Profiles by Cannabiz Social Podcast - Cameron Siu and Mike Hillhouse
In this week’s episode of “Profiles by Cannabiz Social”, we hear from Cameron Siu and Mike Hillhouse from Nelson Cannabis Science Group. The company was formed back in 2012. Originally as licensed medicinal producers, when the Harper government opened up for large scale licensed production, an opportunity presented itself.
After enduring the throes of application, it was later decided it’d be better to watch things unfold on the political sphere, bringing them to the place of consulting. Nelson Cannabis provides consulting services to licensed producers for operations and the production of high-quality craft cannabis, and are firm believers on trust, and strong core values.
The company was formed to produce high-quality cannabis. Akin to craft beer, their model lends itself to high quality and they believe high quality is accomplished by producing in small batches, utilizing a handcrafted approach.
Nelson’s business model has taken them into the realm of genetics. “On the genetics side, we cultivate the plant for its medicinal properties and do breeding to produce outcomes. Likewise, it lends itself to the recreation side, too, creating particular tastes,” said Siu.
According to Hillhouse, they have a number of contracts where they go to a licensed producer that has modelled their business on a big scale. “They’ve said, ‘here’s the end result.’” They also look at staffing plans for a facility, review the facility, finetune the design, potentially go in and train their staff and give them oversight. The model is a service-for-fee at the front end, Hillhouse said.
Siu entered the cannabis space because his father had leukemia.
“At the time, he had gone through a full regime of chemotherapy and radiation and the doctors recommend I grab some cannabis to help with his nausea. It was remarkable. A day and night difference. He was incredibly sick, and had lost half of his body mass in the hours of radiation and chemo.”
The after results speak for themselves. His father’s appetite returned, resulting in a remarkable turnaround in health.
Cam and Mike go back over 40 years, growing up childhood friends. When Cam looked at advancing the company, Mike’s skillset accompanied Cam’s well.
Looking at the plant and its genetic makeup, and breeding for a couple of years in the medicinal space, Nelson began looking for specific medicinal attributes that could be sourced from cannabis.
Once identified, Nelson started looking for particular strains and breeding those into certain genetic strains for the application of PTSD, which was a long journey.
“We love this. It’s what we really like to do.”
Like other companies with legalization on the horizon, Nelson does and has faced challenges, such as the fluid regulatory environment. For them to plan and build their models, it’s about ensuring compliance, first and foremost.
Timeline for applications for licenses has been a challenge for Nelson. “This is a unique economic environment. The market is there, as is the appetite to fund it. I’m looking to plan out every step of how we build the business and there are lots of unknowns in it,” which, according to Hillhouse, is the biggest perspective.
In 10 years from now, Cam predicts many people will be using cannabis as a cream, oil, or edible and has also heard rumours a lot of larger supermarkets and drug stores are preparing to have a large inventory of non-THC products on their shelves.
It’s well known in other parts of the world the many positive attributes cannabis has aside from THC. We’re just touching the tip of the iceberg on its benefits and there’s still so much more research to be done.
Cam and Mike believe the industry is going to evolve. They noted how the recreational industry has evolved dramatically in the last few years since some states in America became legal. The type of consumers has changed considerably in the last five years.
With this evolution of cannabis, it’s possible we’re going to see less people smoking cannabis, but more using vaporizers, and more people eating.
“Our drive is to influence and input quality, and to help those medium-sized players do that profitably and what makes sense for them. We want to be leaders in research and quality, and be influencers in quality and value.”