Industry expert: Local extraction whiz Philip Kwong dishes on his favourite Vancouver cannabis hotspots

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At the ripe age of 28, Philip Kwong is dominating the cannabis-extractions game in Canada. What’s an extract? Well, Kwong says if you’ve ever seen someone take a big blue blowtorch to two knives and freebase finger keif hash off the red-hot metal while trying not to burn themselves—that is, in its essence, dabbing a cannabis extract. The art, however, has evolved well past its primitive dining-utensil days and has its own subdivision of the cannabis industry dedicated to advancing not only the quality of the products but the safety and efficacy of the technologies used to make them. Kwong, in many ways, has helped drive that growth in both Vancouver and Canada.

Born and raised in a New Westminster suburb, Kwong moved out of his family home and into Vancouver’s downtown core at 17. For two years, he manned an early shift, cooking in the culinary industry, living off room service in a downtown hotel. At 19, he got an apartment near the Stadium SkyTrain Station, where he still resides today.

In his early 20s, Kwong was diagnosed with remitting-relapsing multiple sclerosis—the first attack weakening the vision in his right eye, and later in his left. Suffering from several relapses and finding little success in pharmaceutical remedies, he turned to cannabis. While Kwong found substantial benefits from dabbing concentrates, he wasn’t satisfied with the products available on the market. Instead, he began developing his own. He went on to create and head two extractions companies, Holistek Extracts and 3 Carbon Extractions—a research-and-technology company specializing in hydrocarbon extractions, like propane and butane extracts.

Since finding his foothold in the cannabis industry, he has helped drive the concentrate industry forward: creating proprietary extraction recipes, setting standards for safe operating procedures, and developing popular products from hydrocarbon extraction processes.

When he’s not busy running two companies or enlightening consumers about extractions on the cannabis-conference circuit, he’s likely taking his two-and-a-half-year-old Shiba Inu, Bao, for a stroll through Stanley Park.

Best dispensary

The Healing Centre
6416 Main Street

THC. The Healing Centre is my favourite dispensary in terms of aesthetics and appeal. From the customer service to the vast knowledge the budtenders have and their training, THC is, in my opinion, one of the best dispensaries in the city. I have a really close relationship with them. I was a patient going to their dispensary before I started Holistek and went to THC as a medical consumer. Actually, going in there as a patient and seeing the experience and service that they provided, and seeing the community outreach that they do, was huge. At the end of the month, they have this massive clearance sale where they basically blow everything out and give lots of stuff away, provide food for their customers, and give out treats. THC is probably one of the coolest dispensaries in town, definitely.

Best licensed producer

Tantalus Labs
Vancouver

It’s tough. There are a lot of cool LPs. I really like Tantalus Labs. [Founder] Dan [Sutton] is awesome. I just respect the way Dan worked his way through the system. I think he said it took them something like 1,898 days to actually get their sales licence. They had massive problems from the city and whatnot, but they managed to push through and get their sales licence. So I respect the hard work they put in, all the perseverance they had to go through to actually get to where they are, and the final product speaks for itself. It’s pretty tasty.

Favourite way to consume

I like dabbing. My favourite way to consume is actually consuming my concentrates. I like effects the best, I like the purity of them and being able to taste more of the actual profile of the plant. When you’re smoking a joint you do as well, but you’re combusting it at such a higher temperature, where with concentrates you can control the pin-pointed temperature. I find that it’s better for the effects and flavour profile.

Best cannabis concentrates company

Holistek
Vancouver

I’m biased towards my own…Holistek! I, of course, have a soft spot for my own company. I know and trust that the products are high-quality and clean. As for other companies doing it really well, from what I’ve seen, there’s a Victoria-based company called Everlasting [Extracts]. They produce really clean concentrates. Another one that does a really great job is Kind Selections.

Best lounge

New Amsterdam Café
301 West Hastings Street

I like going to the New Amsterdam Café. It’s old-school. It’s been there forever. It’s not under the same owner anymore, but it’s such a piece of Vancouver’s history. When I do go to a lounge, I go to the Amsterdam Café.

Best edibles company

Baked Edibles Inc.
Victoria

For me, I can smoke lots of cannabis and concentrates, but edibles I have a really low tolerance for. So I’ve always had a hard time finding edibles that are accurately dosed. I can take what says it’s a five-milligram edible and the next thing I know I am on cloud nine…floating! And others, I’ll take the same amount and get nothing. The most reliable and consistent edible brand that I’ve had is Baked Edibles. Their gummies are amazing.

Best munchies solution

Field and Social
415 Dunsmuir Street

Cobb salad, no onions.

Favourite cannabis Twitter feed

@VerpMedia, @DSutton1986, and @TrinaFraser

Verp is hilarious just because it’s a playful mockery of the industry. The headlines always look so serious, then you start reading it and it’s the total opposite. Verp is always entertaining. Dan [Sutton] is also a good one to follow. For knowledge and information, I like Trina Fraser’s feed. She always has the most up-to-date information of what’s going on in the industry.

Favourite stoned activity

I love walking around the seawall. One of my favourite things to do at the end of the day—especially in the summer right when the sun is starting to set—is walking around the Yaletown side with my dog, hanging out on the seawall and smoking a joint. I like stopping at that point just before you get to English Bay. I’ll stop there and hang out with my legs hanging off the side and watch the sun go down. I love it. If you go on the other side, opposite to Stanley Park, there are not many kids or families, so it’s a little bit more respectful if you’re going to smoke.

Kwong's sidekick Bao, a two-and-a-half year old Shiba Inu, frequently accompanies him on stoney walks through Stanley Park.
Philip Kwong

Best advice you've recieved about the industry

Don’t be the lowest-hanging fruit in the industry! A wise person once told me: “If you’re going to do this, be diligent and have a high level of responsibility.” Yes, it’s civil disobedience, and, yes, it’s illegal, but at the same time don’t put yourself in a situation, like some companies do, where you become the lowest-hanging fruit in the industry. Be respectful to the government; be respectful to Health Canada…at the end of the day, they’ve worked really hard on the rules and the laws that are coming out. We need to take a step back and appreciate what they’ve done. What Health Canada has done—specifically, how they’ve pushed through the Cannabis Act and opened the door for small producers and growers—is huge. Be respectful and humble.

Best piece of advice for Canadians going into legalization

Be open-minded. At the end of the day, legalization is not going to be what everyone wanted. It’s going to take time. This is the first wave of legalization, but it’s not “Prohibition 2.0”. It’s Canada moving forward as a G7 country. Cannabis is legal. It’s a big deal. So, be open-minded; be patient. I know it’s tough on patients; they definitely didn’t get everything they wanted. Being a patient myself, we definitely didn’t get the access we wanted, or the products and varieties. But be patient. It will come. Canada is working hard. Justin Trudeau did put his best effort forward in what he was trying to do and Canada is actively looking to continue to improve what’s going on in the Cannabis Act and the regulations. The biggest thing is patience.

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