Carmel Cannabis's mission is to create top-shelf flower. Led by Drew, the Head Grower, and Chris, the Head of Sales and Marketing, quality is everything when it comes to finding their place in the legal cannabis market.
As a mashup of design, culture, and innovative lab science, the Carmel crew goes beyond its reputation of exploring genetics and developing a portfolio of unique strains that are released in limited drops. They’re also a brand built on a community of creative thinkers who make a point of acknowledging their past in order to shape their future.
“Above all, a good brand needs to show empathy, the early days of legalization felt like a cash grab and too many people turned their backs on the rich cannabis culture that was there for them to embrace.”
Recognizing the gaps and inauthentic practices in the new legal space early on made it easy for Chris and Drew to set a mandate for Carmel; to build upon the past experiences of Carmel’s grow team and be a brand that’s true enough to work in both the legacy or the legal markets. “The people who tell us they don’t buy legal cannabis, but we’ve changed their mind on that... That’s who we’re trying to pull in,” says Drew. He looks at talent and growing their team through the same lens.
“Obviously there are people coming from the illicit market who are held back and need some help due to legal problems in the past,” says Drew. “By working together and helping each other out, we can get these people into a great career.”
With the legal market still in its infancy, Carmel draws inspiration from the broader cannabis industry and beyond to set their own benchmarks for what success should look like.
“Working with Drew has made me appreciate how the legal industry today is just a slice of the pie. It’s important for us to stay in touch with overall cannabis trends, and more importantly, to make sure we’re helping establish a space for people to feel good about going legit.”
Drew has been growing since 2005. “For years, I said I’d ride or die legacy and I wouldn’t transition to legal,” he says. But opportunity and competition eventually swayed him—an easy transition based on his solid reputation from peers. Paperwork has been his biggest hurdle in becoming a legal grower. Tons of paperwork.
“I run into red tape every day,” Drew laughs. “Everything is tracked, and I wasn’t security cleared for a while. You need that to be a Head Grower in the legal market.”
Drew sees the positive side of the strict regulations. When all the product is lab tested and comes with endless data, new opportunities to experiment open up. He also wants to use his knowledge to give opportunities to other growers making the transition like he did. “I consider myself a success story,” he says. “I honestly believe I made the right move entering the legal market.” As Carmel grows, passion, authenticity, and the interest to learn are the most important qualities they look for in candidates. People are there because they love it.
“Legal market is not going anywhere. It’s here to stay. As a grower, it’s challenging and competitive, but also rewarding.”
As Drew and Chris look to the future of Carmel, having the best flower with bag appeal is a core focus. “We want a product that looks pretty and smells great,” says Drew. “I’d also love to see us satisfy Ontario. It’s our homebase and we want to make it here before we expand.”
Carmel values its roots in the legacy cannabis market. It’s important to Chris and Drew that they use their platform to highlight the work Cannabis Amnesty is doing for thousands of Canadians who‘ve been harmed by decades of unjust policies in cannabis. One way Carmel is doing its part is by donating 100% of proceeds from sales of the “High Rollers Kit,” made with Superette, directly to Cannabis Amnesty.Chris says that Carmel will evolve in a way that makes sense to their values and their past experiences in the legacy market. “Our story was being written before, and this is a continuation of it,” he says.
For the superfans and new fans of Carmel, Drew’s Dark Helmet, Animal Face, and Mac1 are the strains that put them on the map, but new products are coming out this summer in limited drops, so be ready!
And from now through June 7th, Carmel is donating 5% of their cannabis sales to Cannabis Amnesty, and Superette will match their contributions.