Micros share lessons learned at live webinar
Microcultivators share knowledge in the latest Grow Up LIVE webinar
By Jean Ko Din
Never give up and have fun.
This is the mindset that an expert panel of micro-cultivators gave to a virtual audience on Grow Up Live’s “What It Takes to Go Micro.”
In replacement of a live tradeshow and conference this year, the Grow Up Conference & Expo has been hosting a series of live webinars on all aspects of cannabis cultivation and extraction.
On June 3, Stratcann founder David Brown moderated a panel of Licensed Producers to share their knowledge of micro-cultivation in Western Canada. The panelists included Kieley Beaudry of Parkland Flower, Alberta Eppinga of B.C. Cannabis Inc., Ron Gauthier of UpRyze Cannabis and Logan Dunn of Dunn Cannabis.
“This is the perfect time to get in the industry,” said Dunn, owner of Dunn Cannabis in Abbotsford, B.C. “We’re making all these stops, we’re tripping all over the place and figuring out the hard way. So, if you’re getting into this industry right now, just ask and we’ll teach you not to trip.”
Dunn Cannabis is run by a small team of three with more than 40 years of of collective experience in the legacy market. Transitioning into the legal market was not easy and Dunn said that for microcultivators looking to enter the industry, there are many challenges ahead.
From zoning challenges, banking and working with regulators, panelists shared their sense of responsibility of sharing their experiences and paying it forward to the larger grower community.
Eppinga, owner of B.C. Cannabis Inc. in Sooke, B.C., shared his experience navigating Health Canada’s Indigenous Navigator service. As an Indigenous owned company, it has access to a government program that guides self-identified Indigenous through a two-way licensing process.
“Definitely through construction, the Navigator program is awesome,” said Eppinga, who is a member of the Eagle Clan from the Haida Gwaii community in B.C. “They give you a point of contact and your emails get answered a lot quicker… It’s kind of like a streamlined approach to get your licence quicker.”
B.C. Cannabis Inc. currently has one licensed cannabis cultivation facility and has applications submitted for two more in the same building. Eppinga said he also has plans for a cannabis nursery and a processing facility in Chilliwack, B.C.
A total of 19 Indigenous-affiliated cannabis companies make up four per cent of the almost 500 federal cannabis licences issued by Health Canada. According to a report by Marijuana Business Daily, none of the latest licences are located on a reserve. In fact, in its first two years of legalization, only one licence holder is on a reserve.
“I have direct contact with the B.C. cannabis secretariat and I’m sure they’re probably listening right now. They are doing a fantastic job in helping First Nations communities move forward in this industry,” said Eppinga.
Beaudry, co-founder of Parkland Flower and president of the Alberta Cannabis Micro License Association, talked about taking on an “additional layer of work” as a licensed producer. Administrative duties, like record keeping and filing two different monthly reports for Health Canada and the Canadian Revenue Agency, is a full-time job on its own.
“You have to complete two different filing reports every single month, detailing exactly how many seeds, plants, and rooms you have. If you flip them into flower, you have to keep all those records accurately,” said Beaudry. “The traceability of that can be really challenging, especially when we do what we do, which is seed production. We have a lot of different cultivars going all at once.”
She also shares her experience with all the hidden costs and challenges of the business. Gauthier, who is chief executive of UpRyze, said the main challenges he has faced was during the building and construction stage.
He said that the building material shortage caused by pandemic lockdowns has doubled his construction costs since 2020. Plywood that would have cost $100 a year ago, now comes to around $4,500. Fiberglass reinforced panels that UpRyze ordered before the pandemic went from $66,000 to $96,000.
“Now I wish we would have built more facilities last year, just for the cost savings,” said Gauthier.