Rosy Mondin is the CEO at the British Columbia-based Quadron Cannatech Corporation, which develops and provides a range of cannabis extraction and processing solutions. She is also highly active in a number of cannabis industry associations and advocacy groups.
"Too many Canadian have been punished by way of criminal charges or been thrown in jail for possessing, consuming, gifting, or selling cannabis (even in small amounts)," Mondin told Civilized. She says the continued over policing of the cannabis space is one of her biggest frustrations with the industry.
"There are still outsized penalties attached to cannabis. For example, if a retailer is caught selling alcohol to a minor, they're facing about a $550 ﬁne in British Columbia. Under the Cannabis Act, if you are caught selling to minor, you're looking at 14 years in jail. It's very, very disproportionate."
What makes your company different from others in the cannabis space?
Definitely our team. We've brought together a really great group of professionals from unique and diverse backgrounds including business, legal, engineering, and science to provide leadership and innovation in the cannabis industry. It took us a few years to get here, but we're now fully-geared and mobilized to set-up turnkey extraction and processing facilities with full-service solutions for the local and international cannabis marketplace.
With legalization coming on October 17th, the real race for cannabis market share has begun. It's been a long fight to get here and Quadron is all-in to help cultivators and producers win.
Growers who want to be profitable long term will need to find a way to add value to their crop. As the cost of cannabis plant material drops, they'll need new income streams to make up the revenue. Making that transition shouldn't be overly complicated or expensive.
I think that in a mature, legal market companies will need to be both reliable and innovative to succeed. I think cultivators are going to quickly realize they need to become processors to stay in the game.
What sets us apart is our commitment to strategic collaboration with industry partners. It's really the industry shaping innovation. We encourage our customers to push our technology to its limits then use that feedback with our in-house R&D to continuously evolve and adapt our engineering and processes. We share those updated processes and tweaks with our partners in a continuous cycle of feedback and improvement.
Working with industry partners is how we developed the BOSS—our flagship CO2 extractor. We were seeing how the set-up time, training and massive equipment footprints were creating obstacles for producers to get into CO2 extraction. So, we created a self-contained unit on wheels that only needs two plugs and a chiller. You can literally wheel it through the doorway to where it's needed. This is the kind of plug & play solution producers need, especially those with smaller and multiple operations.
The BOSS is just the beginning. We're excited about where we are now and where we're going.
We're working with our partners across all verticals, through the entire process of extraction to end-product development. We're working with our clients to expand their business through developing a suite of value-added services including custom ancillary products and cannabis accessories. We're in the solution business, and we'll do whatever it takes to help our customers reach their goals.
How did you get into the cannabis space?
My background is in criminology. As a proponent of legalization I suppose it was inevitable that cannabis and I would cross paths and merge into a career. I've always been fascinated by civil liberty issues—the connection between personal liberty and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Cannabis access and the criminal prosecution of consumers and personal producers remained of interest to me throughout my career as a lawyer. Although I didn't practice in an area dealing with cannabis issues, I continued to follow the subject matter.
As Canada began to build its new legal framework for the production and distribution of cannabis, I started to get calls from colleagues with questions. After the umpteenth call, it was clear that this was going to be a growth industry and I wanted to be a part of it—it was finally time to jump in. How often do you get to pursue your passion, change the law and build something real all at the same time? I'm very fortunate.
My partners and I studied the sector and quickly realized that the commercialized extraction market was in its infancy. We saw the opportunity in equipment manufacturing first and foremost to innovate and grow. There was an opportunity to take a technical, engineer-heavy and complex process and make it user-friendly. We saw the opportunity in helping producers transition into processing.
I'm happy to say today that Soma Labs, our sales and engineering division, can custom build piece by piece, the world's first fully automated cannabis extraction lab for any size installation. One day, we'll get to the point where the whole system will be operated from one control panel. We're pretty close already.
Walk us through a normal day.
What's normal? Sometimes I think it might be nice to work a standard day but you have to throw 'normal' out the window, especially in an industry as fast moving as cannabis, as CEO of Quadron, and as a leading advocate for the legalization of adult-use cannabis.
I'm answering phones from the East Coast at 6AM while headed to our lab, followed by calls and meetings with customers, potential clients, investors and partners. If I have time, some lunch, then off to our main office for the same sort of whirlwind in the afternoon.
I'll usually end the day with a partner check in to keep information flowing, or a little work on advocacy and other cannabis sector research.
Everything takes time, and before I know it it's time for dinner and whoops, it's nearly midnight and I have to wrap it all up and start again tomorrow!
Everyone working in this sector will tell you that it's the hardest they've ever worked, and for me, so far it's been the most professionally satisfying. I love it all.
Every day brings new challenges and opportunities. VIP site tours, new partnership negotiations, product marketing, investor relations, public relations, government relations and educating—all of it's fascinating and fun—because I get to follow my passion and meet great people who share my dedication to this sector. And in the end, it's all about working with people. We're building a brand-new commercialized industry, after all.
What has been your biggest lesson about working in cannabis, and in business in general?
We're lucky here in British Columbia as BC has a very mature and robust cannabis industry. And yet, even here, there is a lot of myth-busting still to be done. People still hold a lot of stereotypes because cannabis has been stigmatized and underground for so long.
