We’ve got a bit of a confession. We’ve always felt a little uncomfortable with the term craft. While at one point it served as a rallying cry for artisans to get behind in their fight against monopolistic giants, it’s now just an overused term that is almost devoid of meaning.
Even throwing shade at the term craft is a little tiresome at this point, but we think there’s an important discussion to have here.
The over use of ‘Craft’
Type in ‘craft’ over on the ocs.ca and you’ll see brands using the term in a variety of ways, whether it be brands that rename every cultivar in their portfolio to include ‘craft’, or large scale producers launching sub brands under a ‘craft’ moniker where they effectively buy from smaller growers that meet the craft criteria.
While we can sit back and denounce how much craft has been misused as a term, it still means something to most people, and that’s important. Smaller, independent growers who produce a quality product need a banner to rally behind, to help distinguish themselves from the irradiated mids that make up +80% of the market today.
Retailers are starting to differentiate themselves based off their craft assortment, and are going so far as to exclusively merchandise parts of their stores to showcase a craft section.
Overall we think these are positive trends, and we at Carmel hope to shape what craft cannabis means for Canadians.
So, that’s why we won’t ditch the term.
Recently the OCS decided to draw a line in the sand about what craft means, and we commend this action.
OCS Craft Cannabis Criteria
Less than 10,000 KG per year per facility (we’re about 2,500kg)
Hang Dried (We do this, obviously)
Hand Trimmed (Yes, we do this)
Hand Packaged (Yes, we do this)
All in all that’s a good start. We’ve also heard that they’ll start enforcing the craft washing that’s taken place in the industry by brands that don’t meet this criteria. We think this is great, as it will benefit both smaller producers and consumers.
Sure, we can debate whether or not 10,000 square feet is a reasonable size, why curing isn’t included, and whether or not irradiated product should be considered craft (we do not irradiate) but at the end of the day this is a step in the right direction and we’re all for it.
The worlds longest launch campaign is finally over and the whole team at Carmel Cannabis is excited to announce we’ve shipped the following three strains in Ontario 🎉🎉🎉
We couldn’t be more excited to finally get our product into your hands, and you should start to see us available at your local Ontario retailer (virtually) over the coming days.
To help celebrate our launch, in this post we sit down with 3 team members of Carmel and dive a little deeper into our 3 launch strains:
Animal Face is a perfect intro to what we do here. Clear headed, with a nice sativa energy/euphoria. I love gassy strains and this one delivers that gassy taste with a little sweetness at the end. We’re always looking to grow something new, but this one is so perfect it’s hard to not see it as a staple of our grow.
Watching Animal Face grow and get dialed into our facility has been validation of our vision. You can leave for the weekend and come back on a Monday and it’s swollen into monster nugs.
When you step into the drying room it’s got the most aggressive aroma of anything we’ve grown, with just enough sweetness to balance the gas.
Billy (Flower Manager)
Garlic Breath means a lot to me because how long I’ve followed the breeder, Thug Pug.
I started following Thug Pug on Instagram because his strains are probably the most photogenic buds you will ever see. Incredibly frosty and often lots of purples. Once I got a couple packs and grew them out I became instantly hooked, scooping up as many strains as possible. He’s since retired and no longer breeding, so the packs we’re sitting on are extra special.
I love growing Garlic Breath, the bud structure is really unique and the smell is hands down the most pungent weed I’ve come across.
I think people are really going to enjoy Garlic Breath, there’s a real unique depth to the flavour and she’s extra terpy.
Drew’s Dark Helmet
Drew’s Dark Helmet is flat out the most important strain in our catelog. The first time we met Drew (Master Grower) he opened a 5 gallon curing bucket and that thing just punched us in the face. Drew would run blind tastings for us and it was unanimously our favourite.
When you’re smoking Drew’s Dark Helmet what really jumps out at you is how clean and smooth the taste is, you get a perfect balance of fruit and gas. The best part is the high though, the most simple way to explain it is it’s a real choose your own adventure smoke. it’s really the best strain I’ve ever tried, it takes you wherever you want to go.
