There is something about a family-run business. The passion and knowledge for their product or service is practically palpable. And that’s the best way to describe North 40 Cannabis. Based in Northern Saskatchewan, the craft producer is a true family affair.
Keep reading to learn more about North 40’s master grower and his long-lasting love affair with growing cannabis.
Name: Gord Nichol
Title and Company: Owner and Master Grower, North 40 Cannabis
Favourite Strain: Blue Cheese
What brought you to the world of botany and cannabis?
I grew my first crop in 1989, so I’ve been in this game for quite a while. And out of everything that I do now, it’s the growing of cannabis that is the best part of the job for me. That first little crop I grew under a 1,000 watt metal hot light lame in the corner of a basement. Now we’re using high-pressure aeroponics, nanotechnology, LED lighting and all the fanciest environmental controls. It’s miles and miles away from where I started… but I’ve always been a believer in the plant.
What do you find most fascinating about growing cannabis?
My love of growing has been strong for at least 15 years. I’m fond of working with the plant and watching the development of the plant as it grows. My favourite part has to be when the plants are a few weeks away from finishing up and you can see the trichome development and you can start to anticipate what the consumption experience will be like.
I really enjoy the experience of growing a cultivar for the first time. You see how it expresses itself, you discover the plant stature and how all the buds stack up. It’s interesting to me to grow something that, in the end, I will consume or consumers will have in their hands. On the medical side, I get the most joy out of knowing that my products are helping people.
What inspires you when selecting which cultivars to grow?
You have to be intentional about what you bring to market. I always try to get the highest THC range and blend of terpenes that suits my palate, and hope that consumers agree with my taste. So far, that seems to be the case.
Nowadays, choosing cultivars is based on their commercial appeal. You can’t bring a cultivar in that is testing 16-20 percent THC—those are now considered mids. And, as a craft producer, our business can’t survive on cultivating mids.
The North 40 roster has a great mix of cultivars—was that important to you as a grower?
There are a few cultivars that have, and will, fall to the wayside because the THC level is too low, but there are a few that will be mainstays. Like our Blue Cheese, I will always grow it. And it has its own following of consumers.
Moving ahead, we’ve been looking at all the great cultivars available. We’re trying to bring a nice kush to the market—we think there’s a little bit of room to bring an outstanding kush to consumers.
How do you give each cultivar the specific care it needs to thrive?
We have seven rooms on the go at all times, which allows us to harvest a crop every two weeks. Because we use high-pressure aeroponics, we tend to favour a shorter, stouter plant, as opposed to longer, taller plants.
But we’ve learned to adapt and experiment. For instance, Ice Cream Cake was a crazy, stretchy plant that grew up into the lights—we couldn’t move fast enough. It was a challenge for the first crop, but by the next crop we knew what to expect and could adapt the environment to what the plant required. But it goes to show you that whenever you put in a new cultivar, you have to be prepared for anything.
What obstacles do you face in the cannabis space?
I’m fortunate to have first mover advantage out of the micro licenses and had a lot of support and anticipation for the arrival of smaller, “Mom and Pop” producers. That alleviated a lot of the hurdles that others coming in now are facing.
There are the usual hurdles, like regulations and raising capital, but small things—like getting bank accounts set up—end up being huge challenges for small producers. There is also the challenge of getting your product from the trim table into the hands of customers. Distribution is tricky, complicated and expensive. You best have a good processor partner to get your product out there. We’ve been lucky to have Find Shelter help get us out there in front of consumers.
The last hurdle would be municipal governments. They can stop a producer in their tracks.
As a producer, what do you want consumers to know about where their cannabis comes from?
I’d like them to know exactly where their cannabis comes from. With all the whitelabelling that goes on nowadays, I hope to get the word out that there are small Mom and Pop producers who are out there growing cannabis because they love to grow cannabis. They love the product, they love to grow and they love to interact with their customers. I have a big voice out on Twitter and I enjoy the conversations I have with consumers and the people who follow me.
We’re a true Mom and Pop shop. I’m the master grower, my wife is quality control… and we’re passionate about it. Nothing goes out our doors that I wouldn’t personally consume. I would challenge any CEO in the cannabis world to a smoke off any day! People who buy North 40 products can rest assured they are buying a product that was touched by me, selected by me, cured by me and delivered by people who love this industry.
What exciting things can consumers expect from North 40 in 2021?
Continued transparency, and for us to deliver more high quality products. We have more new things up our sleeve for this year—but we can’t quite disclose those yet. But we’re going to make some noise in this industry. We’re going to be a little more known here shortly.