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By the ounce  

Bluewater, Spiritleaf, The Higher Path reveal their most popular products

What's hot in cannabis

Bluewater Cannabis partner Ryan Graham says some of his customers want to go to the moon—but they can’t just yet.

“People want ‘moon rocks,’” he says. “I know there are a few LPs trying to get them listed through the province.”

For the uninitiated, “moon rocks” are cannabis buds that are dipped in extracts and then rolled in, and covered with, powdery kief.

Graham says there are all kinds of other products you can get that are resonating with those who come through Bluewater’s doors in Penticton and Oliver.

“People are loving Pineapple Party from Pineapple Buds,” he says.

Eighths of Choice Growers’ Pink Wedding Cake Cookies at 24% THC are proving popular for the affordable price tag.

Other popular flower choices include:

• Kootenays Finest White Chocolate Diamonds Hybrid Organic (3.5 grams)

• Aaron’s BCBUD Island MKUltra (3.5 grams)

• Greybeard Afghani Drifter (7 grams)

• Oakum’s Green Crack God (3.5 grams, pre-shredded)

In the carts category, Glacial Gold’s Anytime 1:1 Vape is a notable offering.

“The cart game was absolutely changed with the introduction of Glacial Gold out of Vancouver,” says Graham. “Great technology. Super consistent. Really tasty. Great price point. They’re the first true 1:1, 420-mg THC, 420-mg CBD cart. We brought those in about a month ago and week after week they skyrocketed to No. 1.”

As for edibles and beverage, Edison Jolts are selling well. They’re lozenges that come in packs of 10 and each one is 10mg THC. At their price-point, they break down to about $2 per 10mg THC.

Graham says Keef’s Orange Kush drinks is one of his favourites.

“It tastes just like you’re sitting on the beach as a young kid on a summer’s day drinking an Orange Crush,” he says.

New era for PAX pods

Meanwhile, Spiritleaf Vernon owner Sarah Ballantyne says PAX units are the best on the market for vaping dried flower and concentrate.

“We’re finally starting to see that category grow a bit with some new options,” she says.

She recommended Spherex’s Mango Kush and Grand Daddy Purple pods. Spiritleaf Vernon carries about a dozen different pods now, with more on the way every week. There are three more Spiritleaf stores in the Okanagan—Kelowna, West Kelowna, and Penticton, all owned by local residents.

“I’ve confirmed with a couple LPs that they’re doing PAX pods, so we’ll see more in the future,” she says.

Ballantyne says you can get more puffs out of the PAX Era, and the pods are consistent across all of the brands. When it comes to 510-thread carts, the mouthpieces are different, which can be annoying for some.

As for edibles, Ballantyne says she’s been enjoying the White Rabbit OG gummies. They currently come in five flavours, including Raspberry White Chocolate and Strawberry Fig Balsamic.

“They’re more adult sophisticated flavours,” she says. “When we talk about adult edibles this is the kind of candy I want to eat.”

Popular flower choices include lots of B.C. craft bud, such as North Okanagan-based Organnicraft, B.C. Black, and Whistler Cannabis, says Ballantyne.

Customers are confident in buying more products across categories during their visit to the shop, including flower, drinks and edibles, she says.

Cannabis shoppers are also falling into two categories.

“A lot of customers shop by price,” she says. “They come in and ask ‘what do you have for $20 this week?’ They don’t care about the strain. They base on price. Where others are asking things like, ‘what do you have specifically from Oliver, B.C.?’ or, ‘what do you have that’s specifically high in Humulene?’”

As for the near future, Ballantyne says she’s very much looking forward to special-edition Christmas pre-rolls.

Flowr goes ‘Underground’

Nicole Sullivan, a budtender at The Higher Path in Armstrong, says they were excited to get Sour Sis (Peyote Wifi) from The Flowr Corporation’s Underground series.

“The Underground series is built around the philosophy of helping micro-cultivators and small craft producers get into the market,” according to Flowr.

Sour Sis is a heavy cross between Peyote Purple x Wifi OG. It’s a heavy hitting Indica at 28.5% THC.

Sullivan says she has been enjoying a number of vape carts.

