Tropical punch Pineapple Buds goes with the flow INSIDE
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FEATURES Q&A: Mother Labs
Saskatchewan nursery’s genetics grown all over the country
BC craft cannabis couple inspired by a tropical tour
Volume 02, Issue 01 Spring 2022
We support legal cannabis 19+
Publisher David Wylie Media + Co.
Editor In Chief David Wylie Associate Editor Jenny Neufeld
Design Kristine Kalva
So many jars of weed These days you can’t even give your homegrown away
On the cover
Private cannabis stores are the underdogs
Pistol and Paris; Dunn Cannabis; Glacial Gold; Pure Sunfarms
Pre-rolls for treehuggers; annoyed budtenders; what’s in store
Earthwolf Farms extract, very close up
David Trifunov says he’s been converted by cannabis
Writers in this issue Jenny Neufeld Don Plant David Trifunov David Wylie
Kyra Horvath and Laine Keyes, founders of Pineapple Buds. Photo: Mason Klein
the oz. PO Box 41080 Winfield South Lake Country, BC, V4V 2L9
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FIRST HIT | the oz. Featured Contributors Craig Barker
Copper Island Cannabis in Blind Bay, BC, is featured in What’s in Store (page 13)
Why I buy my weed from private retailers I buy my pot from private stores. operate stores, they also control I like to support mom-and-pop supply and set regulations. shops and local owners who took a Sometimes, they don’t even risk and want to be part of the legal follow their own rules. In March, cannabis industry because they love BC Cannabis Stores started using a the plant. third-party service to make Some folks have the same-day deliveries in false idea that all stores Metro Vancouver. are the same because they No one was more have access to the same surprised by the products. But there is so announcement than private much variety at private retailers, who pointed stores. I love walking out that provincial retail into different ones and policy forbids thirdmeeting the owners and party delivery. Instead, David Wylie is budtenders. It’s one of the private stores have to use publisher of highlights of publishing their own vehicles and the oz. He’s had this magazine. employees, as well as take bylines in some of Each store has a on costly insurance. Canada’s biggest unique vibe, from local We can do our little bit newspapers. art, different decor, and to help private retailers by products they carry. choosing to support small In BC, private stores are the local businesses. These days, people underdog. There aren’t a lot of don’t part very easily from their industries where the government uses hard-earned cash (I know I don’t), taxpayer dollars to directly compete so where we choose to buy our weed against small businesses. Yet, in makes a difference. cannabis not only does the province email@example.com
“My professional work is based on an understanding of the desired brand perception we are aiming to communicate. I work to uncover stories that resonate by beautifully highlighting product features and integrating ritualized use into visual stories.”
Craig Barker is a commercial cannabis photographer and content producer across Canada.
Don Plant “Friends have benefits, especially when they offer you free weed because they grow more than they consume. With thousands of home growers harvesting buckets of product, I looked into how storefront retailers can compete.”
Don Plant is a retired journalist who hosted a CBC radio show and was staff reporter for a Kelowna, BC, daily newspaper.
David Trifunov “I’d heard the stories about cannabis and its power to unlock creative freedom — and it’s delivered — but I more marvel at the confidence it’s given me. It quiets the noise and amplifies the voice.”
David Trifunov is the author of four books for young adults, a journalist and father of three based in BC.
REVIEWS | the oz. BLACKBERRY BREATH by Pistol and Paris
BERRY GOOD DAY By Monjour
BENNY BLUNTO by The Loud Plug
Blackberry Breath pre-rolls have one of the most beautiful and potent fruit smells of any flower I’ve tried so far. As soon as you pop the cap off them, they light up your senses with sweetness. Labelled as an Indica, the pre-rolls burn almost white. The fruity sweet nose also comes through in the taste. It’s the kind of weed that makes you go, ‘What was I doing again? Oh yeah, writing a review about Blackberry Breath.’ Grown by JBuds, an Indigenousowned micro located in Summerland, Blackberry Breath registers at 21.2% THC and 1.27% terpenes. There’s a QR code on the tube that links to more info on the Joint Venture Craft Cannabis website. This is the second pack I bought at a local brick-and-mortar shop because I was so excited about the first one that I smoked them all before photographing them.
