By: Aly K. Benson
Craft Cannabis has become a craze upon connoisseurs, enthusiasts, Interpeners* and experts alike. It’s a trend that began shortly after legalization in 2018 but has boomed in 2020 and 2021. Craft Cannabis growers are hyper focused on quality, variety and sustainable qualities that are putting their bud, before anyone else. Though some brands can get pricey compared to household names, there are also producers who offer affordable pricing for high-quality flower. If you do come across a more pricey bud, make sure to look for the reasons why. There are many reasons for a Craft product to be more expensive, below is a list of reasons why. Craft Cannabis is a word that is usually associated with small-batch, limited product variety and availability as well as the cost. However, there are so many other possible elements that can apply to calling a brand or flower a “craft product.”
The team of experts and connoisseurs at CannMart have built out a list of defining reasons why a brand can be qualified as a Craft Cannabis producer. All items can be subject to change as new initiatives, research and regulation grow in the cannabis industry. A true Craft Cannabis producer will check well over half of the items on this list in reference to dried flower products (for now). In total, there are ten, though the highest-quality brands would check over 65% of the defining items below. They are listed in no particular order however, we’ve starred the top 5 most important criteria.
- *Health Canada Micro-cultivation and/or micro-processing licenses: Health Canada defines micro-cultivation and micro-processing within their regulations for Cannabis. Though micro-associated producers tend to dabble in the craft world, they may not hit all the other aspects of this list. These two definitions should always be considered when defining a craft producer:
- Plant surface area cannot exceed 200m2 (includes multiple surfaces such as surfaces vertically arranged)
- Maximum of 600kg of dried cannabis (or equivalent) in 1 calendar year as per section 21 of the Cannabis Regulations.
- Note: If a licence holder also holds a micro-cultivation licence for the same site and the cannabis comes exclusively from that site, this maximum quantity does not apply.
- Small scale batches & product variety: The selection of the brand has approximately two to twelve cultivars (strains) with a turnover of batch options. Each flower should stay within a set range of potency and should not be more than 8%. Rare or newly bred strains are a bonus because they can contain a more complex terpene profile, potency or minor cannabinoids like CBG.
- *Unique growing techniques: Methods like hydroponics and aquaponics are a great example of growing techniques for craft cannabis producers. If you are unfamiliar, hydroponics is when you grow through a no soil, water-based fertilization system and aquaponics is when you use live fish, sea creatures and snails to fertilize an aquaculture system. Other techniques that can apply are:
- Hand Trimmed instead of machine trimmed. This means better accuracy, love and care into hours’ worth of clipping and shaping.
- Organic growing methods like using no pesticides, reusing rainwater, live soil, and environmentally friendly fertilizers are favoured among craft growers. All these elements affect almost every aspect of your final product. From its terpene profile to the cannabinoid content, organic growing methods can result in an outstanding flavour profile.
- Sungrown cannabis can also influence the quality of your flowers. Though it’s not required, it does give cannabis a different essence than those under artificially produced light.
Photo courtesy of Kush Kraft
- *Interesting story of the brand: Brands that are family-owned, grow on generations of labour to prep soil, phenotype-specific or run by inspiring individuals to increase the overall effort and detail a brand strives to achieve. Especially when other items on this list correspond with a brand’s vision for their final product.
- *(Unique) Packaging: This is arguably one of the most important components of a craft brand: its image. It’s a popular option for craft growers to use UV-protected glass or jars, with a non-standard shaped container. Craft Cannabis producers also tend to lean toward a more fun colour profile on their packaging and usually relates back to nature. Craft products should also be purchased under the 3-4 month mark past the package date on the label. Fresh, on-demand packaging is key to diving deep to understanding your cannabis and elevating your experience! Bonus to brands who show terpene potencies on sustainable packaging! Who isn’t a fan of the three Rs!
- Independently owned: This is an item that is not a set standard but does emphasize the artisanal aspect to craft producers in all industries. They tend to be non-corporate with deep roots in their local community.
- New to the market: Craft Cannabis companies tend to make or break in the first two to three years of their entrance into the market. It also coincides with the representation of the producer when it enters the market, and the message they send to consumers. Of course, this item is subject to change as the industry grows and new standards are set.
- Unique public appearance: Every brand is finding its own creative way to represent itself within the Cannabis Act regulations and have ethical advertisements. Craft products have a specific way of representing their standards, and might even have a quirky side to them.
- Price as a representation of the brand: When it comes to Craft Cannabis there are really only two options: premium and legacy competition. Premium will range from $9-11 per gram, while legacy competition can range from $4-8 per gram. Of course, quantity also has a play in what a price is set as. And remember, the price always reflects what that brand stands for. If they are a premium brand they should be producing top quality, high trichome, high potency and 2%+ terpene content. For those consumers looking for that same kind of bud for affordable prices, legacy competing brands are here to fulfill that dream!
- *The final product, facility and company must have sustainable qualities: Another big-ticket item to the Craft Cannabis world is how a brand connects its production and products to sustainability. Here are just a few items that may assist in this area:
- Small ecological footprint
- The facility runs off of solar power
- No Pesticides (organic growing methods)
- Environmentally friendly fertilizers
- Eco-friendly packaging
- Non-toxic and/or recyclable accessories
- Live soil, hydroponics or aquaponics growing techniques.
- Association in nature donation programs
- Locally sourced equipment, ingredients, seeds, fertilizers, packaging etc.
Photo courtesy of Kush Kraft
As you have probably noticed, Craft Cannabis is complex, with so many aspects to how brands might define themselves. As brands begin to bring more attention to detail, so do we as consumers. It’s a whole new experience doing a deep dive into cannabis product profiles. With Craft Cannabis products you’ll usually find more details on terpene profiles, aromas and potency ranges of 20%+. You will be able to learn more about cannabis and find your new favourite Craft Cannabis products on CannMart because of the extra effort these brands put into their products. Hopefully, with this explanation, you can understand and start shopping for your Craft Cannabis soon!
*Interpener- Another term for cannabis sommelier or certified expert coined by the Trichome Institute. These connoisseurs have received certification for completing courses in all things cannabis. Usually, interpreters are highly educated and focussed on terpene complexity, growing methods, product quality, product variety and other integral topics about the cannabis plant.