Pro­ducer aims to bring cannabis out into open

Toronto com­pany seek­ing per­mis­sion to grow first out­side pot crop in Canada

StarMetro Toronto - - TORONTO - Joseph Hall

In a ground­break­ing move, an On­tario cannabis pro­ducer in­tends to plant a le­gal crop of open-air pot for the first time in Canada this spring.

Toronto- based 48North Cannabis Corp. an­nounced this week that it is seek­ing Health Canada’s per­mis­sion to plant 100 acres’ worth of cannabis (40 hectares) on a farm just south of Brant­ford by late May or early June.

The ben­e­fits of out­side grow­ing — in­clud­ing the free sun­shine — are as clear as day, says com­pany co-head Jean­nette Van­dermarel.

“Cannabis is a plant that was meant to be grown out­doors,” Van­dermarel says. “The only rea­son it moved in­doors was be­cause of the il­le­gal­ity of it.”

That in­door growth is en­ergy-in­ten­sive, with the mas­sive and ex­pen­sive light­ing ar­rays and heat­ing sys­tems needed to grow the plants on a com­mer­cial scale eat­ing up loads of elec­tric­ity and money, Van­dermarel says. Aside from the lower op­er­a­tional costs of out­side grow­ing, she says the costs of buy­ing land are far less than buy­ing plants or build­ing green­houses.

“Cur­rently, eval­u­a­tions to build green­house space is around $1.5 mil­lion an acre,” Van­dermarel says. “I bought

100 acres for $1.5 mil­lion.” Univer­sity of Guelph cannabis ex­pert Youbin Zheng points out that in­door grow­ing can pro­duce mul­ti­ple crops a year, where out­door farm­ing in the south­ern On­tario cli­mate can yield just one.

Van­dermarel says in­door space con­straints limit plant size, where out­door grow­ing al­lows for tow­er­ing cannabis jun­gles. “Out­doors there are (strains) that can grow up to

15 feet tall and pro­duce up to

10 pounds” of us­able buds on one plant, she says.

Van­dermarel says the com­pany is putting in se­cu­rity mea­sures around the prop­erty to keep out would-be pot pil­fer­ers. This in­cludes chain­link and barbed-wire fenc­ing, cam­eras and vi­bra­tion sen­sors around the farm’s perime­ter, as well as pa­trolling se­cu­rity guards dur­ing flow­er­ing sea­son.

“I have very ro­bust se­cu­rity … that will cer­tainly en­sure that peo­ple will not get into my farm,” Van­dermarel says. “And any at­tempt I will be aware of. I don’t see it as less se­cure than a green­house.”


Jean­nette Van­dermarel, right, seen with her CO-CEO Al­i­son Gor­don, says 48North Cannabis Corp. sees ben­e­fits in grow­ing out­doors.

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