Monjour’s CBD gummies have become a staple. At 20mg of CBD they’re an excellent option to add a bit of chill to your routine. We tried the Berry Good Day—they also have Sunny Day Citrus—and they are tasty with great texture. Though you catch some of the bitter cannabis taste, the berry flavour is the star. These are great value at 30 gummies for $30 or so. That’s a total of 600mg of CBD. The jar is packed with 10 each of three different colours (red, pink, and purple) that had slightly varying berry-like flavour. All are a yummy, sugary delight. This is a repeat buy. — DW
I went over to a friend’s house recently. Rather than bring a bottle of wine to share, I brought a blunt. We sat around a fire in the backyard, sparked up the Benny Blunto from The Loud Plug, and then passed it around. Even with three of us smoking, we had to put it out just over halfway through because we were all toasted. Opening the bag, the blunt’s rich chocolate and vanilla smell is nice on the nose. The one-gram handcrafted blunt is wrapped in chamomile paper and packed with Indica-dominant Garlic Breath. It’s strong at 24.5% THC and has 3.05% terpenes, with Beta-Myrcene, Beta-Caryophyllene, and d-Limonene. It comes in a bag with a Boost pack. The blunt was smooth and burnt well with light grey ash. At $14 this is a nice treat. It’s from Toronto-based Canadian Clinical Cannabinoids. — DW
Small batch premium craft cannabis A true legacy brand supported by a true legacy team!
BERRY LEMONADE 1:1 VAPE by Glacial Gold
SOUR RASPBERRY GUMMIES by Pure Sunfarms
BC VALLEY GAS by Dunn Cannabis
Glacial Gold’s Berry Lemonade 510-thread cart is great for those days when you are busy and on the go. Like all cannabis vape cartridges they are no mess, no fuss and hit quick. This Berry Lemonade 1:1 has been what I reach for on those days when I still have things to do around the house but am looking for some mellow vibes. Glacial Gold has a whole line of 1:1, BC-made carts they call their Anytime line that is for both the “experienced and exploring” and I think they really hit the mark there. With the balance of equal parts of THC and CBD, I find that I get a more functional, chill high, as opposed to sluggish, couch lock and the munchies. The flavour is light and tasty, a sweet berry burst at first followed by a lemony citrus tang. It feels a little like sipping a sweet summer refreshment. The whole experience is smooth and enjoyable, I would highly recommend it. The Anytime vape is also available in other flavours.
These real fruit gummies capture the essence of BC. Pure Sunfarms sought inspiration from BC fruits when developing their gummies and it shows. Their Sour Raspberry 1:1 gummies have a delicious fruit-forward flavour. Once the sweet sugar coating dissipates you are left with the natural raspberry tang. You can taste the infusion of cannabis but it does not detract and lacks the bitterness that we were experiencing with earlier edible offerings. These gummies are vegan and without any allergens or gluten, which meshes with West Coast vibes and values. I had high hopes for these gummies and was not disappointed, these have already been a repeat purchase.
After picking up the jar, I had a feeling right away that BC Valley Gas was going to be good. The branding is simple and effective, the jar is the perfect size, and the nice thud on the side of jar from the bud hinted at what I’d find inside. As the name of this offering hints, Abbotsford-based Dunn Cannabis is located in BC’s Fraser Valley. The lid came off smoothly and the seal was tight. Still, some of the gassy, fruity smell was getting through already. The THC is at 22.3%, with terpenes listed on the jar at 2.78%—especially high in Farnesene, Trans-Caryophyllene, and Limonene. There’s a Boost pack in the jar. Buds are dense, moist, and very glittery. One chunky bud weighed in at nearly 2.5 grams. The buds are deep green hues. It burned light grey. I could take big pulls and it was still smooth. It got me coughing at the end. It has a great effect.
CURRENTLY TESTING AT
PRE-ROLLS AVAILABLE NOW!
30 % THC
NEWS | the oz.
TreeHugger taps environmental roots
Avant Brands has launched sun-grown, certified organic, sustainably packaged prerolls under its TreeHugger brand. Founder and CEO Norton Singhavon says they set a new benchmark. “While other companies offer organic flower, Avant chooses to set the pace and create a new industry standard with our ambitious goal of producing the most environmentally sound product on the market,” says Singhavon. TreeHugger pre-rolls are packed with Organic King Tut flower in a 10-joint box (three grams total). The company says it uses sustainable, all-natural bamboo cones that come in 100% recyclable boxes. The bag inside and humidity pack are both biodegradable. Even the labels are hemp-based. “From growing, to packaging, to consumer experience, we have put an eco-lens on TreeHugger that sets us apart from others in the organic cannabis market,” he says. BC-based Avant’s other brands include BLK MKT, Tenzo, and Cognōscente.
