Hanging out with Curtis Wallace (virtually, of course) gave us a new perspective to the term pioneer. With over 15 years of experience growing cannabis under Health Canada's various legislative frameworks, Curtis, modestly, prides himself on building a career out of what once was a passion project. He now consults for several licensed producers, offering advice on everything from licensing and expansions to cultivation planning for greenhouse, indoor and outdoor environments. Currently, he acts as the Director of Cultivation at WeedMD, the producer behind some of our favourite brands, including Color Cannabis and Saturday.
" It is so awesome that I could go to work everyday and call my mom on my way home and remind her I grow cannabis for a living.”
Describe your career path?
16 years ago I started learning about hemp and started growing a few plants as a hobby. This hobby started to take up more of my time and I continued to study and experiment with different growing practices. I was originally licensed to cultivate (for personal use and patients) under Health Canada’s first legislative framework called the MMAR (Marihuana for Medical Access Regulations). In 2014 this changed to the MMPR (Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations) which allowed for companies (known as Licensed Producers, or LP’s) to cultivate and sell cannabis flower and oil to medical patients. It was under this framework I began my experience to learn and develop processes under strict government guidelines while managing cultivation operations in greenhouses. In 2013 I had the pleasure to help establish Marrican, one of the first LPs and in 2016 I started Cannabis Solutions Canada, and consulted for various LPs.
Tell me about the most satisfying memory you have of your career?
Hands down my most memorable experience was living in a tent on a farm a stones throw away from Lake Erie, surrounded by dogs and farm animals back in the MMAR days.
Building Marricann, one of the first 15 LPs was also a life defining moment, it was the transition that took me from being known as a “legacy grower” to adapting to the current regulations and SOPs and following Health Canada guidelines, evolving into the fancy title, “Director of Cultivation.”
What is your cannabis growing style?
I am usually the guy growing under certain parameters that most people would say “holy shit you’re crazy,” but so far, 16 years and counting, it has worked out very well. Currently, with WeedMD we are growing in a commercial hydroponic greenhouse.
How do you KNOW when you have a particularly good crop?
It is not just one moment in the crops lifecycle,- its several moments. Obviously at the very end you know but healthy clones that turn into a healthy vegetative state and then in weeks 4 and 5 in flower if you have things dialed in by that time you can be very confident you’ll end up with a good crop.
What is one of your favorite strains to work with and why?
Easy answer- Super Lemon Haze, Mango Haze, Juicy Fruit, God Bud. These unique strains, when grown right, really do look amazing.
What are you consuming? Strains, brands, ect..
I consume a little bit of everything, even the product that doesn’t have good reviews, just to taste. After working in the industry for so long it has turned into a bit of the shoemakers’ shoes situation- I don’t consume as much as I did in the past.
Any tips for those just getting into growing their own flower or those interested in studying the cannabis plant?
Practice and learn, be patient when growing. Don’t try to do too much and don’t try to be perfect. Research and gather as much knowledge as you can. Remember, cannabis is a living organism and not everything is going to go right. Be empowered to try new things and techniques for yourself.
What are some of the most rewarding things about your job?
Navigating a career in an industry where before LPs existed a lot of friends and family said that I couldn’t or shouldn’t continue on the cannabis path that I was going down and now years later being able to have my own company and work across Canada- something that is incredibly rewarding and I am grateful for.
I love the challenges of the large scale producing; its challenging but also rewarding to to be overseeing and directing 200+ employees in our cultivation department. Seeing success that comes from working as a team; when everyone works together towards a common goal and knowing that not one person is responsible for its success.
Anything else you would like to say?
Hats off and my sincere appreciation for all the visionaries, cannabis advocates, pioneers, patients, doctors, Quality Assurance and leadership teams and those who support the recreational market by being the soldiers on the ground waving the “I just want to get high” flag. Kudos for chasing passion.