B.C.'s newest licensed medical marijuana producer, Tantalus Labs, is taking growing out of the bunker and into the light.
Tantalus Labs announced earlier this week that it was approved by Health Canada to become the 45th licensed producer in Canada, and the 10th in B.C.
Dan Sutton, the company's managing director, is calling its new facility "one of the most elite cannabis agricultural environments ever conceived".
The Vancouver-based company will begin cultivation in its Maple Ridge facility, SunLab, in the coming weeks.
"[What separates us] lies in our infrastructure," Sutton told the Straight earlier this week.
"We're using a sun-grown cultivation methodology, which means 90 percent of our light input comes from sunlight."
Sutton explained that by using purpose-built, specialized greenhouses to obtain photosynthetic input instead of artificial lighting, the company is creating a "new paradigm for cannabis growing."
"Traditionally, it's been grown indoors, but what we're able to do is use sunlight, while still nudging nature in the right direction in terms of control," he said of the company’s growing techniques, which includes things like using filtered rain water and a specialized filtration system that will eliminate the need for pesticide use.
"We do have a really unique ability to control our environment, and things associated with heat, humidity, and airflow, but it is very much a return to natural cultivation techniques."
Tantalus's unique growing method and cannabis-tailored greenhouses will reduce the facility's electricity demand by up to 90 percent, when compared to traditional indoor grows.
Sutton said that the facility, which took two years to design and another two years to build, is currently empty, but the first crops will be planted in late June, with its first harvest expected sometime around mid-summer.
Of the 45 licensed producers in Canada, 26 operate in Ontario, while 10 are in British Columbia. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba each have two, while Quebec, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia each have one.
When asked about the discrepancy between the number of licensed producers in Ontario versus other provinces, Sutton didn't hesitate to share his concerns.
"We're really worried about the metrics—if you look at the square footage of all licensed producers in Canada, 90 percent of it is in Ontario," he said.
Sutton also expressed concerns about institutional biases and the lack of provincial interest in preparing for federal legalization, and said that without leadership, B.C. might lose out on some serious opportunities.
"To speak transparently, we suffered institutional biases because of the nature of the industry—if we were cultivating raspberries, we wouldn't have faced this kind of thing," he said.
"We need leadership from the province. It needs to recognize that, like it or not, there will be winning provinces, and there will be losing provinces, just like there will be winning municipalities and losing municipalities.
"B.C. has such a rich culture with regard to cannabis, and we risk losing that."