From Legacy to Legal:  OCS Interview with Dymond Concentrates CEO Len Atkinson

Dymond Concentrates 2.0 was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the feature LP's that have made the recent transition from the Legacy to Legal market space. When the federal government announced in June 2018 that recreational use of cannabis would be legalized that fall, it was music to the ears of many - including cannabis entrepreneurs and producers who had been operating in the unregulated market, awaiting the day they could sell their products.

Dymond Concentrates was one of the few legacy brands to have successfully made the transition into the legal market bringing with us over 10 years of industry knowledge, expertise and consumer insights. As we celebrate the continued evolution of Canada's legal cannabis marketplace this Canada Day we are proud to share the interview the Ontario Cannabis Store did with our CEO Len Atkinson earlier this year.

“The increased level of scrutiny reassures us and our customer base that every time they buy Dymond Concentrates, they are getting the purest and most potent cannabis extracts in Canada”

- Len Atkinson, CEO Dymond Concentrates

You won five Cannabis Cup winning titles in the legacy market. Can you describe Dymond (then-Diamond’s) pre-legalization era?

When we planted our roots in the legacy space, we were true Canadian concentrate ‘Trail Blazers’. Our brand was one of the first in the country to make high-quality Shatter available to medical patients across Canada. We took our expertise with hydrocarbon extraction and expanded our operations to include Live Resin, HTFSE, Distillate, Live Rosin (solvent-less) and our flagship offering in our Disposable Vape Pens. We participated in a bunch of large cannabis events across the country and were the proud winners of 5 Cannabis Cups and several Karma Cups. Our grassroots efforts and cannabis community event participation helped us grow a tremendous following on our social media platforms and gain a lot of credibility in the industry.

What made you want to transition to the legal market? What was appealing about it that you couldn’t achieve in the legacy market?

Making the transition to the legal market was always our long-term goal since we started 10 years ago. We started to refine our hydrocarbon extraction techniques and grew our capabilities with the hope that Canada would move forward with legalization. Upon entering the legal 2.0 space we noticed some challenges around marketing and advertising but with these increased rules and restrictions also brought a higher level of quality assurance to the end product. Hands down, the most appealing part of making the transition is gaining consumer confidence in the quality our products offer. This increased level of scrutiny reassures us and our customer base that every time they buy Dymond Concentrates they are getting the purest and most potent cannabis extracts in Canada.

So far, has it been what you imagined it would be? How so?

When legalization first launched back in 2018 we were understandably disappointed that the government didn’t include concentrates in the initial rollout. We could see that concentrates would have to be offered in the near future so we kept pushing our product research and development in preparation for the 2.0 market. We also imagined that making the transition would change many aspects of the way we were used to doing business so we went on the hunt for a strategic partnership that could guide our growth.  We were fortunate to have found the perfect match with CannGroup, an already established LP in the Okanagan that had a compliance team in place and assisted us in the transition. To answer your question, yes, this transition has been what we envisioned it would be and are confident that we have built the team needed to thrive in this new environment.

Has your pre-legalization fan base followed you to the legal market?

Absolutely!  We are always getting comments and DM’s on our social platforms from our Legacy customers that have followed us to the legal market. The best news is every one of our pre-legalization customers that have tried our new Dymond 2.0 products see, taste and feel the improvements in purity, potency and flavours. I think there are still many legacy consumers out there that have not made the transition but we look at this as nothing but upside. A key element of our efforts is to drive consumer education around why the legal concentrates market is far superior to what they can find in the legacy market today.

Has your reputation in the legacy market helped you reach new consumers in the legal world, or have you had to use other marketing tactics to reach new consumers?

Being a well-established, award-winning legacy brand we have definitely found our reputation has assisted us in bringing our products into many dispensaries with ease. Store owners and budtenders that are familiar with our legacy success has given the stores confidence in carrying our brand for their customers. Now that we have made the transition to the legal space we are always working on new ways to reach new consumers. Our social media presence and participation in a lot of large cannabis expos like LiftOCannabiz and the BC Cannabis Summit have been invaluable investments to reach a broader audience that may have not heard of us before.

Has anything changed about your approach or “soil to oil” processes in the legal market? What has stayed the same?

