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Tom Devost, Golden Peak Cannabis:

CAN: “As THC is driving the sales, some great strains are being left out”

“There are a lot of really great strains that we would like to grow, but they just don’t have the THC level that would make them viable in the marketplace. At the same time, some consumers seem to find other factors very important as well, such as aroma and terpene levels,” says Tom Devost, Co-Owner and Co-Founder of Golden Peak Cannabis. The Canadian micro-grower is located in New Brunswick and uses organic farming methods for their cannabis production. “We have lots of plans for the future. We want to obtain a micro-processing license and want to start farmgate sales within the next year and a half.”

THC or aroma?
Golden Peak started out by growing their first strain, called Tiger Bomb. After that being very successful, the company has now diversified into growing different varieties. “It really comes down to what the market is looking for. High THC seems to be the driver of sales. Yet our focus is producing a very high-quality product, and we don’t necessarily associate high THC with high quality. Still, we have almost been forced to go with high THC strains to satisfy customer demand. It’s unfortunate, as it limits us to the strains that we can grow. There are a lot of really great strains out there that we would like to grow, but they just don’t have the THC level that would make them viable in the marketplace.”

At the same time, Tom is hopeful that the market will soon prioritize some other factors as well. “I think as time goes by and consumers become more educated in the cannabis space, and they will be looking more at the whole picture. It won’t just be about THC but also about the terpenes, the quality of the flower, the way it looks, etc. As for us, we produce a craft product, and our target market is the connoisseur. We notice that our customers are already looking more at the terpene profile. But still, THC seems to be driving the overall sales, unfortunately.”

Yet, according to Tom, aroma seems to be a very important factor as well. “Last spring, Tiger Bomb was entered into a local cannabis contest. Even though it was not the highest THC-content flower in the contest, it still won first place. The strain has a very strong and great aroma, and we’re thinking that is one of the major selling points for consumers.”

Growing organically
Golden Peak grows in an 8,000-square-foot building that they’ve retrofitted. “We’ve built grow rooms using freezer panels, which allows the room to be very well sealed. There is no outside air coming into the grow room, which gives us much better control over the environment as well as any pests or pathogens, for example. Our HVAC units control humidity, temperature, and airflow. With separate units for each grow room, we ensure that there is no cross-contamination of air between rooms.”

Beyond that, farming with organic methods is a very important aspect of their production. “We grow organically in living soil and use natural pest management methods, using a lot of beneficial insects to help us control pest populations. Moreover, as we are a small operation, we take the time and effort to ensure that the quality of the cannabis is as high as possible. Once harvest comes along, we bring in some additional people to help us harvest and hang dry the crop, which helps to maintain a lot of the terpenes and cannabinoids. Then, we hand trim the product and cure it for a couple of weeks before we send it off to our processor.”

Being a craft grower
It is no secret that the Canadian cannabis market is a challenging one, and Golden Peak is noticing that as well. “Yet a lot of the challenges are more related to the bigger producers with hundreds of thousands of square feet of canopy, who are having challenges with the quality. At the same time, small craft producers are actually making up a very significant portion of the market share here. Craft cannabis is often compared to craft beer, which generally commands less than 10% of the market share. But in reality, craft cannabis has a 40-50% market share range in Canada.”

Being a smaller craft producer has helped Golden Peak to prioritize the quality of their product. “If you’re producing a mediocre product, you’re not going to get the best price for it. With costs being a significant issue for growers, this is obviously very important. Anybody can grow cannabis. But not anybody can grow premium cannabis consistently, which is key in today’s market.”

Future plans
When it comes to the future, Golden Peak has lots of plans in store. “We’re looking at obtaining a micro-processing license, which would allow us to package our own product here and bring it to the retailers ourselves. Also, New Brunswick has allowed farmgate sales, where producers are able to have a storefront at their premises and sell directly to the customer. Such direct interaction with the consumer can be very beneficial for producers. It allows you to educate them on cannabis in general and on how you produce your product. We’re located just ten minutes away from the largest population center in our province, so we really have an opportunity to engage with people.”

For more information:
Golden Peak Cannabis