Her top three are:

• Mango Mercy from Daize

• Guava Chemdawg Live Resin from General Admission

• Berry Lemonade from Glacial Gold

As for drinks, she says the Verse Rapid Tropical Rush is a good option as a 1:1 that’s not super sweet. She also says the Indie Pals from Bedfellows is a good IPA-style drink and it’s not overly hoppy.



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Q&A with Abba Medix, cannabis for vets grown by MTL

Cannabis for war wounds

While Remembrance Day marks the end of the First World War, global conflicts continue to take a toll on those who serve in the military.

Veterans often pay for their service with physical and mental wounds.Cannabis has been pivotal in helping veterans who struggle, especially with PTSD.

One of the Canadian companies with a mandate to help is Abba Medix, an online medical cannabis marketplace, which carries high-quality products provided by different LPs—including strains grown by MTL Cannabis, specifically for veterans. The company caters to veterans by making them feel comfortable, speaking their language and taking them through the whole process from start to finish.

We reached Alex Kroon, president of Canada House Clinics and Abba Medix, companies that are both part of the parent company Canada House Wellness Group.

Here is our Q&A:

Q: What is your main message this Remembrance Day?

A: We need to remember and honour those who lost their lives in service to Canada, but also the veterans who came back with injuries, pain, and mental health challenges. Many veterans and their families struggle with life after service, particularly those with PTSD.

Q: How are vets involved in working with Abba Medix?

A: Veterans are very involved with Abba Medix and Canada House. Glen Coyle, a retired corporal is our veteran advocate across Canada House and Abba Medix and keeps us focused on what is best for veterans. We have two key medical educators at our clinics who are themselves veterans, which helps comfort our veteran patients and community. Many of our clinics have lounges and veteran volunteers to help us organize safe events and a welcome place. We also are founding sponsors of PTGA (Post-Traumatic Growth Association), a not-for-profit that puts on veteran events and programs helping to connect community. Finally, we frequently survey our veteran patients and get their input on what is important to them. Abba has benefited from all the veteran interactions since 2013 at Canada House.

Q: How do you go about cultivating strains that are particularly geared for the needs of veterans?

A: We worked with InPlanta (a genetics firm), veterans and our clinics years ago to breed Veteran Kush and Vet Star Day that work well to provide relief for mental health and pain. Beyond unique cultivars, our clinics were founded by veterans, and we have grown since 2013 to service over 3,500 veterans. Abba benefits from direct feedback and expertise from veterans but also leverages Canada House experts who serve on the front line of patient care. This approach and collective effort has enabled Abba to curate a medical cannabis menu across dried flower, oils, vapes and edibles that we know appeals to and helps veterans.

Q: Why is helping veterans important for Canada House?

A: It is part of our DNA with Canada House being founded by veterans. Our clinic staff see first-hand how hard many veterans have it, but also see how they can improve. We have many staff who are veterans or are connected through spouses or families to the military, and most of our clinics are located close to bases. It's our mission to help renew lives. It’s our history and it's our passion. With some veterans having coverage—and often with more serious conditions—they purchase more medical cannabis than typical patients, so that keeps us busy.

Q: How is it different working with vets than with other types of medical patients?

A: While it's great that some veterans have coverage, there is a whole other process they must go through and we have to bill for reimbursement on their behalf. A veteran with severe pain from a long combat career plus PTSD will need much more support and likely a higher dose of medical cannabis. We train our clinic staff in mental health first aid so they are ready if a suicidal veteran comes to the clinic. It's very rewarding to help veterans but it's also more challenging. Given that they often need rapid onset to deal with pain and mental health triggers, veterans consume more dried flower/vapes than the average medical patient.

Q: What are some of the programs available on the medical side that are there to help veterans?

A: Veterans Affairs has many programs but often veterans are not aware of what they are eligible for, or how to access those benefits. It's important veterans do therapy and other programs in conjunction with medical cannabis and we help direct them to mental health professionals with experience in working with veterans. We are blessed that Canada is the only country that covers medical cannabis for some veterans. We also make one of our veteran medical educators available to help veterans figure out what they are eligible for and co-ordinate the paperwork. We've helped Veterans just in the last 18 months gain over $2 million in services and benefits that they were not accessing.

Q: Is there anything you would change about the regulations??

