GrowerIQ Podcast with Shlomo Part 2

Israel to Canada: Growing Cannabis across the World (with Shlomo Booklin), pt. 2

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GrowerIQ is the operational backbone ERP that unites the fragmented systems required by cannabis production facilities around the world. The company now powers facilities in more than a dozen countries, and four languages - enabling true seed-to-sale traceability.

In part 2 of this podcast, master grower Shlomo Booklin talks to us about his thoughts on the current state of the cannabis world and the efforts and roadblocks that he has encountered while trying to take the industry forward.

This is episode two of our podcast with Shlomo Booklin. Here’s episode one if you didn’t get a chance to listen to it: Israel to Canada: Growing Cannabis across the World, pt. 1 (with Shlomo Booklin).

We want to reiterate that this episode is a must-listen.

Similar to Starting up in the Industry (with Chris Jones of Cannabis Xpress), Shlomo Booklin’s story is filled with valuable insights and experiences that he’s learned throughout his journey. From his time in the Israeli army to running successful consulting ventures in Canada, he’s been through a lot and shares his insights that will help you reach your potential.

Don’t miss out on this gem, listen now!


Steve Looi 0:05
Hi, everybody. I’m Steven Looi. And this is the GrowerIQ podcast. In our second episode, we continue to chat with Shlomo Booklin, the commercial cannabis grow-guru. We talked about the medicinal future of the plant growing overseas, and the best business friendly jurisdictions enjoy. Ashleigh about the various international jurisdictions he’s worked in, and which ones were getting commercial cannabis right. Particularly which ones were business friendly.

Shlomo Booklin 0:31
Israel is very leading in respect to clinical research on, basically trying to have specific strain or varieties for specific conditions. So they do run a lot of clinical trials in hospital, they do it properly. Well, that’s where I think the future of the cannabis is – I think that in the long run cannabis is going to be a commodity. And if you’re looking at tomatoes today, it’s very, very hard to make money from tomatoes. The only one who actually make money is Heinz, when they do the ketchup, and they have all those formulations. So I think that the market is going towards very specific, as I said, plans for specific target or condition or illnesses, whether it’s skin condition, or whatever I’m involved in. A very interesting and very, very exciting project, it’s in the project team we do in the port, actually, the project is in Portugal, but it’s a with collaboration with German pharmaceutical company and cannabis clinic in Spain. They try to find plants that are good for Alzheimer, and Parkinson. Alzheimer and Parkinson, as we know, it’s a disease that is generated from the brain, because of something in the brain. And we know that we have a lot of receptors or cannabinoid receptors in our brain, so there is a very good chance that there is something that the cannabis can do with it. Furthermore, the traditional pharmaceutical industry don’t have anything for Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s, they basically – what they can do is give you something to alleviate your symptoms.

Steve Looi 2:44
Symptoms or symptom.

Shlomo Booklin 2:47
But it cannot really do something to prevent it, to prolong it to delay it or whatever. So, this is something that I’m really, really excited to be part of. You know, trying to find, again, properly, not anecdotally, but scientifically, yeah, something that will help Parkinsons and Alzheimers. Because, again, I believe that you because it’s kind of generated in in the brain, similar to autism, or similar to PTSD. PTSD is basically, again, as someone that’s been there, I think it’s your brain is running on a on a higher speed. And you just keep on processing the same loop again, and again. And again, you just running in circle like, like a madhouse. And if I could basically, the cannabis when you when you have PTSD is like when you remember with your computer when they start to freeze you, you press alt, delete, control. Yeah. So that’s basically what the cannabis do to the brain. If you have a bad loop. It just gets you out of the loop. And we start again. So re-calibrate. So that’s basically what I felt at the time. And I still think today that cannabis can be helpful to certain thing that are generating in the brain to restart or reboot your brain, for the lack of better word.

Steve Looi 4:24
Right. And that’s definitely one of the most exciting things about the industry. legalizing is that now we can actually spend some money and find out what this plant actually is doing and is made of, and how to interact with us instead of – we’ve had years and years and years of anecdotal evidence sort of very clumsily treating people with with this medicine that you smoke, which is the stupidest way I think to get a medicine in your body. And so yeah, I’m right there with you. I’m very glad that to get into this kind of work.

