Canadian Cultivator in Oklahoma Committed to Producing only Top Shelf Medicine: Canokie Buds
Feminine Divine by Veronica Castillo
“It took just diving in and putting myself out there to find out.”
From northern Ontario to the southern region of the United States (though, in cannabis, Oklahoma is considered the wild west), Holly Mills with CanOkie Buds says that moving to Oklahoma was a culture shock for her.
She describes northern Ontatrio as a cultured, and the town she moved to in Oklahoma back in 2009 as: “A small town that was much slower paced. Everyone seemed to know everyone else.”
What once was shock is now gratitude for a place that Holly describes as: having the prettiest sunsets, the wildest winters, and incredible sense of community; “ I’m lucky to be here!”
Licensed, passionate, and growing cannabis with a touch of divine feminine; I am happy to share my latest interview with woman owned and operated: Canokie Buds.
Q&A with Holly Mills of CanOkie Buds
Please tell me about your childhood and cannabis- what did you learn about it? Was it considered the devil’s lettuce in your home? Did people around you consume?
“When I grew up in Canada cannabis was still illegal and considered taboo. My dad was a strict rule follower and expected the same from his kids. I don’t remember people consuming around me until I was a consumer myself.”
When did curiosity begin to develop and when did you start consuming cannabis?
“I started using cannabis in high school around the 10th grade. Never during the week, only on weekends with friends. When I finished high school, I moved to Northern Ontario and became a bit more of a habitual cannabis smoker. I guess I’ve consumed on and off since I was about 14. When I became a mom I didn’t for a long time. When cannabis became medically legal in Oklahoma, my youngest was 2 and I decided to try it again.”
Have you lost anyone to a condition that cannabis could’ve treated?
“I haven’t lost anyone that could have been treated by cannabis, but I do have family and close friends with illnesses currently being treated by cannabis. My dad has MS and is a medical user in Canada. Even though it is recreational, there is also a medical program designed to contour cannabis use to individuals.
My younger brother Timothy, works for a group initially called Marijuana for Trauma. They cater to veterans, my brother being one of them. Both my brother and my father’s medicine is subsidized by the government and they stay in contact with nurses and doctors who monitor their wellbeing. It would be awesome to see cannabis actually be treated as medicine across the United States the way it is in Canada.”
When did Canokie launch and can you provide insight on the journey from idea to launch?
“After building a new home on our property I began debating what to do with our old home. I knew I wanted to use it for a business that would be a career for myself. Before medical marijuana went legal, I was looking into growing hemp crops for CBD processing purposes.
I was using some full spectrum CBD products for anxiety, stress, and insomnia and wanted to be a part of that industry, for medicine. Then medical marijuana happened and I started adding THC to my CBD regiment which was a game changer. At the time it was legally easier to grow marijuana because they hadn’t passed the right to farm bill here in Oklahoma.
So I thought: what if I turned my old house into an actual grow house? I’ll never forget the moment I was standing in my old living room with my friend Jean, the effects of a weed brownie just starting to kick in, and Jean turned and said, “imagine how many plants you could fit in this room.”
So that was it. I ordered the George Cervantes Cannabis Encyclopedia off Amazon, started reading and watching Youtube videos, I tapped into the cannabis community with a million questions for other growers, and I got started in one room with a $5,000 tax return.
I popped my first seeds in May 2019. This fall I found the answer to Jean’s question, it’s 91. My old living room is currently full of 91 beautiful, healthy, organically grown Maneater OG plants.”
What was the hardest and easiest thing about entering the cannabis industry?
“I don’t think there was anything easy about entering the cannabis industry except for maybe the application part. I had no idea what I was doing when I started, and every step along the way was a learning curve. I had grown all sorts of plants and vegetables in the past, but cannabis plants were a whole new ball game.
Learning not just about the plants themselves but then how to perfect their environment was very challenging. There are a million and one different products and equipment out there designed for growing cannabis.
As far as the business side goes, I had plenty of experience with running a business and with customer relations but my knowledge of cannabis at the time I had finished my first harvest, was limited to what I had read in books and online. I honestly had no idea what my product was like compared to others.
