Article by James McLeod, Financial Post
At first blush, the Canopy Growth Corp. operation in Smiths Falls, Ont., doesn’t look especially high tech. The building is an old industrial pile that used to be a Hershey chocolate factory and it was until recently at risk of being demolished.
But today, past the tastefully decorated lobby and the biosecurity barriers, the factory’s rooms are full of bright green marijuana plants under even brighter white lights, with little irrigation hoses snaking in between the pots.
It looks like what you probably think a marijuana grow-op should look like, but then Jordan Sinclair points out “the birdhouse” hanging from the ceiling, in a room where no bird should ever, ever be.
Sinclair, Canopy Growth’s communications director, calls it a birdhouse because that’s roughly what it looks like, but it is actually a sensor monitoring humidity and temperature.
Once you notice the first sensor, you’ll find them everywhere in the cannabis industry, doing vital work and producing reams of data as companies try to scale up for legalization later this year.
As that day approaches, Canada’s marijuana companies are becoming known for developing best practices for a nascent industry that, if they do it right, could leave them well-positioned to dominate around the globe.
A lot of the work almost seems common sense. Plenty of growing practices are borrowed from other forms of greenhouse agriculture, pharmaceutical production and plain old manufacturing.
Figuring out how it all fits together takes work, but the basics of cannabis production are fairly simple.
Large “mother” plants are grown to provide cuttings that turn into genetically identical baby clones. The clones are allowed to rapidly grow — like a weed — under those bright lights with plenty of water and nutrition.
Once the plants are big enough, the light cycles are changed to trick the plants into believing that summer is turning into fall. The cannabis plants flower in anticipation of winter, and those flowers contain high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. The buds are harvested, the growing room is cleaned out and the cycle then repeats.