Shlomo Booklin 4:55
On that note, I definitely have a lot of criticism to say about the Canadian companies, I mean, not all of them, but definitely the sheer big market a big part of them, you know, they talk so high about medicinal, medicinal and medicinal. They never have any substantial amount of money going towards research, right, which is very, very, very disappointing. I mean, again, Canadians is, as far as I can tell, I’m only Canadian for the past 20 years. You know, Canadian is about, you know, the social, you know,

Steve Looi 5:38
Social good.

Shlomo Booklin 5:39
Solidarity and doing good for the community and thing like this, and see, you can see all those companies that whether it’s the valuate, 7 billion or 2 million, they don’t won’t even give $10,000 $200,000 for research, so, so it’s really, really disappointing. And it shows also where their core values is. So, again, disappointing, especially if I compare it to what I told you about this project in Portugal with the German pharmaceutical companies, so you know, they’re not making money, but they still definitely –

Steve Looi 6:16
So do you see more of that activity happening in Europe than in the US and Canada?

Shlomo Booklin 6:22
Um, yeah, USA cannot say, I mean, the US says one thing to them, which is money. Right, everything that the US does, it has to be big and lots and lots and lots of money. I think what I see from from the market is that there’s a lot of pharmaceutical companies that are sitting on the bench on the fence now and you can see today’s less and less, you know, they can see the margin shrinking – not by huge because they still so much money. Yeah, but they losing some income, because of cannabis.

Steve Looi 7:09
Ohh, sure.

Shlomo Booklin 7:10
So there’s about 20 I would say 20 to 25 condition in the States. In those countries, those states that are allowed to have medicinal cannabis. There’s about 20 condition that you can prescribe cannabis. Firstly is the pain you know, painkiller is definitely very big, very big thing in the US and the pharmaceutical makes tons of money on the painkiller. Peanuts really really sense to make a painkiller especially if they make it in India ship it to America rapidly in a nice flashy thing and they put it in the thing so they make, I don’t know, trillions, zillions of money on the on the pharmaceutical from painkiller. Once you see that the specially now with the opioid and tinnitus, they the pharmaceutical companies do feel that the threatened by the, by the cannabis and like the old saying “If you cannot beat them, join them”. I am sure they are doing something on the cannabis front, but under a different name. So God forbid they will can say Johnson and Johnson do something to find –

Steve Looi 8:35
Tarnish the reputation that way.

Shlomo Booklin 8:36
But they do do it behind the scenes once they once they legalize it in the States on the federal level, we will see a floodgate of money, you know, in the amount that we never seen before and we never even thought about it before. I mean, those pharmaceutical companies, they normally put about a trillion dollar in order to launch one product.

Steve Looi 8:45
And years.

Shlomo Booklin 9:08
Yeah, and years think what would the bullet do to the cannabis industry if those trillions of dollars now going into those painkillers made of kind of BS and all of the PTSD and autism or more? I don’t know what.

Steve Looi 9:28
So to me, that’s the most exciting part.

Shlomo Booklin 9:30
Yeah, so the American, the Americans, once they will allow you to do it on the on the federal level, they will pull money left, right and center and if you want, they will offer you a 400 million for your facility. If you don’t save 400 they will give you 600 and go. So, that’s what I see. But I would definitely argue that they won’t do it just blindly, because of the kind of BS, they will look for consistency, because they are pharmaceutical companies. So they will look for consistency, they will look for scalability, the way that if you open up facility here in Denver, I can copy and put it in New York. So that’s what scalability which is, again, goes back to the Sophie’s, and so that could be where he and priests companies right to do that, because that’s the only way they’re going to be attractive for the pharmaceutical company. And if they even ever think of exit and run with a, a million to the bank. That’s the only chance to do that. And they have to comply with compliance, consistency and scalability. This is what the pharmaceutical companies are going to look for.

Steve Looi 11:01
Yeah, I think pharma is going to be the the real delivery of the promise that is cannabis, in terms of financial, and also in unlocking the the actual potential of this medicine for people.

Shlomo Booklin 11:13
And they will live it and they will do it in the proper way with clinical trial. And yeah, scientifically.

Steve Looi 11:20
Safety trials, all that stuff. Do you think there’s a barrier in terms of sourcing the molecule from the plant or pharma?

