CorporateCannabis Struggles while Craft Producers Thrive

Jennifer Betz – Special To Cannabis Culture, October 16, 2020

Rosebud Cannabis Farms owner Che’ LeBlanc poses with his strain, Sarah’s Secret, with friend and helper Gage Walton on the left.

CANNABIS CULTURE – Financial experts blame price wars with the legacy market, increased competition, and unexpected consumer disinterest in Cannabis 2.0 products for the plummeting stocks of corporate LPs like Aurora and Canopy. However, with the number of sales at legal retailers being higher than ever, their return on investment issues may be as much about culture and quality as they are about competition.

Larger LPs seem to be struggling to understand the typical consumer, and it hurts their bottom line. For example, Aurora saw that its products cost more than buyers wanted to pay, and it responded by putting everything into creating a cheaper product. You can now find legal buds in most provinces for prices you probably paid in someone’s basement as a teenager. But no one wants to buy the cheap stuff either. It’s still too expensive, and the quality is just not there.

“These LP’s believe cannabis can be grown like all other crops, but they are quickly starting to realize that growing premium quality cannabis isn’t easy on a large sale,”

says David Hargreaves of Grump Weed, a craft cannabis producer out of Minnedosa, Manitoba.
Weed photo collage: Top – Grump Weed buds (L) and aeroponic facility (R)
Bottom – Apricot Kush from partner grower Ancestral Farm (L) and regenerative agricultural methods used by Rosebud Cannabis Farms (R)

Hargreaves grows his weed aeroponically in a sealed cleanroom facility, where his team gives each individual plant the attention it needs in order to be its stickiest self. This careful approach to growing the best plants possible is what brings interesting products to the market and attracts customers.

Attentiveness to quality seems to be a common thread among micro-growers, and many are absolutely thriving as a result. Some have seen their expected yield prices drop some, but their production process is cheaper, and the relationships they are building with retailers and customers makes all the difference.

“It’s about making people comfortable. There’s been a lot of promises made and promises broken,”

says Amanda Dass of Choice Growers in Strathmore, Alberta.

She is on her first leg of a tour of shops across Alberta and British Columbia, to get to know her sellers as well as she knows each of her growers. She’s confident that her latest product, “The Jeffrey,” will be a big hit. A pre-roll with 18 strains, “it’s an adventure.”

Top – Growing facility at Choice Growers
Bottom – Choice Grower owner Amanda Dass (R) Choice Grower founder Stan Swiatek (L)

Other smaller operations are taking advantage of clean air, natural sunshine, and a deep understanding of regenerative agriculture to get the best plants for the smallest financial investment, which is great for their bottom line. 

Rosebud Cannabis Farms in British Columbia, run by second-generation cultivator, Che’ LeBlanc, uses sustainable practices like living mulch, geothermal climate controls, and zero synthetic fertilizers or pesticides to grow highly cost-effective plants.

“Plants grown by these methods have a better taste, better terpene profiles, and a better shelf life.”

says Che’ LeBlanc of Rosebud Farms.

While corporate LPs are struggling to get a decent return on their investment, most craft and micro-growers have a finger on the pulse of their customers and a strong understanding of what it takes to produce superior products while keeping cost down. Aurora, Canopy, and Cronos may be in trouble, but smaller licensed producers are just getting started.

*Feature Image – Rosebud Cannabis Farms owner Che’ LeBlanc poses with his strain, Sarah’s Secret, with friend and helper Gage Walton on the left.

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