A: In terms of changing the regulations, overall, there should not be excise taxes on medical. Second, even if there are lower limits for additional medical reasons for cannabis coverage, there should be more veterans with coverage. Third, accessing medical cannabis is harder than other veteran benefits, particularly those with worse conditions needing extra coverage. Finally, while aspects of the legal market are excellent like testing, overall, there is still too much red tape and unnecessary limitations or demands which makes it hard for LPs to best serve patients and grow their business.

Abba Medix’s new bilingual app and a patient portal are expected to launch in November. Learn more at its website (abbamedix.com).

David Wylie is publisher of the oz. magazine. Look for the next issue in local legal cannabis retail stores in December. Reach him by email at [email protected] or on Instagram @okanaganz.



B.C. micro-cultivator Smoker Farms went from legacy to legal

Grower rooted in legacy

Jeff and Sheri Aubin are the passionate couple behind the mom-and-pop legal cannabis grower Smoker Farms.

In fact, you may have smoked a little something, something grown by Jeff before cannabis became legal. He’s been at it for 25 years and has brought his legacy experience to the legal market.

“Cannabis is my life,” he says. “All I’ve ever wanted to do is grow weed.”

Located in Beaverdell, B.C., Smoker Farms is a micro-cannabis producer able to grow about 500 pounds a year. The operation is tucked into in the West Kootenay woods off Highway 33 on a lot where the Aubins plan to build a home. They sold their place in Kelowna and uprooted their life in November 2020 to follow their cannabis dream.

“I was in the black market, hiding behind a medical licence like everybody,” says Jeff. “Obviously I was hoping one day it would lead to this, but never thought it would ever happen in our lives. When the legalization of cannabis came around we had to make quick decisions on what are we going to do because I was done with the black market; it’s a saturated market. I was sick of being afraid that everything I’d worked for so long would be taken away from us by illegalities.”

Smoker Farms’ first small-batch release was The Ultimate, which smells and smokes like the good stuff from back in the day. The Indica-dominant hybrid has 21.8% THC and 2.89% terpenes, mainly caryophyllene, limonene, and myrcene. It’s packaged and distributed through Joint Venture Craft Cannabis.

When I visited this past summer, their first batch of highly anticipated Master Kush Ultra was just harvested and hanging to dry, and a second batch was already flowering. Now, it’s hit the BC cannabis market—clocking in at over 26% THC, it’s getting lots of positive reviews.

Jeff says the strain is the couple’s all-time favourite and what he’s growing is truly unique to the legal market.

“Nobody has this Master Kush Ultra strain that I have,” says Jeff, adding they’re seeds from 15 years ago that he’s spent years perfecting.

“It’s such a unique Master Kush Ultra strain. It’s got such an addictive flavour. It hits like a hammer too.”

The Aubins got their micro-cultivation licence on June 26, 2020, after successfully fulfilling Health Canada’s arduous application process. They did a lot of the work themselves, but had guidance from Michael Ciardullo at dicentra Cannabis Consulting out of Toronto.

“My blood, sweat and tears are in every nail and every screw in this place,” says Jeff.

They’ve kept the facility relatively simple and had friends come help with the construction to keep costs down. Walls in the corridor are exposed plywood—a much different look than many of the larger scale producers.

Inside the grow rooms, however, Smoker Farms has tapped into modern cannabis-growing techniques. Instead of soil, they use much cleaner rock-wool blocks. They also employ a Dosatron system that allows Jeff to feed the plants exact amounts of food at specific times. He can control much of the operation from his cellphone.

They received help with their setup and techniques from master grower Daniel Saez, who helped them with genetics and guidance on growing.

“It entered a whole new world for us of growing with science,” says Jeff. “We can grow like the big boys.” As part of their process, they remove almost all the leaves and lower portions of the plants, so that only the top colas remain.

“Our concept here is that we want just to grow the flowers and we want all upper canopy flowers,” says Jeff. “Everything in testing always tests higher at the top of the plant.”

Their passion is evident in the care they take with the plants, from playing rock music in the grow rooms to ensuring the preservation of the trichomes as much as possible.

“Trichomes are everything,” he says. “We spend countless hours in our room sitting and manicuring, making sure all the leaves are off, making sure there are no stems there. We touch every bit of cannabis,” says Jeff.

“Only with gloves though,” adds Sheri with a laugh.

