Choosing Quality > Quantity In Cannabis

Insights from a Canadian craft cannabis producer

I have something to confess.

When it comes to growing cannabis, my suggestions are as useful as a glass hammer—that’s why I don’t make suggestions as to what producers should or should not be doing in this area.

On the other side of the supply chain, when it comes to the procurement of cannabis, I’m fortunate to have had enough experience to know how things should ideally operate in order to ensure customers get the products they want.

In this ideal supply chain, we would work towards obtaining an understanding of what customers want, working with the cannabis producers who can provide those products to match supply to demand. Easy, right?

Looking Beyond THC 

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. The process of understanding what consumers actually want is incredibly difficult, as many new consumers are still learning what they value when it comes to purchasing cannabis.

In the absence of this understanding, many have adopted an oversimplified approach.

Here in Canada, many of the provincial procurement officers—the individuals tasked with purchasing cannabis—place too much emphasis on products’ THC percentages.

For today’s edition of Four PM, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jonathan Wilson, COO of Crystal Cure, a Canadian craft cannabis producer based in New Brunswick—a company that has no intention of focusing solely on THC percentages.

How do you define high-quality cannabis at Crystal Cure?

I’m glad you said it like that actually, because quality means something different to everyone.

For us, it’s a very holistic word comprised of a number of factors that contribute to the whole “experience.” Everything has to be in balance, and at the same time expressive of its genetics, growing environment, production methods, and more.

That may be far too complicated for some, and that’s ok. 

(📸 / Crystal Cure)

Is there a balance between focusing on quality > quantity?

For us, the conversation started as one only focused on quality.

We are obsessed with knowing what motivates the cannabis customer, and we know how important quality is. We see a huge opportunity in the marketplace and have extremely high-quality standards when it comes to the cannabis we produce.

However, we still need to provide a fair price for our customers, and we need to ensure our business is sustainable. So, as we scale up, we move our focus on the “value” we offer. It forces us to think about both quality and quantity simultaneously.

If we move away from the perfect balance of both (wherever that is, according to market conditions, industry landscape, etc.) it will stand out like a sore thumb—either in customer reviews or our income statement.

What was it like to purchase your own cannabis for the first time? 

Oh man. It was so surreal. It’s the first time in my career I’ve been able to do that, as I never worked on the production side before joining CC.

Coincidentally, my past experiences included NB Liquor and Cannabis NB as part of the project team that brought Cannabis NB to life—in particular, our team developed the brand, store design, and customer experience model.

Purchasing cannabis from this store made it doubly special—it was an incredible experience and it made me so proud of my current team, and my former co-workers at Cannabis NB. 

(📸 / The Crystal Cure team purchasing their own cannabis for the first time)

Is it more difficult to generate demand from provincial procurement officers by focusing on terpene and cannabinoid content, as opposed to focusing solely on THC?

I would be lying if I said it didn’t cause challenges, as our main focus at CC is not the highest possible THC percentage, and that’s where a number of jurisdictions are focusing. 

We have already heard our quality is there—even after one release of what we know will be the lowest quality you’ll ever see from us. We need to continue to educate, consistently prove ourselves, and stay true to our brand so that we find the customers that will appreciate us. 

It’s our job to show the category management teams/cannabis retailers that we can move their needle(s) and get people inside their stores and purchasing our products online as we would like the jurisdictions/wholesalers/retailers to be true partners with us, in order to ensure craft cannabis can continue to grow. 

(📸 / Crystal Cure)

What has you most excited for 2021 in the Canadian cannabis industry? 

The rise of craft cannabis here in Atlantic Canada.

Not a lot of people give this part of the country credit. However, small and mighty is what we are known for—and that sounds like a recipe for success to me.

Plus, I’ve seen bits and pieces of some incredible projects out here. It’s so awesome. 


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