past month in the Union Market neighborhood of Washington, D.C. A close friend of Ed’s was credited with the design. The team remains focused on carrying out Ed’s mission: making Cannabis accessible to as many people as possible. 

Andras and his team are working around the clock to bring new strains to the market with the potential of bringing home more awards for their craftsmanship.

“We pheno-hunted a lot of strains last year,” he said, noting a trifecta of strains – Jungle Boy Strange, Beach Cake and Florida Wedding – are set to hit the market this month. “A lot of people say you can’t grow high-quality Cannabis on a commercial scale. I think [District Cannabis] is evidence of the contrary.”

districtcannabis.us | @districtcnbs.us

This article was originally published in the July 2024 issue of Maryland Leaf.

View our archive on issuu.

Are you 21 or older? This website requires you to be 21 years of age or older. Please verify your age to view the content, or click "Exit" to leave.