CANNABIS

Cannabis-ex­trac­tions ex­pert Phil Kwong dishes on Van­cou­ver’s best weed spots and shares advice ahead of this month’s na­tion­wide le­gal­iza­tion.

The Georgia Straight - - Contents - By Piper Courte­nay

At the ripe age of 28, Philip Kwong is dom­i­nat­ing the cannabis-ex­trac­tions game in Canada. What’s an ex­tract? Well, Kwong says if you’ve ever seen some­one take a big blue blow­torch to two knives and free­base fin­ger keif hash off the red-hot me­tal while try­ing not to burn them­selves—that is, in its essence, dab­bing a cannabis ex­tract. The art, how­ever, has evolved well past its prim­i­tive din­ing-uten­sil days and has its own sub­di­vi­sion of the cannabis in­dus­try ded­i­cated to ad­vanc­ing not only the qual­ity of the prod­ucts but the safety and ef­fi­cacy of the tech­nolo­gies used to make them. Kwong, in many ways, has helped drive that growth in both Van­cou­ver and Canada.

Born and raised in a New West­min­ster sub­urb, Kwong moved out of his fam­ily home and into Van­cou­ver’s down­town core at 17. For two years, he manned an early shift, cook­ing in the culi­nary in­dus­try, liv­ing off room ser­vice in a down­town ho­tel. At 19, he got an apart­ment near the Sta­dium Skytrain Sta­tion, where he still re­sides to­day.

In his early 20s, Kwong was di­ag­nosed with re­mit­ting-re­laps­ing mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis—the first at­tack weak­en­ing the vi­sion in his right eye, and later in his left. Suf­fer­ing from sev­eral re­lapses and find­ing lit­tle suc­cess in phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal reme­dies, he turned to cannabis. While Kwong found sub­stan­tial ben­e­fits from dab­bing con­cen­trates, he wasn’t sat­is­fied with the prod­ucts avail­able on the mar­ket. In­stead, he be­gan de­vel­op­ing his own. He went on to cre­ate and head two ex­trac­tions com­pa­nies, Holis­tek Ex­tracts and 3 Car­bon Ex­trac­tions—a re­searc­hand-tech­nol­ogy com­pany spe­cial­iz­ing in hy­dro­car­bon ex­trac­tions, like propane and bu­tane ex­tracts.

Since find­ing his foothold in the cannabis in­dus­try, he has helped drive the con­cen­trate in­dus­try for­ward: cre­at­ing pro­pri­etary ex­trac­tion recipes, set­ting stan­dards for safe op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures, and de­vel­op­ing pop­u­lar prod­ucts from hy­dro­car­bon ex­trac­tion pro­cesses.

When he’s not busy run­ning two com­pa­nies or en­light­en­ing con­sumers about ex­trac­tions on the cannabis-con­fer­ence cir­cuit, he’s likely tak­ing his two-and-a-half-year-old Shiba Inu, Bao, for a stroll through Stan­ley Park.

BEST DIS­PEN­SARY

The Heal­ing Cen­tre

6416 Main Street

THC. The Heal­ing Cen­tre is my favourite dis­pen­sary in terms of aesthetics and ap­peal. From the cus­tomer ser­vice to the vast knowl­edge the bud­ten­ders have and their train­ing, THC is, in my opin­ion, one of the best dis­pen­saries in the city. I have a re­ally close re­la­tion­ship with them. I was a pa­tient go­ing to their dis­pen­sary be­fore I started Holis­tek and went to THC as a med­i­cal con­sumer. Ac­tu­ally, go­ing in there as a pa­tient and see­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence and ser­vice that they pro­vided, and see­ing the com­mu­nity out­reach that they do, was huge. At the end of the month, they have this mas­sive clear­ance sale where they ba­si­cally blow ev­ery­thing out and give lots of stuff away, pro­vide food for their cus­tomers, and give out treats. THC is prob­a­bly one of the coolest dis­pen­saries in town, def­i­nitely.

BEST LI­CENSED PRO­DUCER

Tan­talus Labs

Van­cou­ver

It’s tough. There are a lot of cool LPS. I re­ally like Tan­talus Labs. [Founder] Dan [Sut­ton] is awe­some. I just re­spect the way Dan worked his way through the sys­tem. I think he said it took them some­thing like 1,898 days to ac­tu­ally get their sales li­cence. They had mas­sive prob­lems from the city and what­not, but they man­aged to push through and get their sales li­cence. So I re­spect the hard work they put in, all the per­se­ver­ance they had to go through to ac­tu­ally get to where they are, and the fi­nal prod­uct speaks for it­self. It’s pretty tasty.

FAVOURITE WAY TO CON­SUME

I like dab­bing. My favourite way to con­sume is ac­tu­ally con­sum­ing my con­cen­trates. I like ef­fects the best, I like the pu­rity of them and be­ing able to taste more of the ac­tual profile of the plant. When you’re smok­ing a joint you do as well, but you’re com­bust­ing it at such a higher tem­per­a­ture, where with con­cen­trates you can con­trol the pin-pointed tem­per­a­ture. I find that it’s bet­ter for the ef­fects and flavour profile.

