National Post: Inside the Colorado Green Rush

Article by Brian Hutchinson, National Post

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John Lord steps from his SUV and into his giant cannabis factory, near this city’s deserted stockyards. Cattle once dominated commerce in the Colorado capital, but marijuana is the prized commodity now.

Before Colorado voters defied the U.S. government’s longstanding cannabis prohibition and amended their state’s constitution in 2012, making the drug accessible to any local resident or visitor aged 21 or older, Lord used the expansive warehouse to manufacture baby products. His child car seats were sold in major retail stores, such as Walmart, Target and Toys ‘R’ Us.

Now he’s a pioneer in what’s being hailed as a lucrative “green rush.” And he’s got some advice for politicians and stakeholders in Canada, in their efforts to legalize recreational pot: Keep the rules simple, he says. Don’t over-regulate, or the whole effort might fail.

All over Denver, one notices the sweet, pungent fragrance of pot. It’s not always the smell of marijuana being smoked, either. It’s the scent of healthy, growing plants. After Colorado’s recreational pot laws came into effect in 2014, Denver became a major marijuana production centre, with dozens of indoor growing operations.

Entrepreneurs have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into raising bushels of high-potency pot. A transplanted New Zealander, Lord grows what seems like an endless number of plants inside his 140,000-square-foot facility. He won’t divulge the precise number he has under cultivation at any one time — that’s a proprietary secret, says the diminutive businessman — but he claims there are enough to make his facility the largest licensed grow-operation in the entire United States.

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