21st-Century Cannabis: The 21st-Century Consumer

A squinting quality-assurance technician inspects the tangerine peaks and emerald valleys of a voluptuous cannabis flower named Lola Montes. It’s close to perfect, but not quite.

The aroma in the sterile trimming room is somewhere between tart cherry preserves and freshly sliced orange – hallmarks of this plant’s terpene profile.

With surgical precision, the technician carefully clips away any remaining sugar leaves from the dense, five-and-a-half-gram bud before placing it on a vented drying tray. When the pan catches the light in just the right way, it shimmers like a Swarovski display case.

This is premium cannabis. Selected for robust genetics, unique aroma profiles and effect capabilities, the plants in the Edison Cannabis Co.’s roster are unlike anything you’ve likely seen before.

“It’s not the same stuff you got from the guy behind the bowling alley,” said Edison Cannabis Co. director of operations Matt Rogers. “This is something else entirely.”

Best practices in cannabis growth, sale and distribution have evolved considerably in recent years. As laws change and potential for research and development open, forward-thinking producers take advantage of new opportunities to gather data and develop products they say will satisfy and delight groups of cannabis consumers, who have evolved just as much as the plants they’re smoking, vaping and the oils they’re eating.

The Edison line and the Edison Reserve line hit shelves in regulated retail points across the country on Oct. 17, when Canada’s legal cannabis program opened for business. In Ontario, it is available from the Ontario Cannabis Store online platform.

Edison’s parent company, Organigram, is one of Canada’s original licensed producers that has diversified from a medical-only company to cater both medical and recreational markets.

The company is in an advantageous position when compared to its newly licensed competitors. Organigram was just the 18th producer in Canada to receive its cultivation and sales licenses in March 2014. In a market with around 120 licensed producers today – over half of whom received licensing within the past year – the company has a four-year head start over its competition. The experience working with thousands of plants and thousands of medical cannabis patients has proven invaluable, Rogers said. The company is using all that data to its advantage and is the foundation on which the Edison brand was conceived.

“Years in the cannabis industry are like dog years, especially in a fully indoor environment,” said Rogers. “We can rotate five crops per room per year. With over 50 three-tiered growing rooms online in our facility today, it’s basically the equivalent of 250 summers in one year. We’re able to gather so much data in that time and learn so much about our plants and how to optimize our growing processes it’s extraordinarily advantageous for the person who buys and ultimately enjoys the product. That pre-roll, that package of flower, that bottle of cannabis oil, a great deal has gone into the development of those end products.”

And while Organigram growers have spent the past four years fine-tuning their plant work, its product specialists have studied cannabis marketplaces and cannabis consumers – including Organigram’s own patient base – to learn what quality means to those with a discriminating sensibility.

Consensus leaned toward the notion of premiumization; offering products that are rich in cannabinoids, boast complex and powerful terpene and flavonoid profiles, and have a prize-winning visual appeal – the kind of product you’d brag about to anyone who might listen, said Organigram chief commercial officer, Ray Gracewood. 

“Cannabis enthusiasts, the ones who really love this plant, are coming to understand and appreciate more about it with every passing day. We’re of the same mind. This is a plant we care for deeply and seek to understand more about; how to best grow it, how to best nurture it post-harvest, and how to best enjoy it. We’re working every day to get better at all of it and to share what we’re learning.”

The Edison Cannabis Co. lineup includes dried flower, pre-rolled joints and infused edible oil. Its upper-echelon line – Edison Reserve – is made exclusively of hand-selected top flowers, reputed as the most sought-after part of the entire plant. Each are craft-cured and carefully hand-manicured, to retain the flower’s unique shape and characteristics, and as many valuable, cannabinoid-rich trichomes as possible. The buds are so big, they’re packed in specially designed, scent-proof, resealable pouches. They wouldn’t fit in any other standard-sized vessel, said Gracewood.

The humidity and temperature in the Lola Montes drying room is precisely attuned to ensure excess moisture is pulled from the flowers, eliminating any potential for mold. Once the flowers are dried, they’ll be cured at a snail’s pace to promote chlorophyll breakdown and reveal the full palette of the plant’s flavour and aromatic oils. Post-harvest care is a piece of the puzzle that’s often overlooked in the commercial cannabis production process, but a piece that can have a big impact on a final product and something growers at the facility have come to learn, Rogers said.

“Every part of this product from cloning, to curing, to hand-packaging has been well thought-out. These are elements we believe make the difference from a mediocre to an exceptional cannabis experience.” 

And as much as they’ve come to learn about what a premium product should be, they’ve learned a great deal about the people who want to buy it, Gracewood added.

“When it comes to this idea of a cannabis consumer, that classic stereotype often comes to mind first. While yes, there absolutely is a segment of people who fit that ‘lazy stoner’ definition, we know that many, many others who consume cannabis do not. They’re well-educated, interested in technology, arts and culture. They’re homeowners, parents, professionals. They’d check out a Banksy exhibit on a Sunday afternoon. They might not consume cannabis daily, but they’ve probably got a custom rolling tray, a preferred method of consumption and can tell the difference between schwag and AAAA flower. That’s the kind of consumer Edison was designed for.”

The brand is an homage to creativity and innovation. While Thomas Edison inspired the brand’s namesake, creators pulled elements from all corners of modern art, science and culture into the aesthetic.

“It’s something we’ve had a lot of fun with. When conceiving the brand, we wondered: what are some of the greatest achievements in technology, science and art over the past century?” Gracewood said, explaining the brand’s logo, a hybrid atomic leaf and logo that could have been ripped from a 1950s pulp fiction cover. Just like Lola Montes, Casablanca, Rio Bravo, La Strada and City Lights flowers are all named after Oscar-winning films, he said.

When this crop of Lola Montes is trimmed, set and stored, Rogers adjusts the humidity settings, decreasing it by one per cent. It’s an incremental environmental difference from the conditions the last crop was treated with but could change the final product for the better – they’ll have to wait and see, Rogers said.

“Innovation and this idea of never settling really propel the Edison Cannabis Co.,” said Gracewood. “We’ve come to understand that if we get to a point where we think we can’t get any better, we’ll stop trying. We try to improve our products with each successive harvest. We never want to stop growing.”

For more information on the Cannabis Co., visit edisoncannabis.co.