Because you know, aspirin, that comes from willow bark, but Bayer doesn’t doesn’t grow Willow, you know, they synthesize it chemically.

Shlomo Booklin 11:39
So again, there was a couple of places today know that they’ve tried to synthesize or create THC synthesize the THC, and it’s proven to be deadly. Deadly, they will come bad cases that just people took it. And basically, the brain doesn’t take it well. And so a couple of probably, I would say five people that took they tried to synthetic THC.

Steve Looi 12:12
So, but so is there’s a distinction between synthetic THC and then biosynthesized THC.

Shlomo Booklin 12:19
Yeah. So that’s the biosynthesized. I think it’s what it is. But I think what we know, and from what I read, and for my what I hear in the industry, it’s not necessarily it’s totally different from the, you know, traditional pharmaceutical industry, in where, in the pharmaceutical industry, you isolate one ingredients, and this is the pharmacopoeia or that ingredient active ingredient that you say “this is good for headache, or this is good for” I don’t know, you know, whatever you have. Sure. I think what they say or what they find out in, in the cannabis, is there, what they call entourage effect. Sure, yeah, the synergy because they it’s a combination of probably 30-40, maybe 100 different cannabinoids, some of them we don’t even know what they call because we haven’t isolated them. Right But they talking about CBG CBN, CBS, CBL, couple of, things that I as I said don’t even know what, what they are. Um, and and today, the market is solely focused on THC and CBD. But research, especially in Israel are starting to show that CBN is good for sleeping. And CPL is good for that. And CBG is good for that. So that’s where the same way that you have you have now in the market, high THC and CBD and, one to one ratio, I think the next generation is to say, okay, CBN is good for sleeping, then we’re going to make hybrids of varieties that are high on CBN. And we will prescribe those to patient that ever insomnia or pre I don’t know, whatever. So that’s where I see but that’s a long, long process. I think again, going back to what you said about Europe, from what I’ve seen, and again, I spend majority of my time in Europe, the biggest bottleneck is lack of education for doctors, doctors are still reluctant to prescribe it. There is in Germany’s you know, strict difference between German doctor that can prescribe you cannabis and doctor that can prescribe you all from cannabis such things to different doctors.

Steve Looi 15:01
It’s interesting.

Shlomo Booklin 15:02
Yeah, so it’s… when, when I was at Tilray, that, you know, 2013-2014, I think there was three, maybe four doctors that could prescribe cannabis. You had to wait three months to see them, you had to pay them thousand dollars. And then they prescribe you cannabis, um, we time. And now we have, of course, cannabis clinics in every corner, like just Tim Hortons. So right now, these average of 10,000, new new so-called patient every month. And purely because they want to change to save the PhD and HST Because then the vacation, you don’t pay HST.

Steve Looi 16:01
Which I find incredibly dangerous. I mean, doctors, like you mentioned, they don’t know and are not confident in the information on how to dispense this stuff. Meanwhile, you have these dispensaries where – let’s not kid ourselves, there’s people that are going there that are looking for some sort of medical benefit from cannabis. And they’re taking advice from, you know, a 20 year old bud tender. That’s, that’s sitting there. And thinking that that, that that information is gospel and has verified and is, you know, which I think is a huge problem.

Shlomo Booklin 16:33
Yeah, it is a huge problem. But, you know, it is what it is. I mean, there’s a saying, not necessarily about Canada, but I think it’s applied to this, that “government do the right thing after they try anything else”. Yeah, I’ve heard that. So I think we have to be patient. And you know, what, Rome isn’t been built in one day.

Steve Looi 16:55
That’s a very fair comment.

Shlomo Booklin 16:56
Yeah, you know, it takes time for the industry to develop, I think what’s going on now, with the valuation of those companies, it’s a very good thing, getting those companies to the real value. So this adjustment is is very good. It will definitely fan out all those, you know, bs companies. And, again, not that I have anything, particularly against Canopy or Tilway, or free, our any one of them, it just they didn’t do the right thing. I won’t give you names, but I have, I work with two Canadian companies, they have tons and tons and tons of product. They can upsell it, the price that they are offered are around to even less than $2 a gram. And it’s definitely not the you know, evaluation or the you know, the income that they were planning to, they have hundreds of people they still living on the you know, drawing money from the bank. But, you know, life is a supermarket at one stage you get into the till. So, yeah, fair. You know, as long as you around the aisle, you can pile everything on your cart. But..

