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MICRO-CULTIVATIONS, THE CRAFT BREWERIES OF THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY
By Cori Marshall
As the cannabis market opens up in Canada, WaterToday turned its attention to who can actually cultivate the plant commercially. Like in the beer industry there are large, mainstay breweries such as Molson and Labatt. Large producers put out a very standard product that appeals to many.
There are also the artisanal or craft breweries that produce a different quality of beer, some may say for a more discerning taste. The same can be said for cultivators of cannabis. There are large standard producers, and there is also another category of licensed cultivator, the micro-cultivator.
We had the chance to speak with Av Singh, Cultivation Consultant, and Randy Flemming, Cultivation and Design Consultant with FS Cannabis, about their operation and micro-grows specifically.
Singh explained that part of FS Cannabis' mission is to "make people understand that it (cannabis) has a long history of being part of the spirituality of so many communities around the world." He added that "we really want to bring that to the forefront as cannabis becomes part of the Canadian framework so that it maintains that integrity."
"So as our primary mission is to carry out the importance of cannabis and how to grow it so that we are producing good medicine for our community."
- Av Singh, Cultivation Consultant, FS Cannabis
HC has more than one licensing option for cultivators. There is the standard Licensed Producer (LP), and there is the Micro-Cultivation licence. Singh said that micro growers are "restricted to 200 square metres or 2150 square feet of plant canopy," and the micro-cultivator has the ability "to grow about 600 kg annually."
Singh believes the primary motivators behind HC offering the smaller scale licence "is to get farmers engaged, because it's a smaller scale, and is also kind of directed at the grey market, the subculture, the prohibition growers to bring them back in line with a legal method." Singh added the HC "recognizes the demand on electricity on communities by larger scale cannabis operations and were looking for opportunities to minimize electrical demand."
When it comes to operating a micro-cultivation, the team at FS Cannabis focuses on quality. Singh said that they run according to their tagline "Problem Avoidance by Design". FS Cannabis looks at the "types of equipment critical to producing a good quality product."
"We focus on, what are the quality of the lights, [...] heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, how are you controlling your environment, and the Ingredients that go into producing the plant, the soil and type of nutrients are you using."
Av Singh, Cultivation Consultant, FS Cannabis
Randy Flemming said that "it's about making sure the environment is in check first." He added, "if you have the proper environment, providing the proper amount of light for the plant you're already ahead of the game in providing what the plant wants and keeping the health of the plant up."
We asked what the benefits of mico-cultivation are. "We associate [micro-cultivation] with the idea of artisanal," Singh said. He compared smaller scale cultivation to craft breweries "where you do get small batch preparation." Singh added, "with cannabis, the flowering rooms are going to be much smaller, and there will be a more hands-on approach."
"The growers are able to touch the plants more frequently, perhaps grow different strains may take a little longer to flower, and there is the idea of hand trimming," Singh said. "You can get a better-looking flower that has more appeal to the consumer who is looking for something that is a little bit higher quality."
"The larger LPs are going to be more mechanized, more automated, geared toward producing a mass product, which is good for export," Singh said.
Singh believes that "micro-grows are absolutely a great fit" for First Nations. In the context of their experience with colonization, systemic racism, and food insecurity, "there is something empowering about being able to produce your own medicine, and the other aspect is that it is a good source of income."
"There is an opportunity for good work and to make some good money which can then translate into other entrepreneurial opportunities in First Nations communities, as well as bringing back food security in those communities."
Av Singh, Cultivation Consultant, FS Cannabis
There is a hidden benefit to establishing micro-cultivation within First Nations communities. Singh explains that "if for any reason there is a collapse and nobody loves cannabis anymore, the infrastructure that you have built can be quickly turned back into producing food for your community."
The micro-cultivator is reasonably tied into the emerging market. Singh said that "once you have your cultivation licence you can sell to any standard licensed producer," as well as "access to be able to sell to anyone who has a sales licence."
The micro-cultivation licence can allow the consumer a choice between a commercial bud or flower that has been attended to personally. The smaller scale cultivation can also have positive effects on communities.
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