Heat & Herb Presents: The Highway Ep.1 - BC BLACK

a weed podcast

Heat & Herb X The Highway Weed Podcast

INTRODUCTION

Welcome fellow travelers to the first installment of “Highlights” our written recap of The Highway podcast.

 What’s the Highway Podcast you ask?

Your inside look behind the scenes of the top cannabis micro producers in Canada.

What can you expect

Exclusive video footage of grow facilities and authentically candid conversations with the people behind the brands.

Okay, but who are the people behind the Podcast?

Longtime Cannabis industry and retail specialist, Mike Bains (Product Procurement & Operations) of Heat + Herb and a rotating cast of budtenders.

Who am I?

David Burgomaster, Head of Communications for Heat + Herb and active budtender.

How to read this?

This is not a complete transcription or meant to be. Although all quotes appear in sequential order, they have been edited for clarity, and/or to add context.

A series of three “.” like this: shows a cut in dialogue for either clarity or conciseness.

Words in boxes like these [ ] indicate they have been added by the editor (me!) to enhance the flow and readability of the transcription and/or to add context.

Whenever a person’s name is in bold the next set of quotations to appear belongs to them.

You can read the recap from start to finish or navigate through the header titles indicating topics.

Okay, with all that out of the way, let’s roll!

 

EPISODE 1: JOINT VENTURES/BC BLACK

With hosts from Heat + Herb: 

 

Mike Bains (Product Procurement & Operations)
Instagram: @beanbag1620
Twitter: @pacificcraft420
 
Gary Sidhu 
(Summerland General Manager)
Instagram: cannasidhu
 
And guests from Joint Venture/BC Black:

 

Janeen Davis (National Director of Sales)
Instagram: @maryjane.een
Twitter: @ms_janeen_davis
 
Bradie Sparrow (Product Knowledge Manager)
Instagram: @dopest.mama.ever
Twitter: @bradiesparrow
 
Morgan Larosee (Sales Representative) 
Instagram: @morganlaroseee
Twitter: @MaryJaneMorgs

Topics in order of discussion:

  • Introductions
  • How Janeen started with JVCC
  • JVCC’s Licensing Approach vs. A Pharmaceutical Consultant
  • Your First Cannabis Experience
  • Making Crazy Contraptions & Weed Garages
  • Giving Credit to the Cultivators
  • Tolerance Breaks, Terpene Switches and Rotating Edibles
  • BC Black’s Sales Team & How it Differs
  • Legacy Market Credentials, Women in the Cannabis Industry
  • Building Culture From the Start
  • Fairly Priced Product
  • Ex-Law Enforcement in the Cannabis Space and How they Price
  • The Importance of Curation & Building Your Menu with Integrity
  • Retail Challenges: Dealing with Contaminated or Subpar Product
  • How JVCC Handled a Non-Obligatory Recall
  • Being Gatekeepers
  • It’s Illegal to sell cannabis for less than what you paid
  • Quality Issues vs Personal Preference
  • Working at BC Black, How Morgan Got Started
  • Janeen’s Reputation
  • BC Black’s Team Dynamic & Janeen’s Leadership Style
  • Retaining Staff from Legacy to Legal
  • Legacy Pioneers Going Legal, Growers Just Wanna Grow
  • Bradie’s Instagram Stories
  • The JVCC Micros Visited So Far
  • What to Expect In the Future

 


And we are off!

The podcast begins with an intro showcasing the coming season, while giving you a taste of what you can expect in future episodes. Get hyped!

The map and moving vehicle graphic let us know we are headed to the Okanagan.

The setting is beautiful and scenic Summerland, home to Heat + Herb’s newest retail location.

Before the interview starts we see scenes from a prelaunch bbq at the new retail space before heading inside.

Once inside we get our first glimpse of the new Heat + Herb in Summerland in mid build. As with all Heat + Herb locations, you can expect a classy boutique style setup once complete.


Introductions

Mike and Gary are your hosts and introduce us to our guests from Joint Venture/BC Black: Morgan, Janeen, and Bradie.

Mike begins by emphasizing their guests’ credentials:

“right off the bat – mic drop. They [BC Black] sell the most weed in BC. Straight up. You’re in the presence of legends. That is (gesturing towards Janeen) ‘The Queen of Cannabis’ in the middle there. These are real ones and they give the credit where the credit is due. I know who is growing their weed, because they tell me on their packaging. Just simple mathematics on how to succeed and run a successful company. This is what they do. I love you guys”

As they say ‘real recognizes real’, and it’s obvious Mike genuinely means every word of it.


How Janeen started with JVCC

Our first topic is the origin of Joint Venture and whether it was Janeen’s first “legal” venture.

We learn that no, Janeen’s first foray on the legal side was actually back in 2018 when Canmart came to where she was living in Nelson, and she, on extremely short notice, was tasked with putting on the very first micro cultivation symposium.

Janeen says of Nelson:

“Something like 30 – 40 percent of the town was upheld by pre-legal cannabis activity. With such an intense demographic there we actually had 150 cultivators in the room ready to go legal…just one of the garden shops in our local area at that time was serving over 1100 ACMPR facilities”

Wow! Let’s take a minute to consider that. First, for those who don’t know, ACMPR stands for the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (Canada). Vernon has a population of around 40k…

Continuing Janeen says:

 “Looking at statistics like that, there was a big interest in going in [to the legal recreational side]…a lot of people were trying to transition, so that was my first experience, and then I…helped people with licensing, I worked at a publicly traded company – “

This stops the conversation for a moment as Mike and Gary are in disbelief.

After some laughter Janeen admits it was not the best fit for her, and not what she wanted to be doing in the cannabis space. After walking away from that position, one of the cultivators she helped to get licensed, Greg Warkentin of Kootenay Cannabis, introduced her to Ben Williams of Joint Venture and was adamant they should work together.

And as Mike succinctly puts it:

 “That’s where it happened. The rest is history”.

