For this “Secrets of the Biz” article we sat down with Maxim Zavet, President of Emblem Cannabis.
Tell us about Emblem:
Emblem has 3 distinct verticals—our production branch in Paris, ON, our pharmaceutical division, and our patient education centres, GrowWise Health.
What inspired you to create Emblem?
I had experience as a cannabis user, both medically and recreationally, and grew — punny, I know — to understand and appreciate the therapeutic value firsthand. For those reasons, Cannabis is something I had (and have) been passionate about for a long time. I saw the potential of the industry early on and knew that I needed to take a risk to try and make it in the legal cannabis market. Not only that, but I wanted to create a company that really cared about the experience of all cannabis users the same way that I do. I knew I wanted to focus on high quality, premium product, so that’s what we did.
How are you preparing for the Federal government’s eventual legalization?
We’re expanding our operation to include a new plot of land in Paris, just a short drive from where our current facility exists. With the adult use recreational market coming, we know that supply is going to be a huge concern, so Emblem is acting accordingly. We’re not only creating new products for both the recreational and medical market, we’re also building new brands that we think will identify with consumers across the cannabis-use spectrum. And all of this is happening while we’re navigating the difficult cannabis marketing landscape in front of us. It’s a tough challenge for sure, but the team we have in place is doing an amazing job at not only stepping it up to the plate, but knocking it out of the park.
You help patients on a regular basis and it must feel rewarding. What is your process for helping people become patients?
Patients first have to get a prescription from a physician who feels comfortable prescribing cannabis as a treatment for their condition. Unfortunately those doctors are currently in the minority in the medical community, though opinions are definitely changing. There are a number of cannabis-focused clinics out there (you can find a comprehensive list on our website), not the least of which is GrowWise Health. Once you get your prescription, typically a nurse or educator will help each patient register with the licensed producer that will best suit their needs. At Emblem, our Client Care staff are available from 7am-7pm ET, Monday to Friday, for any questions that patients might have—and we know that there are a lot of them. The problem with becoming a medical cannabis patient today is that there is a real scarcity of educational information out there, which is why education centres like GrowWise and a well-informed Client Care staff are crucial for patients to have access to.
Tell us about your growing process.
We currently grow everything in a completely closed box facility. Indoor grows allow for a more controlled environment, which typically produces higher quality, more consistent yields. We’ll be expanding to offer sun-grown and organic products in the future to provide the market with an even broader product mix. As far as the actual process is concerned, we use a “sea of green” method, which is a fancy way of saying we grow a large number of smaller plants, as opposed to a small number of larger ones. Beyond that, our most important input is our people—people who share the same passion for cannabis as I do, which I feel translates to the best product possible.
Are you hiring for any positions at your company?
Always! Any qualified, forward thinking, innovative individuals will always be welcomed at Emblem. We’ll be hiring a lot more as we get closer and closer to next July, so keep an eye out for job postings on our website!
Where can people find more information for updates on government legislation?
The Emblem blog and our social media accounts! We strive to deliver all the relevant industry news for curious consumers because we know there’s an incredibly high amount of interest and a lot going on. The landscape is a confusing one for sure. There is still a lot of legislation that needs to get passed before everything becomes reality. There are still a number of provinces waiting to announce their distribution models, Bill C-45 is still going through rounds of scrutiny. Basically, there’s a lot going on, and we’ll stay on top of all of it.
How do you support physicians who are looking to give their patients the best care possible?
There are a number of physicians and medical communities that Emblem is in communication with when it comes to the therapeutic side of cannabis. Our team attends a number of medical cannabis-focused conferences to stay up-to-date with what the individual province’s opinions are on the topic, and make ourselves available as a resource to any of them that have questions for us on the LP side. We’re also working diligently at developing cannabinoid-based medications that come in traditionally accepted pharmaceutical dosage forms. It starts with simple cannabis oils and banded capsules, but we’re hoping to bring to market products that physicians will be more familiar with, and ones that they would feel more comfortable prescribing to patients, such as slow-release tablets. These products will have consistent dosages, be easy to titrate, and simple to prescribe and administer. This is something we know the medical community is patiently waiting for.
We noticed that you have a blog… in what other ways are you educating the public on the benefits of Cannabis?
We have an amazing bi-weekly newsletter that we create completely custom. It talks about all the sorts of things that medical cannabis patients would want to know, such as industry news, medical studies, lifestyle tips and more. Unfortunately, with all that we do, we’re still severely limited as to what we can and can’t talk about in our marketing material. We’re not allowed to show any images of cannabis, describe scents or tastes, or even make suggestions that one strain may be better for use at night instead of during the day. Anything that could be considered a claim of efficacy is not something we’re allowed to discuss.
We’d also love to talk about the effects of each terpene, or write about patients who have shared their story with us, but for the time being, we can’t. We’re hoping that changes soon.
Tell us a secret, don’t worry we won’t tell…..
Emblem’s goal from the beginning has been to best possible licensed producer that we could be, and that means offering the highest quality products and best possible customer service to our medical patients. But with the adult-use recreational market looming, we’re acutely aware that those are two completely separate markets, and we’ll have to service them as such. Emblem has carved out a great niche on the medical side of things, but who knows, we may have a totally different approach to things when July comes around ?
“If you build it, they will come” – How have you guys built a community around the Emblem Cannabis brand?
Being genuine. In our content, on social media, and as people in general. I truly think that the community that we’re creating is built on that above all else. We have meaningful relationships with people, and I think everyone recognizes that. We chat honestly with patients, we foster great relationships with all of our partner clinics, and it shows. We always knew that we wanted to be approachable, be the group of people that other people wanted to hang out with and talk. That’s how you create a community… by being real.