Rosin & Canada: What Happens Next?
Rosin is gaining in popularity everywhere and Canada is no exception. Rosin is a concentrate extracted from the cannabis plant using heat and pressure. This means that rosin is solventless. It preserves the terpenes responsible for taste and the cannabinoids associated with many medicinal benefits. With the use of a commercial press extracting rosin is simple and, in comparison to other extraction methods, affordable. Canada has banned the use of flammable solvents leaving CO2 as the main extraction method in the country. However, CO2 takes a day to run, the process washes out many of the terpenes, and you really can’t get a commercial machine for less than $100,000 USD. Rosin is a cleaner product and, as we are seeing at PurePressure, many Canadian companies are as excited about it as we are. With adult use becoming legal in less than a year up north, it is only a matter of time until nearly all facilities own a professional-grade rosin press.
Canada’s laws have changed quite a bit since medical marijuana was legalized in 2001. In 2003 the Canadian Government considered decriminalizing the use of marijuana. The United States met this proposal with adamant disapproval, claiming that the reduced consequences would encourage drug tourism and ultimately impede trade and travel between the two countries. Canadian officials squashed the bill. Eleven years later Colorado legalized recreational marijuana with 7 states close behind making the US leaders in the push towards legalization. However, Canada’s marijuana market is expanding in ways the United States, which does not approve of marijuana at the federal level, cannot. According to MJbiz, since the Canadian government’s announcement to legalize recreational marijuana in July 2018 cannabis companies have raised more than 1 billion Canadian dollars ($790 million US), which is 1,700% more than last year. With this money, the industry is prepared to make huge moves including continued expansion to global markets without competition from the United States.
Germany and Australia both offer huge appeal to Canadian companies. Germany currently not only allows medical marijuana, but also covers it through their national health insurance program. Although Germany is currently working on an application process for local production, as of now, they must rely on imports. Australia’s medical marijuana program is also booming and did so at such a rapid rate that Canada is not only selling them marijuana and concentrates, but also intellectual property. The companies making these moves are dominating the landscape in Canada much because of regulations put into effect during the Harper Government. These astringent regulations were designed to discourage small-scale production by making licensing hard to obtain and the cost of startup astronomical.
Until 2013 Canadian producers of cannabis followed the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR). Under these regulations cultivators could grow for themselves and could be designated to grow for others. The MMAR cultivators were small but prolific, spreading all over the country. In 2013 Health Canada sought to limit the number of cultivation facilities and to more closely monitor them, so they came out with a new set of standards called the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations. These regulations were ultimately found to be unconstitutional and were replaced with the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, which is what is in use today. The new regulations are looser than the MMPR’s but obtaining licensing is still difficult. Out of over 1800 applications there are only 53 licensed growers in the entire Country and only 23 that are able to make concentrates. Find the entire list here.
The new regulations allow the production of concentrates, which makes Canada the first country to federally regulate dabs. The law bans the use of many flammable solvents in concentrate production and highly regulates others. One such highly regulated substance is BHO, which is the most commonly used solvent in extraction. The new laws do allow for the use of CO2. However, the consistency of CO2 is hard to manipulate and does not make a shatter or wax consistency. At the same time the demand for concentrates in Canada is booming. “The amount of cannabis oil sold to clients registered with Health Canada rose 870% between the first quarter of 2016, when 584 kilograms were sold, and one year later, when 5,673 kilograms were sold.” 94.7 kg of cannabis oil was exported overseas from Canada by July of this year and 100,000 kg of oil was consumed in the country by medical patients. When July 2018 hits this number is projected to increase dramatically.
Labs in Canada have begun to sway towards solventless extraction with many people hoping the prevalence of concentrates like rosin will increase. Rosin presses do not use flammable materials, are easy and safe to use, and more easily pass Canada’s Security Regulations for safe structures and practices. Not only is the use of a rosin press an easier bet for anyone getting into the Canadian concentrate market, investing in solventless is a good bet for getting into global markets, which for a federally legal country such as Canada, is a huge opportunity.
Europe has shown that it cares about adulterants. Food is held to a high standard with tight restrictions on pesticide use and less tolerance for GMO’s, hormones, and other chemicals and additives. There are chemicals found in cosmetics and other products in the US that are banned altogether in Europe. If European views towards chemical regulation are applied to the cannabis industry the best bet for effectively infiltrating the market is solventless cannabis oil such as Rosin.
As Canadian marijuana companies are flooded with new investment capital, and already large operations scale up, the issue of solventless may seem like an issue of capacity. One of Canada’s biggest players, the Cronos Group, recently secured 40 million dollars in Canadian funding (32 million American dollars) to build a 315,000 square foot facility, which they claim is the biggest cultivation facility in the world. Their expected production is 88,000 lbs. of cannabis annually. Small batch artisanal products still have an important place in this kind of large scale production. Rosin production scales easily despite requiring some labor, and gets more per ounce than many other concentrates. Furthermore, rosin is a connoisseur product. It is like drinking craft beer vs. Budweiser and there is always going to be a market for that kind of quality. Rosin should be offered by large Canadian companies trying to penetrate global markets and by smaller companies looking to compete with the big guys locally.
Canada has a lot to offer the United States by way of example. Their federally regulated market is a source of wealth for the country and is expanding to untapped global markets without the US as competitors. At the same time, the states in the US currently allowing recreational marijuana can be used to predict what the market may trend towards. What we can learn from states like Colorado and Washington is that concentrates are popular and that people will make them safely, if the regulations are put into place, or they will make them unsafely. Some consumers will buy BHO but there are others that are wary of chemicals like Butane and they are willing to pay a higher premium for purity. There are also many patients that are not willing to buy cannabis used medicinally that has solvents. As the demand for solventless products such as rosin gains traction in the United States, Canadian labs should take note. Investing in Rosin now will put any Canadian company that does ahead of the curve and poise them perfectly for global expansion. With rosin it is not a question of if it will take over, but more a question of when.