Former UFC bantamweight George Roop has been in the cannabis industry longer than he’s been fighting.
Because medical marijuana has only been legal since 2010, and the 37-year-old Roop has been growing since he was 18, he hasn’t advertised this fact. It’s no wonder – even MMA industry vets who’ve tried to keep their cultivation operations a secret have met unhappy ends.
Happily retired from MMA, Roop is out in the open about his lifelong passion, and he’s attacking the cannabis business with the same zeal he had for fighting. In four months, he plans to open the Tucson Cannabis Campus, a 40,000 square foot cultivation facility that can produce 100 pounds of cannabis every five to seven days.
Roop, 37, has prepared the move long before he hung up his gloves. Throughout his eight years in the UFC and WEC, he reinvested his fight winnings into licenses that allowed him to grow medical marijuana.
When he was fighting, he used cannabis as an alternative to pharmaceuticals. He didn’t touch a pain pill while recovering from a gruesome broken leg.
Roop’s plan has always been to create a revenue source that would outlive his fighting career.
“I risked all my money just to put myself in positions and create reputation for myself in the cannabis industry where I’m highly sought after,” Roop said. “I never went out and bought flashy cars. I never made the most money in the UFC, but longevity is prosperity, and I stayed in the UFC a long time.”
Now, he hopes to reap the rewards. The 16-acre Cannabis Campus features on-site water treatment, rain water harvesting, a gray water system, and solar panels, according to a feature in the Phoenix New Times. Roop maintains his own “genetic library” of marijuana strains that can be mass produced on command. In the next three years, his goal is to expand his facility to over 400,000 square feet.
In the meantime, he’s been navigating the waters of local politics. There’s a mountain of paperwork to summit for business operators in the cannabis industry, and Roop must scale it to stay in the good graces of his city.
“Politics – break it down into two words. Poly means many – tics, blood-sucking parasites,” Roop said. “That’s just what you have to get through, man.”
The introduction of the Campus hasn’t been without controversy. Roop has offered to talk to nervous neighbors who fear a surge in crime, not to mention the overwhelming smell of marijuana wafting through the streets.
The project, funded by his uncle, has cost “millions and millions” to make a reality, Roop said. But the upside is potentially massive. At the same time, he has an ambitious plan make medical cannabis available to veterans through the VA system and those who are less fortunate.
When people ask him what he does, Roop doesn’t mention his past and present lives: He tells them he’s a husband and father. Watching the sport as an outsider, Roop has some advice for fighters currently toiling in the UFC: Think 10 years ahead.
“I think a lot of people get to the UFC and they think it’s a forever thing,” he said. “They hold all their value and they reflect themselves as, ‘I’m a UFC fighter, I’m an MMA athlete,’ and there’s downfalls to that.
“You’ll never stay on top. You see the evollution of the sport. You see these young killers coming in the cage right now; these cats have been training since they were 12 years old, maybe even younger. And they’re starting to train like real athletes – not going in there and banging it out on a daily basis. So I think it’s important that athletes hold their values in the right places.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Ex-UFC fighter George Roop realizes dream with Cannabis Campus