My first harvest was 4 pounds of 5 different strains and 1 dispensary bought the whole thing. Patients loved the flower and my reputation started to grow. I’ve continued since then to build the brand and positive reputation of my flower.”
Please tell me about the team.
“I am a small team of just 4 incredible women. Laura has been with me for close to 2 years now and had no experience with cannabis plants or medicating with cannabis. The first time she visited my grow facility she thought I had a major skunk problem! Lol.
Ashley started with me 6 months ago and also had no experience with growing cannabis. I have been friends with both of these women for 7 years. Our newest team member is Elizabeth, who joined the team just recently. She came on board with limited experience from another grow she helped with, and just dove right in!
All of these women are incredibly hard working, honest, and loyal; and I am so grateful for them. We are all moms and constantly strive to create a positive work/life balance for each other and ourselves.”
Please tell me about curing in a jar, and the difference between traditional curing and jar curing.
“Jar curing is the only way to go in my opinion, to achieve a true top shelf flower product. Not only do the glass walls prevent unwanted chemicals from leaching into the product, but they also circulate trapped air which allows the flower to biosynthesize. This converts cannabinoid compounds into new blends.
So, for the flower to reach its full potential during the cure time, glass is the only way to go! This is a 100% more time consuming method to curing but, I am dedicated to producing only top shelf medicine, and the cure process is a major part of that.
It’s important to note that before we even get to the cure process, everything we grow is in top of the line organic soil, and we brew all organic teas. We do not- at any stage- use synthetic nutrients or synthetic mediums. All of our plants are hand fed and carefully cultivated to ensure that every strain reaches its full potential before it is then hand trimmed and jar cured.”
How many strains do you all grow? What’s the most popular?
We consistently run 10 really great strains. We are constantly pheno hunting new strains but it’s not often that I add a new one to the mix. Our most popular strain, which has become the number one strain in every dispensary that has picked it up, is our Maneater OG strain.
This high testing sativa consistently hits 28-29% THC, and terpenes from 3-3.5%. She is by far the stickiest, dankest, most heavy hitting strain that I have ever come across as both a grower and consumer.
What’s your favorite strain to grow? What about your favorite one to consume?
“These are both really difficult questions to answer. I guess my current favourite strain to grow is a newer one called Mimosa Evo. Her plant structure, colour, and aroma are amazing. She will make an entire room smell like pineapple. Her buds are dense and frosty, and her fade late in flower is dark purple.
My favourite one to consume changes based on what I’m looking to medicate for. If I want a get up and go strain, I love the Maneater OG or Alaskan Purple. If I’m looking for a relaxing and mellowing effect, I love our Canadian Kush or Galactic Runtz. Honestly, they’re all good and beneficial in their own way.”
Do you believe that women have a deeper relationship with plants? Why or why not?
“No, I wouldn’t say that women have a deeper relationship with plants. I might say that women could be more in tune to them because we tend to be more maternal, and pay more attention to detail. I know some incredible cultivators that are men. It’s really the individual that makes the relationship. Being a man or a woman doesn’t make a difference.”
Where can people find Canokie Buds in OK?
“CanOkie Buds can be found at Bud Barn in Marlow, Cannawise in Duncan, Higher Care in Chickasha, Pharmers Market in Norman, Green Buffalo in Norman, Prestige Cannabis in Del City and Edmond, Frontier Medicine in Edmond, and Buds dispensary in Lawton.
These dispensaries consistently carry CanOkie flower. If your favourite dispensary doesn’t have CanOkie flower, ask them to reach out to me!”
When asked about advice for aspiring cultivators, Holly ended with:
“Stay true to the medicine. Don’t take shortcuts and don’t falsify information about your product. Build relationships with labs, dispensaries, and processors that are dedicated to the medicinal value of cannabis, not just the money-making aspect of it.
There will be a multitude of hurdles you will face while growing this incredible plant. Pay attention, troubleshoot, ask questions, try new things; but not too many new things at one time.
A good friend once told me that it takes 18 months to become an expert on a new field of study. With cannabis, that 18 months will just make you a little more comfortable but certainly not an expert. Don’t sweat the small stuff and keep at it!”