Janeen:

“[Ben] was really awesome to me, and I took care of him [transitioning to the legal rec market] … Greg’s journey, oh gosh, just to speak about what it was like transitioning these guys… Greg had met a consultant who took $50k from him and then kept trying to take more and more money…like, I am going to charge you this much more to do your RMIs or if you don’t do your evidence package for me I’m holding your SOPs hostage…it was just all these things he was going through, so we got him licensed, and I got really close with him…I was seeing a lot of things during that time, a lot of grift”

Janeen claims Ben and her click so well because they share a similar stripped down philosophy of licensing.


JVCC’s Licensing Approach vs. A Pharmaceutical Consultant

Janeen next contrasts her licensing approach, as a cultivator herself, with that of a pharmaceutical consultant. She remarks:

“They treat cannabis like fentanyl… it’s a controlled substance…and [they are] like DANGER, DANGER, DANGER! Whereas us, who have grown it… and been around it our entire lives, it’s like no big deal to us, it’s just weed”

Janeen explains that pharmaceutical consultants approach the Cannabis Act and licensing with a focus on being as compliant as possible. As growers themselves, Joint Venture views cannabis foremost as an agricultural crop, and while maintaining that compliance is important there are ways to be compliant without having to be the most compliant as possible. In other words you do not need to spend $100k to obtain your micro cultivation license.

Janeen:

“What really figured it out for me was completing somebody’s license for just a thousand dollars, charging my time out at $50 per hour once. And I was like, okay, this is grift, right? No license should cost that much ($100k)…Ben had the same approach…of the cultivators he helped get licensed a lot of their start up cost was a lot lower. When you look at the ones who had pharmaceutical consultants, they have one or two million dollar facilities…where Ben and I connected is, we kind of just had the same approach…everybody is welcome at the table. No, it’s not so hard to get in. No, you don’t need a million dollars. Let’s just get you started and we can go from there”.

Surprisingly, Janeen and Ben have only been collaborating since 2021.

Mike and Gary give them props for the amount of work they’ve put into the brand in a short period, with a shout out to Ben who they have yet to meet.

Janeen shares a quick anecdote about Ben and why he chose to become a cannabis processor. When asked about it on a podcast, as he had grown in the past, he replied ’because I’m a really shitty grower and I’d rather package weed for my friends’.

The story is met with laughter from the entire crew.

Mike says:

“Like, half the battle is knowing what you’re good at, and more than that, knowing what you’re not good at. Figure that out”

We cut away from our conversation for a moment to see some more footage of the BBQ from earlier. Good eats and good vibes, a cute dog, oh and Andy (Heat + Herb, Summerland) manning the rosin press!


Your First Cannabis Experience

As we rejoin our crew in conversation Mike says:

“…let’s go right to the beginning – my first experience was Christmas assembly grade 12. I acted like I knew how to smoke weed, but I didn’t know shit. Right away, right away I got called out…’hey you ain’t even smoking that’…then he showed me how and it was – that’s it game over, here we are”

(laughs)

Gary relates his first experience next:

“If we’re talking about the first experience with cannabis – I was in Grade 9, um, I hit some uh bud out of a pipe just in the back alley (laughs from the group). Yeah right by the high school and then I didn’t feel it much. And then the second time I think it was a year later – I had to go to a business class and we were doing this lemonade stand simulation -“

Mike, obviously remembering a similar assignment, says:

“Oh shit! Nice”

Gary continues:

“Where you gotta make lemonade and sell it, you gotta adjust prices and shit like that. And then I hit the pipe again and I was wrecked. I went back to class and then I’m – I didn’t know what was up, my eyes were f**king red as shit. Everyone’s looking at me like they know what I did and I’m like, I don’t know what’s going on here. I’m sitting down, and was just man like I was just super baked”

Mike enquires:

“So what happened? They kick you out?”

Gary:

“No I just focused on my screen (he makes a miming gesture to show tunnel vision) – this is it. No one even got to look at my eyes, I just didn’t remove them from my screen, until the bell rang I was just like (looking straight ahead before turning) – Alright, peace!”

Mike says making reference to Heat + Herb’s beverage display which is designed to look like a traditional lemonade stand:

“But it’s funny that your store has a lemonade stand”

Gary smiling: “That’s right, yeah”

Mike: “You’ve come full circle”

(laughs)

Gary asks Bradie about her first cannabis experience.

Bradie:

“With me, the first time I smoked weed I was probably 14, summer before Grade 9 I think, but it was a room full of people, so I got like one hit and it was like ‘this isnt shit’ “

The groups laughs as she continues:

“It took years, probably years before I did it again, but yeah it was far more effective later on, yeah (laughs).”

Mike:

“Two grade niners, eh? You guys started early”

Bradie:

“So young, now that I think about it, oh my God”

Gary jokingly says:

“We had the best of friends who would drag us out”

Janeen:

“Okay, so I have kids – is this age gated?

Mike:

“Definitely, definitely”

Janeen:

“So the first time I smoked weed…it was in between the summer of grade 7 and grade 8 -“

Okay

Let me take a moment to express on behalf of all involved in this conversation that we in no way encourage or condone underage cannabis use. In fact, we reject and condemn any use of recreational cannabis by minors. However, these are honest and candid conversations and the experiences related are from a different time when cannabis was under prohibition and any use at any age was illegal. In our current times, cannabis should only be obtained from legal sources and consumed responsibly by adults.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk, now back to the program at hand…

Janeen:

“– and I found an ounce of weed in my Dad’s drawer, and so me and my girlfriend…stole it and we got high and shit. But then after my brother was so mad at me because he was four years older and I took too much and Dad found out. ‘Oh you little brat you ruined everything for me! I’ve been stealing Dad’s weed for three f**king years. You brat!’ “

Mike:

“You just pinch a little man!”

Janeen:

“That was my first time, and yeah it sucked”

Mike:

“Nice, Grade 7 & 8 – Fuck, I was a loser, eh?”

The whole group laughs at this.

Gary:

“Grade 12 you said?”

Mike:

“Grade 12 Christmas assembly!”

Gary:

“Oh, but that’s a pretty big day, y’know what I mean? Grade 12 Christmas assembly here we go!”