BEST CANNABIS CON­CEN­TRATES COM­PANY

Holis­tek

Van­cou­ver

I’m bi­ased to­wards my own…holis­tek! I, of course, have a soft spot for my own com­pany. I know and trust that the prod­ucts are high-qual­ity and clean. As for other com­pa­nies do­ing it re­ally well, from what I’ve seen, there’s a Vic­to­ria-based com­pany called Ev­er­last­ing [Ex­tracts]. They pro­duce re­ally clean con­cen­trates. An­other one that does a re­ally great job is Kind Se­lec­tions.

BEST LOUNGE

New Am­s­ter­dam Café

301 West Hast­ings Street

I like go­ing to the New Am­s­ter­dam Café. It’s old-school. It’s been there for­ever. It’s not un­der the same owner any­more, but it’s such a piece of Van­cou­ver’s history. When I do go to a lounge, I go to the Am­s­ter­dam Café.

BEST ED­I­BLES COM­PANY

Baked Ed­i­bles Inc.

Vic­to­ria

For me, I can smoke lots of cannabis and con­cen­trates, but ed­i­bles I have a re­ally low tol­er­ance for. So I’ve al­ways had a hard time find­ing ed­i­bles that are ac­cu­rately dosed. I can take what says it’s a five-mil­ligram ed­i­ble and the next thing I know I am on cloud nine… float­ing! And oth­ers, I’ll take the same amount and get noth­ing. The most re­li­able and con­sis­tent ed­i­ble brand that I’ve had is Baked Ed­i­bles. Their gum­mies are amaz­ing.

BEST MUNCHIES SO­LU­TION

Field and So­cial

415 Dun­smuir Street

Cobb salad, no onions.

FAVOURITE CANNABIS TWIT­TER FEED

@Verp­me­dia, @Dsut­ton1986, and @Tri­nafraser

Verp is hi­lar­i­ous just be­cause it’s a play­ful mock­ery of the in­dus­try. The head­lines al­ways look so se­ri­ous, then you start read­ing it and it’s the to­tal op­po­site. Verp is al­ways en­ter­tain­ing. Dan [Sut­ton] is also a good one to fol­low. For knowl­edge and in­for­ma­tion, I like Trina Fraser’s feed. She al­ways has the most up-to-date in­for­ma­tion of what’s go­ing on in the in­dus­try.

FAVOURITE STONED AC­TIV­ITY

I love walk­ing around the sea­wall. One of my favourite things to do at the end of the day—es­pe­cially in the sum­mer right when the sun is start­ing to set—is walk­ing around the Yale­town side with my dog, hang­ing out on the sea­wall and smok­ing a joint. I like stop­ping at that point just be­fore you get to English Bay. I’ll stop there and hang out with my legs hang­ing off the side and watch the sun go down. I love it. If you go on the other side, op­po­site to Stan­ley Park, there are not many kids or fam­i­lies, so it’s a lit­tle bit more re­spect­ful if you’re go­ing to smoke.

BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RE­CEIVED ABOUT THE IN­DUS­TRY

Don’t be the low­est-hang­ing fruit in the in­dus­try! A wise per­son once told me: “If you’re go­ing to do this, be dili­gent and have a high level of re­spon­si­bil­ity.” Yes, it’s civil dis­obe­di­ence, and, yes, it’s il­le­gal, but at the same time don’t put your­self in a sit­u­a­tion, like some com­pa­nies do, where you be­come the low­est-hang­ing fruit in the in­dus­try. Be re­spect­ful to the gov­ern­ment; be re­spect­ful to Health Canada…at the end of the day, they’ve worked re­ally hard on the rules and the laws that are com­ing out. We need to take a step back and ap­pre­ci­ate what they’ve done. What Health Canada has done—specif­i­cally, how they’ve pushed through the Cannabis Act and opened the door for small pro­duc­ers and grow­ers—is huge. Be re­spect­ful and hum­ble.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR CANA­DI­ANS GO­ING INTO LE­GAL­IZA­TION

Be open-minded. At the end of the day, le­gal­iza­tion is not go­ing to be what ev­ery­one wanted. It’s go­ing to take time. This is the first wave of le­gal­iza­tion, but it’s not “Pro­hi­bi­tion 2.0”. It’s Canada mov­ing for­ward as a G7 coun­try. Cannabis is le­gal. It’s a big deal. So, be open-minded; be pa­tient. I know it’s tough on pa­tients; they def­i­nitely didn’t get ev­ery­thing they wanted. Be­ing a pa­tient my­self, we def­i­nitely didn’t get the ac­cess we wanted, or the prod­ucts and va­ri­eties. But be pa­tient. It will come. Canada is work­ing hard. Justin Trudeau did put his best ef­fort for­ward in what he was try­ing to do and Canada is ac­tively look­ing to con­tinue to im­prove what’s go­ing on in the Cannabis Act and the reg­u­la­tions. The big­gest thing is pa­tience.

What Health Canada has done— specif­i­cally, how they’ve pushed through the Cannabis Act and opened the door for small pro­duc­ers and grow­ers—is huge. – Philip Kwong

A se­ri­ous med­i­cal con­di­tion called re­mit­ting-re­laps­ing mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis led Philip Kwong to try a se­ries of con­ven­tional health treat­ments in his 20s. Over time, he found re­lief through the use of cannabis con­cen­trates but he had con­cerns about the ef­fi­cacy of those on the mar­ket. That led him to start de­vel­op­ing his own prod­ucts through two com­pa­nies that he went on to cre­ate.

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