A Premium Product for the Cannabis Connoisseur
OGEN is a cannabis company that is doing things differently. While others in the market are focused on public relations campaigns and talking about their plans, OGEN is quietly manufacturing and delivering a superior recreational cannabis product.
The craft is producing high quality flower in small batches that cannabis connoisseurs, and the canna-curious buyer, will both discover and be absolutely blown away by.
“Right now, we’re not looking to vertically integrate, we’re just really focused on producing a premium flower,” says Linda Luu, OGEN’s Marketing Director.
“Our growers pay the utmost attention to our plants throughout the grow cycle. We spend the time to hang dry, hand trim and slow cure our buds. Our pre-rolls are single strain, ground flower which is different from the blended, trim pre-rolls on the market. We think people are going to come across OGEN, try it, and tell all their friends – or they may not want to tell anyone so they can keep it for themselves.”
Based in Calgary, Alberta – the city’s first licensed producer as of April 2018 – the OGEN origin story really is all about its company ethos, “where street meets science.” OGEN calls itself the grower’s grower, adopting an authentic, grassroots approach combined with science to continuously deliver a superior flower.
The company is all about its community, customers and employees that come from all walks of life. “We embrace that diversity,” Luu says, adding that cannabis is not just a product, it is a way of life.
And that’s exactly where OGEN is stepping up. In fact, its mission is specifically focused on bringing a premium product to the Canadian market that connoisseurs will appreciate. Now, six years in, the company is doing just that.
“We’ve kept our heads down and we’re in stealth mode,” Luu says. “For us, it’s not about telling the world or getting into the news, we’re just focused on what we do best and we continue to get better and better.”
The close-knit team of twenty-four cultivates cannabis with the same passion and commitment to quality of industry pioneers that first introduced their unique strains to the world. This humble start-up recently expanded its facility to 60,000 square feet of pristine, indoor growing conditions and is scaling the team to approximately 75 employees. OGEN is a lean company with serious intentions.
Plants are handcrafted throughout the entire process and grown in hydroponics to pharmaceutical grade. All done in small batch rooms of about 1,000 square feet.
Small-batch rooms with single strain plants allow for customized environments. Each particular cultivar has its own unique requirement for nutrients, water, defoliation and lolli-popping schedule; the temperature, amount of light, humidity and harvest process are different from plant to plant. OGEN has the entire process dialled in.
Luu says the overall process is in contrast with most mass producers who have numerous strains growing in huge rooms and often a very hands-off approach. “Cutting corners will cut costs; however, it also cuts the quality of the product and that’s not what we’re about.” Watch the OGEN website video and you’ll see the attention and meticulous science of OGEN’s hands-on approach. Each strain is monitored and tested for consistency with the underlying question of, ‘how do we grow each batch better?’
“Our purpose is to raise the bar for high-quality cannabis and calling it ‘craft’ doesn’t do it justice,” says OGEN President Darren Brisebois. “There’s an incredible amount of love and research that goes into our process. We mix old school growing techniques with science and data. OGEN is both pharmaceutical and craft; we are the intersection of where street meets science,” he says.
“We’ve got a lot of technical talent elevating the operation,” says Brisebois, proud of the worthwhile investment in people OGEN makes. “Mix that with a passion for the product and the result is truly a joy to experience.”
He explains that, “Our focus is high-quality dried flower. We’re not trying to do vape pens, drinks and chocolates. Our number one priority is to be deadly focused. Canada grows under the most strict regulations and we want to compete with the best growers in the world. Even if their regulations are more relaxed.”
To say that OGEN is trailblazing the industry as Canada’s premium cultivator is on point. The team doesn’t accept anything but the best every step of the way. One exciting part of cannabis cultivation is what is known as pheno hunting – seeking out the best version of a strain by growing several seeds of the same genetic, to determine the plant with the ideal dominant traits before cloning an entire room of that pheno (which takes a lot of time and effort). Selection of the best pheno type revolves around traits like smell, flavour profile, colour, trichomes and potency.
OGEN prides itself on tenacious genetic hunting in Europe to find excellent breeders and on navigating the export to Canada. To date, the team has gone through 40 different strains and many pheno types to get down to two specific strains that deliver the level of quality the market deserves and is demanding.
“We feel that the current products on the market are lacking in quality and that’s why people are sticking to the black market,” Brisebois says. “We could cut out a lot of our processes and produce for less; however, that’s not even a question for us. It must be high-quality cannabis or nothing at all.”
As for growing pains, Brisebois says the struggles for Canadian licensed producers are well-documented and OGEN has faced the same challenges – being a start-up business, meeting government regulations as they evolve, and long license approval queues.
While those hurdles still stand, what’s creating buzz in the industry is premium cultivators like OGEN coming online. “We want to move the industry from the black market to the white market. We want to be that first company that does micro-cultivation on scale.”
And as far as Brisebois is concerned, that’s a big move forward. “I think that it’s important that the industry stop being looked at as stock and focus more attention on the product. At the same time, the underground talent needs to have the opportunity to participate in legalization. However, keep in mind that what worked in the past may not work for a company trying to scale its production. That’s why we believe in combining the street with the science, to raise the bar of cultivation with respect to the pioneers. Together, this approach will give the true cannabis connoisseur a superior product.”