Mike:

“Yeah and after that it turned into, I don’t know about at least a quarter a day in college”

Bradie:

“Wow”

Mike continues:

“And then the real world kicked in and it’s about a half ounce”

(laughter)

Bradie:

“I’m with you on that one”

Mike:

“I remember my cousin, shout out to my cousin Singh, teaching me how to roll ‘prego’ joints. You guys ever heard of a ‘prego’ joint? It’s just every time he’d roll a joint the middle is just fat like you’re 9 months pregnant. And the joint would just take forever to burn, it’s just like the longest burning joint ever. And now when I roll weed like I just thought that was normal, like ‘oh you have to put two zig zags together – this is the way you roll weed -“

Bradie speaking from Mike’s perspective:

“Because that’s how I was taught”

Mike:

“So now when I have cannons we can all blame him (Singh). He’s the reason I have 2 gram joints on the regular”

They next turn to Morgan (who we’ve yet to hear from directly) for her first experience with cannabis.

And with that Morgan has entered the chat!

Morgan:

“I believe it was September of Grade 10, rolling into high school and it was fucking ghetto man.”

The group all laugh together.

Morgan continues her story:

“I was definitely like hanging out with some friends and they had been potheads for a very long time and they’re like ‘were gonna go smoke weed tonight we don’t have anything to smoke it out of, let’s get a pop can’

More laughs.

Gary pointing to his head:

“You always think of that, you always think of that”

Morgan:

“There’s a picture of me somewhere in the cloud at the river down in Oliver with a pop can bent and like full of holes smoking. And then that was the theme for the rest of the year and I did it in class too, it was really bad, I’m sure I’m going to hell for this one but I smoked it outside of a church – that’s where we hid to smoke, so that was like all in the same day that I tried it and then I went to detention that day and was high as fuck in the library. It made it go by so fast. It’s like I’m so focused on this book, it’s like it’s happening in front of me. Yeah, that was my first time”

I am aghast Morgan! A church!?! Well don’t worry, I’m the son of an Anglican priest and I forgive you, y’know like Christ would.

Mike:

“Pop can, eh?”

Morgan:

“That was my go-to”


Making Crazy Contraptions

Next, Mike touches on the Sidhu brothers penchant to build various kinds of elaborate smoking apparatus:

“Gary and Andy (Gary’s fraternal twin) are always up to some shit”

Gary:

“We’ve made a lot of crazy shit”

He turns to look behind his shoulder and we get a shot of what a gravity bong looks like in 2022 and it is sleek!

Gary tells us how he and his brother would make them out of water coolers back in the day:

“Y’know…those big jugs? So we would cut that in half and [use] just the top half…we had some tin foil up top there, poked some holes in it and put a bunch of weed in there and submerged half the bottle in this bucket of water. So, then you have this loosely on this aluminum, this tin foil and you take a lighter and you’re lighting your bud you’re lifting it up, so as the water’s decreasing, it’s like a diaphragm it’s just pulling, [creating a vacuum] and then you kind of cover (motioning with his hands) that and let it cool down a bit, and as you’re taking the hit – if you push it down, the water’s coming back up so the smokes got nowhere to go except (motions at his throat) [up], y’know what I mean? So, like we’ve made crazy contraptions like that”

Gary continues to describe what taking an old school water bong hit was like:

“I’m taking one of those, just coughed a train of smoke out, y’know what I mean? Just out of commission for a solid, y’know, I want to say at least five minutes”

Morgan:

“Did you do a third lung?”

Gary:

“Third lung, yeah”

Morgan:

“I did a lot of that, love the third lung”

Gary:

“Best was to make them with those bread bags”

Morgan:

“Yeah! We had like an abundance of those”

Gary:

“Like if you had a bag of bread after the bag would finish, that long bag was long enough and just the thing. You’d cut off half a two-liter [of pop and attach it] – ‘science'”

Morgan:

“DIY”

Bradie:

“Taking notes kids?”

Ahem. This content is intended for (19+). 

Gary continues to describe in detail:

“You just kind of tape the bag to the bottom of the bottle and then we used to take some tape to the bottom too, [so] you got a little handle like grip on it and then you just kind of shove it all at the end of the bottle (motions with fingers), same kind of deal, you light the top of this thing and you blow the bag out and as the bag comes out…it’s kind of like a two-man job because one person’s doing this (pretends to pull down on an imaginary bread bag), the other guy’s got the lighter (pretends to light), and it’s the same sort of deal [as a gravity bong]”

Janeen:

“It’s literally science”

Mike:

“So it’s like an old school volcano”

The group agrees.

Morgan:

“You guys ever do the ‘stoner garage’? Did you have that one friend like that had like the fucking setup that you’d go sesh with?”

Gary:

“Ohhh yeah, we had a couple of those”

Mike:

“Ours…didn’t have garage doors just like a little mezzanine. You had the barbecue there, you got the hot knifes”

Gary says in agreement:

“Yeah the hot knifes, yeah”

Mike:

“Nothing fancy. Quick in the winter – out and in, out and in”


The Ever Changing Consumption Culture

Janeen:

“[If] you guys thought we were hardcore as teenagers because my kids are 18 and 19 now. I infiltrated this group they had on snapchat called ‘lung destruction’ (group laughs) – Oh my God it was like thousands and thousands of teenagers doing like one gram dabs. Ahh man we were pussies [in comparison]”

The group discusses how things have changed.

Gary says there’s been an evolution, and a fusion between art, culture and science. Glass rigs are not only beautiful but efficient and functional.

He continues:

Gary:

“Just the culture’s evolving, always evolving everyday all the time, just growing a little bit in this direction, that direction… You said it best, I mean ‘lung destruction’. I’m sure we all thought about it growing up–”

Janeen:

“New brand launching 2022! That’ll be our name of rosin”

Mike:

“Lung Destruction. Fresh frozen.”

Gary:

“Like we did a lot of that stuff. We made a gas mask. And we just like went to like this pharmacy and uh and we just we just bought it–”

Mike:

“You guys just love the arts and crafts”

Gary:

“We bought this gas mask and the gas mask came with a tube, right? But what we did to the other side of the tube is we took one of those sockets just like from a tool set a little socket that you could throw onto a gun and maybe take your tires off or something like that, we just put a little bit of tin foil on it, kind of made it into a ‘bowl’ (air quotes). So we just jam the other part of the hose in the other end and as we’re lighting this someone puts the mask on, it’s direct into that thing, right? So, after taking a big bowl the person’s just sitting there breathing with this thing on”

Morgan:

“I think you should recreate that”

Gary:

“Yeah but this one’s going to have to be a full head thing. Yeah, this was just one [that only covered the mouth].”

