By Darin Burt
Sid Quitorio is a cigar and cannabis connoisseur. Combine those two passions and you have a cannagar — basically, a cigar made of cannabis. Part of what makes a cannagar a special indulgence is that it’s made from up to ten grams of the most exceptional flower and a couple squirts of concentrate for an extra dash of potency and flavor.
“The whole experience of smoking a cannagar is excellent — it’s like stoner porn,” Quitorio says. “It’s a super, super slow burn unlike any joint, blunt or pipe, and the hits are extremely smooth. When they make the high end cannagars, they craft them from different strains and terpenes they think will work good together — it’s more like an artist creating a piece of work.”
The only drawback of the cannagar, at least to the everyday person driving a Honda and holding down a job, is that luxury comes at a price. Handcrafted, high-end cannagars can cost hundreds of dollars and often only be found in limited release at a handful of dispensaries in select legal states. If you’re a really high roller you can brag on a 24-gram gold leaf-coated cannagar, like the one that recently sold at a Las Vegas dispensary for $11,000.
Intrigued by the canngar, but not wanted to drop a small fortune for the experience, Quitorio researched how cannagars are made, and learned that the common molding method was using two wooden blocks with the middles hollowed out like a canoe. One question that needed to be solved for him to make cannagar at home, was how do you press the nugs together and be able to hold the shape. The solution was a packing tool.
“With our concept, rather than forming the shape and then compressing it on all sides like you do with a cigar, you breakdown the flower, load it from the top of the mold and compress it vertical instead of horizontally,” Quitorio explains.
“At least in my opinion,” he adds, “anything you make yourself is going to taste significantly better than anything pre-made you can buy at a store.”
Quitorio was having fun making and smoking his cannagars. Friends were impressed and wanting to make their own too. Why not sell a few, Quitorio thought, so he hooked up his 3D printer and turned out a few prototypes — it took some 40 different versions just to get the sizing correct, the packing tool to fit properly and a latch system in place that would hold the two sides of the mold together securely.
Inside the CannaMold, the core is formed around a wooden skewer, which leaves a hole down the center. This gives the cannagar its distinctly smooth hit and long burning experience. Quitorio suggests that the cannabis stay in the mold for a few hours to take on the classic cigar shape, with a few days being preferable.
By September of 2018, Quitorio’s venture, Purple Rose Supply, had a website up and live, and began marketing the CannaMold to online buyers. Within just a few months, they had more than 25,000 Instagram followers. Much of the engagement came from customer-created content showing off the different cannagars they had made and of they and their friends having a good time smoking them.
“That really solidified the fact that people were really enticed by the whole idea and most definitely want to purchase the products,” Quitorio says.
Purple Rose Supply has three sizes of CannaMold systems available: G2 Person holds 2-4 grams, G2 Small that packs 3-7 grams, and G2 Large for making the super-size cannagar up to 10 grams. The G2 Small is the most popular (that’s the one that Quitorio uses himself). While most any palm, banana, or fronto leaf wraps can be used with the finished core, Purple Rose Supply has their own hemp Canna Shells for the ultimate finish. They also sell birch wood tips.
Trade shows hooked Quitorio and his team up with distribution partners able to get the Cannamolds onto retail shelves and build brand awareness and hopefully household name status. Purple Rose Supply products are available at a handful of dispensaries, but are primarily found among the vapes, glass pipes and grinders at smoke shops where people are shopping for different ways to consume.
CannaMolds retail for $44-$49. When you figure 3.5 grams of your favorite herb, enough for an average size cannagar, costs around $40 in most legal states, it’s easy to see the value in making one the Purple Rose Supply way.
“We would definitely be doing our customers a big disservice if we could not produce them a cannagar that they can afford,” Quitorio says.
As simple of a device as the CannaMold is, one thing Quitorio discovered early on is that it’s the kind of specialty product that requires a good bit of customer education.
“There are a lot of people who aren’t going to know what it is, and retailers don’t always have the time or space to do a demonstration,” Quitorio says. “so, we’ve come out with shelf-talkers and videos available that go through the entire process. We also have an interactive countertop display with CannaMolds and accessories that are securely attached so that people can handle them and get a real feel for how it works.”
How it works is really well. As Purple Rose Supply celebrates its official one year-anniversary, they’re also celebrating more than 6,000 CannaMolds sold.
“Things are moving super-fast — it’s been like a roller coaster,” Quitorio says. “The whole cannagar market is blowing up. I never saw anything that really felt like the definitive way to make one, particularly where it was easy and affordable, so that’s how we were able to come in and fill the gap in the market.”