The couple met 27 years ago at Splash’s Nite Club, a Kelowna bar. They’ve been inseparable since—even through the immense challenges of building a cannabis facility and getting licensed.

“Most of our friends think we’re out of our mind a little bit for doing this,” says Jeff.

“Obviously this is a huge test for anyone. I know any business will test your strength and your bond with each other. This one it seems extra; it just seems around every corner there’s something new to deal with.”

“There’s been a lot of tears,” adds Sheri. “It’s not an easy journey. We were due for a complete life change.”

Jeff says there are big things yet to come from Smoker Farms.

“I have some of the best seeds on the planet in my vault. I’ve got some 30% seeds, I’ve got some crazy seeds, man. Just holding back a little bit. Don’t want to release them all just yet,” says Jeff.

“I always wanted to produce some of the best cannabis on the planet. That’s what I strive for every day—to produce a flower that when somebody opens that little tin, they look at it and go, ‘Holy! It’s a work of art and I don’t even want to smoke it it’s so beautiful.’”



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Trio of cannabis reviews, including two made in Kelowna

Homegrown weed reviews

One of my favourite parts of covering cannabis is trying out new products.

In fact, I try out as many as I can so you can spend your money on the good stuff.

Here are three of the latest reviews over at theounce.ca, including two that are Okanagan grown:

BC Strawnana by Flowr

I had high hopes for BC Strawnana.

Kelowna-based Flowr promises consistently exceptional cannabis. At more than $40 an eighth, it should be exceptional. However, BC Strawnana is no standout.

All Flowr cannabis eighths come packed in a distinct and classy heavy blue glass jar. Flowr sets some pretty high expectations for its weed through its packaging and advertising.

But what’s inside the Strawnana jar doesn’t match the branding—a handful of small buds along with some shake. There’s a subtle smell that’s got a sweetness to it, though muted.

A cross of Banana Kush and Strawberry Bubble Gum, Strawnana has dense light-green buds.

It clocks in at 25.6% THC. Total terpenes are 2.94%, with a profile of beta-Caryophyllene, beta-Myrcene, and Limonene. It was packed on Aug. 24.

What Strawnana lacks in looks, it does somewhat make up for in personality. This strain hits extra hard.

Overall, however, I expect more from a premium brand.

Salted Caramels by Chüz

Salted caramels made by Chüz are a sugary treat.

They taste similar to popular old-school ones, but are less chewy; rather, they have a fudge-like texture. The effect hit quickly and lasted about four hours.

A package of Chüz costs about $6.99 and there are two caramels, which come individually packed in little plastic cups. The individual containers feel like packaging overkill, but are intended to keep the caramels easily portioned instead of mushing together while in transit.

Each one has 5 mg of THC, for a total of 10 mg. There is no CBD.

They are made in Cranbrook at Dycar Pharmaceuticals by a dessert and confectionery chef.

Chüz uses MCT oil to infuse cannabis extracted through a CO2 process. There are 50 calories and seven grams of sugar per pack.

If you like sweets, Chüz is worth a try.

K-Town Kish by Okanna Craft

K-Town Kish is an homage to Kelowna. Released under the BC Black label, it’s grown by micro-cultivator Okanna Craft.

Opening up the nitro-tin, the scent was surprisingly muted. It does intensify when the buds are ground up; they are rock-solid but still nicely sticky. There is a woodsy herbaceous scent.

Taste-wise, pulling on a joint before lighting it gives a minty basil flavour. Once it becomes smoke or vapour, the taste is peppery and pleasant; the ash burns grey.

K-Town Kish delivers on its promise of an intense high.

The Indica Hybrid disappointingly came in about half a gram underweight. Though the buds inside were beautifully trimmed and a nice size.

The cultivar clocks in at 21.4% THC and 2.65% total terpenes (they are unique ones, Ocimene, Farnesene, and Trans Caryophyllene).

The tin has a handy QR code on the bottom that links to info and photos.

David Wylie is founder of the oz. Reach him by email at [email protected].



More By the ounce articles

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About the Author

David Wylie is publisher of the oz. — a cannabis newsletter that covers the growing legal weed industry from the Okanagan Valley.

He has been a journalist for nearly two decades, working in newsrooms all over Canada.  

David is active as okanaganz on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. Subscribe to the email newsletter at okanaganz.com.

An ounce of info goes a long way.

 

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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