Janeen:

“Somewhere now Gary’s Mom is watching going ‘He was supposed to be an engineer! He was supposed to be an engineer!'”

In a way though, he kind of still is, y’know if you think about it. Kind of.


Giving Credit to the Cultivators

Another thing Janeen and Ben connected on was wanting to give credit to the cultivators and their teams.

Mike shares:

“From a retail side, people want to know. They want to know who grew their weed because that’s how they’re basing their purchase, on consistency” he continues “yes, I know it’s BC Black, but I know if it was Pineapple Buds. I know if it was Smoker Farms, you know? I know if it was -“

Mike trails off momentarily but gets an assist from Gary who offers “Stone Grove”

Mike confirms:

“Stone Grove’s Gelato Sorbet, it’s like one of the only Gelatos I actually like. I’m not a big Gelato fan…I don’t know, the terps in there give me a headache, but the sorbet works for me”

Janeen asks Mike how it was and he replies:

“Another classic example, it’s been beaten to death, we all know THC doesn’t mean shit, and that was just a prime example for me because it tested at like 18 [%] or something, and uh yeah man, it got me high.”

Mike is speaking to the common misconception that the THC percentages listed for a cultivar are the only indicators of “potency” and strength of effects. Numerous other factors including genetics, growing environment, soil type, harvesting technique, curing, trimming, and packaging are but a few of the factors which can affect cannabis quality and speak to its true potency.


Tolerance Breaks,Terpene Switches and Rotating Edibles

Mike makes an interesting point next:

 “some of that is just like, I don’t do tolerance breaks, I do terpene switches”.

Janeen has also found success rotating Terpenes without taking a tolerance break.

Bradie adds that she does something similar by rotating her edibles every 2-3 nights as she finds she builds up a tolerance within that time span.


BC Black’s Sales Team & How it Differs

Mike switches the conversation to the make-up of the BC Black Sales team and how it differs from some of the other reps they see:

“Gary and I see a lot of sales teams…it’s not an easy job…half the stores may be a little disrespectful, it’s not a love-love relationship always, and I get it – not everyone knows cannabis as well as a lot of the legacy folks do…it can be annoying to have a rep come in and try to tell you ‘xyz’ when you’ve been doing it a while, right?…Everyone’s trying to find their place in the industry, so you got to give them [some time]. We’re all about teaching and learning, right, you can’t be above anything, and I think that one major difference is that your team is very much like a family. You don’t see a lot of rotation of staff. Y’know we’ll see a rep come in, they’re repping ‘xyz’ [they] come in two months later and [I am like]…’what’s going on with the so-and-so crop?’ [and they’re like] ‘Oh, I’m not with them anymore… I’m with these guys now’ “

We hear from Bradie again who claims:

“I’d like to address this because I think I know where you’re going with this. I think that Janeen is a really caring and nurturing leader. She truly, truly and genuinely cares about women. And she puts in solid effort to build all of us up. If we’re ever having a bad day, it’s no question, take the time you need, babe. She’s always there for us, and we know that, and believe in it and that makes our team so strong…it’s easy to be loyal to and it’s really easy to stay on that team when you know your boss has your back.”

It’s evident that this is a heartfelt statement shared by her whole team.

Mike:

“And I think we need to celebrate that”

The panel agrees with that, as Mike says:

“Like, you touched on with the whole pubco thing, all we ever hear is shitty stories about shitty CEOs. You know, cutting people taking millions but then cutting jobs, like we want to highlight these stories. This is what it’s about. This is the cannabis and people I grew up with. People who have open hearts, open minds, you’re not closed off”

Gary continues the thought:

“[Buying and selling] cannabis is about relationships and building these bonds because what’s bringing us together at the end of the day is that beautiful plant…it’s just [about being] able to create these relationships, these long lasting relationships, and have trust in a certain producer. Have trust in the consistency [of their product]… “

Bradie:

“it’s coming down to ethics and morality and aligning yourself with people who have good hearts”

Gary agrees with how easy it makes it for them on the retail side when their values align with LPs and their reps.


Legacy Market Credentials, Women in the Cannabis Industry

Another aspect which separates the BC Black team, is that not only is it an all women sales team, but many of them have Legacy market credentials.

Janeen relates her experience in the male dominated legacy cannabis industry and how many times she would be the only woman in any given situation.

“We just have to call a spade a spade. The dudes owned the houses and in BC everybody made a lot of money on real estate, so the grow would pay the mortgage and then they had so much money they could, y’know, take equity out at home A, put it in home B get another bro going, throw more lights in that shop, in that basement and meanwhile the chick while she had a living wage job at $25 an hour, just sat in that basement with scissors in her hand all day…the [majority of] women weren’t making bank…a few of them and their partners came up together, and there’s a few chick’s that did it, but disproportionately, how many female brokers did you meet Mike? No, for real.”

Mike:

“Yeah, like one out of ten”

Janeen counters:

“Not even, more like one out of twenty, one out of twenty five…In the Kootenays we definitely had more female growers and that was badass to see when I moved there, I loved it…it was really important to me to provide a space for legacy women to actually be able to participate in the legal industry…that’s what my team is”


Building Culture From the Start

Mike acknowledges Matt, who we get a quick pan to off screen. Mike references a conversation they previously had about company culture. Mike says:

“It’s like this big wheel and once it starts rolling it’s very difficult to change culture, so if you’re not rolling correct from the start…it’s very hard to go midway and you’re going to fire a bunch of people and…it’s going to be damn near impossible…to change the whole entire culture [and start over]. So, it has to start from the beginning, which it sounds like it did [with] Joint venture, now with BC Black. The premise was: Give the respect to the growers and the growers in turn give you fire gear. And then I think it was also a realization of ‘fairly priced product’.”


