The soon-to-be legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada has been a controversial initiative on the part of the Federal Government, but for the marijuana growing industry, the law is nothing but good news.
“This is definitely good news for our industry,” said Jordan Sinclair, the Vice President of Communications for Canopy Growth, the operators of a 30 acre greenhouse operation in Aldergrove.
“I don’t think it will actually affect our Aldergrove operation all that much as we were already established there for the medical marijuana market, but now the recreational market will only add to the strength of the company’s operations, right across the country.”
Canopy Growth currently operates grow operations in seven provinces and has distribution in eight. But with the expanded market, Sinclair expects that the company will soon be in every province in the country.
The company also has a breeding facility in Smith Falls where they develop unique strains of the plant and, on the research side of things, they operate in conjunction with a research facility in Victoria, Australia.
“We research the crop yields and flowering growth periods…all the things we can do to improve the commercial viability of the crop.”
Recent complaints from area residents in Aldergrove related to the bright lights of the operation and now with the odours emanating from the 30 acre greenhouse operation have shone a light on the operation and raised a number of questions regarding whether the operation should be allowed on ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve) land.
One of the criticisms has been that the company buys existing greenhouse operations and converts them away from food production to marijuana farms.
“Of course we’ve had some concerns. Part of that may have to do with the nature of the crop, and certainly some of the material concerns are something we recognize.
“We dealt with the light issue in Aldergrove very quickly, installing shades that have eliminated that problem, and the issue of odour is something we are working on,” said Sinclair.
“But as to the question of whether we are impacting the availability of agricultural land and thereby affecting the food security of the region, I don’t really believe that’s a valid concern. The amount of (food) production that we transition to marijuana will not have a substantial impact on food availability.”
Langley mayor, Jack Froese, agrees that the question of whether marijuana belongs on ALR land is not something that concerns him. He drew the parallels that can be found between marijuana cultivation and growing crops like hops for beer.
“There’s really no difference, as far as that goes,” said Freose.
“And as far as the odour of the marijuana cultivation goes, well, this is an agricultural community and while I will advocate for solutions, I also know that some smell is going to be there. I have a farming background and I can tell you that sometimes chicken farms don’t smell that good either. The important thing is that the company has recognized the concerns and are working to solve it.”
Froese is quick to point out that Canopy Growth is a large corporate presence in the community and the employment they provide and the spin-off economic benefits of the operation also have to be taken into account.
“We just passed 1,000 employees in seven provinces and, with the next two years, we expect that number to rise to more than 3,000,” said Sinclair.
“These are exciting times for the industry.”