Bird’s-eye view: Pistol and Paris is flying high
Published on February 1, 2022 by Simon Gerard
The helicopter and hockey bags send a direct message: Pistol and Paris founder Dylan King is proud of BC’s cannabis legacy.
Pistol and Paris sounds more like a luxury fashion label than a cannabis brand.
The company, which launched in spring 2021, was initially thought up by Dylan King and his wife for a potential apparel line before finding a fit with his plan as a craft cannabis curator.
The founder stands out for his history, insight, and energy for BC bud—and also his helicopter. In today’s social media-saturated world, brand founders and their stories are vital to cut through all the noise. Passionate people plus quality products make a memorable brand.
Only three years into legalization, it feels like there are an unlimited number of LPs to pick from. Even when narrowed down to craft and local ones, it can be daunting to keep track and try all the recommendations you can get from friends or online. Pistol and Paris—with its name and origin—is compelling even before you try it.
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Founder Dylan King invited me along on his regular commute to work. We didn’t do the interview while stuck in bridge traffic. Rather, he pulled his Pistol and Paris branded helicopter out of his hanger for a quick direct flight from his home in Abbotsford to Vancouver Island. A shining July morning saw us touch down at a small airstrip outside Duncan. King was there to visit Verte West, one of his micro LP partners.
King is a second-generation grower, taking after his mother who raised him on Quadra Island. This small lush island with around 2,500 inhabitants is an escapist’s dream, renowned for fishing, hiking, and other forms of outdoor appreciation. Like other notable areas in and around Vancouver Island, Quadra has a long history with hippie culture and outdoor growing. This island has its own hippy commune, who were seen as squatters by locals. This infamously saw local vigilantes topple and burn hippie teepees and cabins in 1975.
In high school on Vancouver Island, weed continued to be part of King’s life through friends who grew cannabis. He moved to Langley in the ’90s and worked for his dad in construction. Around 2010, he got his own medical licence and started to grow it himself. Knowing legalization was inevitable, he says he couldn’t wait to represent BC bud in the recreational market.
Currently, Pistol and Paris don’t grow their own. They are curators of top-quality BC bud.
King says he knows and sees many transitioning legacy growers and current craft growers facing the same challenges. He built Pistol and Paris as their solution. They partner with small, craft producers to bring their flower to market when it’s not feasible for them or they’re not interested in building a brand. That way, they can fully focus on growing, with Pistol and Paris handling the front end of the business.
Another vital partner that helps King get these craft growers to market is Joint Venture Craft Cannabis, a B.C.-based cannabis processing and co-packing facility.
“Ben (from Joint Venture) is an awesome guy who’s helped me along the way with both packaging and getting listed with provinces. We share a lot in common, our past and future plans, our ambition and vision. In the future, we’ll sit back and look at the obstacles we faced and how far we’ve taken craft bud,” he says.
With producers located throughout BC, having the option to visit them via helicopter helps ensure important face-to-face time with both growers and their plants. Combining their specific expertise, shared knowledge, and passion for the plant, Pistol and Paris and their growing partners have experienced success right out the gate.
“My goal is to get that market share we’re losing to the legacy market and let consumers know there are brands like mine that have pivoted over to the legal side. Supporting legal cannabis is a win for the provinces, retailers, consumers, and brands like Pistol and Paris.” — Dylan King
Their hot-selling strains have high THC, nice terpenes, and their certificates of analytics on their website to prove it.
They also include the moisture percentage, which is a nice touch.
After some growing pains with their first release, the two products that followed sold out right away and set Pistol and Paris pretty high up in the ranks of BC bud.
The high-quality, low-production nature of these craft strains created scarcity that added to the hype via social media and word-of-mouth—similar to the hype of limited-drop Nikes, minus the deliberate scarcity, annoying shopping bots, and overpriced resellers.
“Before I buy any lots, I need to see the THC, terpenes, certificate of analytics and see what everything comes in at,” says King. “I make sure there’s no pesticides or poisons used. I look at those numbers, but I’m very interested in the smell, the look of the buds. There are so many factors other than THC. In the old-school days, you open up a Ziploc, a jar and give it a smell, then look and feel the pieces. But now you see the label first.”
