By the ounce  

High on cannabis products

Almost every day more products are being added to the growing variety of cannabis products.

Here is another mish-mash of some of the latest legal cannabis products we’ve tried at the oz

THC Kiss by THC BioMed

THC Kiss is a party on the inside and business on the outside.

The 10-mg cannabis shooter is one of the most delicious drinks on the market. It tastes and smells just like a smoothie. Its sweet guava flavour isn’t overpowered by the subtle bitterness of cannabis extract. There are only four grams of sugar per 30-ml bottle.

In contrast, the packaging is clinical. These drinks were first shipped to medical patients, and they look like a medical product. The distinct glass bottle is made by a company called MedLock, which specializes in pharmaceutical and cannabis compliant packaging.

There’s a lot of room for improvement in the Kelowna-company’s marketing department.

As for effect, the onset took only a few minutes and rose gently to its peak, which can take up to 1 1/2 hours. The company says it uses proprietary extraction methods it invented.

My biggest complaint is that I wish there was more of it because it’s tasty.

They cost about $6 a bottle.

Mollo 5 by Hexo

You can’t officially call Mollo 5 “cannabis beer,” but that’s really the best description.

Flavoured with malted barley and hops, Mollo 5 tastes like your generic non-alcoholic lager.

Made by Hexo, backed by Molson, cannabis brews are in the licensed cannabis producer’s wheelhouse.

For those who enjoy a cold one, this is spot on. While it’s not the best tasting beer, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. There could be a craft cannabis beer revolution in the next few years with stouts, IPAs, sours, etc.

Cannabis is processed using CO2 extraction and infused into a 5 mg THC/5 mg CBD (1:1) option.

A 355 ml glass stubby bottle will set you back an average of $5.99 before taxes and deposit.

Each drink is 30 calories, overall less than a regular brew.

Be warned, it contains the equivalent of 5.07 grams of cannabis, which means if you have six on you, you are technically breaking the law by having more than 30 grams of cannabis at one time. (This is only while out in public. At home, you can have as many as you want.)

Kush Mints by Qwest

These provide one heck of a high.

I’m not normally a fan of cone-shaped pre-rolls. That said, Kush Mints by Qwest burn perfectly — and holy moly do they pack a hit.

Highly recommended by the owner of Lake Country Cannabis, this is one of the strongest joints I’ve ever smoked. At more than 28% THC, it’s a good idea to make sure you have nothing on your agenda for a while after huffing one of these down.

They are two to a box, individually packed in doobie tubes.

One went down deceptively easy before rocketing me to Mars.

Tropic Lemon by Verse Originals

This is the cocktail of vapes.

It goes down easy… too easy.

Verse Originals Tropic Lemon is a 0.3-gram, 510-cartridge filled with a sativa-dominant cannabis distillate with a terpene-rich blend.

It’s inspired by Lemon Jack and Tropic Thunder strains.

The light, clean taste is a nice blend of floral and citrus; while some lemon vapes can be overwhelmingly lemon, this one is balanced.

The mouthpiece of the 510-thread cart is comfortable and rounded.

It’s the lady gun of vapes, perfect to slot in your purse or pocket for a party.

The price is nice at $22.99.

This may be nit-picky, but it doesn’t say Tropic Lemon on the package. I had to look that up and make assumptions based on the flavour. Better labelling would be great to see in the future.

This is one of the white-label products made in Kelowna by The Valens Company

Check out okanaganz.com/oz/reviews for more local cannabis reviews.



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Local weed retail milestone

Brick and mortar cannabis retail has come a long way in the Okanagan over two years, with licensed stores in all regions.

There are 50 legal stores now open or “coming soon” to the Valley — from Osoyoos to Enderby.

Vernon has by far the most stores, with 15. In fact, it has the second most in B.C. — second only to the Greater Vancouver area, which has 32 in total.

There are about 300 legal stores in the province.

Here’s a look at four Okanagan communities:

Kelowna

The province has been relatively slow to approve licences in Kelowna — the biggest city in the Okanagan.

There are many still waiting on that step. Among the retailers that are open is Cheeba Cheebas, run by the same owners as well-established local head shop Mary Jane’s Headquarters.

Vernon

The large number of stores in Vernon has caused some speculation as to just how many businesses can survive and/or thrive in one market — especially considering the large number of unlicensed shops along the Green Mile.

Spiritleaf Vernon was the first store to open in the Valley, and the national retail chain is the only one to have stores open in the Okanagan’s four biggest cities.

Lake Country

In Lake Country, one of the first stores approved in the Valley rebranded this year from Starbuds to Lake Country Cannabis. A second store seems to be pressuring to open: Dutch Love (formerly Hobo) is in the process of building a store on Main Street in Lake Country.

The company’s website says it’s opening August, yet it doesn’t appear to have city or provincial approval.

Oliver

Oliver, self-declared as Canada’s Wine Capital, has enthusiastically taken to cannabis. The small community has four private stores, with a government store on the way.

It’s going to be a beautiful region for tourists to taste some of the best reds and try some of the best buds.

(For a further breakdown of the local number of cannabis stores and a map of where they are, visit okanaganz.com.) 

Meanwhile, the global market is undergoing a major cannabis growth spurt, and the pandemic has not slowed it down. 

Cannabis market analyst BDSA says global cannabis sales for 2020 will reach $19.7 billion — an increase of 38% over 2019 sales of $14.8 billion.