Steve Looi 18:21
So companies, I mean, they’re trying to make a go at growing a tropical plant in Canada. How dumb is that? We’re good places to grow cannabis on a commercial scale?

Shlomo Booklin 18:35
On a commercial scale. Definitely. Columbia. Again, the basic botanic plants, the basic but botanical, biological aspects of the cannabis plant, and if it’s boring, you let me know. No, it’s called what they call photoperiodic. So the pleasure the plant life cycle is is depending on the on the length of the of the day light, this is the biological clock that the plant has to adjust themselves to the to the season of the years. Oh, in the year, so we call it you know, photoperiodic the same way that the poinsettia that read the Christmas plan that you everyone buys in Christmas turn red. When the when in December when the day gets shorter. It’s the same principle with with cannabis. So cannabis in order to grow needs a long day. Because in the nature they germinate in a lot of what they call Kush today or India or Pakistan. So they during the summer and the spring, they have a long day and when July comes and they started a bit shorter they bloom because again, this is the the cycle to know that they have to start blooming with it, they getting shorter. They will bloom throughout June, July and August. And they will make seeds in September. So that’s the biological phenomena that we know about, about cannabis. So, again, if we want the plants to grow, to grow, we are what we call a vegetative stage. We give it a long day. If you want him to move, give it to you give it to him. 12 hours.

Steve Looi 20:40
Right, so I see a lot of pitches for grows that around the equator, and presumably the day there is about 12-12.

Shlomo Booklin 20:47
Exactly, so that’s basically what I’m saying to say that Columbia sits on the equator, or part of it, at least sits on the equator. And they are in this respect, amazing, amazing, amazing weather. They are in Colombia, what it’s what they call today. Medellin, or Pereira? It’s basically, you know, they call Mary Jean the internal screen, because it never goes above 27. It never goes below 15. Wow. So it’s amazing. As I said, it’s the opponent screen. This is the name of the city. As always felt if I was like 12 hours late.

Steve Looi 21:35
12 hours late, I always thought is that because in the vegetative state, you want more than 12 hours later, yes.

Shlomo Booklin 21:42
16 hours.

Steve Looi 21:45
But in a place like Columbia is if it’s constantly 12-12, how are you getting your plant to stay in veg?

Shlomo Booklin 21:51
The room and the vegetative room, when the plants are relatively small, you can supplement it with supplement light on in one room, I see. Because it’s small, you can put 200 or 300,000 or even 1000 plants in one room. Because as small as a very high and you know cutting you’re propagating in vegetative stage, the plants are small, you can put them in a small cap. And until they grow to about 30-40 depends on how far you want them, they still can stay in what we call yogurt cup. A you can place tons of them in a in a tray, just like yogurt. Gotcha. And once you want to bloom, you put them put them in the either in the field or in a greenhouse that you don’t have blackout and light, artificial light. And they will just go and bloom in the natural flow in this respect. In a greenhouse setting in. In Colombia, you don’t need to have any blackout and you don’t need to supplement. So it costs in the initial cost is very, very limited. Going back to what you said the tropical plant is no wonder that we don’t grow mango in Canada just right. So I don’t know why. Again, the fact that Canada became the first G1 or G7 to legalize cannabis is good. But on the production on the long run, there is no – we don’t produce mango, when you can in theory, we can go even papaya in Antarctica.

Steve Looi 23:42
But at what cost?

Shlomo Booklin 23:43
But yeah, exactly. But well, how much it’s going to cost you and who’s going to buy it for you from- how many Euros for one papaya?

Steve Looi 23:56
Yeah, exactly, exactly. I mean, that’s got to be a really good papaya. That’s the case. So we’re talking a little bit about where to grow. So in terms of the regulations, the the regimes that have been put in place, I mean, you’ve seen all of them. You’ve helped create some of them, I imagine where are the international regimes for that are doing it right, and maybe I might add, comma, that are business friendly.

Shlomo Booklin 24:23
So portugal is definitely a very friendly with corporate things. So a very efficient, they promise you within 60 days respond. So I’m not like it was Canada that takes you to our two years to put application and you don’t know to talk to and basically no one to talk to.

