Does the idea of pot seeds being sold alongside tulip bulbs at your local Canadian Tire sound crazy to you? If all goes according to plan for local start-up Crop King Seeds, it could be a reality in as little as two years.
The proprietor, who asked to be named only by his first name, Kyle, describes Crop King Seeds as “North America’s first branded marijuana company,” and has big plans to make growing your own supply easy and accessible. “We’re a regular company, like Molson Canadian or Crown Royal,” Kyle says. “We’re trying to really take this industry up a level.”
In Kyle’s words, Crop King is “just waiting for the laws to change.” If Justin Trudeau’s promised legalization does roll through after the next federal election, both medical marijuana patients and casual users will be able to grow any strain they like from Crop King’s extensive catalogue.
Since taking a brief hiatus after the extradition of Marc Emery, Crop King is back and has experienced an enormous jump in sales following Colorado’s legalization at the beginning of this year. “I was waiting for the laws to change enough that I felt comfortable going out, knocking on doors, asking businesses if they’d like to sell our product,” he says.
Thirty per cent of the company’s business is overseas, not only to Americans, but also keeping pace with high demand from Europe. The company boasts ten full-time employees and doesn’t see business slowing down anytime soon as more American states float the idea of legalization.
The company offers a wide range of strains, all scouted by Kyle on his twice-yearly trips to the Netherlands and Spain. Only the cream of the crop in a variety of categories will make it into Crop King’s impressive seed roster.
There’s a wealth of resources available to first-timers to make growing your own plants less intimidating; any strain labelled ‘auto-flowering’ will bloom without the use of special lamps to simulate the changing of the seasons. There’s even the Dwarf Low Flyer, selected because it grows no taller than two feet tall, making it perfect for beginners, or anyone with limited space.
Although the company cannot claim to be directly affiliated with it for legal reasons, users can refer to an extensive online forum, through cropkingseeds.com, for growing and germination tips. Five seeds will set you back approximately 50 dollars; and with an 80 per cent germination guarantee, the company stands by their product. With each plant yielding up to one pound of product, it’s almost certainly cheaper than whatever other way you’ve been getting your bud. There’s also no need to buy more seeds in order to grow another harvest –it’s easy to clone more plants from the ones you’ve already grown.
Branding is clearly what sets Crop King apart from the myriad of other Canadian seed providers; their seeds come in colourful, high quality packets that each come with a decorative pin. Retail buyers can order glossy posters and signage in which natural-looking “babes” in sunglasses and Crop King tees hawk the various strains. A large Crop King mascot costume, complete with purple robes, crown, and flowing white beard hung in their downtown office and was put into action during April’s 4/20 rally. Crop King was one of the main sponsors of the event and ordered two custom, circus-printed tents.
Proprietor Kyle hopes that the company’s branding and marketing efforts will make cannabis a less intimidating prospect to potential patients who may be alienated by the drug’s recreational reputation. “Most of the people who walk through that door are baby boomers and senior citizens,” he tells BeatRoute. “There are strict rules in our offices. No smoking cigarettes and no smoking weed. We want to really make this industry professional. We want to reach out to the mom and dad, the lawyer, the woman who’s just been diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s who we want to reach with our seeds.”
Although a bearded old man wearing a cape doesn’t stray too far from the average mental image of a “stoner,” dealing with the only legitimate, incorporated seed company in Canada is definitely going to make a new clients more comfortable than some anonymously-run business with little to no accountability. The company’s new YouTube channel will reach out to customers even further, along with their recently shot “first ever marijuana commercial,” as yet unreleased. Given the relative safety of marijuana compared to many prescription drugs, the bid to make this medicine seem friendlier to the unfamiliar is an admirable one.
Their dedication to the cause of legalization and accessibility of medical cannabis is also unparalleled in their industry. Crop King is one of the main sponsors of legalization canvassers Sensible BC, as well as donating substantially to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Indeed, Kyle describes himself as a pure anti-prohibitionist: “For 70 years, the government has lied to us and told us that we cannot use this plant, and now all these lies, thanks to the Internet, are being exposed. The Internet has allowed people to do their own research. Anything you see coming out these days relating to marijuana, outside of prohibition, is positive.”
He’s clear and firm in his belief that not only is marijuana a priceless resource for treating the ill, but that the current governmental attempts at regulation on the substance are accomplishing nothing positive. “It’s Stephen Harper and his agenda,” he tells me. “It’s a lot of bureaucracy. It’s sad what [the Conservatives] are trying to do.”
It’s a convincing message, especially when one considers that, in relatively recent history, alcohol was a controlled substance in the United States. “If there’s one message I would want to get across to your readers,” Kyle says, pausing only for a moment. “It’s that we regard ourselves as the modern day equivalent of the Bronfman and Sleeman families, except each day when we come to work, we know we are selling a safer alternative to alcohol.”
As more and more American states begin to look at cannabis law reforms, one has to wonder why our traditionally liberal nation is falling behind.
However, despite their big dreams and colourful branding, it’s still not clear how far Crop King Seeds has to go to achieve their goals. Kyle is clearly passionate about ending prohibition and bringing safe, natural medicine to those who need it, and perhaps the capitalization of that medicine is simply an unavoidable side effect of the system in which we live. In the end, if nationwide legal marijuana sales really are a reality drawing ever and ever closer, the “Budweiser of weed” is most likely an inevitable prospect.
For more information, visit www.cropkingseeds.com