Canada is changing how weed grows and costs


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Canada legalized marijuana on October 17 and, in doing so, specializes in the marijuana industry.
USA TODAY

Delta, British Columbia – Blackberry bush shrubs and tomato-filled greenhouses tell you that this small town south of Vancouver is a great place to grow things up. A particular smell in the air tells you that marijuana producers have already understood this.

Throughout Canada, polished glasshouses that have just grown for consumers are retrofitted with air filters and shades that block light. Tomato plants and peppers have passed. In their place are tens of thousands of cannabis plants grown from the sun and hundreds of farmers are transplanted, water, cut and packed pots.

Experts say these highly sophisticated businesses are the future of marijuana production internationally. The hope is that they will lead the price of the container so low, black marketeers give up.

"We have not changed the footprint," said Rob Hill, Managing Director of Emerald Health Therapeutics, which develops marijuana in the Delta. "We just changed the crop."

Canada became the second largest nation to legalize marijuana on October 17th. The legitimate marijuana system in the country requires cannabis to be grown indoors by licensed providers, so Emerald Health Therapeutics is working with a long-standing production company, Village Farms, to a joint venture called Pure Sunfarms capable of producing an amazing 82 tonnes of marijuana per year from the 1.1 million square foot greenhouse complex about 30 minutes south of Vancouver.

Aerial view of the Pure Sunfarms greenhouse complex in Delta, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo: Trevor Hughes, Trevor Hughes-US NETWORK POINT)

The decision of Canada to legalizing and regulating marijuana sales are closely monitored globally by governments, regulators and hemp investors who claim that the move of the previous nation's regulation could promote wider acceptance of the legal pot, especially in the United States. The container business is a prime motive. Today, wholesale marijuana sells around $ 600 per pound to some American states that have legalized it, making it much more valuable than lettuce, almonds or tomatoes, where margins per plant are usually measured in one-penny fractions.

The price of the container reflects the fact that it remains largely a boutique crop, often cultivated under expensive electric lights in the warehouses. Illegal growers can also reduce their corners by developing them outside remote federal lands illegally cured and turned into improvised holdings, but even then, their margins reflect the possible persecution they face.

Because cannabis – and even cannabis – has been violated in most areas of the US, highly efficient and effective agricultural businesses have stayed away from marijuana, mainly transporting space to hobbyists and enthusiasts or drug cartels Mexico.

Experts and regulators say a reduction in the legal marijuana price will help eliminate these cartels and black market dealers, partly by moving cannabis to farmland such as Delta, where high value crops can be grown cheaper.It has already happened to some extent: Three years ago, wholesale marijuana sold for $ 2,000 a pound. Retail prices have also fallen as competition has increased: For example, in Colorado, the price of "flower" smoke has fallen by 40% since January 2014, from $ 7 per gram to $ 4.19 per gram today, according to the BDS Analytics.

"The price was always determined on the basis of risk," said Kyle Speidell, co-founder and chief executive of The Green Solution, a 17-seat Canadian company based in Colorado, and pays $ 5,000 a pound for marijuana when it was first opened from four years.

As a growing number of US states have legalized marijuana, growers are becoming more comfortable and staggering in their operations. Domestic marijuana growers in the legal and black market consumed 4.1 million megawatts of electricity last year, roughly equal to the total electricity produced annually by the Hoover Dam, according to the New Frontier Data company of the cannabis analyst. The company reported that electricity costs are 20% of domestic prices, compared with 8% for outdoor increases.

While outdoor cultivation is cheaper, it limits the number of crops that growers can harvest a year. However, greenhouse cultivation reduces the cost of electricity and the amount of water and pesticides required to grow outdoors. It also allows growers to maintain crops throughout the year in the right climate.

"We see a shift from people who were really hobbyists," said Karson Humiston, 26, founder of the Vangst cannabis company in Santa Monica, California. "It's all that goes to Big Ag, that's for sure where the industry is shifting, for them, what's the difference in growing lettuce, tomatoes or hemp?"

Humiston's company, Vangst, has grown rapidly by providing part-time workers to large-scale marijuana farmers. Each of its 600 employees is a background, checks the employee's compensation insurance and is forbidden to consume work. Everything is part of the industry's departure from the days when the hemp farmers and hemp cutters went up while they were working and had no legal recourse if they were injured at work.

"You have people paid in cash, paid in pounds of weeds, and if you have unlimited money and you do not pay taxes, who cares?" Humiston said.

Inside the Pure Sunfarms cannabis, more than two tonnes of processed marijuana – 4,400 pounds – await distribution in government-approved stores. At current Canadian prices, cannabis is worth about $ 20 million, and Pure Sunfarms plans to harvest similar crops more than 80 times a year.

"The only ones who can play in the game are the biggest because they have the economies of scale," said Matt Karnes, a cannabis analyst and founder of GreenWave Advisors in New York. "It's not really good for the little guy."

In the Pure Sunfarms plant, the chief cultivator Rob Baldwin is the big man's definition. As soon as it is responsible for producing millions of tomatoes a year, Baldwin is now responsible for increasing cannabis to tens of millions of dollars a year.

"There is only one way to cultivate tomatoes," said Baldwin. "Ultimately, there is only one way to grow cannabis in a greenhouse.

Baldwin's techniques show how cannabis plants are cultivated by cuttings, the way employees handle huge rooms and how far the plants are, and how much extra ventilation they receive from special ceiling fans. Walking around a visitor around the facility – in cleaning jackets, barbed wire and shoes – the Baldwin beams on healthy plants that reach the sun.

Kars said the Pure Sunfarms approach is likely to be repeated elsewhere, especially in other places where land is cheap and farmers are struggling to stay on the surface with traditional crops.

"At the end of the day, it does not differ from any other crop," he said. "Whatever they are doing today in Canada is going to be a potential model for the United States."

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