We hope you’re able to try out any or all of the above soon, and if they’re not available at your local retailer shoot us an email (email@example.com) or DM us on Instagram and we’ll make it happen.
Thanks for reading 👌
Just in time for the holidays, we’ll finally be bringing our first products to market at the OCS and select retail stores in Ontario. We actually haven’t confirmed the date, but we can all use some positive thinking these days, right?
For one of the strains we’re launching, it’s less of a launch and more of a homecoming. While we’ve made it a point to not rename strains, calling our Dark Helmet cut “Drew’s Dark Helmet” was a must.
Our Master Grower, Drew, built his legacy on this rare cultivar years ago, supplying dispensaries around the GTA. The unique smell, bud structure, and incredible high made it a top seller:
“I went through so many packs to land on that cut. It had the good marriage of cookie and gas, it was the first time I saw frost coming down fan leaf stems. Dark Helmet made me realize the power of genetics, the best grower in the world can’t shine shit. Dark Helmet just became a fan favourite, it checked everyone’s box. You get the guys that only smoke pinks or only smoke kush, everyone’s down to smoke Dark Helmet”
Recently, a former Bellwoods Dispensary (if you know, you know) customer reached out to us on Instagram and made the connection that our grow team had previously provided him with 3 of his 4 favourite strains from Bellwoods, including Dark helmet.
It was incredible to talk to someone who had previously tried dark helmet, and was genuinely excited to reconnect with our product, under slightly different terms.
While some LP’s choose to focus on bringing new cannabis consumers into the fold with THC seltzers, we’re staying motivated by the opportunity to reconnect with our community, working to change the narrative around “Corporate Weed”.
Drew’s Dark Helmet. First available in 2016. Available again, December 2020.
In Today’s blog we check in with the leaders of the Carmel grow team, Billy and Drew. We discuss how they came together and what’s motivating them as Carmel launches at retail
How long have you two known each other?
Drew (Master Grower): I knew of Billy before starting at Carmel. We both supplied the same dispensary in Toronto and the owner who I was friends with was always saying there’s this kid Billy who’s bringing in some really interesting product. He knew we were both coming from the same angle, top-shelf flower and rare genetics, so he put us in touch.
Billy (Flower Manager): It’s funny, I think we talked on the phone for about 6 months before we met each other (laughs).
Drew: It wasn’t until Carmel was founded, and we were trying to put together a team that we actually met.
What was the shared vision for you two to come together?
Billy: The energy was right, the passion was there. We talked about genetics non-stop at the beginning. We talked about what we liked, what we had, breeders that we liked and what we wanted to grow in the future.
Drew: It was important for me to bring on someone that was on the same page, someone that was excited about growing the same stuff. There was no “I cant believe you’re growing that. It was more hell ya, I didn’t get that drop, you got that drop?”. Billy is a little more new school and current than I am. My collection started in 2010 and Billy’s started in 2016, that’s how we’re able to span such an incredible window of time.
Billy and I joined Carmel at about the same time. He initially came on to manage the clones, but quickly transitioned into the Flower Manager. We both have such pride in bringing our own genetic library to market and that’s really why we got into this, so it only made sense that we both play a hands on roll in all stages of the grow.
Billy: Honestly it would of probably taken us a collective 10 years to run through our entire seed bank if we hadn’t joined Carmel. Now we get to run more pheno hunts and actually get to see what we’re holding, that’s what really excites us.
What genetic are you most excited for us to launch this summer?
Drew: First and foremost we’re excited to finally launch the Carmel brand, but if I have to pick a specific genetic it’s got to be Dark Helmet. I’m so excited to have Dark Helmet finally enjoyed by the legal market, that’s a real milestone. Before, if you wanted Dark Helmet it was pretty neighbourhood based, it wasn’t really available everywhere and certainly not out of province. People love that strain, they always tell me how it’s the perfect “choose your own adventure”, and I cant wait to open it up to a broader audience.
