|LICENCE TYPE:||Standard processor|
|APPROACH:||Sifting, Ice water extraction, heat press|
|TIMELINE:||~6 months (October 2019 to March 2020)|
Coulson Cannabis is a cannabis processor in Ontario focusing on solvent free extraction of small batch craft cannabis.
The standard processor, licenced in March of this year, is the passion project of founder Cody Coulson, who says he wants to fill the gap when it comes to supply of legal, high quality extract products.
Art of extraction
Utilizing ice water extraction, sifting, and mechanical pressing, Coulson says his focus is on treating extraction like an art. After falling in love with these kinds of products that are available in the black market, he says he became inspired to bring something similar to the legal market.
“I grew up in the cannabis industry,” says Coulson. “My experience comes from Toronto and the black market days. I used to run a few medical cannabis clinics back when a lot of the rosin products were just getting started and I was actually pretty lucky to see what was flying off the shelves there. I fell in love with rosin and extracts then.
“I wanted to bring that culture to the legal market. Looking around, back in 2017, I didn’t see anyone looking at this and that got me excited. That was when we started first renovating the barn because I realized that was what I wanted to do.”
To achieve these types of products, Coulson says he has outfitted his facility with two large rosin presses from Pure Pressure, several 64 and 34 gallon capacity ice water hash buckets for making ice hash, as well as several large scale sifters. Each press, he says, can do roughly four pounds of input in an eight hour day, and they plan to add more to their facility later this year.
All our techniques mean it’s quality in/quality out, so we can’t mask bad growing techniques.
Highest quality extracts
In order to ensure that he’s creating the highest quality cannabis extracts, Couslon says he will spend time developing relationships with growers in Canada who are producing the kind of high quality cannabis he can have confidence in. Although down the road he hopes to also apply for a cultivation licence himself, right now he wants to focus on working with those who are already producing top shelf flower.
“All our techniques mean it’s quality in/quality out, so we can’t mask bad growing techniques. The consumer needs to know it’s good from seed to sale, and so do we when selecting the flower we want to use.
“I have a lot of respect for growers and I knew I couldn’t grow at that scale yet, for the quality that I am looking for, so I decided to go with extractions first and then work my way into the growing space when I feel that I’m ready. I think that growing is a lot harder than extraction.”
Solventless is able to give the full spectrum of the plants, so we’re not taking any terpene or cannabinoid profiles from the plant. We’re getting full flavour and effect and not hiding any poor growing techniques.”
Because their extraction processes are ‘solventless’ or hydrocarbon free, Coulson says it gives the consumer a better end product than other methods such as CO2 extraction.
“Solventless is able to give the full spectrum of the plants, so we’re not taking any terpene or cannabinoid profiles from the plant. We’re getting full flavour and effect and not hiding any poor growing techniques.”
Building a compliant facility first
The old barn he and his team renovated was part of a dairy farm owned by a family friend. Although there was no requirement at the time to build out a facility prior to licensing, Coulson says he decided to be proactive and build a full facility first to show Health Canada his application was serious.
If there were things that we needed to address, [Health Canada] gave us detailed information about what they needed from us, and they gave us good timelines to get back to them with evidence of what had been revised.
“Even before it was part of the application, we decided to make sure that we had the building ready to go before we submitted the application,” he says. “We just wanted to make sure that we had the building in place before we applied because we knew it was a lot of time and that if we could show Health Canada that we had a building, we were one step ahead of most people.”
Cody’s mother, Cassie Coulson, who is also a part of the business, says the process took longer than she expected.
“It wasn’t cheap,” she points out. “I would say it cost us between $500 and 750k to get it ready for Health Canada. I thought it would have been a little quicker, but to be very honest Health Canada was incredible to work with. If there were things that we needed to address, they gave us detailed information about what they needed from us, and they gave us good timelines to get back to them with evidence of what had been revised.”
Once their renovation was complete, Cassie says they finally applied in October 2019 with about five months of waiting, and back and forth with the regulator, before being issued their licence in March 2020.
Cassie says she is not the only family member involved. Although not an avid cannabis consumer, her son’s passion for the plant helped change her mind over time.
I went from being someone who wasn’t on board to someone who supports everything that it stands for, medical or recreational.
“We are proud to say we’re family oriented. We have Cody and his siblings, we have myself, Cody’s mother, we have his grandfather involved, and a few others with great knowledge.”
“I definitely wasn’t always this way,” she continues. “My upbringing was that cannabis was a drug and that was the way I saw it. Cody was really good at being patient, and he had me do my research and reading. I am open to listening to what someone has to say. So that led me to start investigating and learning more about what cannabis was all about and it turns out it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.
“I went from being someone who wasn’t on board to someone who supports everything that it stands for, medical or recreational.”
We’re going to have to educate them on our product because it’s going to be so different than what is currently out there.
Educating the buyers
Cody says he thinks it will take some work to help educate provincial buyers about his products, which are different from what they currently carry, but he’s confident that the market will evolve to meet consumer demands.
“We’re going to have to educate them on our product because it’s going to be so different than what is currently out there”, says the 22 year old. “We want them to understand why the connoisseur would want these products, so that is definitely what we need to be doing sooner rather than later.
“The markets that I look up to are places like Oregon and California where the quality of the extracts is amazing. I think that’s completely missing from the culture here right now. But I think that’s one of the beautiful things about legalization – the culture it can bring in. So hopefully that happens in the coming years.”
Believe in your opportunities
Cody also says he wants anyone else interested in taking part in the legal market to seriously look at the opportunities, and not listen to the nay-sayers.
“Get out of your own way. That’s the best I can give with anything. A lot of people will tell you that you can’t do something, or you might tell yourself you can’t, but as soon as you get out of your own way, a lot of things will fall into place.”
Expected first release
We’re not looking to speed anything through, we’re looking at quality and making it a fine art.
Although Cody says the current COVID-19 crisis will slow down his ability to visit cannabis cultivators to vet their product, his mother Cassie says they do expect their first release of product in the coming months.
“We’re hoping to have our first product as a joint venture with another company, out to the market in two months,” she says. “Then we are hopeful that in six months from now we’ll have our Coulson Cannabis brand out there. So long as things don’t change too much.
“We’re not super high volume. It’s definitely an art and a craft that Cody is looking for which, again, stands us out from everyone else. We’re not looking to speed anything through, we’re looking at quality and making it a fine art.”