White Hat Sourcing | Part One
White Hat Sourcing | Part One
We recently arrived home from the lush gulf islands of British Columbia. This was an effort to source our club’s first supply of cannabis from some craft growers that have converted from the ACMPR program into the regulated commercial market. We thought our membership might find it interesting to compare the old days with the current state of sourcing in the legal market. Spoiler alert - it’s like navigating two polar opposite worlds. But along the way, we certainly saw lots of the ‘old’ cannabis world, especially on Lasqueti Island. We will touch more on this leg of the trip in Part Two of this Blog.
Gone are the days of simplicity, replaced by nerdom, data obsession and the fear of making a mistake. We experienced this fact in our first attempts of sourcing cannabis in the Health Canada regulated market. There is no denying that there are significant pros to the highly regulated market, which include, but are not limited to; an almost a zero percent chance of contaminated products reaching the public, informed customers making informed decisions and having a greater appreciation of the nuances of growing fire flower. But, it does make everything take longer is more complicated, and as a result, more expensive for our membership. This is a little breakdown of our first sourcing attempts as we forge on to find a way to bring more affordable, quality cannabis products to the medical side of the industry.
Bay Street Style
A point of criticism in the legalization process that has affected almost every aspect of the legal market is the influence of the liquor industry and stock market on the legalization of Cannanbis in Canada. First off, these industry’s are made up of a litigious bunch, so as we transition to the regulated system, we have to be careful to be above board with everything. This includes establishing extremely rigorous quality standards. Given our early adoption of the Cannabis ecommerce and craft distribution model that we are trying to establish, we seem to be a target of scrutiny. Basically, haters gonna hate… but when those haters are Bay Street lawyers, buttholes tighten.
Another example of the Bay Street influence is when we explored how to source flowers in the legal market. Almost instantly, we were introduced to a commodities clearance house type of wholesale purchasing portal. Combine this portal with thick contracts and endless red tape and hoops. Safe to say, this is not what we were accustomed to. This is how we imagined lumber and oil is traded on the global commodities market. No tasting, touching, smelling, or spit and handshakes available there.
As a stoners of repute, we have rejected the clearance house approach to sourcing, (you’re welcome). We are a membership in search of fine tastes and distinct flavors, so purchasing through a computer screen is not going to cut it. Sorry suits, not for us.
Reality, Track, and Trace
Reality, Track, and Trace
Unfortunately, most of our old cohorts from the legacy market have not yet completed their roll-over into the regulated market, so we can’t rely on old relationships. So, we started by researching craft grows in BC. In general, we continue to be really impressed with the quality, passion, and commitment of the growers we’ve encountered thus far. Our research was done in three ways; recommendations from trusted tastemakers; buying from the local stores to test out initial quality, and then, if initial tests were satisfactory, we would request samples.
We quickly learned that getting samples mailed and tested in the legal market for sourcing purposes is cumbersome and ineffective, for one main reason; Health Canada’s system does not easily allow for tasting samples. The “smoke” test is a lab test that gauges the ash colour, but does little to appreciate the combination of elements that determine quality. Our membership has grown to trust our sourcing over the years, they took away our favourite part of the job. Back in the day, Curty P; was our iron-lunged avenger, as our main tester he would sit in a humidity controlled room and blind compare four samples at a time every 15-20 mins. He obviously didnt test for potency as he was immune to getting high but even when we second guessed his opinion and invited others to review his work not once in the five plus years working with him did his opinion vary from any other testing. Basically, like a fine art dealer he was on the money every time.
We were left scratching our heads; has this industry really been blindly sourcing cannabis this whole time? The honest answer is no. People are creative, and certain methods have been devised to circumnavigate pointless and restrictive red tape. There are some creative ways that industry professionals are adapting but as we pointed out before, we had been targeted by haters in the past, so we simply won’t bend any rules. Government proponents will argue that the rigorous and expensive testing, such as the terpene profile, provides better information. Call us simpletons, but reading a report about terpene profile is hard to make head or tail of actual experience of the plant. Does the wine industry lab test their bottles of wine to tell you how it tastes? Sommeliers around the world would riot.
For the sake of balanced coverage, our tight track and trace approach does a pretty good job of stopping regulated products from entering the black market in Canada (not sure about aboard). Which ensures taxes are collected and supports a relatively large network of professionals such as auditors, laboratories and software companies. Not to mention, millions of tax dollars for the Canadian population.
Eventually, we opted for a more hands-on approach, albeit, an indulgent and slow method which involves traveling to the grows, visiting farms, and interviewing the farmers that are going to be growing on behalf of our club.
Back to the Future
We honed in on two farms to start with. One a technology driven entreprueral pair of young bloods the Craft Kings hailing out of Sooke, Vancouver Island. A picturesque town on Pacific Coastline of BC. Their craft grow and genetic program is detailed, which will be the main source of our feature in the next blog. We also reconnected with one of our original growers, an “OG” named Yasha Berg, who has just completed a four year process of building out and getting government approval; all while juggling three kids and growing and curing his first crop of craft cannabis under the new government regime. His family is a long time old Denman Island clan that live on an orchard with over 150 varieties of apples. Back to land, salt of the earth island folk.
Yasha was the one of the main growers of our infamous Pink Kush back in the day, so why not go back to the future with him? Our first call to him about how to buy weed on the legal market went like:
“How are things?”
“Busy, but good”
“Hey, so we have our license now and need get some good weed at a good price for the membership but we're having trouble figuring it out”
“Cool, yeah, we are figuring out a bunch on our end too. Bit stressful, expensive and time consuming to juggle family life and all”
“I’m stuck trying to figure out how to smoke before we buy anything. Maybe I’m just slow.”
“Yes, you are slow.”
To Be Continued…
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