Budtenders’ least favourite question There’s nothing more eye-roll inducing to budtenders than when customers ask about THC potency. And apparently, it happens a lot. It’s the most repeated—and by far the most annoying—query from customers, say Canadian frontline cannabis store employees in a survey by research firm, Brightfield Group. To budtenders, customers are a doubleedged sword, they say. “While many budtenders cited the relationships they’ve built with their customers as their favourite things about their stores, difficult customers are one of the biggest pain points for budtenders,” says the report. It concludes that budtenders have significant influence over their customers, as 73% of people buy the products recommended by store employees. Budtenders, themselves, tend to gravitate toward smaller, craft brands. “Budtenders recognize that all brands are not the same and most are willing to go out of their way to find certain brands,”
says Brightfield. “Budtenders most value cannabis companies that are known for treating employees well, are authentic, and have a legacy of quality.” Budtenders say they’d be more likely to recommend certain brands if they had access to free sample products, training about the brand, or swag. Brightfield surveyed more than 400 budtenders across Canada from more than 113 different stores.
WE ARE... COMMITTED TO
Dunn Cannabis teams up with BZAM A BC micro and large cannabis company have formed a unique partnership. Logan Dunn, founder of Dunn Cannabis, says the experience he’s gained as a micro-producer and the larger company infrastructure of BZAM Cannabis are an excellent pairing. “We’ve been friends with BZAM for a long time and we’ve always been big fans of each other’s work, so it was high time we joined forces to become even stronger together,” says Dunn. He says BZAM has a large and experienced sales force that can reach stores in every province and create excitement. They also help with other parts of the industry that can prove challenging for smaller cannabis companies, such as payment times and waiting on funds from provinces. “BZAM supports us with being able to process our products and commercialize them in a way that’s going to build brand awareness across the country,” says Dunn. Meanwhile, Dunn helps BZAM with legacy learnings.
“We’re good producers, and we support them with genetics and ways of improving their current production method they already have going,” he says. The two companies will also be working
together on some unique offerings, including a new collab brand called ‘BZAM x Dunn,’ where they’ll partner with craft growers to bring limited releases to market that you can’t find elsewhere.
Sophisticated streetwear from Pistol and Paris apparel Dylan King is energized when people like his designs enough to wear them. “If you have people walking around in Pistol and Paris shirts, it has people talking,” says King, founder and CEO of Pistol and Paris. “That really is what inspires me to do what I’m doing.” The Pistol and Paris brand was initially envisioned as an apparel line, before flying high as a cannabis brand. Now, the company has given a fresh look to its website—helping to highlight its apparel line, and at the same time, deepen relationships with supporting retailers through their retail portal. There is a strong relationship between cannabis and branded clothing, says King. “Brand recognition is just as important as great weed,” he says. Pistol and Paris’ various cannabis products are currently available across five provinces, including its Orange Tingz and Black Triangle flower—grown by top-notch micros, such as JBuds and Verte West. Their Blackberry Breath and Legendary Larry pre-rolls are also popular. Along with choosing their growers carefully, Pistol and Paris hold high standards for who’s making their apparel; all their clothing is made in North America. Pistol and Paris is looking at coming out with more exclusive, premium wardrobe items. For example, King is working on a crewneck made by the same company that Drake uses for the OVO clothing brand. Even more clothing styles are in the works, including athletic wear such as tank tops, shorts, sandals, track suits and cropped hoodies. Design work is done by King and his wife Brittany. It’s important that not everything screams cannabis, he says. While many people like the fun, “Life is
Inside one of the Seed and Stone locations
What’s in store?
Pistol and Paris apparel is being carried by a growing number of retailers across Canada.
too short for bad weed” shirt, there has to be a balance of subtlety. “People like the style of my apparel. People like my brand and like my brand message. Over and above that, they have to like the look and fit,” says King. “Anything that I put out there, I have to feel comfortable wearing. Having people love a piece of clothing that I’ve designed really excites me.” Retailers interested in carrying Pistol and Paris apparel can contact them through the retailer portal at pistolandparis.com/retailers.
Nobody knows what’s popular better than those who work in cannabis retail every day. Concentrates are gaining traction and attracting attention at Seed and Stone, which has locations in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island. Jeremy Selby, who’s in charge of purchasing for Seed and Stone’s cannabis stores, says there’s been a recent push toward concentrates thanks to expanded selection and competitive pricing. “There are a couple new novelty items that are interesting in the concentrates, which catch people’s eye,” he says. They include a hash stick, moon rock, and vapes with specific cannabinoids, like CBN. At Copper Island Cannabis in the Shuswap, locally grown and processed flower is a popular pick for cannabis customers. Manager Ashley Jager says Blind Bay, BC, residents know what they want. “Everybody really gravitates toward the stuff that they know comes from our immediate area. We come from a community where shopping local is huge,” she says. Anything from Joint Venture Cannabis under the BC Black label sells well at Copper Island. Joint Venture is based in Salmon Arm and processes cannabis from a number of BC micro-cultivators. “We are focused on craft cannabis. It’s cool to see people get excited about the same products that I get excited about,” she says. Old-school customers are returning to the legal market, says Colin Bambury, head of marketing at THC Canada. The Vancouver store started in the legacy market in 2016. “When rec-legalization first took place, a lot of those customers were either coming in and being disappointed or not shopping with us for the first year or two. Now that the product quality has started to catch up and a lot of those former legacy operators are really starting to transition over to the legal market, we’re bringing a lot of those old-school customers back.”
