• Hunter Cresswell

North Bud to begin selling under different brand

Updated: Apr 22

The North Bud cannabis farm in Venosta was all set to start growing after they got their cultivation license last month, but then COVID-19 hit.

NorthBud owner

North Bud, a multinational cannabis company, with its head office in Chelsea and a facility in Low, is one of countless businesses across the Gatineau Hills reeling from the effects of COVID-19. But North Bud executive chairman and Hills native Ryan Brown, when interviewed over the phone earlier this week, said he and his company could be worse off. “As a small startup, we’re in a better position than large producers who’ve had to lay off staff,” he said about not having to let any employees go. ​ On March 13, North Bud received a permit from the Health Canada cannabis licensing directorate, which allows the company to begin growing marijuana indoors. That was the same weekend that schools started announcing closures to slow the spread of the pandemic, a response that eventually snowballed into the non-essential business closures, stay at home recommendations, and travel restrictions, which have become the new norm. ​ “It forces you to re-evaluate,” Brown said, which is what North Bud did. ​ As excited and ready as the company was to start growing, he said it would have been irresponsible to do so.

“We’re going to prioritize the long-term success of the company and the health and safety of employees,” Brown said. So, he explained, the company set about brainstorming and rolling out interim plans to get going, and get growing safely after final authorization from Revenue Canada. ​ Brown said a farm startup crew of five is on standby and will begin growing once authorized, but will respect physical distancing requirements. ​ “The first 50 per cent of what we cultivate indoors will be sold to another licensed producer,” Brown said, instead of being listed for sale on a wholesale market place. ​ That dried flower – weed – will be sold under that brand’s label. The other half of what North Bud grows in its $6 million, 24,500-square-foot facility in Low will be stock for when North Bud begins selling under its own branding in six to nine months, Brown said. ​ The last hoop to jump through before being able to put seeds or clones in the ground is sending an application to Revenue Canada, which includes estimates of yearly crop yields. Brown said on April 13 that he expects that final approval within the next 10 days. “We believe the operation plan over the summer insulates us from any government changes,” he said.

North Bud, like other cannabis industry businesses, needs to make sure all its paperwork and permits are properly filed with the right government regulators. ​ “So if there’s any slow down in the government, that will have a trickle-down effect,” Brown said. ​ Farms such as North Bud’s have been deemed essential services because they’re tending live plants, however North Bud’s Venosta facility doesn’t have any growing plants, so it sits closed and empty until the company receives the final Revenue Canada authorization.  ​ The Venosta facility can house up to 2,200 flowering plants and 100,000 clones, which can yield a projected 1 million grams of dried flower a year.  ​ North Bud has plans to apply for an amendment to its cultivation license to also allow for outdoor cultivation. The Venosta farm has growing space for 40,000 additional plants outside, which could yield 15 to 18 million grams for use in cannabis extractions to create concentrates. This change would increase the number of employees at the Venosta farm from five needed to start things up to 25 when growing outside.

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