King did say THC is still critical, in spite of these other factors: a high THC percentage is demanded by many consumers, and perhaps more importantly, is expected by the provinces.
With his history in the legacy market and friends and partners in the legal market, King feels for current and upcoming craft producers and their stack of challenges. Despite a strain checking off every box for quality, if the THC comes under 20%, it’s unlikely to get picked up by the BC Liquor and Distribution Branch. If it did make it to shelves, it’s expected to get less attention from consumers.
Then there’s dealing with excise taxes, pricey packaging, and other factors that keep the margins extremely tight for micros.
• RELATED: Pistol and Paris to build their own micro
King relayed sad stories of beautiful craft BC bud being destroyed due to not hitting a high enough THC percent and not being able to sell at a profitable price. According to Health Canada data, nearly 500 million tons of unpackaged flower was destroyed between 2018 and 2020 (and that’s not including the millions of packaged cannabis products destroyed).
“With the legal market, it’s generally high THC strains that are desired; there’s not much room for exotics, which are usually lower than 20% THC,” says King.
He says exotics are very challenging to bring to market, even though they were popular in the legacy market. “That’s a huge frustration for legal growers.
I’d love to see more exotics get their chance in the legal space. In the legacy market, where you can smell, see, and touch the buds, exotics can do as well or better than gas.”
He’s also personally dealt with challenges his growers face, being on the long road to establishing his own micro facility himself. In November, King moved one step closer to achieving that major milestone, getting municipal approval from the District of Kent for a micro in the community of Agassiz.
Visiting Verte West
Verte West’s team, including Tyler, Derek, Brent, and Erik, focus purely on the plant.
Traditionalists, they grow in soil, no pesticides, hang dry, hand trim—and they really care. King notes that while they’re flower-first, they understand pricing, packaging, and other business elements.
It was a learning experience to just listen to King and Verte West talk. Hearing about growing, pricing, the competition, the BC market with all its challenges and opportunities.
Verte West grew Black Triangle for Pistol and Paris, an indica-leaning hybrid, crossed between Triangle Kush and ’88 G13 Hashplant. A high 26.9% THC, 2.4% terps, and 11.4% moisture featuring b-myrcene, b-caryophyllene, limonene—it’s a mix of spice, citrus, and earthiness.
Their first 150 cases sold out on the first day. “I tell everyone I run into dealing in this space, they’re (Verte West) so involved in the market. Many growers aren’t. On top of growing premium product, they know what’s selling, they know
pricing, they’re constantly looking for killer strains out there. Love those guys, they really make my job easier.”
Over at JBuds
Pistol and Paris’ first big hit came this summer, with Orange Tingz, grown by Okanagan-based, Indigenous-owned JBuds.
King spoke very
highly of their team and it’s clear consumers have the same opinion. All three batches sold out quickly and got plenty of word-of-mouth through the
BC cannabis scene, which very few products manage to pull off. A sweet citrus hybrid of Slurricane and TMAC, you’ll find Limonene, Trans-Caryophyllene, and Ocimene with 24% THC, 3.1% terps, and 10.6% moisture.
Latest Pistol and Paris drops
- Pistol and Paris has new strains and formats on the way to BC and other provinces.
- Blackberry Breath, a hard-hitting Indica-dominant hybrid will arrive in three 0.5g prerolls.
- Coming in the same format and grown in the Okanagan, is Legendary Larry.
- Look out for Orange Tingz pre-rolls.
- Black Tuna, grown in Port Coquitlam, BC, by a small micro producer. The genetics came from Covert Valley Nursery in Nanaimo. It comes in 3.5g “tuna can” packages, another reminder of the name’s origin. “Black Tuna” was the code word used by notorious smugglers to call the cannabis they smuggled from Colombia to the States in the 1970s.
About Author Simon Gerard
“Flying in the Pistol and Paris helicopter was a memorable experience, getting to take in all the natural beauty of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. As a marketer who appreciates local, craft products as well as hyped brands, this company grabbed and held my interest.”
Simon Gerard is a marketer and writer with a focus on the cannabis industry. Read more from Simon on the oz.
This story was featured in Issue 5 of the oz. magazine: