Brian Bain just wants licensed cannabis producers to sleep at night.
The CEO of Mother Labs, which received its cannabis nursery licence from Health Canada in early September, is hoping to bring his experience as a trained horticulturist who previously ran Canada’s largest vertical farm to the legal cannabis industry.
Previously called EcoBain Gardens, Mr. Bain’s rebranded operations in Saskatoon are geared toward offering the same level of consistency and reliability in cannabis production that has long existed for basil, chives and other leafy greens.
“We ship living plants, that is what we do,” Mr. Bain said in an interview just before taking Cannabis Professional on a tour of the 6,000 sq ft facility. “We have mastered shipping one of the most difficult plants to ship in the world; basil dies within two minutes in any environment colder than ten degrees.”
“We are really focused on evolving the [cannabis] industry to where the rest of the horticulture, floraculture and all these other industries are at already.” Mr. Bain said. “Right now we are in its infancy and this nursery is not new, what we have done is not reinventing the wheel, we are coming here offering a service that is already offered to every other horticulture industry in mass, it is just that [legal cannabis] is new.”
Cannabis is “hundreds of times” more profitable than chives, Mr. Bain acknowledged, and part of his sales pitch to legal cultivators is that using a nursery helps to maintain – or even grow – margins amid widespread expectations for legal prices to fall when supply begins to match or exceed demand.
“We are helping people drop their production costs and that is a big thing,” Mr. Bain said. “Right now the big players can get 30 cents per gram [overall production costs] but the smaller and medium-scale guys are producing at much higher costs and as time goes on they will need to shave margins while increasing quality. We can eliminate all their vegetative space, so their clone room, mother room, all of that can be converted to flowering and all of a sudden your facility can be a lot more profitable.”
Made it to Saskatoon in time to check out #cannabis nursery @MotherLabs— Jameson Berkow (@grassreporter) October 1, 2019
Previously home to Canada’s largest vertical farm (think basil, mint etc.), CEO Brian Bain showed me around his facility (licensed as of just three weeks ago!) pic.twitter.com/noAUIf9o7O
“As the industry evolves, it will demand [prices] come down, we are here to aid that process,” he said.
Mother is able to produce 1.9 million plants a year in its existing space, though Mr. Bain said the company will have twice as much square footage available after renovations to an adjoining unit are completed sometime within the next 12 months; bringing Mother’s total square footage to roughly 12,000. He is keenly aware of the growing competition within the cannabis nursery niche, specifically citing Weed MD and Delta 9 as competitors.
“But those are licenced producers,” he said, “and what you have with an LP is they end up selling everyone the same genetics and that creates this issue where a lot of the same cultivar gets renamed three different times.”
Because it is still early days for the industry, prices for ready-to-flower cannabis plants still vary wildly. “You have guys like Zenabis selling for extraordinary amounts like 90 to one hundred dollars for a clone,” Mr. Bain said, “whereas we are under 20 and down to 10 dollars.”
Large-scale crop failures have been a widely-rumoured cause of production and supply issues among LPs and that, Mr. Bain said, is the core issue Mother aims to address.
“We are not just propagators of product, we are purveyors of comfort,” he said, “Our whole business people is focused around helping people sleep at night.”