Meet Justin Roy - Prairie Boy turned International Cannabis Expert
Meet Justin Roy, prairie boy turned international cannabis expert. The Delta 9 Processing Manager just celebrated his 29th birthday. He also has one of the coolest jobs on the planet.
“I think it’s always a little bit of a dream to work in an exciting industry when you’re young,” said Roy. “But I never would have guessed cannabis would be legal this quickly and that I would have a career in it.”
Born and raised in Winnipeg, the Asper School of Business graduate was one of the very first people to join Delta 9 in its early days, before it was even licensed. He hadn’t even finished school at the time and his parents were probably a little unsure of what he was doing.
“I think they must have wondered,” said Roy. “Now it’s an area of pride for them, to able to say that their son was one of the first people to work at Delta 9. I went to high school and business school with John (Delta 9 Co-Founder and CEO John Arbuthnot). I was just finishing my degree when he showed me their business plan and asked me to be part of it. I’ve been here ever since.”
Drying Room – Delta 9 Cannabis
Six years later, Roy is managing a team of 30 people who perform everything from harvesting to final packaging. He’s also inspecting product for purchase and selling Delta 9 clones across Canada and internationally.
It’s been a fun and wild ride for Roy, who loves fishing for pike and walleye in Whitehshell Provincial Park in his spare time. “Just like every other Manitoba boy,” he said. “But there hasn’t been a lot of time for that lately. Too much to learn.”
“We’re doing things on a much larger scale now compared to when I first started,” said Roy. “And we’re constantly growing. But we’ve got a pretty good system now, and we’re all of the same mindset, always looking to make continuous improvements in our products and processes.
“Things that I get to learn on the job are quite extensive. From automating packaging to the finesse of curing cannabis, to lean manufacturing practices and efficiencies, I really get a piece of all of it. I’ve had the opportunity to visit most of the largest LPs in the country just through product inspections. I’ve met a lot of interesting people and learned a lot from them. It’s been an awesome experience.”
Roy’s typical day starts around 7:30 a.m. and ends at 6:00 p.m. His work begins where the production team leaves off and includes all facets of harvesting, drying and curing, through to final packaging, with quality assurance (QA) throughout the whole process, making sure all the appropriate forms are filled out correctly, following standing operating procedures (SOPs), lab testing and more.
His favourite part of the job -- learning new things – is also the most difficult.
“Balancing all the different things is challenging, because there is always so much to learn,” said Roy. “Keeping tabs on everything and being organized and effective in a number of different areas is top priority.”
Drying Room – Delta 9 Cannabis
“Curing cannabis is an art,” said Roy. “You’re redistributing the moisture levels within the plant, making sure it’s consistent throughout. You’re trying to take advantage of the plant’s natural chemical and biological tendencies to bring out the best it has to offer and make sure the true terpenes are coming out. Curing can really affect the final quality.”
In between managing his two teams, Roy is also developing products and readying them for market, the newest being pre-rolls and kief. Pre-rolled joints will be available in single and multi-packs. Kief is a potent, dried cannabis product that falls off the plant and is then sifted through a micro-screen during processing. People use it in a variety of different ways, from baking their own edibles to supercharging their joints.
Roy says his education at Asper School of Business has definitely helped from a leadership standpoint, but a lot of what he has learned has been on the job, including product inspections. Long gone are the days when a clerk would take a couple tokes, wave his magic wand and decide a strain has a potency of 17%.
“It’s almost all science now,” said Roy “The machines test for everything including heavy metals, aflatoxins, salmonella, E. coli, total mold and mildew, loss on drying, moisture content, THC, CBD and much more. It’s a long list. I already know how potent the product is before I get there for the visual inspection.
“We’re also looking at the quality of flower, the percentage or excess of leaves or stem, the smell, terpene profiles and other things. There are a lot of different factors to consider and they all influence our decision on what we’re willing to pay for a product.”
In addition to inspecting product for purchase, Roy has also been in charge of selling clones to LPs since last January, and business is booming.
“My advantage is that I’ve been here from the beginning,” said Roy. “I’ve learned a lot of the ins and outs on the regulatory side of things, dealing with Health Canada, plant transfers, all the paperwork etc. and I understand the large investment people are making in what is often their first genetics purchase.
“The LPs find that information very useful and they like to deal with people who have done it. They also like the fact that we’re really transparent and we help them. We invite them on site for tours and I take them from A to Z. It’s been a natural fit.”
Clone sales have gone well from coast-to-coast for Delta 9, and they’re currently working on getting some of their clones into international markets, yet the company maintains a distinctly Manitoba feel.
“That’s really been a badge of honour for me,” said Roy. “There’s a friendly Manitoba culture at Delta 9 and we’re very focused on keeping things local whenever possible. Everybody finds it a great place to work and they’re referring other good people they know would work well in this industry.”
The future is green for Delta 9.