The market analyst predicts global cannabis sales will reach $47.2 billion by 2025. Top international contributors to growth include Mexico, Germany and the U.K.

As for the long-term Canadian cannabis forecast, BDSA predicts the Canadian market will grow to $6.1 billion by 2025.

“While the 2020 forecast is down less than one per cent from the forecast released earlier this year, cannabis sales year to date have swung wildly in different states as a result of COVID-19,” said Roy Bingham, co-founder and executive chairman of BDSA.

What’s your favourite cannabis store in the Okanagan? Email [email protected]



7 questions and answers about cannabis concentrates

Cannabis concentrates 101

Cannabis concentrates are upon us as a new category of legal weed products begins to grow.

Here’s a Q&A on what’s in store…

What are concentrates?

Concentrates are a more intense way to use cannabis than hitting a joint or taking an edible. The high is unique, more of a rush.

How do I use concentrates?

A dab rig is commonly used to smoke concentrates, including rosin, shatter, diamonds and resin. Often a butane torch—similar to one a chef would blaze to make crème brûlée—is used to heat up the bowl before adding the concentrate. There are e-rigs available that eliminate the need for fire, but they are often pricier (and experienced dabbers would say less fun). There are lots of video tutorials online, like this one.

Where can I buy concentrates and accessories?

They are starting to appear in greater volume and variety at your local legal cannabis store. Many licensed cannabis shops also carry dab rigs and other tools needed for the process. Your neighbourhood head shop is also a great place to hunt for your perfect designer piece.

How much does it cost?

Partaking in this way does require an investment. The right tools include a torch, a rig, and a banger. Expect to shell out a couple hundred bucks. On top of that, concentrates themselves will set your back about $50 a pop (and up) from what’s currently available.

Should I be scared to try?

There is reason to approach dabs with reverence. A few people have taken hits too big and come back with their own war stories. This is worth a read

What are some types of concentrates available?

A few available are: THCA Diamonds, a potent creation made from fresh frozen, single-strain, whole-buds and cured to produce crystalline diamonds; Hash Rosin, which uses a solventless extraction process with only heat and pressure; and, Live Resin Badder extracted via hydrocarbons from fresh frozen whole-buds making a cake-batter-like consistency.

Any final advice?

As the PSA goes, “What works for others may not work for you. Educating yourself and cautious experimentation will help you find your way.”

Email me at [email protected] with your dab story. Check out okanaganz.com.



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Legal cannabis beats illegal

We are at a significant milestone in Canadian cannabis history.

Legal cannabis surpassed the black market for the first time. Statistics Canada data shows spending on legal weed (medical and recreational combined) was $803 million, while spending on illicit pot was $785 million in the second quarter of 2020.

The scales are tipping.

The black market has been losing turf on multiple fronts – fewer customers, brain drain, crackdown on unlicensed brick-and-mortar. Meanwhile, legal cannabis has been gaining ground – Cannabis 2.0, innovation, legitimacy.

While there have been growing pains, the quality is up and cost is down; that’s what counts for customers.

Kelowna Spiritleaf franchise owner Tarek Shbib said the shift is a huge deal.

He said the massive amount of products now available on the market is incomparable to before, and the level of innovation on the legal side is tough to compete with.

“From nano-emulsion being used in drinks for much faster THC delivery into the body, to state of the art facilities using large scale C02 extraction to create potent and safe products that consumers can feel confident in using,” Shbib said.

It’s especially true as more concentrates come out into the market, including shatter, live rosin, caviar, as well as badder/budder.

“Products like these are not easy to produce safely, and so our customers appreciate that when they come to our stores, they know the product they go home with is safe and has been tested and made in a facility approved by Health Canada,” he said.

“I think it shows that the legal market has matured to a point where consumers now consider it the norm when looking to purchase cannabis products.”

Here’s another interesting sign of our changing times.

Some of the most stubborn black market growers are being wooed to legitimacy with lower-cost micro-licences and a one-time opportunity to bring their own cannabis genetics to legality, no questions asked.

B.C.-based legacy grower Travis Lane is in the process of going legal.

He told virtual attendees of The Growing Summit that the future of cannabis is in the legal space.

Still, regulatory requirements are a barrier.

“The fact of the matter is, it has been onerous to transfer from something where we didn’t have a lot of rules and regulations,” he said.

“We didn’t have to do paperwork. I say this a lot, but back in the day, we didn’t do reporting because that was called evidence. If someone found, ‘hey, here’s your feeding schedule for your illegal drugs,’ then that could come back to bite you in court.”

Lane doesn’t shy away from his past, yet he still received his security clearance after six to eight weeks.

“One of the messages I often put out there for fellow growers is that I support anybody who wants to stay in the illicit market, and I support anyone who wants to convert over. It’s been a long fight just to get to legalization and no one should be condemned for continuing to break the law in my opinion; no one should go to jail for a plant. They shouldn’t have their life ruined for it.”

What do you say?

a) the black market
b) the legacy market
c) the illicit market
d) other

Email [email protected] Follow @okanaganz on social media. Subscribe at okanaganz.com. Photo is from my review of Moonbeam. (It smelled like grandpa's coat.)



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About the Author

David Wylie is publisher of the oz. — a cannabis newsletter that covers the growing legal weed industry from the Okanagan Valley.

He has been a journalist for nearly two decades, working in newsrooms all over Canada.  

David is active as okanaganz on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. Subscribe to the email newsletter at okanaganz.com.

An ounce of info goes a long way.



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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