Fairly Priced Product

So true, but as Mike points out, there are restrictions on what we can say about pricing. However, what we can say as Mike puts it:

 “Fairly priced products sell through. Unfairly priced products take up storage in the warehouse and prevent fairly priced products from getting listed. It’s a big vicious circle here…it’s about continuing to move product and knowing what it’s worth. You (BC Black) know what your product’s worth, and if it’s not up to a quad level, you price it at as a low trip.”

Annnnnd let’s slow it down for a second for those of you who may not know legacy Market terminology. Quads, high and low trips, dubs, it’s okay to feel a little lost. The grading system most used in Canada’s Legacy Market utilizes a scale that ranges from A (single/lowest grade) to AAAA+ (quad+/highest grade).

While using the Zkittlez grown by Stone Grove as an example Mike says:

“It’s easy for us in the store if we can tell you…[there] might be six, seven nuggets in this 8th. You’re gonna crack one open [and although] it’s going to give you that Zkittlez nose, it’s going to punch you like a Kush… [When we can confidently say] that’s what you’re going to get when you go home and open it up [it makes it so easy].“

Gary notes the effectiveness of transparency and Mike gives kudos to BC Black for knowing how to price products appropriately, by crop, and based on quality.

Janeen refers to her 23 years of experience and explains how they use the system developed in the legacy market to grade cannabis quality:

“A dubs a dub, a low trips a low trip, a high trips a high trip, a quads a quad, and outdoor is outdoor”

Mike states: 

“The shits already priced…there was already a market, there was always a grading system, we didn’t make this shit up”

Bradie: 

“right, why do we have to reinvent?”


Ex-Law Enforcement in the Cannabis Space and How they Price

At that this point Janeen makes an interesting observation:

“…earlier today I came to the realization why these cannabis pubcos price their frickin dubs like quads, was because – do you remember when people would get busted and they’d bust like a 20 light grow and they’d be like ‘today we seized $1 million’. Because some of these pubcos are run by ex-cops, and they price weed like that. That’s why when you buy that pubco weed you’re overpaying”

A round of laughs erupts.

On the topic of ex-law enforcement operating in the legal cannabis space Mike, although having mixed feelings on the issue opines:

“I don’t know if there’s a place for them in the industry. Yeah, it’s an open industry, come on down… get in there…[but] it’s going to go toe-to-toe, [and] we’re gonna win. But I don’t even think you should be there”

If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘pubco’, it’s borrowed from the food and beverage industry and refers to a company that owns a chain of ‘pubs’. Over time it’s come to mean any chain business, corporately owned entity, or publicly traded company.


The Importance of Curation & Building Your Menu With Integrity

The conversation naturally leads into the subject of curation. It truly is one of the main differentiators between cannabis retailers with Mike saying:

“I always say, judge a store not by the weed that they have on the shelf, but by the weed they refuse to carry. We don’t have 180 strains. [If] you go to our online menu it’s not 19 pages long. We don’t buy certain shit for a reason. We don’t support that industry. We have forty-ish strains, and you gotta make the cut, and if you make the cut you’re on…it’s a touchy subject”

Gary contributes:

“You go onto these other sites…and you just see like a hundred skus of flower, and you’re just looking and you’re scrolling and you’re looking and there’s just so much stuff… [whereas] we want the best stuff at these [different] price points, so we can kind of do the job for you, you know what I mean? Like you don’t have to look at these [other] strains, we’ll just show you the best strains at that price point…and that’s where the trust factor comes in… [They’ll say] ‘hey, Gary told me to smoke this, I loved it – I’m going to go back and try something else that he recommends’, and it’s like he (Mike) spoke to earlier, you got to be kind of transparent about it… We like to say if we’ve smoked it and it’s in here we’ll sell it to you, because we’ve smoked it and we liked it. I’ve got a story to tell, y’know, this is my experience with it”

Mike on the early days of legalization:

“When we first started it was a f**cking gong show. We had to smoke it all and a lot of it I opened and didn’t even smoke it. Like it was brown, Reggie Brown. I bought hundreds of strains, hundreds of strains to make this menu, myself and my partner we smoked f**cking all of it. Like, [for example]…this Leaves by Snoop [strain], it’s called ‘Pounds’, I was like ‘oh what a sick name’ I didn’t know it was a Canopy/Snoop Dogg thing…and it was just f**cking dust like pebbles…brown, brown weed, like man”


Retail Challenges: Dealing with Contaminated or Subpar Product

Janeen uses this as an opportunity to bring up retail challenges and how sales rep teams can step it up a bit.

Janeen references handling a recall they self-instituted, suggesting how they handled the situation may not be the industry norm. She asks Gary and Mike:

 “So, when you do get a product like that (low quality), how are companies reacting?

Mike: 

“People who know herb, know it’s a plant… PM’s (powdery mildew) nothing new to people who are in cannabis, so if you haven’t dealt with it, you haven’t been growing long enough, so like, people that know, know. And it’s easy to deal with those people because it’s just honesty. ‘Hey we f**ked up, we got to recall it’. Simple as that. The ones who don’t know and try to hide it or you know ‘let me buy all your cases, I don’t want to call a recall’, we just don’t buy them anymore…I was talking to Cody earlier from JayBudz – a lot of shout outs in this one”

We have our first real stoner moment as Mike loses his train of thought saying:

“F**k, I forgot what I was going to say”

This elicits some laughs as they try to help him jog his memory.

Mike: 

“F**cking just smoked it right gone. Short term memory [loss] is a real thing!”

We get even more laughs from the entire crew.

Janeen brings the conversation back to focus asking:

“What would be the ideal way for a Rep to handle that for you?”

Mike:

“It’s not even a question…you gotta have a recall, man. And you gotta pull it out, like straight up. If this was an issue prelegal I’d call that guy and tell him you gotta pick it up”

Janeen counters with some pushback some LPs might try:

“Oh but it’s safe because we irradiated it, Health Canada said so, and I’m sorry but Health Canada doesn’t say we have to recall it. Then what?”