Now that cannabis is out in the open, I think every-day Canadians will really start to understand that cannabis consumers come from all walks of life, from all socioeconomic classes and reasons—from recreational preferences to medical necessity. I think every family will have at least one surprise cannabis consumer pop up after October.
Up until now, many have kept their consumption habits very quiet because it's been illegal. People have been reticent to even talk about it.
It's why when I had an opportunity to speak I used it to educate and bust the myths of "stoner," "hippie," or "bro" culture which sometimes can dominate the perception of cannabis culture. Legalization is a significant milestone, but we can't rest—there's still so much to do.
In less than five years I predict the culture will accept cannabis in the same way we accept alcohol. Cannabis will have a wide variety of consumption methods and consumers. There's room for everyone, but It's still up to us to normalize the narrative.
What do you see as your biggest opportunity?
We believe the "day of the joint" is coming to a close. People drank moonshine in large numbers during prohibition but preferred to consume more refined products thereafter. The same is happening with cannabis.
Smoking cannabis in dried-bud form is already becoming socially unacceptable—the smoke is intrusive, it smells bad to some, and it can burn your clothes etc.
Consuming cannabis in other forms—i.e. by way of vape pens, edibles, infused beverages—are all based in cannabis extracts, which require extraction. Once vape pens and edibles are legalized in Canada, and we see a full-range of cannabis products, we forecast concentrates will overtake dried cannabis as the primary consumption model.
Our biggest opportunity is to capitalize on the head start the BOSS gives us as we push to deliver end-to-end extraction lab solutions. Too many growers are throwing away money on systems they aren't being trained to operate or are overly-complicated and over engineered.
Our entire team at Quadron believes we provide a better ROI than any other extraction and lab services supplier in the market. We can create those solutions for our clients with existing technology, but our dream is to create a fully-automated, turnkey lab system where you can to put product in one end, push a button, open a valve, and collect product.
The BOSS is the first step along that road. This is an exploding market, and our biggest opportunity is to be in the right place to sell the equipment everyone will need to meet demand. It's why we're aggressively pursuing R&D, partnerships and service alliances.
The folks who became very rich during the gold rush weren't the miners, it was the hardware store owners. We intend to be first in line selling pickaxes and shovels during this green rush.
What sets you apart to make you a potential leader in cannabis?
For one thing we have a diverse family of companies all working in this sector, focused on solutioning different aspects and verticals. For example, Cybernetic is our subsidiary focused on automation. Although their "mission" is to support our development, their automation software is so robust, we've been able to spin it off to other customers in other industries. It's another example of quality and "getting it right" paying off.
Cybernetic software drives Soma Labs' designs. Our most visible division, Soma Labs, tests and manufactures our hardware including our flagship BOSS CO2 extractor.
Both companies benefit from the feedback cycle I described earlier. As the BOSS gets better, Cybernetic has a more robust software codebase that it can license or use and the cycle continues.
We're not dealing in potentials or proof of concepts. Our engineering, research and software teams have their boots on the ground. We are getting gear out the door. That's now. Our real strength is our master plan.
We're actively soliciting partnerships for expansion, as can be seen with our most recent agreement with Lucid Labs, who will be our stalking horse for the US market.
On top of that we have our next generation of products in active development, as well as a parallel distillation research project to ensure our extraction solutions put out the best quality product consistently.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the cannabis space?
This is such a new industry—there's still a lot of room for anyone to create space for themselves here. Find the aspect of the industry that speaks to you personally, and you can use to help you succeed.
As the industry matures, you will see there will be a voracious demand for serious passionate people with a focus on business. Folks who have a passion, and a skill set will do very well. Every new product on the market will need designers, marketers, supply chain, logistics, operations, government relations, printing, warehousing, security etc. All of which will be supplied by hundreds if not thousands of different companies, all working in the cannabis sector—without ever even seeing a plant.
Whatever you do, if you have a passion for cannabis, you can find a way to combine the two, right now, the sky's the limit. Find out who is doing what you want to do and if no one is, start doing it yourself. That's how Quadron was founded—no one was doing what we wanted to do, so we're doing it ourselves.
What are your biggest tips for branding cannabis?
Stay smart, stay on the right side of the law, don't let your marketing take over your business, and above all, make sure the quality of your product matches your hype, or no one will ever trust your brand again.
Do you see any big changes coming in the future of cannabis?
As I said above, the days of burning plants to consume cannabis is over. The smells, pervasiveness of the smoke, ashes or embers floating around to land on clothes or furniture—all the reasons society frowns on public smoking of tobacco—will be extended to smoking cannabis. Most importantly however, the unhealthy aspect of drawing carcinogenic smoke into one's lungs is a huge reason—it's not in the government's public health mandate to encourage the use of smoking dried flower.
Edibles, oils, CBD products, even vape pens all eliminate these issues and provide a much wider range of ways to enjoy or administer cannabis and cannabis-based products. By the end of next year, the primary choice for Canadian cannabis consumers.
Do you consume cannabis? And if so, what's your favorite way to consume?
*laughs* To paraphrase Eliot Ness, ask me again on October 17th.