What is Craft Cannabis? Craft Cannabis Explained

From craft beer and craft coffee to craft wine and other artisanal foods, the craft designation has been used extensively to describe foods, beverages and other hand-crafted products deemed to be higher quality than their commercial counterparts. Now, the craft category has grown to include craft cannabis as well.

Also known as artisan cannabis or small-batch cannabis, cannabis products with the new craft designation are being marketed to Canadians as higher-quality products produced in smaller quantities by craft cannabis growers.

With that being said, how true is this distinction and what determines whether a dried cannabis product is genuinely craft or not?

What is Craft Cannabis? How is it Different From Other Cannabis Products?

Artisan Cannabis

While there is no federal cannabis regulation or agreed-upon criteria to denote whether a cannabis product is genuinely craft or not, the term has been used by many Canadian cannabis companies to describe a range of products.

Some have used the term as a marker for high potency, while others use it to describe their production, harvest, and quality assurance process.

Generally speaking, craft cannabis is cannabis produced by small-scale producers in small batches to maximize its quality instead of yield. 

Hang-dried, hand-trimmed and hand-packaged cannabis cultivated in an organic or environmentally-friendly way is also considered a ‘craft’ product and is the criteria used by Ontario to determine whether a cannabis product can achieve craft designation or not.

In Ontario, the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) states that cannabis flower and pre-rolls must meet the following criteria before they can be listed as craft cannabis products:

  • grown in a facility that produces less than 10,000 kilograms of dried cannabis (or equivalent) a year
  • hand-trimmed
  • hang-dried
  • hand-packaged

Like other artisanal craft products, craft cannabis is defined by its commitment to quality, care and attention that are difficult to replicate at an industrial scale. 

Here are some techniques that craft cultivators utilize to differentiate craft cannabis from other legal recreational cannabis products.

Craft Cannabis Genetics

The genetics and phenotype of a particular strain will affect the growth rate, terpene profile and overall quality of the final dried flower. While a larger cannabis wholesaler might choose strains with a faster growth rate and higher yield, craft cannabis might choose to cultivate with seeds that yield more aromatic, flavourful and potent buds. 

Phenotypes with genetics that aren’t optimized for growth will be more challenging to grow, maintain and harvest but will produce cannabis with more robust terpene profiles, higher potency and a better appearance.

Micro Climate & Nutrient Control

what is craft cannabis

Cultivating seeds with genetics that aren’t standard within the industry increases the flower’s vulnerability and susceptibility to disease. While hardier, more robust seeds can receive generic and blanket treatment throughout their growth cycle, unique seeds will require plant-specific nutrient mixes and climate control to ensure their health and growth.

Depending on the strain and cultivar, growers may provide different climates and nutrients to the plant to help it reach its fullest potential. Examples of micro-climate management and nutrient control include alternative lighting sources, specialized heating and strain-specific nutrient mixes.

Different plants will have different needs. Catering to each strain’s unique needs and preferences instead of providing a generic treatment for every plant is the difference between craft and retail cannabis.

Small Batch Sizes

Craft cannabis is grown on a much smaller scale than other cannabis products. Artisan cannabis cultivators rely on a more hands-on approach endemic of smaller-scale production to allow for more care and attention to be directed toward their plants.

Smaller batch sizes also ensure that the flower beds aren’t overly crowded. Overcrowding can lead to poor plant development, mold growth and pest and disease proliferation that can negatively impact the final product.

Additionally, manual hand-trimming, hang-drying and hand-packaging employed by artisan growers to preserve the plant’s flavour, aroma and appearance can only be done on a low quantity harvest.

Organic Growing Practices

Craft cannabis

Craft cannabis producers don’t want to adulterate their final product with any substance that could negatively affect the plant or the health and experience of its consumers. While industrial pesticides and fertilizers reduce the resources strain for cultivators and increase the yield of a harvest, they can affect the end product’s aroma, taste, and potency. 

Instead, craft producers utilize a specialized nutrient program and living soil customized for each strain and batch. 

Compared to the alternative, organic living soil is rich with insects, micro-organisms and micro-nutrients that help nourish the plants naturally without the potential of leaching into the final product.

Special Packaging

Craft products are typically packaged in special cannabis storage containers to deliver the best consumer experience from seed to store. From glass jars to included humidity packs, artisan cannabis brands package their products in a specific way to ensure that they’re enjoyed the way they’re meant to.

Craft Cannabis – A New Artisan Collection

While not every province will strictly regulate the craft cannabis designation as the Ontario Cannabis Store does, you can still enjoy craft cannabis by reading the cannabis packaging, asking your budtender for more information, or browsing the Acreage Pharms product cataolgue.

As cannabis regulations continue to evolve and cannabis producers compete for more innovation, consumers can expect to see more artisan products being introduced into the market to be enjoyed.

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