For all of our What’s in Store features visit okanaganz.com/oz/topics/whats-in-store theounce.ca
Q & A | the oz.
We spoke with Brian Bain, CEO of Mother Labs, one of the unseen players in the cannabis space. The Prairie-based nursery works with large licensed producers and micro-cultivators across Canada.
Can you talk a little bit about your background and how Mother Labs came to be? I started in cannabis. I’ve been growing cannabis since I was 16 years old. I became a horticulturalist because I really didn’t want to go to jail. So I ended up with herbs. That’s the way I saw to getting out of the game and legitimizing my life for my wife and my son. I made the switch to grow products that were very needed in my province. I found out there was a lack of local products— healthy sustainable products—and that we imported a lot of our food. I did that as a passion project to feed people. Health Canada announced the nursery option a few years back. It was very similar to what we were doing with the herbs. We were doing rapid plant production. We grew plants two to three weeks before we shipped them out. We shipped living products, and we shipped living products around Canada. The food safety side really played heavily
Mother Labs has up to 10,000 different cultivars in seed form. More than 60 of the company’s cultivars are on the market, including Z-Splitter and Orange Tingz.
into cannabis. When we made the switch it was a very fluid and simple switch. We kept 14 employees on while we expanded and retrofitted the facility. We run the farm very similar to how we did the food. Basil was, oddly enough, much harder to ship than cannabis. So that prepped us. It’s fascinating seeing the way that you grow vertically, nearly 30 feet high. It’s necessary. We grow in the city, where lease rates are very high. And I’m not a farmer. I grew up in an apartment building, with a single parent, no real garden space, growing herbs on a patio. For me it’s second nature, I don’t really know traditional egg-to-egg life.
You’ve done an international-first by sending cannabis genetics to South Africa; how did that come about and what’s the significance? We made connections at a conference that led into a year of conversations and quite a bit of due diligence in the company in South Africa. But it led to a lot of work. It’s the first successful shipment for us internationally. It’s helping the world see that we can accomplish this, that we’re successful in shipping a large volume of plants to another country. We also helped develop the SOPs (standard operating procedures) in South Africa with the government. They didn’t really have a
G e t on th e ca nna va n w it h
Okanaga n Can n abi s To ur s
knowledge base in how to receive tissue culture plants. How did you ship them? We fly the majority of our products. We flew them on a plane with GPS trackers, temperature trackers, humidity trackers, and follow the shipment from the second it left our facility to the second it landed. What was the inspiration behind the Mother Labs branding? Be different. Be unique. When we started our company there was a lot of ‘Canna’ and ‘Medi’, a lot of these common names that you see over and over and over again. We wanted to create a real brand in cannabis. We are a B2B (business to business) company, we sell to a lot of other businesses. It’s difficult for us to get a B2C (business to consumer) presence and get out into the world. So we had to create a brand that stood out and a brand that made people ask questions. That’s why it looks a little scary, or a little bit off the wall, a little bit atypical, it’s just because we had to be talked about, we had to stand out. It’s played out very well for us. The colours and the brand were different than any other player in the entire cannabis space in Canada. The logo’s basic, the word ‘mother’ really it’s what we are. We’re here to help the industry grow. In Canada, where do you find the demand for clones is coming from? For clones and teens, generally you get the micro-cultivators and small-scale LPs. Genetic licensing is more for the larger players. Small players are more of a supply; large players more of a service model. How many different genetics do you have? A lot. Currently in our TC (tissue and culture) lab, we have over 150 living phenotype genetics that we have COAs
(certificate of analysis) for and we’ve done analytic research on. We have another 5,000-10,000 different individual cultivars in seed form, as well as many, many, many undefined cultivars that we’ve bred with in seed form as well. The number is huge. The amount of potential genetics is even larger. We’re actively breeding all the time. We have to help the industry diversify. The name of the game for us right now is exclusivity. Everyone we’re dealing with now wants genetic exclusivity. We’re working hard at increasing the volume of genetics we have—high-quality, unicorn genetics—so we can offer everyone their own unique product. That’s really our push in the next year or two. Do you help with tips and tricks on how to get the most out of the genetics? Yes, we do. For our cultivars, we spend a lot of time and a lot of money tracking data. When we’re phenotyping and going through different genetics, we’re taking photos from the beginning of the plant’s life all the way to the end of flower. Throughout the whole process we’re taking growers’ notes on everything. We try and compile a giant database for every cultivar we have and then we go and teach the client. We have to do as much as we can to give people the best chance they have because there’s a lot of competition on the market; there’s a lot of ways people can lose their shirts. It’s a very challenging industry to be in. What are some of your most popular genetics? There’s quite a few; I’m sure ones you’re very well aware of… Powdered donuts is one, we’ve got Mimosas on the market, we’ve got Z-Splitter, First Class Funk is getting a lot of talk right now, Cherry
Punch is making a massive splash, Sour OG Cheese is out there now, Orange Tingz is one, Vanilla Ice. I could literally go down a list of 60-plus cultivars we have on the market right now. The thing that people don’t realize with our industry on the supply side is anything we do is not really released for a year. We’re constantly trying to read trends before they even exist. We often call ourselves ‘culture curators.’ A lot of people don’t realize that we’re looking very far ahead into the future. Do you find that LPs are all gravitating toward the same genetics at the same time? What they’re gravitating toward is the certain THC percentage that the market wants, the certain terpenes the market wants, a minimum yield expectation. Right now it’s exclusivity. People want to be different. Unique cultivars hitting all those marks we’ve come to expect in the Canadian market. It’s hard to differentiate yourself, there are so many different products on the market. I’m a cannabis user and have been for the majority of my life. I search for products that have positive effects, I like to feel good, I don’t like redeye, I don’t like pasties, I don’t like the traditional negative effects of cannabis. All of these different things work into our cultivar selection, what we put on the market. I also am a connoisseur. I like very high-quality cannabis, so I’m personally choosing every cultivar that moves forward and it has to hit on the terpenes, it has to hit on all markers. We call it a unicorn. If it doesn’t hit on all markers we’re literally junking it and not releasing it.
Ok a n a gan C ann abi s To urs Online booking starts 4/20 Go to our website to reserve your spot!
HIGH RESOLUTION | the oz.
God’s Space Needle Live Rosin; Earthwolf Farms
This live rosin is unique in many ways, with its vibrant yellow hue, high 12% CBG content and rare terpene profile. Starting with organically grown flowers, Earthwolf isolates only the 73-120u trichome heads using ice water processing, and gently presses them under heat and pressure to make this rosin. The flavour is best revealed at low temperature; an initial blast of citrus leaves a lingering taste of tropical fruit. This rosin packs 5.5% total terpenes, dominated by Limonene, Caryophyllene, Ocimene, Caryophyllene oxide and Cedrol, a rare combination. From its appearance to flavour, this rosin is guaranteed out of this world! — Photo: Craig Barker & Kyle LeGrow
COVER STORY | the oz.
PINEAPPLE OASIS From wallpaper that’s on theme to the story behind the name, Pineapple Buds has a charming personality; the couple behind the scenes, Kyra Horvath and Laine Keyes, have been together way back from growing in barns to their 10,000-square-foot deep-water commercial cannabis space located in the wine capital of BC. With farmgate on the horizon, Pineapple Buds is in the right place at the right time. By David Wylie An oasis in a desert landscape, Pineapple Buds has been growing sweet craft cannabis using flowing water in the arid landscape of southern BC. Founders Kyra Horvath and Laine Keyes have set up a commercial deep-water growing system in the South Okanagan to raise beautiful, colourful, sweet-smelling plants. The couple matches in their blue scrubs with ‘Pineapple Buds’ embroidered neatly on the left chest. Their passion for the craft is evident
the oz. oz. the
throughout our tour of the bright and tidy facility—from the cozy office with pineapple wallpaper to the tropical environment of the mother room to the freshness of the spacious grow rooms. They are known for tropically inspired offerings, including Pineapple Party and Hawaiian Pineapple. Popular with BC craftminded cannabis consumers and budtenders, Pineapple Buds reaches the market through Joint Ventures’ BC Black label.
