BIG - Legacy to Legal
Blaise Independent Growers, aka BIG, is a producer of hash rosin. Mike Imposimato, better known as “El Hasho,” has studied the craft of extraction for over a decade and takes an artisanal approach to creating the best quality hash. Calling him a perfectionist when it comes to making solventless live rosin is a serious understatement—he’s an obsessive.
Scott Walters and John Fowler are the other co-founders who make up the BIG brand. “Really all I do is make hash,” Mike admits. “I’m a hash nerd.”
“If you want to call El Hasho a brand, I’m not him. I’m Mike. But the persona that is El Hasho is trying to be successful to do good for others.”
— Mike Imposimato
With a lifelong background in skateboarding and a former sales career with an action sports brand, Mike has been a part of cannabis culture most of his life. In 2009, he traveled to Colorado to train under an expert hash maker and learn how to extract using liquid nitrogen.“It was my first career step,” he says. “I funded all my training and certification, and I visited every dispensary and facility I could find. I saw the legal industry developing.”
A defining moment during Mike’s apprenticing phase was when he saw an affluent mother and her adult daughter pull up to a Colorado dispensary in a Porsche to buy weed together. “From where I came from, that was a culture shock to me,” he says. “That day, I knew this business was my future.”
Mike returned to Canada, where liquid nitrogen extraction was basically unheard of at the time. It was also very illegal. As he worked to improve his product, he also spent time in California as the legal market started to expand there.
When Canada legalized cannabis, Mike realized that making the best quality hash was only one piece of the puzzle. He needed to run a business, so John and Scott stepped in. When they first released BIG to the public, Mike was bombarded with calls from people who wanted to buy their product, forcing the BIG team to learn how to work with the Ontario Cannabis Store to get their hash into people’s hands.
“The government regulations are the biggest hurdle in navigating the legal market,” Mike says, laughing. “But I love the OCS. There are so many people working tirelessly behind the scenes there.” Mike is quick to admit that the legal framework is complicated when you first enter the industry.
“I had no mentors getting into this market, but I realized this industry is about making genuine connections with people you want to work with.”
He adds that newcomers to the legal cannabis space who are inauthentic will be found out quickly. “There are no frauds allowed here,” he says. “Everybody will see it right away.” On the flip side, Mike knows and has worked with many people from the legacy market who were super successful, and became completely lost when they got into the new legal space. “Successful people come in here and are humbled quickly,” he says. “But there are a million different avenues into this market, and if you love it, you can make it.”
Mike’s mantra with BIG is that nothing worth anything is ever free. He knows he needs to work hard. “The guys like me who suffered to break down doors getting into the legal space? That has opened it up for others,” he says. “And the special people always outshine the shitty ones.”
“If you wanna work in the legal cannabis industry, send your resume around like you’re trying to get a job at FootLocker.”
— Mike Imposimato
Mike will openly tell you that his team at BIG makes the best hash on earth. With roots and a frame of reference in music and skateboarding, he sees success as an outcome of passion and determination. “You need to forge your own path into the legal industry,” he says. “There’s no big comfy chair in an ivory tower. There’s no easy way, so the people here should be willing to die for their craft.”On top of the challenges many growers and cannabis producers face when transitioning into the legal market, hash comes with an added barrier. “Flower is so widely accepted,” says Mike. With what he sees as a stigma towards hash, his goal is to normalize it to the masses.
“Even if you’re 81 and your name is Karen, you’ve seen marijuana and in some way you accept it. But hash still seems like drugs to a lot of people.”
Mike’s vision to make hash rosin more commonplace relies on his partners, Scott and John, the business savants who know how to run the gambit of legal sales and distribution. With their fourth product about to be released and some unique drops coming this summer, things are looking up.
The future of BIG relies on the success of every brand in the legal space from Mike’s perspective, where everyone must lift each other up. “Go follow and check out Cannarus, Living Earth Organics, Big Smoke, Subsidium Secreto, and anyone else in Canada perpetuating good things in cannabis,” Mike says. “Tell them you appreciate them.”