Norfolk cannabis producer hopes to bring a winery-like experience

A 184-acre farm in Simcoe, Ontario is Canada's first cannabis producer permitted to sell at the farm gate. Thrive / Twitter

The CEO of a licensed Simcoe, Ont., cannabis producer says he hopes to create an experience similar to that of a winery or brewery, except with marijuana.

Geoff Hoover expects Thrive’s farm-gate retail store, the first in Canada, will bring the product a little more quickly to consumers by allowing purchase of the company’s two branded products directly on-site.

Read more: Quebecers are smoking more cannabis during lockdown, study finds

“We actually have our team in the store that’s been making and producing these products and they’re highly knowledgeable about the product,” Hoover told Global News.

“So really you can think about it as a winery or craft brewery where you can kind of experience the grow at the end of the day.”

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The store, at 60 Keith Richardson Parkway, opened its doors on April 23rd and hopes to serve enthusiasts on-site once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in the province.

Hoover says ultimately the plan is to allow customers to actually see the fields and trees on which the product grows while experiencing a “rustic cottage kind of clubhouse” that is their store.

“It’s just a gorgeous store that you can come into and just have that experience almost like a craft brewery,” according to Hoover.



He says the 184-acre farm literally has trees 12 to 14 feet tall, which happens when cannabis is grown outdoors compared to hydroponically.

The enterprise represents the next step in cannabis sales across the country as several provinces, like B.C. and Saskatchewan, are allowing companies to explore the farm-gate cannabis model which takes pot from “seed-to-sale” all at one site.

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The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has said it’s received 14 applications for farm-gate sales since April and has approved six operations.

For now, Thrive customers have to settle for online ordering and on-site pick-up amid the province’s current stay-at-home orders.

The store serves much of the rural community in Norfolk county since cannabis shops in the region are few and far between.

Read more: Early cannabis use possibly linked to heart disease: University of Guelph study

Hoover, who has worked with the Thrive project for almost five years, says although a farm-gate business appears to cut out the middleman, he says it is very much regulated by the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS)

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“We’re actually transferring title of the product to the OCS and then moving it into our stores,” Hoover said.

“So they control the process very similar to what they would when we are selling it directly to them.”

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