Photo: Mason Klein
Kyra grew up in a small farming community in Alberta. She moved to BC to attend a soccer academy when she was in high school. That’s where she met Laine, while attending classes with one of his brothers. “We’ve pretty much been together ever since,” she says. After graduating high school, Kyra went back to Alberta where she majored in sociology with a minor in anthropology at the University of Calgary. She played soccer at the university until she tore her ACL playing with the University of British Columbia Okanagan in the off season. Laine, meanwhile, is a fifth generation farmer—and a second generation cannabis grower. He also has a background playing highly competitive sports, as a forward with the BC Hockey League’s Williams Lake Timberwolves and Prince George Spruce Kings. “I was a bit of a scrappy individual,” he laughs. When Laine was 19, he stopped playing hockey. Family changes meant his mom was going to be by herself on their farm in the Shuswap. Laine went to work on the Alberta oil rigs for six months, but he soon decided it made
the most sense to be back home to find ways to keep the farm going. Laine and his two brothers have since grown the property into the Turtle Valley Bison Ranch. There are about 50 bison on the ranch now. In the mid-2010s, during his young 20s, Laine spent four intensive years learning about cannabis and growing techniques. Kush strains were popular at the time, and Laine grew purple Kush and Pink Kush, as well as Green Crack, BC God Bud, Sweet Tooth (which is an orange looking flower), and Silver Haze. “My mom started with some outdoor plants,” he said. “When I got introduced to the cannabis space there were medical licences available so you could grow for patients. I ended up getting about six different patients that I was growing for. I started in a chicken coop, the first growing facility. Then as opportunities happened, moved up to a barn and got out of the chicken coop. I’ve definitely evolved with the space,” says Laine. When Kyra arrived on the farm, they were using two barns—one on Laine’s property and another barn on his grandpa’s property.
Photo: Mason Klein; inset David Wylie
Laine Keyes walks through the hall at Pineapple Buds; there are welcoming details peppered throughout the facility.
“Our whole company is very hands on,” says Kyra. She finds working with the plants to be relaxing and fulfilling. When Kyra finished university, Laine invited her to move to the farm where he introduced her to the cannabis space. She has thrived. Still, as a female master grower, Kyra says it’s not always easy to be taken seriously. “We’re in a very male dominated industry. There’s a little bit more that you need to prove. Myself, I love to take on a challenge and Laine has always been a really good support,” she says. “For any other females who out there looking to take on master grower roles, I would say there are a lot of opportunities out there and they should do it.” Laine says he’s found in his 11 years in the space that women are much more gentle and caring for the most part. “The ladies treat the plants much nicer than we do,” he adds. When recreational cannabis was legalized in 2018, the couple knew they wanted to be part of it and went in search of the right spot to plant roots.
Wine to weed
Pineapple Buds is located on the Osoyoos Indian Band in Oliver, beside the District Wine Village. The 10,000-squarefoot facility has triangular and rectangular patterns of yellow and blue. “It was a shell building that was originally used for wine storage. Another cannabis company had ended up taking over the building, but they were from Toronto and they were liquifying some of their assets so the building became available. I went and looked at it. Right after I saw it, I knew that it was perfect for us. It was just a matter of constructing the inside to fit a cannabis facility,” says Kyra. Inside, they have 5,000 square feet of flowering space. The commercial deep water culture system they use is “night and day” compared to growing on the farm, especially when it comes to cleanliness. In deep water culture, plant roots go directly into water, which
circulates through the system. Water is supplemented with essential nutrients. They currently have two flowering rooms and one genetics room. While they could cram 900 plants to grow in one room, they’re finding they get better results by leaving space to breathe, planting fewer than 400. They’re continuing to experiment to find what number works best for their lighting coverage. “Sometimes you find that less is more,” says Laine. “Growing smaller, larfy buds definitely doesn’t bring you a lot of value, so making sure you’re able to get that right light penetration to preferably have all larger size buds on your plant definitely makes a big difference.” This year, they’re testing different genetics, hoping for at least two that grow well for them and would be popular with consumers.
Photo: Mason Klein
“A couple of years ago I went to Hawaii, and I toured Dole. It was kind of like a wine tour but you get to pick your pineapples. You bring your pineapples back and they give you a cute bag. You’re allowed to fly home with it too. Everything about the experience I really enjoyed. I would like to see the cannabis space be able to move toward something like that. Because it wasn’t just going to a store and purchasing it, it was the whole experience of the smells, the taste, seeing how something is grown that you get to consume. I really enjoyed that. So when I was trying to come up with the name for our company, I was telling Laine about everything that I loved about Hawaii and he said, ‘Why don’t you call it Pineapple Buds?’ And I thought that’s great. Why shouldn’t the cannabis plant, a bud, be just like a pineapple—big, sweet, flavourful; an array of different colours through different stages of its life. When a pineapple is a juvenile it's bright pink. It’s so dang cool. I thought if there can be this much depth of growing pineapples and its life stages, cannabis is exactly the same.” - Kyra Horvath
They’re also refining some of their cultivation techniques. While they’ve managed 80 grams per square foot, they want to grow that to 100 grams per square foot.
