Under tight security, 100,000 marijuana plants arrived at Vancouver International Airport Saturday to be cultivated in a network of greenhouses in Langley, B.C. that’s being touted as the largest licensed cannabis production facility in the world.
That Metro Vancouver facility is run by BC Tweed Joint Venture Inc., which involves a B.C. greenhouse operator and cannabis giant Canopy Growth Corp., whose marijuana production licence was just approved on Feb. 16.
Although recreational pot will likely not be commercially available in Canada until August at the earliest, companies like BC Tweed are already gearing up for legalization.
“We have five distribution deals with the provinces that have announced (their legalization plans) so far in Canada,” Canopy Growth spokesperson Jordan Sinclair told CTV Vancouver on Saturday. “So we'll be using this for recreational sales as well as medical sales.”
The plants were loaded up in Canopy Growth’s sprawling Smith Falls, Ont. facility and flown from nearby Ottawa to Vancouver. They were transported to Langley in armoured vehicles.
The greenhouses where they will be cultivated were formerly used to grow bell peppers.
“It’s quite a change from vegetable production,” BC Tweed’s Victor Krahn said.
At 1.3 million square feet, or 30 acres, the Langley facility is massive. It has room to house roughly 350,000 marijuana plants and will produce tens of thousands of kilograms of dried cannabis per year.
“The clones will be transplanted into little pots of soil and then they’ll grow under the lights for a number of months and then they’ll be ready to harvest,” Sinclair said of the cultivation process.
“We have lights and blackout shades, so it's the technology meets Mother Nature and gives us the perfect environment,” Krahn added.
There are strict guidelines for growing cannabis, including steps to make sure no contaminants enter the facility, as well stringent security measures.
“There's fences and only a couple entry points, cameras everywhere,” Sinclair said. “Also, the site itself is difficult to access: once you get in, you need swipe cards and biometric information.”
Sinclair says that neighbours won’t have to worry about pungent pot odours either.
“We have controls in place to control the amount of smell,” he added. “There shouldn't be any issues with smell.”
The facility’s first harvest is expected in late spring. A second BC Tweed site in nearby Delta, B.C. with even more greenhouses will begin growing pot later this year.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Michele Brunoro