MedReleaf is Canada’s first licensed producer to officially reveal a recreational cannabis brand for adult-use. Meet San Rafael ‘71, named for the California city and year where, legend has it, a group of cannabis enthusiasts met up at 4:20 to search for a hidden crop of weed.
Darren Karasiuk, vice-president of strategy at MedReleaf, says paying homage to cannabis history was a way to connect with “classic” consumers – people who already appreciate its mythology and nuances.
“Well, the classic cannabis consumer is that current consumer who is discerning about the product, appreciates the product, is knowledgeable about the product,” Karasiuk said. “But it’s also very much in a classic, 1970s west coast, laid-back vibe that is accessible.”
Staying in line with the “classic” theme, Karasiuk said Canadians can expect to find a number of familiar strains under the San Rafael umbrella that are already popular with consumers. He also hinted that they could expand the line beyond dried flower into the “full spectrum of consumer needs,” such as oils.
Because recreational cannabis legislation (C-45) is still under review, MedReleaf partnered with Amsterdam Brewing to launch San Rafael ‘71 with a beer. 4:20 Pale Ale has an alcohol content of 4.20 per cent and aligns with the accessible, casual feel they were going for.
“San Rafael ’71 4:20 Pale Ale does not contain any cannabis, but it will take you back to where it all began and introduce Canadians to the spirit of adventure, exploration and freedom at the heart of 4:20.,” Karasiuk said in a statement.
San Rafael ‘71 is Canada’s first official rec brand, but a marketing rep at Toronto-based Tokyo Smoke – who describe themselves as “design-minded” and “sophisticated” – has revealed plans to sell Tokyo Smoke-branded rec cannabis through its new umbrella company, Hiku. Leafs by Snoop, the rapper-backed cannabis brand currently distributed by Canopy to patients registered with Health Canada under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), could be viewed as a recreational brand for future consumers. But if that was the plan, Canada's tight advertising regulations described in Bill C-45 would not allow for marketing with association with neither real persons nor fictional characters.
“It’s a big market, and there’s going to be room for all sorts of brands out there representing,” Karasiuk said. “I can’t really speak to what some of those other brands are trying to achieve, but what I can tell you is that we are trying to do is getting to that classic consumer, something that’s very accessible, which I think is very key in that you’re not necessarily seeing with a lot more brands.”
At this year’s Lift Canadian Cannabis Awards, MedReleaf won 11 awards, including the top Licensed Producer of the year award.