Steve Looi 24:44
So you make your decision and in two months, basically.

Shlomo Booklin 24:48
Yeah. Again, according… Providing that you give them everything right. If there’s something missing, they going back to you and community so relatively it’s quicker. It’s Very, very clear the regulation, you have to do ABCD and E. And if you do that, you will get it. So, in this respect is very easy, I think that I might be a little bit biased. Yeah. Barbados is trying to do very good thing, a small country. But they definitely have a very, they haven’t published, they haven’t published a regulation yet, but they definitely do a lot of homework to do it right. And they are going to publish them soon. They were talking about November. But again… I was lucky to be involved with some of the helping them with some of the regulations. So they doing a lot of work behind the scenes to be to become very, very pro-business minded.

Steve Looi 26:03
So so in that jurisdiction in Barbados, I mean, they don’t have a lot of space. So from what I have heard, they’re not actually looking to be a production site so much as a transit site. Is that right? Is that the sense you get?

Shlomo Booklin 26:19
Yeah, I mean, again, they try to boost the economy, because they realize that tourism is, especially after COVID is not the only thing and see what happened in Greece, for example, and which we can go on with in a second, but basically, they realized that tourism is not the golden goose and they have to consider alternative things. So they want to give some farmers ability to grow outdoor or indoor whatever they want. They planning are counting on some investors to bring in some heavy money to do bigger industry processing extraction utilities, and to create a lot of jobs. So I think, again, as I said, I might be biased, but I think that Barbados is definitely working towards the right ad.

I know about Ecuador, which is on in theory has the same advantage or even more than Colombia because they are sitting totally or on the equator. And they have set up regulation that you will not allow, they call it medicinal cannabis program, but basically, you’re not allowed to grow anything about 1% THC. So only if all the end basically is is hemp, right? You cannot call hemp as a medicinal cannabis industry to hemp. So, again, this is where regulation, I know maybe I don’t know why, but maybe they because of political reason and internal reason, they decided not to do any of those psychoactive high THC varieties, but they under those rules, they cannot be any, they cannot be any international player. Australia is very, very, very low slow. It just like Al Canada, or even worse, there’s probably five companies now and there’s another 15 or so in the pipeline, those 15 are basically draining out of money. And who knows if it can, if when it comes the regulation could be that by the time the regulation come through 10 of those companies won’t exist anymore because, you know, sitting and waiting.

And going back to what I said: Greece had a huge potential just like just like Portugal, to to start another industry on agriculture industry to couple to you know move away or as much as they can away from tourism, they income, it’s 80% of the GDP from tourism and they want to do something however they did it the Greek way and these five different office government offices that deal with it. So they oh my gosh, for the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health, Ministry of New Industry, Ministry of Environment and I forgot the other one. So So is basically standstill because no one wants to take initiative. If you go to one, they send you to the other, if you send to the other day, they send you to the third round the fourth and he said, No, no, this the first one that you have to go. So instead of running around in circles, they don’t, there’s 60 or… You know, so far they issue 32 licenses, only two of them are started to two with something one of them I’m involved with. So they did put some money and build the greenhouse and everything but also the export, they don’t know, if it’s if you allow to export flowers, if you allow to export on the finished product, if it’s finished product, it has to be all the way to the individual packaging that goes into the pharmacy shelf. So normally when eating, and when you try to get a clear answer. And those investments, obviously, investment sitting with money, willing to put some money, but when they try to get some clearance, they get around around between three, four different bureaucracy offices.

Steve Looi 31:09
So Greece, I mean, we’ll put firmly in the not super business friendly category. So a couple more questions here for you. One is kind of a classic one. And through your work and experience in the last six, seven years in the industry, what are what are the most common pain points you’ve seen for growers? For commercial growers in terms of compliance, production, scale, all that stuff?