Future farmgate plans
There is about 2,500 square feet of available space that’s currently being used for storage and a lunch area. “We wanted to leave that open for future expansion, so that could either be having a side that would be available for farmgate or that could be for developing another mother room to be able to do more genetic and phenome hunting. Or that could be for another grow room,” says Laine. They’re currently in conversation with the OIB about future opportunities with the land, as there’s enough room to attach an expansion to the facility. “They’re really supportive of what’s going on,” says Laine, who also has Indigenous heritage. “We would like to potentially by 2023 be looking to add four more cultivation rooms.” As a First Nations affiliated cannabis company, Pineapple Buds has access to the federal government’s Indigenous
Navigator process, which made getting their cultivation licence in 2020 through Health Canada more seamless. “They don’t necessarily tell you what you should and shouldn’t do but they guide you in the right direction,” she says. It was very beneficial, she says, and
suggests any qualifying Indigenousaffiliated companies to try it. Pineapple Buds plans to package under their own brand with Joint Ventures as their processor. “If they weren’t an option, especially being a start-up micro-cultivator without a processing and sales (licence), it would have been very hard to not have to go down the road to just selling the product white-label to one of the big companies,” says Laine. “They help a lot of the smaller companies get access to the market. It seems like the customers have definitely been enjoying a lot of those products.” Pineapple Buds is well positioned to take advantage BC’s upcoming farmgate regulations. “Given our unique location by the District Wine Village, we would definitely like to be able to participate in that and have farmgate sales right out of the facility,” says Kyra. While they currently only have a cultivation licence, they are looking at bringing sales and packaging in-house by applying for sales and processing licences. “Laine likes to go big or go home,” says Kyra.
The Dole plantation in Hawaii (top) is the inspiration behind the Pineapple Buds name. Laine Keyes (above) stands outside of one of the grow rooms in the South Okanagan-based operation. Purple hues from Pineapple Party (opposite) pop in contrast with its orange pistils.
Photos: top Adobe Stock, above David Wylie; opposite Mason Klein
Overgrown homegrown By Don Plant Every so often I get an offer that was unfathomable five years ago. Friends who grow their own weed have so much surplus, they want to share it for free. The four-plant limit per household may sound puny but these guys have way more cannabis tucked away than they can give away. One of them showed me eight mason jars filled with bud—all but one of them containing weed he grew in his garden last summer. He brought part of his stash to a ski-week gathering with friends from Nelson. “I show up with a mason jar of my pot. Another shows up with a bunch of cookies and bags of pot for each of us. The third guy shows up with his stuff,” he laughs. “We’re all friends trying to get rid of this shit. We couldn’t give it away.” Another Kelowna friend has harvested more than four pounds of product from his 26
garden since home-growing was legalized in 2018. Tom (not his real name) smokes, makes edibles and, coincidentally, hands out one-litre mason jars stuffed with quality weed to any friend who’ll have it. He’s barely dented the supply he stores in his large sealed containers. Tom also gets free weed from others. When his old boss sold his Kelowna house last fall, he harvested everything he grew before moving to the Coast. “Before he left, he brought me a mason jar full of bud with the label on it of what it was. You go to someone’s house, you used to bring a bottle of wine. Now you bring a jar of weed,” Tom says. I’m over 60 and stopped smoking cannabis years ago. But this apparent bounty of bhang got me thinking. If every Canadian household can grow up to four plants at a time, isn’t there a glut of supply? How can cannabis retail stores survive when they compete not only with the black market and illegal shops, but hobby growers who
consume less than they produce? Last year 11 per cent of Canadians who obtained dried weed in the previous month got it for free, according to the 2021 Canadian Cannabis survey of 10,000 respondents. Eight per cent grew their own or had it grown for them. In the Okanagan, the proportion of home-growers is likely higher when you account for the prolific acreages of farmland, countless gardens, and longer growing season. Sarah Ballantyne thinks so. As owner of a Spiritleaf store in Vernon, she knows many users are storing “a lot of” homegrown. “They’re always trying to drop it off or give me samples,” she says. “I do think it’s part of that older demographic that’s been used to (growing) all these years. But the new generation of cannabis consumers are coming directly to the store . . . A lot of them live in apartments or they’re renting so there’s no way they’re able to grow it.”
Contributed Above: Eight mason jars of homegrown highlight the surplus of backyard weed that’s out there. Some homegrowers say they can’t even give their weed away anymore. Inset: A graph shows where most Canadians are getting their weed, according to Statistics Canada’s 2021 Cannabis Survey.