Billy: Animal Face, for sure. It was pretty much the first seed that I decided to pop here. Our grow rooms look crazy, everything is working really, really well with that pheno. People are asking for high THC and this one is going to punch them in the face (laughs).
So we’re going to be featured in the AHLOT pre-roll mix pack this summer, along with two other producers. Why was that opportunity such a good fit?
Drew: Growing is competitive and I’ve never shied away from competition. I like the idea of our product being featured right next to someone else’s, letting the consumer decide what they like best. When I used to try and get a listing at dispensaries, I’d send them a sample of my product and flat out tell them that it was better than anything they were carrying. I stand behind my product, every grower should. The AHLOT mixer does the same thing but on a smaller scale, allowing us to get right in front of our audience.
What’s in what’s in the future for Carmel, any closing thoughts?
Drew: You know we’re always chasing that next unicorn, trying to bring something unique to market. We see a market that desperately wants better flower and we’re going to deliver it. We’re going heavy on social these days so be sure to give us a follow (@carmel.cannabis) and you’ll be able to see everything from our most recent drops to notes from Billy on our latest phenohunt.
In the first of a what will be an ongoing series giving you the behind-the-scenes access to Carmel, we check in with our two co-founders, shedding light on where everything started.
Well guys, let’s start out with introductions and what you do at Carmel?
Dustin (co-founder): I head up business development at Carmel, and as a small company that title is really just a catch-all.
Roey (co-founder):I manage the operations side of the business, which really means trying to make things as smooth as possible for our incredible grow team to execute on their vision.
Before we get into how Carmel came about, when did you guys first come to know each other?
Dustin: We met each other in grade 9, and funny enough our teacher designated Roey to keep me in-check although I think he wound up getting me into more trouble than anything. Since then we’ve been involved in a few entrepreneurial pursuits but after college we went in different paths. I stepped into the family business and he started working as a lawyer.
How did things get to where they are today, when did you guys link back up?
Roey: after a few years of practice in law, I was really getting burnt out and wasn’t sure I was ready to continue down that path for the foreseeable future. I ended up resigning with a game plan of taking some personal time to travel. Dustin and I had always been close friends, but in early 2017 we started to focus in on all the opportunity surrounding legalization in Canada.
Dustin: For us though, we really saw opportunity in a different light. All you heard leading up to legalization and even for a period of time after legalization was square footage and stock price. ‘Bigger is better’ was pretty much the only narrative out there, and we were disappointed in the lack of companies actually focusing on the consumer, on delivering unique and memorable experiences. Brands didn’t seem to stand for anything and everyone was peddling the same generic, mass produced product.
So it seems like you were pretty dialed in on an issue in the industry, how did you come to the solution?
Roey: We met with a ton of different teams across the industry, from retailers to growers to ancillary services. Everything really crystallized when we met Drew. We wanted to do something special, something different and Drew’s vision was perfectly aligned to that. He’s really put in his time and honed in his craft of delivering a product of exceptional quality, along with unique genetics that were at the forefront of consumer tastes. When we saw his product, heard him talk about his growing philosophy and begun to get an appreciation of the incredible seed bank he was sitting on, it all made sense.
Dustin: I remember opening one of Drew’s bags in our office and honestly, neighbouring offices started a que to see what was going on. When they saw the product, smelled it and were lucky enough to try it, everyone was just blown away. We wanted to replicate that feeling, something this good deserved to be shared and we’ve been focused on recreating that same excitement and fanfare ever since.
Roey: We really can’t wait to see the product on shelf. We’re confident the market is desperately looking for higher quality and greater variety, so everyone reading this stay tuned for updates when we’ll be in market. Right now we’re looking at a September launch, but give us a follow on Instagram (@carmel.cannabis) for the most up-to-date information. Thanks for reading.