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Dominic John, Ohrid Organics:

“Growing in North Macedonia keeps our production costs very competitive”

“We have the largest licensed cannabis site in North Macedonia. We are GACP certified and are now starting the process of getting EU GMP certified,” says Dominic John, COO of Ohrid Organics. While the company is going through the certification process, they have been focusing their first years on producing CBD products for local offtake. “In North Macedonia, there is very little prescribing happening, and it’s not really a THC-dominant market.” Yet this is just an interim measure. The company has been making lots of changes recently to achieve its ultimate goal: growing high-quality THC strains for export at a low cost.

Investing in the facility
Ohrid Organics grows 800 meters above sea level in a 27,000-square-meter facility and four 340-square-meter greenhouses, one of which is an R&D greenhouse. Dominic’s family had a minority stake in the company and was pushing its local partners to invest more in the facility. “Our goal is to produce quality high-THC strains, but at a low cost. This is our focus because we’re in North Macedonia. One of the big appeals of growing in North Macedonia, apart from its great climate, is that the production costs are very low. The cost of land, labor, and taxes are all very low here,” Dominic explains.

When the company’s local partners were hesitant to invest more in the facility, Ohrid Organics was officially formed last year when Dominic’s family took ownership. “In the last 6 months, we’ve been able to make the changes that we wanted. First of all, we’ve invested in the new Fluence VYPR lights for our production greenhouse and the RAZR lights for our clone rooms. Moreover, we installed Dosatron systems to improve the nutrient delivery for the plants, as well as Danish-style irrigation tables. Before the plants were being fed on a system that didn’t allow for water collection, so this is a great upgrade,” Dominic says.

When it comes to post-harvest, there were also some changes made. “We were previously drying in freestanding drying cabinets, but we weren’t getting the quality results we were looking for. Now, we’ve invested in an integrated drying room from We’ve also moved from a wet trimming setup to dry trimming. All of these changes were made to improve our product quality.”

Ohrid Organics received a Control Union Certification last year, which means that the company can now export into Israel. “In Israel, there are low barriers to being prescribed medical cannabis, as there are a lot of conditions that qualify. There is also not a race to the top in terms of potency because of the 24.5% THC limit. We think that works well for us, as we’re not a full indoor grower who’s looking to hit 30% THC. We believe the sweet spot for our product is in the 22-24% range, but with really good terpenes,” Dominic says.

Dominic explains that there is more and more evidence suggesting that terpenes have a real impact on the product’s therapeutic effect and the consumer’s enjoyment of the smoke. “The market is becoming more educated about this, and the level of terpenes is becoming more and more paramount to people. People will continue to become more interested in the overall balance of the product. And that’s exactly what we’re aiming for at Ohrid Organics.”

Ohrid Organics sees Israel as an attractive market for their products. “Their culture is very accepting of cannabis as a medicine. There’s lots of research going on in the country, and they’re looking for bag appeal and good quality terpenes. With that in mind, we just partnered up with Paradise Seeds. We’re about to start a phenohunt with 7 of their strains.”

North Macedonia
How is the market in North Macedonia doing? According to Dominic, some things have changed over the years. “When the legislation first came into force, about 60 licenses were issued. There are still licenses being issued now, but the requirements have changed. You no longer get your license in advance. You have to build your facility, have all the necessary personnel, and then you apply for a license. In theory, you should then get that license, but there is no guarantee. It’s quite a leap of faith for people to now be asked to take a lot of upfront investment.”

The Ministry of Health recently announced that of those 60 original licenses, 35 are no longer active. “I believe there are probably about a dozen that are actively growing now. But the majority of those are full indoor growers, so their CapEx and OpEx are much higher than ours. Those growers are aiming for a slightly different market than us, they need a higher price point for their products to make it work,” Dominic says. So, for Ohrid Organics, the North Macedonian market is not very competitive. “We believe we set ourselves apart by growing high quality for a low cost.”

For more information:
Ohrid Organics