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Each month we feature a selection of our Co-op Members and Supporters. They live the Co-op’s mission and demonstrate the innovate nature of the independent entrepreneurs that make up BC’s highly skilled craft cannabis sector.

If five years ago you had asked Adam Carmichael where he’d be in 2020, there’s no way he would have predicted that today he’d be the CEO of a licensed cannabis processor. In 2016, he had just completed a doctorate in Political Science at the University of Victoria, but after years of university, he felt he was burnt out. In a tight academic job market, he made an abrupt left turn and took a job at Trees Dispensary in Victoria.

Before long he was managing the processing department. Surrounded by talented and committed weed people, the processing department continuously developed innovative systems to transform a raw material into products that satisfied a real community need. In the spring and summer of 2018, with the prospect of federal legalization looming, Adam and several former Trees employees started the long process of applying for a Health Canada cannabis license in order to transition from the legacy market to the legal market.

The company they created, Integrated Processing Inc., forges a crucial link in the supply chain that begins with the grower and ends with the consumer. The middle space, an integral part of the chain, is where the plant is transformed into a consumer product. Their founding core values are Be Local. Be Sustainable (environmentally, by reducing plastic and advocating for an evidence-based approach to safety requirements of packaging; and socially, by creating an awesome work environment and paying employees a living wage).

Like virtually every other production aspect of the legal cannabis industry, getting a Health Canada licence, in this case a processing licence, is a requirement. There are large upfront costs to creating a compliant processing facility, which is why many micro cultivators have chosen to obtain only cultivation licenses while leaving processing up to a third party. For growers, having access to professional processing allows them to concentrate on what they’re good at: growing great cannabis

Today, Integrated Processing has 18 employees with plans to hire another 9. It was a big day for Adam when he was able to hire many of the workers who had been laid off from Trees after it was raided by a Community Safety Unit in summer 2019. They prepare dried cannabis flowers and produce pre-rolls and hope to expand into hydrocarbon and solventless extraction in the coming years.

Getting the initial capital and ensuring cash flow was a major challenge. Adam believes that, as a united voice,  the BCCFC can work to open up access to traditional lending sources. He also believes that the Co-op should play a role, and will have some clout, in Health Canada’s upcoming review of current cannabis regulations.

His advice to anyone contemplating entering the cannabis industry is first to learn how to grow. Understand and respect what the farmers do. And learn the other end of the supply chain too, by getting an idea of what the retailers face. Avoid a narrow vision of just what’s in your lane, while having a clear vision of what your specialization is going to be.

Email Adam