Producer aims to bring cannabis out into open
Toronto company seeking permission to grow first outside pot crop in Canada
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.