Mike replies firmly by saying:

“A lot. I’m not selling it, I’m eating the cost. There’s plenty of cases like that…I’m not restocking it”


How JVCC Handled a Non-Obligatory Recall

Janeen tells us how they handled a powdery mildew complaint: 

“So, when I found out we had over a hundred cases out under one of our early brands and when we found out there was some powdery mildew – straight up it was just an aesthetic issue, y’know why? Because it passed microbial (testing) we legally didn’t have to recall it, but if you were going to sell somebody a {premium priced} eighth, it sure as f**k better be perfect, okay? Because people aren’t buying {premium priced} 8ths to have f**king PM. So, that was it…at the end of the day we had to call every store to track it down because, some people don’t know, BCLDB (British Columbia Liquor & Cannabis Distribution Board) – they won’t tell us who buys our weed. So, they knew who bought it, they knew who they invoiced, [but] they wouldn’t tell us and we called every single store. We tracked down every single gram. And the thing was so many stores were like, ‘I smoked this, this is fire, I won’t send it back, I’m buying it all myself’…at least half kept [it] and they loved it…stores said that was the first time anybody had ever done that [reaching out without being mandated to]. And I was like that’s crazy”

I have to take a moment to give Janeen and JVCC props. As an active participant on the retail side of the industry, and having dealt with quality and contaminant issues, I can attest that this type of accountability and integrity is rare.


Being Gatekeepers

Mike:

“We have a couple pending right now, not powdery mildew issues but just quality control issues…We are the Gatekeeper – Oh! I remember what I was going to say. Oh fuck I forgot again”

And more laughter.

Gary says with a wide smile:

“The excitement is real!”

Mike:

“We are the Gatekeepers, not the Gatekeepers of any kind of memory, but we are the Gatekeepers, and we have to do the dirty business for you, so you don’t have to buy shitty weed. Sometimes weed comes in and it happened on this order on Friday a couple days ago some ounces came in… our Manager Adam… is feeling the bag, [and] it’s not feeling very good. I’m like, crack a couple open and it was just like f**king shake man, an ounce of shake. Stems, everything, and like first thing we do, you go on the Dutchie online menu, you click the green button, make it red so no one can buy it and then you put it on the shelf and then you call the company and you’re like ‘I can’t sell this, like I’m sorry, I will lose in the long term selling this to someone’…it’s like you know if I could sell it for lower than I paid then maybe it might be worth [trying] to sell.

Bradie nods approvingly:

“If the price reflected the quality”


It’s illegal to sell cannabis for less than what you paid

Janeen once again shows this an open conversation and asks Mike and Gary to speak about some of the pricing restrictions on the retail side:

“Let’s just speak to that because not everybody watching might not know that rule. Talk about how you can’t sell it for lower than you paid.”

Mike:

 “That’s the rule in our provincial terms and agreements, we cannot sell any product for lower than we paid, so even if I wanted to boot it out [for less than I paid] … and say [it’s] herb someone can cook some butter with…we’re not allowed to do that. So that specific one…the lowest I could sell it for is {a buck above cost}, and it’s not worth {that price}. So that sits now. That’s in limbo now. They’re talking: ‘ah f**k man Mike doesn’t want these ounces…what are we going to do for him? Can we get rid of this? Because he’s not going to sell it.’ So, if they don’t take it then I gotta smoke it and/or make some butter and pay for it at just above cost. Y’know, it’s not that I’m just taking it – I gotta rebuy it. I gotta buy it from them and then I gotta rebuy it again. And just so that it doesn’t ruin the integrity of the store”

With every mention of integrity, I fight the urge to make a ‘Tegridy Farms’, South Park reference. But in all seriousness, this is another example of the differences in retail strategies and accountability between legacy veterans and big chain retailers.


Quality Issues vs Personal Preference

Janeen steers the topic of conversation toward cannabis quality vs. personal preference, and how the two can be conflated: 

“Sometimes I’ll have people who just don’t like a certain strain, y’know what I mean?…There are strains I don’t like that other people rave about…”

Janeen goes on to say that the members of the team keep apprised of each other’s cannabis preferences, such as their likes and dislikes, and they don’t always agree. There are things her team enjoys but that she doesn’t like to smoke.

Bradie jokingly confirms adding:

“Well, I don’t like your gassy shit all the time”  

To which everyone laughs.

Janeen explains that sometimes complaints are simply someone saying:

“I didn’t enjoy this”

Mike:

“But that’s different”

Janeen:

“Even then…I really need people to understand…somebody could not like the cultivation style, the inputs…or the genetic selection of one of our cultivators. [But between] BC Black and Joint Venture, all together for everything we’re packaging for the different brands and cultivators, there’s 27. So if you’re just like try[ing] one product [and dislike it], it doesn’t mean everything [we have] you won’t like, it could just be you don’t enjoy that [particular] one. You might like Tutti Frutti Crunchy Puff like Bradie (laughing) [or be more like me] and…like the gas”

The jovial barb leads Janeen to ask Morgan (who we haven’t heard from in a while) what her favourite strain is, and she replies she had taken a break after highschool and is still developing her palette as she initially got back into cannabis through edibles. She’s only recently started smoking again since joining BC Black.

Morgan continues:

“I still feel like I’m trying a lot and I feel like there’s a lot of knowledge [to gain, and] being [in] this job has been the biggest learning experience for me because there’s so many parts of cannabis that’s not common knowledge, it’s not talked about. There’s still that stigma, right? So, I’m still playing with my palette. Definitely, Janeen’s gotten me into the gas and I really like the gassy stuff. I like anything ‘wedding’…There’s something about that sweet gas…But different things, for different times, right?…I might pick up a Sativa strain for when I’m fishing one day. I want to smoke this, because it’s y’know, euphoric and then a heavy Indica gas for a movie night. There’s different favourites and I think it’d be hard for me to be like ‘what’s my favourite?’ “

Mike replies:

“Every night’s a movie night at my house.”

Morgan:

“I say it like it’s an off [night, or] once in a while, but it’s f**cking every night“


Working at BC Black, How Morgan Got Started

Mike continues to address Morgan and asks:

“So, what’s a day in the life for you at BC Black? Is Janeen just throwing shit at you left, right and center?

(laughs)

Morgan espouses about the transformative effect Janeen has had in her own personal development and likens her to an Angel being dropped into each team member’s life. She believes she, as well as every member of the team, has a unique path as to how they joined.

