Jenn Ayotte and the art of navigating the cannabis space

Wayland is one of the biggest players in the cannabis industry. Additionally, the company is among those that have been chosen by the German government to supply Germany with medical cannabis. “We went through intensive auditing for the GMP and EU-GMP certifications,” says Jenn Ayotte, master grower with Wayland Group. “For us to get the approval and the EU-GMP certification represents a milestone which gives us an increased global credibility to provide our customers with safe and clean products.”

Unlike a number of other growers, from the get-go Wayland could rely on leading personalities who are pharmaceutical experts. “Therefore, they made sure to live up to the standard requested by the pharmaceutical industry,” Jenn points out. Standardization is indeed one of the biggest challenges of the cannabis industry, as a commonly accepted standard is still lacking. “This is of course the natural outcome for a sector which has been illegal for a number of years, and then all of a sudden became regulated,” Jenn observes. “Most of the growers have been used to grow small amounts in small rooms. Now, they grow in big fields or large facilities. Yet, there is a tendency of underestimating the pharmaceutical side of their business. Truth is, you cannot have one without the other: you need to be able to be compliant, and to combine this aspect with the grow.”

The importance of the pharma
Jenn further explains that the aforesaid issues usually come together with the difficulty to follow SOPs, “which represents the second major aspect of a medical cannabis operation.” That’s exactly why she co-founded AI Data Grow, a company which aims to help growers be successful, with a special focus on compliancy and SOPs. “We started a few years ago in Colorado, where we also have been growing our own,” she says. “We are one of the first licensees in Colorado. After a short a time, we started consulting globally for other companies with regards to high-tech automated facilities and hybrid greenhouses. We developed the AI Data Grow software, which is custom-designed. It is one of the first of its kind, and it can basically tie in the building automation and the fertigation, so that everything works in unison with the plants. We use this same system with Wayland, for instance.”

Jenn can rely on very extensive horticultural knowledge. She is certified in agronomy and horticulture, and, on top of that, she has received multiple licenses and certifications, such as GMP, GPP, GACP, and the Master Grower designation from Health Canada. Therefore, she is very much aware of the difficulties that medical cannabis growers encounter when they set up their operation. “The advice that I always give is to take a step back and to make sure you are following the regulations, your own procedures and your own processes,” she says. “That’s because usually, when you stumble upon a major issue, it comes down to not keeping things clean. There is a step missing somewhere, and only by looking at the overall picture you can see where the problem originates.”

Indoor and hybrid greenhouse
As Jenn pointed out, AI Data Grow offers consulting services for all kinds of cannabis operations. However, she has a clear opinion about the future of cannabis cultivation, and consequentially, of the future of the cannabis industry as a whole. “In Canada, I have seen that the majority of operations utilize indoor environments or a greenhouse with a plexiglass rooftop,” Jenn observes. “However, as we mature and start evolving, the industry will be going towards GMP and EU-GMP. Thus, the only viable option for these are indoor farms or hybrid greenhouses, if a grower wants to produce and market dried flowers. This is because only in those kinds of structures you can achieve a clean, safe, and high-quality product.” On the other hand, Jenn points out that there will still be space for outdoor grows. “By growing outdoors, plants are exposed to a higher risk of contaminants, and it is definitely more difficult to have under control all the different parameters and conditions in the same way you would in an indoor farm, for instance. However, if a grower aims to process those outdoor-grown flowers, then outdoor farms are still totally a way to go.”

Cannabis will be a commodity
These differences are crucial for the cannabis industry of the future, which Jenn believes will resemble the current brewery industry. “Cannabis is going to be a commodity, and I believe that the upcoming marketing of edibles and beverages, and all other sorts of ancillary product, will represent a very large part of the market as people are increasingly less interested in inhaling or smoking flowers,” Jenn says. “In any case, cannabis is going to be a commodity, and most of it is going to be extracted. There will be very large corporations that will control the market, supplying it with a big amount of products. At the same time, there will be small, local craft growers offering special, premium cannabis products that will be able to stand out thanks to their excellence, and the fidelity of their customers.”

For more information:
Wayland Group   

AI Data Grow

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