Shlomo Booklin 31:40
Oh, well, again, I can see a lot a lot of a lot of Canadian companies that did everything, right. They did everything by the book, and put a lot of money into it, because they thought it’s going to make a lot of money. But the one obvious thing that they didn’t consider is market, where are you going to sell your product? And none of those companies in Canada, actually did some homework and say “Okay, I’m going to sell to him”. So that’s where now do you have companies that producing tons of it? Again, I don’t want to mention names, they sell it to other companies, they’ve, disrespect claims that say, Tilray, they sell the product as a whole sale to Tilray. Tilray, then changes it into their own packaging and sell it today through their so-called delivery application that they have so this is where I see Canadian people had it wrong. A lot of other Canadian again, and again, I don’t know exactly whose fault is it, but it is what it is, they wanted to comply with Health Canada, which is GAP or GPP. And then they realized that in order to export to Europe, they have to be retrieved GHCP and GMP or EMP. So out of the hundred or so Canadian LPs, we have only six or so that actually are, in fact, EU GMP. And from what I understand it could take a long time to get certified, really, really long time. So before COVID It took it took about average of 18 months from the time that you ready and put the application to for someone to come and inspect you. So someone from again, if you want to export to Germany, someone from Germany has to come and inspect if you, inspect your facilitate if you are indeed comply with EU GMP. Obviously the German law as they’re very strict and it’s really it’s not easy.

Malta was another option that they wanted to consider to entertain and I don’t know what you know what went wrong along the way. But Malta is definitely another place that they enter advantage of being part of Europe. They have the infrastructure because a lot of other companies, pharmaceutical companies, like within India or other places Malaysia to prepare the raw material in their own country in India or in Malaysia and disrespects send it to, to Malta to process it and package and then for Malta is EU GMP ready to all over Europe. They wanted to do the same with the cannabis. I don’t know what went wrong, but basically they haven’t done much about it. I went to Malta a couple of times spoke to a lot of people, both official and other stakeholders. doesn’t move forward. So I don’t know.

Steve Looi 34:59
I was just gonna, you mentioned COVID. Just now and I want to come right back to that. But saying, you don’t a lot of these companies didn’t have their market right didn’t know exactly who they wanted to sell to. That decision definitely would inform, I guess the production side, what you want to grow on the grower side with your, with your growing hat on what are some of the pain points in that side of the business that you’ve seen across the different growers you’ve worked at.

Shlomo Booklin 35:30
Um, so again, my my biggest point that I would say is that they, they have or not all of them, but a lot of them have growers or master growers that have been the traditional growers. They used to do things their own way, and regulation is far from them, as west from this compliance is not a cup of tea, right. So this is where there is a lot of in on the growing side, there is also the fact that, again, because of regulation, because of security, because of I don’t know what the first waves of producers wanted to do indoor, and which is very costly. So, Canada, again, you have seven months a year, bad weather. So you your cost of light and the cost of your environmentally facilities very expensive, right. So this is second thing, only few out of those commercial growers actually do it in greenhouses now. And Aphria probably is one of the first one. And that’s why again, Aphria is a public company, and they have relatively everything available to you to read, if you look at the cost of production of Aphria is going to be around 1.7 dollars a gram, which is still a lot compared to Colombia. But it’s one of the lowest in Canada, given what we have in Canada, which is labor, labor is always around 55% of your cost of production. And obviously the climate. So if you have even in leaving town, you have 10 minus, and your greenhouse has to be 30 or 25, then your delta is is anywhere around 25 degrees. So it’s very expensive. And if you have in the summer preusse 30, you have to cool it down to 20. So anyway, and then you have the problem of humidity and humidity. So which again comes back to in order for most of Canadians because of the indoors and because of the condition in Canada in order for them to comply with Health Canada regulation of no mold and quality regulation they have to eradiate the flower.

This is not legal in Europe, right now they don’t have much so they kind of prefer to close the eyes and say I didn’t see it. But once their will be other alternatives in the market and the European is to choose between radiated and non radiated, they will definitely take the non-radiated they don’t like it It killed the turbines it it is sped even on the on the oil. So, again, this is something that Canadian have to get the act together if they want to keep on standing in the international international market. As I said right now the the market in Germany is so desperate so they will take anything once once they start to get product from Portugal and other places in Europe that produce without radiation, then no one would buy from Canada. I know again and I don’t want to mention name. One producer who actually has huge GMP. They have a grower that is the old time grower. And the production is full of powdery mildew they from what I heard they already got paid for the product and they don’t have anything to deliver to the law. No, this German market or German client. I’ve seen a facility it’s horrible, horrible. There’s no one plant without… they will get probably 25% of the production, what they plan to harvest, and even that they will have to you ready to move away or the the mold. It’s bad. But again, this is the condition they built.

