Ben Kaplan: You said without Pardons Canada, FLOWR wouldn’t be here; what do you mean by that?
Tom Flow: Several of the founding team that really started FLOWR with me had been involved in cannabis for some twenty, almost thirty years, and obviously through that period several of them had records related to non-violent cannabis-related stuff, like possession or growing. It’s because of their knowledge in cultivation, designing our facilities and cannabis in general that FLOWR developed into what we’ve become.
BK: The illicit market experience you deemed valuable.
TF: Without them, there wouldn’t be a FLOWR like there is today.
BK: Pardons Canada helped them?
TF: Yeah. Their records were a big deterrent, from being able to join as employees early on or being able to travel into the U.S., so Pardons Canada starting the process of having their records expunged was a big deal for them—a big deal for us.
BK: What do you want FLOWR to stand for?
TF: Producing absolute fire; a product that anyone on the illicit market would look at as quad-level. Our cultivation team spends a lot of TLC on really strong genetics to create a high-potency product with amazing terpene profiles, amazing flavour. And it also stands for ethics and culture. It’s important to our company.
BK: The legal industry faced blowback upon legalization for inferior products sold by people who basically didn’t care about the culture.
TF: Rightly so.
BK: You caring about your weed I think is connected to your caring about people with weed convictions.
TF: I think you have to have love for the industry to be in it. To care about the people involved and the people who were here before cannabis become a vessel for making money. For us, good cannabis is emblematic of culture, of good people. These are our people. That’s why it’s important to us, on 4/20 and any other day, to make certain that people aren’t forgotten and that early activists have their convictions expunged.
BK: I understand that. But what does this have to do with Justin Bieber?
TF: He has a song that references something like, ‘peaches from Georgia/weed from California.’ Well, what about Canada? Canada is producing some of the best weed in the world and has been for a long time. What about the props for the Canadian producers?
BK: You hear back from his team?
TF: Not yet, but I hope we do.
BK: I love that you say Canada has the best weed in the world. A pretty bold statement, my friend.
TF: B.C. bud? Oh yeah. Historically, B.C. has been one of the top places in the world to grow weed and Canada absolutely is right up there with California. With anyone really.
BK: And what do you grow?
TF: B.C. bud.
BK: How did you get started?
TF: With a little phototron in my closet when I was 15.
BK: Truly old school.
TF: I think so. Since then I’ve done lots of grows under the old MMAR regulations and ran a dozen facilities under the MMPR program and have spent time building, operating and basically living in cannabis. I like to focus on genetics and the optimization of the plant.
BK: And part of that optimization is the end of bad criminal records for good people who blazed the trail to legalization.
TF: It has to be. For a long time I was part of that legacy market and I’ve always been in love with the plant. For me, and the rest of the founding team, the cannabis culture is ingrained in us. We’re part of it. We’re not trying to sell anyone on that—it’s who we are.
BK: So what needs to be done right now to help all of our cannabis people?
TF: Raise awareness around the fact that people have records for non-violent cannabis offenses and that these people who were involved pre-legalization should have their records expunged, period. Today.
BK: What do you want?
TF: A swooping change that will eliminate or expunge anyone’s record for a non-violent cannabis crime. We want people to support and sign our petition and we want the government to say, ‘Now that cannabis is legal, all of these cannabis records should be expunged.’
BK: Talk to me about the current state of legal cannabis.
TF: The quality is right there in terms of real fire and quad-level product. I even think the legal market and the illicit market are comparable in pricing. The legal producers have caught up.
BK: So now it’s time for the government to expunge these cannabis convictions and work with Pardons Canada and let more people into the legal market.
TF: It’s just common sense. The legal market must make amends.
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