Morgan:

“I started out in the cannabis industry last year with Ryan Graham from Blue Water. Literally dipped my toes in and I went and worked…over in Rock Creek, [for] Speakeasy, awesome LP, great people. Loved it, but Nelson was calling me and I ended up over there…working at the Green Room…also awesome people. Janeen just happened to call for some random mix-up that happened, and her and I hit it off. I approached my boss about asking Janeen for some [type of] side hustle – if there’s anything going on that I could get my foot in the door with and it ended up turning into a sales job like a month later. And I just decided to take that step and fully dove into it”

Morgan says of the working environment:

“It’s so rare that you can be in a group of women and let your guard down and be your authentic self and comfortable with y’know, with who you are with these people…A day in the life with Janeen, is like I feel so f**king taken care of all the time, like I want to give her my 110, 120, 130 percent, because this woman goes out of her f**king way for us, like [She had] Starbucks delivered [for us] this morning, that’s just Janeen as a person”

Bradie agrees saying:

“And nobody works f**king harder than Janeen”.

Janeen may lead that way, but says she doesn’t expect that level of dedication from her employees.

Morgan tells a story about how after having a bad day and being allowed to take the afternoon off, Janeen followed up with her later that night to see if she needed anything.

Bradie quips:

“We’re going to get so many resumes after this!”

Morgan:

“…if like five years ago you told me this is what my f**king job was and that I love it and that this is a vacation for me, I’m sitting here and learning and I’m so engulfed in all this information, like, I love it, so every day it’s so nice that I’m learning and growing with her (Janeen)… I’m still learning the sales part of it because you know I’ve been the back end and the bud tender but this is all a new realm for me and the whole team has just been so good about teaching me everything and answering my questions. So, Janeen like I spent a lot of time sitting back and watching – not sitting back”

Gary laughing and nodding:

“Sitting back”

Morgan smiles and continues:

“But, [I’ve been] going through the motions with her and learning what she does and it’s amazing, I really enjoy it.”


Always Learning & Staying Connected to the Plant

Next, Janeen tells us about a unique policy BC Blacks has:

“It’s my rule for [for the] girls…[because] we still have a large medical community…and people need help on trims and stuff…anytime they need to book time off to help a friend take down, I let them book off a couple and do a trim too, and just [facilitate for them] that constant getting to do the plant work, getting to touch the plants–”

Gary:

“Always learning”

Janeen agreeing says:

“They’re getting to interact, they’re learning and that can be applied in their roles, so like, really what my team has, because Morgan does the plant work too, Bradie has a long history growing, Carly has been doing plant work for years, like all of the girls on my team have that history and it really, Michelle too, she has like her hemp license and all that in Alberta. So, it really means that they  just have a more intimate knowledge of the plant and they also understand different grades of weed from that exposure, so I think that’s really helped having a solid team that understands cannabis”


Janeen’s Reputation

Mike to Janeen:

“And I just want you to know that people say these nice things off-camera about you too”

The whole group laughs.

Gary attests:

“I met Janeen for the first time yesterday. And as Morgan was saying, it’s like, I felt taken care of, y’know what I mean?”


BC Black’s Team Dynamic & Janeen’s Leadership Style

Morgan says the whole team calls Janeen and Bradie, Mama Janeen and Mama Bradie, but that they are all little moms to each other:

“It’s a really cool experience to be in a group of women and not have a competition. You all want each other to succeed and what do you need help with today -“

Mike:

“There’s no fake shit in your guys’ group.”

Janeen:

“I gotta be real. How I was as a parent, I’m the same way as a boss. If they called me to tattle on each other, you wanna know what I would say? Stop ratting (pretends to hang up phone)

Mike laughing:

“Exactly. Figure that shit out”

Janeen agreeing:

“No, no, no, none of that”

Mike:

“And there’s no work voice. You guys don’t have, like, a different personality. You mother fuckers are just you all the time”

Gary while using his hands for emphasis:

“There’s no putting on the ‘work face’. You’re just raw. Real.”

The group agrees that their authenticity is why they click, and why it works.

Gary continues:

“[That’s why] it’s easy having these kinds of conversations, we’re all in the same kind of [head]space“

Bradie says matter-of-factly:

“Well if you’re not being fake you don’t got to remember any bullshit, right? You just say it like it is, and that’s [being] your true and authentic [self]”

This wouldn’t be The Highway if we didn’t get in at least a few shots of glorious bud porn (19+). Feast your eyes on a preview of what’s to come with a quick pan through grow rooms at Smoker Farms followed by Pineapple buds!


Retaining Staff from Legacy to Legal

Janeen:

“I have to say too, Mike – one thing I’ve seen with your franchise, you have talent that’s been with you for a really long time. And I haven’t seen all the legacy stores retain their staff like you have. That’s very, very, very, very unique. Could you speak to that?

Mike:

“Well, like your staff a lot of mine went into the Medical after and waited the two years that we waited. So they like, big shout out to Adam, he has been with us… [since] prelegal, he worked at multiple locations, y’know, he was on Granville, he was on Davie, he was on Broadway and he…has been on that journey with us and it hasn’t been easy for sure. There’s, y’know, we thought this store (Summerland) would be open three times by now. So, he’s been on the rollercoaster with us”


Legacy Pioneers Going Legal, Growers Just Wanna Grow

Janeen tells us about a legacy market pioneer considering a transition.

Janeen:

“I almost cried earlier today because…one of my reps’ boyfriends, he’s been in the [legacy] market for… 22 years, and today he said ‘what about me doing a micro’? And I was like ‘finally’! I’d be so excited if he got involved,…he’s been here for so long, he’s built the [legacy] market, so much across Canada, right?… if he was able to go legal he’d then get to reap that benefit. Y’know what I mean? And to me, if the people can inherit the industry that built it for us…that feels like I’m succeeding, if I’m helping that happen.”