They took advice from the, as I said, the basement grower, again, no disrespect, it is what it is. Yeah, the lack of better word we call it we can call them basement grow. So those basement grow, used to grow in a basement. So they copy the basement on a large scale. So you have facilities with 10 or 15 rooms that took like basement. Right. And the condition in those basements are like in basement you have a high humidity, not enough ventilation, not enough room not enough light, not enough air movement. And that’s it causing? So going back to, to your question, I think the biggest, you know, mistake. So again, I don’t know what to call it, but it is what it is. But the biggest challenge that local growers are most of the Canadian was facing is non professional growth and the fact that they think it’s it’s different industry than any other horticultural industry, right. Someone would grow tomatoes, or goon tomato, cucumbers, he could do a way better job.

Steve Looi 41:47
Do you see this problem also in the overseas projects you’re looking at?

Shlomo Booklin 41:52
No it came clean overseas, what I see is, again, not all of them, but some of them, right? Some of them and these are two or three project in North Macedonia, that, that I’m involved with it, I’ve seen it, two or three of them actually did take so-called basement grower to help them they are now facing some challenges and problems. So far, they they so called because they cannot export so they grow and throw away or the book, but in fact, they grow and sell it in the black market. But you know, so this, some grows now they have to realize, Oh, I think that what I see in in Portugal, for example, I think they look at it a little bit better. I think in some places in Colombia, I also see that the big companies taking actually had one professor who are going to miss something like this to be absolutely the lead. So there is a mentality of giving some respect to professional which is probably something to do in the you know inherit thing you give you give respect to lawyers you give respect to teacher you give respect to officer to you know, police, I don’t work on the system, we’re going out of scope. But I see that in Europe more definitely. For sure the German the North American, the North European are definitely having going that way. They do give a lot of respect to professional what is for extraction. So they hire people that understand in, in, in debt mainly, but I you know even for the extraction, the father the aroma therapy market is relatively very big in, in, in Europe, so the way that you the same way that you could do extraction from I don’t know lavender and rosemary, basically, they respect the person that did the extraction, and now they expecting to do as to be as professional when they do extraction from kind of B so in this respect, I do sad to see that there is a respectful professional and they do hire professional in again, because and in this way, I might say also that he also in the US is very very big presence of so called black market growers that you know, “hey, I did it so good. So good for the last 10-15 years. Well why wouldn’t you go and do it legally now?” Obviously, they won’t get the same amount of money because the market is, you know, they’re not going to be to be paid more than, you know, $2 a gram, where they could sell it for six, seven, or whatever they want to do it. Right, we’re not going to see the same margin, if they try to leave it legal. And then they will have to stick comply with everything else, including purity and dignity. So I don’t I don’t know, I’m very pessimistic about on the long run of, of the cannabis industry.

Steve Looi 45:37
Right. Really interesting. And so my final question for you is, with the rise of COVID, what have you seen change in terms of SOPs? And operations in the grows?

Shlomo Booklin 45:51
Um, no, I haven’t made a scene much. Because, again, most of the places that have seen, you know, they did adopt some core kind of pharmaceutical, you know, dress code, when it comes to the production. So most of the place that they do production, the big run up, we put a lab coat, the gloves, the masks, on, they fake it. So in this respect is not that much different in terms of COVID they was a couple of places where because it’s relatively remote, where, you know, if we talking about London, Thai on tinnitus, that there was some kind of scare and people want to pin want to go to workto, you know, to be to go to people, but that’s over now. Right? So it was like on the kind of, you know, small, local, sorted of people. Right, I’ve seen it in a couple of places, but not major. I think the biggest difference is that people in the industry used to have this conferences and Oh, yeah. Again, even for myself, this is the only place that I could, you know, promote myself make myself notice to see people that I exist, present myself, it seemed like this. So I haven’t been in any trade show since I don’t know. I don’t know, December. So that definitely has effect on that it’s affecting the global industry in terms of the fact that people because of recession, because of many other things. And again, it’s not one thing but you know anything together about what’s happened in Canada in respect to the industry, the cannabis industry. So please lock in there’s less and less willing from investor to put money into projects related to cannabis investors themselves became much more educated. So they again, they they really want to look up and down your business plan before they give you any money. And before you cannot really meet people face to face and that’s basically how they used to, you know, do the transaction of money, right. So I cannot say to you, you know, over the phone. Listen, I’m organized guys send me a million dollar. Right. So I had to meet you present you so you the you know…

Steve Looi 48:43
Which now is incredibly difficult. And I just want to know you are talking to me from a hotel in quarantine right now, having done some business overseas. I mean, that must be a wrench in the works.