For Okanagan retailers, making a profit remains a challenge. Sixty legal cannabis outlets — four of them public B.C. stores — now operate from Armstrong to Osoyoos. With dozens more operating illegally, Ballantyne agrees the market is saturated. Still, she doesn’t view hobby growers as competition. Her staff cater to them by selling seeds and giving advice. They’d sell clones if they could but distribution problems make it impossible, she says. Even so, Ballantyne cautions homegrown can be unsafe. One benefit of buying store-bought product is it’s regulated by Health Canada, which irradiates a portion to kill bugs and bacteria, and to prevent moulding. There’s no such protection for homegrown, she says. “If there’s even a touch of mould in that jar, the whole jar is done . . . If you ran some testing on some of these products I’m sure you’d find either mould or powdery mildew.”
Customers tell Ballantyne about their bad experiences after they consume unregulated edibles baked at home. THC levels tend to fluctuate when cooks infuse homegrown flower with butter, she says, while store-bought edibles are safer because the dosage is consistent. She’s bullish about the higher quality of legal product she sells. “Nowadays it’s just so good that a lot of our customers wouldn’t even waste their time doing a home grow,” she says. “Those are the customers we want in our store.” My friends likely won’t be among them. One lives two blocks from a Kelowna retail outlet, which he’s visited once while hunting for trimming scissors. The other last entered a cannabis shop in May to buy a couple joints and some edibles. “For me it doesn’t really matter whether they’re in business or not because I’m always going to have mine,” Tom says. “I’ve got way more than enough.”
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Answers (from top left): Cherry Punch, Pineapple Party, Candy Rain, Northern Lights, Wedding Cake, Garlic Breath, Peanut Butter Mac, Frost Monster, Jet Fuel Gelato, Platinum Grapes, Rockstar, Acapulco Gold, Chemdawg, Alien Cookies, White Widow, Chocolate Skunk, Ghost Train Haze, Unicorn Poop, Jean Guy, Blueberry Yum Yum
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LAST HIT | the oz.
‘Wonder weed’ opened my mind By David Trifunov
et me save you the trouble: You were right. I was late to the party. I was one of those “whenever it’s around” guys growing up — you know the type, I’m sure. But as prohibition came to an end, cannabis began to creep into my day job like a waft of smoke over the back fence. I began reading and writing more about cannabis, much of it for this very magazine. Better still, I had just entered a creative funk in my career, and the anxiety-fighting wonder weed that promised to open my mind deserved to be tested. No self-respecting writer can skip the research phase, right? That led to experimentation with vapes and edibles, then rolling my own while studying strains and terpenes. I found some early go-to strains (GG#4 and Shishkaberry, to name just two), and the time of day that worked best for me (later at night, especially in the hot tub), and I’ve enjoyed the ride ever since. After a few memorable trips— time-travelling to help my nine-year-old self work out some deep-seated anxiety — I was converted. Now, I want to turn my backyard into a cannabis wonderland. (Hey, buddy, can you spare some clones?) More than that, I can now envision the future I think I’ve always wanted. There may even be a better future ahead for all of us— bring your own stash, if you want to join the fun. I’m being completely serious about this, too. You’re reading it here first. Please, don’t just think, “Whoa, what’s he been smoking?” … OK, well, you should be thinking that, because “duh,” why are we all here in the first place? Incidentally, it was Afghani Drifter by Greybeard. But to me this is more than just hippie daydreaming. My thinking has changed so drastically, I see connections where there were none before.
Weed has given me the confidence to fight off anxiety and take control of my future. Cannabis has unlocked a part of my mind that had been craving to be released. My creativity has soared. I now dream of writing incredible books while I raise my artist children on a commune that grows the best herb in the Okanagan. We’ll play music, and feast on the food we grow. We’ll live, as seems obvious now in times of coronavirus and overconsumption, as human beings are meant to live — connected to the land around us, not watching it through a screen. Imagine the food — the music — as you sit around a great table in the great outdoors with your closest friends and family, laughing and living. We’ll listen to and play music so good it brings us to tears. That’s what I want, all the time, not just for two weeks every summer on vacation. I have this burgeoning curiosity about the universe now, about my place in it,
and it’s delivered me to the precipice of what I believe will be the most creatively fulfilling period of my career. Anything appears possible now, and it’s all because of weed. Good weed. And that’s all happened, slowly, over the past four years. Pretty drastic, right? But maybe this was the right time. Maybe I had to grow and learn and love to reach this point in my life. Either way, I’m happy I’m here. Now, there’s still work to be done. I’m not quite chanting “Om Namah Shivaaya” while I strike the “Warrior’s Pose” on the front porch at dawn, the cat balanced precisely on my left elbow. Not yet, anyway, but damn, I’d like to try. I don’t think I would have ever gotten here without weed, and I know I won’t be going anywhere else without it. David Trifunov is a Kelowna-based journalist and author. He likes to smoke weed now. You can learn more at davidtrifunov.ca. Illustration: Andrea Danti
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