Mike agrees saying:

“Yeah, and that’s all success, right there. Those are the types of people that are gonna push it to the next level, and no joke, like I’ve been blessed to meet a lot of cool people in the industry, a lot of awesome people and I would love to grow weed again, and if I had some weed coming to market, it would be hands down without a question, you’d be my first call. Hey, if I got a pack I need to move man, there’s only one call because I don’t want to deal with all the bullshit, I just want to deal with the herb and I know you are great at dealing with bullshit”

(laughter)

Bradie: 

“That’s such an important point though Mike, like, growers just want to grow good weed. They don’t want to market, they don’t want to process…they just want to grow their good weed and that’s why JVCC exists.

Janeen clarifies that:

“…there are guys that are going to get their own processing and branding, but that’s not everyone. Some just don’t want to bother and the ones that do if we can actually help them get a name and create market share for their product before they launch themselves independently, to me being part of that ladder, is like, that’s success that’s building our community from the private previous side here now… Ben, my boss and I, we feel super proud of that. We think that’s not losing a supplier… that’s…having a partner that succeeded and you just got to applaud that. Same thing, y’know sometimes your employees could…outgrow your team or their role and move up, right? That’s also something to celebrate.”


Bradie’s Instagram Stories

Bradie’s Instagram handle is @dopest.mama.ever – She’s known for providing news and insights and as Mike says of her social media: 

“I literally get my [cannabis] news from her [Instagram] stories. That’s right, it’s on the list…I’m f**king horrible with emails, right? But I’m going to be on the Instagram story, I’m going to be driving to work, she’s going to be talking to me ‘what’s up my little darlings’, yknow?”

More laughter as Morgan adds:

“I love that! It’s the favourite part of my day”

Mike continues breaking it down:

“I’m right here, I’m here, I’m ready, I’m listening. And that’s so you know, I’ll find out [whats dropping], because she’s doing it early morning and it’s like, okay f**k, then I hit Adam up (W. Broadway Manager), ‘hey this and this might drop today keep an eye out’…literally it’s part of my routine and I think we’re gonna have to have a separate podcast just Matt and Bradie because we didn’t get to delve too much into what you’re doing as well. But I do want to – Shaq & Kobe have you on a time restriction today, we do need to touch on the people growing the weed”


The JVCC Micros Visited So Far

They segue into speaking about the underlying theme of The Highway Podcast and who they have visited and what you can expect.

Mike says:

“Yeah, the Highway. The Highway is all about the Micros, the growers. We’ve already put on probably about 5 thousand kilometres. We have hit the Highway for you folks, to show you craft cannabis and it’s starting off with Smoker Farm, Jeff and Sherry, awesome people.”

The next exchange provides more questions than answers when Janeen asks:

“And Oscar, is Oscar on?”

Bradie: 

“The bird”

Wait, a bird you say? This piques my interest and warrants further investigation.

Mike:

“We didn’t get to meet the bird. We started messing around with drones and stuff

Bradie:

“That’s cool though, gives you a reason to go back.”

Mike:

“Oscar didn’t make it but we smoked a lot of weed with Jeff. That all made the cut, so that was awesome”

Janeen:

“And did you meet Chainy Tatum?”

Janeen uses her hands to mime a large chain around her neck.

Apparently Jeff wears a large chain which has earned him the humorous nickname.

Mike:

“Yes!”

There’s laughter from the whole group at the mention of the nickname.

Mike continues:

“He’s one of the realist dudes, man”

They all agree with that assessment.

Mike:

“His story started, like oh, well y’know the same conversation we had, ‘when did cannabis touch your life’? ‘Oh I was growing a couple of plants in my closet’ and I was like, of course you were”

Janeen:

That’s how it begins. If you love weed, you love weed

Gary:

“It shows, the love shows, the passion shows”

Janeen:

“And the other one [from BC Black] was Pineapple Buds that you went to, right? Kyra and Lane. I could describe Lane as one of the most trustworthy men I’ve met in my life and Kyra as human sunshine.”

Mike and Gary love the description.

Janeen praises the team at Pineapple Buds for not only being incredible people, but being extremely committed and diligent to their craft. She says after meeting them, you can’t help but hope they succeed. She also commends their go-to market strategy and having unique genetics they bred in-house:

“They’re doing everything right, and [with] just so much integrity there and [I have] so much respect for them. I just think Lane and Kyra…the Deep Water culture and the ability to expand production at their facility, and they’re just improving crop by crop…striving for that excellence…it’s just so crazy that I get to work with people like that over on this side now. And Lanes a second generation grower, y’know?”

Mike: 

“We got started talking about his farm. They got the bison farm…it’s in their blood born and raised generations on the farm, right? You’re not going to do it better than people like that. Somethings can’t be taught”

Janeen:

“And they’re doing more pheno hunting and some more new and interesting things will be coming soon with them and it’s just like, they just get it, they get how much [the importance of] having unique genetics is–”

Mike:

“We get a sneak peek of both of those facilities, plus a little chat, similar to this but we won’t keep you as long. Yeah, look forward for those – Smokers Farm, the gassy gas Master Kush. Pineapple Buds’ Pineapple Party and Hawaiian Pineapple. I was on a two week Hawaiian Pineapple binge, that’s all I smoked and I was putting fat rosin snakes in it and man it’s just that evil dark purple looking weed.

Gary:

“Evil weed he calls it! It’s like sinister dark y’know –”

Mike confirming:

“That’s the one I want.”

The conversation ends with Mike and Gary thanking the JVCC team as they head to hit the gravity bong! Annnnnd I’m a little jealous I missed that session.


What to Expect In the Future

As we wind this recap down I hope you found this an enjoyable and informative read, but be sure to check out the episode in full here, as well as select clips here.

We may have kicked off the season at one of our home bases in Summerland, but the Highway podcast is focused on taking you to the best craft cannabis producers in BC. So, in future episodes you can still expect authentically candid conversations about cannabis, but with an even greater focus on cultivation and exclusive grow room footage.

Never miss an update or episode by following Heat + Herb and the Highway on social media.

Instagram

Twitter

YouTube

Join us again on our next stop along the Highway, Episode 2 – Smoker Farms. Until then I am David Burgomaster signing off on behalf of Heat + Herb.


Check out the full podcast on YouTube

Back to Home

Shop Weed Here

heat_herb_logo