Shlomo Booklin 48:55
In the early in the fourth of July. I was two days in Spain. I had to come back. I came back on the on the on the second. Yeah, no, the fifth of July. I came back on the fifth of July, and to be in quarantined until the 21st 22nd of July. On the 24th I traveled back to Europe. I was three days in Europe. I came back on the 28th and now I have to be in the quarantine until the 12th of August. So you know every time I go for two days to Europe, I come back and stay it’s really expensive as well. You know, it’s very expensive. I pay $100 and something dollars a night. I don’t even get a you know, to order room service.

Steve Looi 49:53
Not to mention, I’m sure there’s some business as foregone because of the time you got to spend.

Shlomo Booklin 49:57
Yeah, where most of the time I can do all this stuff. Just like a way I talked to you, there’s a lot of do over, you know, to computer but you know, in terms of me actually going and visit NACA clients and visit a production facility and give my you know, do my job and giving my advice. I am grounded. So, you know, it’s, you know, COVID is definitely hit me very strong on my income. You know, again, I’m lucky to be in Canada, the government has been tremendously helpful. With all the program, they have curve and everything else. So that helps a lot. But just like anyone else, we’re longing – I’m longing for for this to be over. I mean, sometimes I catch myself and I say, I cannot believe me that we are the 21st century and we, we, you know, a small, invisible virus can kind of, you know, do that to the whole world.

Steve Looi 51:02
Yeah, just –

Shlomo Booklin 51:04
Go ahead.

Steve Looi 51:05
I was just saying it halted society with everything stopped.

Shlomo Booklin 51:08
Yeah, I was encouraged because I was on my travel. I flew via Germany and Amsterdam and Paris. And actually, you know, the airports and the plane inside Europe are packed. They I couldn’t get… Yeah, we won even once it’s free, there was not so in a way. I mean, it’s almost like free COVID the only different is now people with masks. But, you know, having said that, we still hear now that it’s coming back to France and Spain. So I don’t know if it’s the second wave or what, but it’s definitely not good for business. Yeah, what, you know, on the other hand, the consumption hasn’t, you know, change much, if it changes, good change for good. So people are drinking less, smoking more. I think it’s good for the anxiety.

Steve Looi 52:09
I think that’s a great thing overall.

Shlomo Booklin 52:11
So yeah, for that, for that respect, the industry is doing well. These surge in sales, not say surge in prices yet, but certainly in sale. Because again, people have more time a, you know, they cannot socialize, so they

Steve Looi 52:30

Shlomo Booklin 52:32
Oh, it’s easy to –

Steve Looi 52:33
Well, hopefully it’s working through that backlog. And some of those people that have some of those companies that have those huge surpluses can work through them with this with this.

Shlomo, thank you so much for spending time with with us today. And I really appreciate you being so candid with your answers and hopefully we get to chat again sometime.

Shlomo Booklin 52:54
Awesome. Thank you so much for your time.

Steve Looi 52:56
Okay, thank you for taking the Shlomo All the best. That was part two of our interview with Shlomo Booklin horticulturalist and famed commercial cannabis grower. Hope you enjoyed it. And please stay tuned for more episodes of the GrowerIQ cannabis podcast. I’ll see you soon.

Top 3 Related Podcasts to Listen to Next

  1. Similar to Shlomo Booklin, Mike Patterson has also been in the industry for nearly 3 decades.
  2. Seth Gillim also has loads of experience under his belt. He has been in the farming space for over 20 years now. I wouldn’t miss this episode if I were you.
  3. You have probably heard of him. CEO and President of WhiteSheep Corporations, Hamish “Granddaddy (as Steve puts it)” Sutherland, doesn’t hesitate to share all of the gems that he has learned throughout his leadership role.

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