Dymond Concentrates takes a lot of pride in our “soil to oil” process. Our experience over the last decade has made us true industry experts on the importance of high-quality input materials that are required to achieve premium concentrate end products. Utilizing our “soil to oil” process gives us much more control over every aspect of our extractions. Premium extraction is intimately connected to the quality of the plant material and our investment in world-class extraction equipment.

What are the advantages to working in the legal market?

There are many advantages of working in the legal market and working directly with the provinces. As previously mentioned, a massive advantage of the legal market is gaining consumer confidence in our products quality, purity and potency. Being able to partner with provincial bodies like the OCS also directly plugs us and our products into vast distribution channels we wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise.  

How would you like to see Canadian regulated cannabis evolve in the near future?

I know this is a ‘moonshot’ but it sure would be amazing if the Canadian regulated cannabis space could re-assess the heavy restrictions placed on all of the industry. I personally find it almost insulting at the level of regulations we need to adapt to while the alcohol industry has free reign on public advertising, in store giveaways, incentives, contests etc. Alcohol can advertise on TV, they can have enticing packaging and promotions and are sold in public places like inside grocery stores. The cannabis industry cannot name their products anything that could ‘entice youth’ but it’s not a problem for alcohol packaging to have colorful branding in containers that look almost identical to the non alcoholic beverages youth are used to seeing in stores like “Hires” or “The Pop Shoppe” and “Canada Dry”.

Cannabis is more than just a recreational product, there are medical patients out there that have had their lives saved by cannabis products. Cannabis is being regulated more closely to the tobacco industry but even that isn’t a fair comparison. Cannabis dispensaries are age appropriate outlets so children are not exposed to any in store advertising but everywhere I turn there is fast access to tobacco products in every gas station and convenience store which youth are always exposed to. I just wish our regulators would reassess the unfair and heavy restrictions we have to deal with and explain how the alcohol and even the tobacco industry seem to be treated more fairly.

Tell me more about your recent and up-coming releases. What’s unique about your infused pre-rolls, flower and pens?

We are extremely excited to have had the first 0.8g disposable (and rechargeable) caviar vape pen on the market. Our pens are the perfect device for the average flower consumer that wants to try out concentrates without needing to purchase expensive equipment like rigs or shatter pens. Our first vape launch with the OCS was our Dymond Crown OG Caviar offering. We have taken our Dymond Crown caviar and placed it into a ‘ready-to-consume’ all in one device. 

As a concentrate company we recognize that there are many cannabis consumers out there that prefer the experience of smoking flower so we are releasing 2 other exciting options for precisely these consumers with our Infused PreRolls and Enhanced Milled Flower. First to hit the Ontario market will be our Lemosa Terp Diamond Infused PreRolls and our Dymond Crown OG Enhanced Milled Flower also referred to as “Jetpacks” this summer in June or July.  

Our Infused PreRolls are top shelf flowers that are loaded with strain specific THCA diamonds inside the joint. This combination will offer a flavor packed, easy to consume, pre-roll with extreme potency! 

Our Enhanced Milled Flower take the same concept we applied to our Infused PreRolls but offer the milled flower combined with our strain specific THCA diamonds in an open bag instead of already pre rolled. This offering is great for any consumers looking to power pack their bongs, pipes or roll their own with top shelf flower, coated in pure THCA crystals. 

We are excited to have our first Disposable Vape Pen already in Ontario and looking forward to this summer for the introduction of our Infused Pre Rolls and Enhanced Milled Flower. We feel our catalog of products have a diverse portfolio and is only expanding into more new and innovative products that will only help us in offering a perfect fit for all cannabis consumers.

What is the nature of your partnership with JWC and CannGroup, and how are they playing a role in bringing Dymond products to market?

We are very fortunate to have found incredible strategic partnerships with both CannGroup and JWC. CannGroup is a Licensed Producer here in BC and has been an integral part of our coming to market success.  They bring a dedicated, passionate staff that has helped us every step of the way in making our transition from legacy to legal. Their guidance and leadership have helped us navigate the legal restrictions and have ensured we are efficiently and effectively bringing our products to market in this new environment.  

In addition to CannGroup we also found and partnered with another strong organization in JWC. JWC helps us with our sales and distribution rollouts and offers us marketing assistance, customer service and helps coordinate in trade educational events like dispensary ‘pop ups’. JWC has a fully operational sales team across the country and their experience in handling both Wagners and Highland Grow has given us the ‘boots on the ground’ we needed to achieve our sales and market share targets.

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