September 1, 2020
This week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ben Gyenge, Stigma Grow’s Director of Quality, to discuss his personal and professional experiences with cannabis and the industry that employs and empowers enthusiastic professionals like Ben.
After starting his career at Aurora for a little over two years, Ben came to us in a unique position to be able to manage and mould our quality assurance policies and processes.
In this blog we discuss his views on the industry, cannabis consumption and what excites him about a future with Stigma Grow.
Q: First of all, why did you choose a career in cannabis?
A: I wanted to be part of the unique culture of creativity and innovation that the cannabis industry offered. Although growing cannabis plants isn’t new, cultivating, processing, and selling it in a legal space presented uncharted territory. Being able to use my background in Quality Assurance and creativity to solve problems unique to this industry has been very rewarding. Unlike mature industries, everyone still has a lot to learn about legal cannabis and conventional wisdom doesn’t always prevail here.
Q: What does your day-to-day job actually entail?
A: Director of Quality oversees the Quality Assurance department at Stigma Grow. Quality Assurance involves testing and releasing all cannabis products for sale to the Canadian recreational market. I work with other Licensed Producers to source high-quality cannabis to produce Stigma Grow extracts.
I also lead regulatory inspections by Health Canada and promote quality and continuous improvement in all aspects of the organization.
Q: You are one of the few employees we have that has worked for multiple cannabis LPs. What do you think Stigma Grow offers that other companies cannot match?
A: For me, it’s about being able to use my creativity to confront unique challenges, navigate the regulatory landscape, and innovate to create new products that people want. Stigma Grow offers a unique opportunity within the cannabis industry in that we are both leading the industry as a first-to-market for several in-demand products, while simultaneously learning everything for the first time along with the rest of the country. It‘s a great environment for anyone that wants to both learn about and influence the industry simultaneously.
Q: When it comes to legal cannabis products, which are your favourites, and why?
A: I personally enjoy edibles the most. I’ve also started experimenting with concentrate vapes and it’s been great so far. I strongly recommend our badder, budder, caviar and shatter.
Q: That’s a long list of existing products, but what’s missing? What excites you about the future of legal cannabis?
A: For me, it’s less about a need for more products and more about the need to get new experiences out for the world to enjoy. For example, I’m looking forward to cannabis-based dining experiences. Imagine a restaurant menu tailored around cannabis-infused ingredients and cannabis pairings, like what chefs have been doing with wine for years.
Q: Which stigma surrounding cannabis as a plant or the legal cannabis industry in general irks you the most? What do you believe needs to be done to combat it?
A: I don’t like when people suggest that cannabis consumers are drug users. I think society needs to normalize cannabis use to be on par with other legal substances like alcohol and caffeine.
To connect this to my comment above, why shouldn’t someone be allowed to walk out of a restaurant with a nice cannabis buzz, like they already get from alcohol and caffeine?
Fortunately, I think the stigma surrounding cannabis will go away as the older generation gives way to today’s more educated and experienced youth.
Q: Can you share a story about cannabis that showcases its ability to bring joy, relief or connectivity?
A: The day cannabis was legalized in Canada on October 17, 2018 was amazing!
It brought so many people together to celebrate a hard-fought victory. The parties that followed were legendary and being part of the cannabis industry made it extra special.
Q: Favourite quote or saying about cannabis.
“I don’t think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol. When I was a kid I inhaled frequently. That was the point.” – B. Obama
Check out the main blog page for more interviews with awesome Stigma staff.