Green­house maven get­ting into cannabis

Top grower says science con­vinced him de­spite his ini­tial re­luc­tance

Calgary Herald - - CITY - JU­RIS GRANEY jgraney@postmedia.com twit­ter.com/ju­ris­graney

Jim Hole is get­ting into the com­mer­cial cannabis game and he couldn’t be hap­pier.

In fact, the St. Al­bert green­house owner who has ded­i­cated a life­time to hor­ti­cul­ture can’t re­mem­ber the last time he was this ex­cited about grow­ing a plant.

This week, Hole’s Green­houses and At­las Grow­ers, an Al­bertabased medic­i­nal and re­cre­ational cannabis pro­ducer, joined forces to cre­ate a part­ner­ship that they hope will pro­duce the very best com­mer­cial qual­ity har­vest of le­gal mar­i­juana in the in­dus­try.

At­las Grow­ers pres­i­dent Shel­don Croome be­lieves the first har­vest from its 38,000-square-foot build­ing in Lac Ste. Anne County will come in the second half of 2018, shortly af­ter re­cre­ational cannabis is le­gal­ized in July 2018.

“I’m more ex­cited about this crop than any other crop, no doubt,” Croome said Thurs­day.

“We are plant peo­ple. We grow plants, thou­sands of plants, and cannabis is just an­other plant.”

Hole, who has never grown cannabis nor used it, said he and his fam­ily had been ap­proached pre­vi­ously by com­pa­nies want­ing their green­house ex­per­tise, but he de­clined to be in­volved.

Part of that de­ci­sion he put down to dif­fer­ing philo­soph­i­cal ap­proaches, but also be­cause “cannabis wasn’t some­thing we were com­pletely com­fort­able with.”

But as time went on and new in­for­ma­tion came out, cou­pled with con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple who were us­ing medic­i­nal mar­i­juana, Hole be­came con­vinced of its health ben­e­fits.

“That’s what’s re­ally driv­ing us,” he said.

“We want to be at the fore­front, pro­vid­ing prod­uct that’s go­ing to be able to help peo­ple.”

When he was ap­proached by Croome and At­las, Hole said the en­tire fam­ily sat down to have a “very se­ri­ous con­ver­sa­tion” about the part­ner­ship.

Af­ter all, as much as there is ex­cite­ment about le­gal­iza­tion, more con­ser­va­tive-minded folks still op­pose the use of cannabis.

Then there was the 50-plus years of rep­u­ta­tion his fam­ily had built around their green­house and gar­dens in St. Al­bert.

“If our name is go­ing to be at­tached with any­thing to do with cannabis, it has to be the high­est stan­dard,” he said.

“We can’t af­ford to risk our rep­u­ta­tion with cannabis that is not at that level. What we de­cided was to let the science dic­tate what we do. We can take all the emo­tion, the pre­con­ceived ideas, take away the Reefer Mad­ness film and what have you got left? “Science.” At­las Grow­ers is in the “pre-cul­ti­va­tion stage of li­cens­ing, pend­ing con­struc­tion com­ple­tion.”

Prom­i­nent green­house op­er­a­tor Jim Hole says he wants to be at the fore­front of help­ing peo­ple.

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