Article by Laurie Tritschler, Grand Forks Gazette
A Rock Creek cannabis farmer is hoping to narrow the price gap between legal and illegal bud in B.C.’s cannabis market.
Marc Geen of the SpeakEasy Growers Collective said in a phone interview Wednesday (Aug. 19) that he expects to market cheaper and higher quality cannabis than his competitors in the underground economy once his farm gets fully licensed this fall.
Geen’s prediction comes eight months after a Statistics Canada report found that the average gram of illegally grown cannabis was selling in B.C. in 2019 for nearly one-third less than the same amount of government-licensed cannabis.
Geen is taking aim at his street rivals, relying on a strategy that’s centred more on the Collective’s passion for growing than on the farm’s business model.
Along with nearby Christina Lake Cannabis, Geen said SpeakEasy is “an OG,” or authentic, company in an industry that seldom rewards newcomers.
“Rather than being a toilet manufacturer figuring out how to grow weed, we’re a bunch of weed growers who figured out how to grow a company,” Geen said.
Geen also highlighted SpeakEasy’s economy of scale and efficiency. He expects that his farm will get its amended licence as early as October, allowing SpeakEasy to sell industrial harvests directly to provincial liquor boards across Canada. Conversely, Geen pointed out that illegal growers typically run small-scale operations sapped by unending payouts of what he called “shut up money” to production crews and nosy neighbours.
Clandestine grow-ops are easy prey to what Geen termed “professional rip-off artists,” thieves stalking the backcountry where unlicensed growers can’t call the police if their harvests are stolen. Meanwhile, Geen says his operation has the full support of Grand Forks RCMP, noting that SpeakEasy’s head of security is a former Mountie with nearly two decades on the force.