What does cannabis cultivation look like around the world? The practices in this industry are remarkably different from one part of the globe to the next. But one underlying theme translates across all borders: the need for more research and practical policies.
A Golden Opportunity
The legalization of cannabis is taking place in many parts of the world but to varying degrees.
One of Garden Culture’s contributors set out to learn more about the international cannabis community. In the opportunity of a lifetime, Tom Forrest was awarded the first-ever Churchill Fellowship for cannabis agronomy.
With his passport in hand, the research grant helped Tom travel to eight different countries where he got to explore 50 cannabis farms and learn about their methods of cultivation and the challenges they face.
If you’ve got 17 minutes, take a look at Tom’s great work. Our Garden Culture team is super proud of him.
Tom’s first destination was Vancouver, Canada, where recreational cannabis has been legal for over a year.
In this leg of his journey, Tom had the chance to go into Aurora Sky, the world’s most technologically advanced cannabis facility.
With 600,000 square feet of canopy space devoted to medical cannabis, the automation level in this building is something out of the future! Three hundred employees also help keep workflow operating at maximum efficiency.
Preventing contamination from the outside world is essential to crop health. Much like a hospital’s operating room, anyone who enters the facility ‘scrubs in’. Fancy caps, masks, gowns, and shoe covers are mandatory. Don’t forget the grow room glasses!
The massive greenhouse is a hybrid, meaning it has a glass ceiling for natural light but uses grow lights to accommodate for cloudy or rainy days.
Beneficial insects and organic sprays are used for pest prevention, and Aurora employees scout the plants regularly to see first if anything is affecting them before building their pest control program.
Does such a sophisticated facility have many challenges? Of course! Growing cannabis in an urban setting requires tight security and surveillance around the clock.
There’s also the issue of cultivating commercial quantities of cannabis and harvesting at regular intervals without any contamination.
And just because it’s home to the world’s biggest and most technology-savvy cannabis plant doesn’t mean that everything is perfect in Canada’s market.
While in Vancouver, Tom also attended a massive 4/20 rally in which 120,000 people gathered to protest the country’s current approach to cannabis legalization.
His interview with Jodie Emery, co-founder of Cannabis Culture, highlights how many feel Canada is amid “fake legalization.” Emery explains how the law forces people to buy from specific producers while forcing others to go out of business or go to jail.
Emery also points out that cannabis is being treated as a new industry when it isn’t at all.
She says Canada has failed to recognize the cannabis pioneers; the people who brought the plant to the frontlines at a great deal of risk to themselves.
Frustrations over a lackadaisical entry into the legal market are common around the world. In Italy, for example, Tom learns about the few resources available to those in the industry from world-renown geneticist Gianpaolo Grassi.
At the Research Center for Cereal and Industrial Crops, Grassi has just a handful of people working with him, including only two people to manage 62 hectares of plants.
Grassi speaks about how little he’s able to accomplish with regards to the production of cannabis hemp with the few resources available to him.
He expresses frustration over the approval of law without any thought into how it would be applied.
In Slovenia, an innovative spirit exists within the blossoming cannabis sector.
Also faced with a lack of resources, the mini-doc introduces us to farmers who have created a harvester partially built with old machines from WWII. Others have made an extractor that separates the resin from the flowers without the use of any solvents.
Tom also meets a brilliant scientist who has developed a way to make CBD water-soluble; a world first!
Israel is unique in the way that it is at the forefront of medical cannabinoid research. The country’s cannabis sector has been able to get the government onside due to the plant’s medicinal potential.
Tom tours a lab of 200 scientists working on various projects at the Volcani Institute of Plant Science; only none of what he sees can be shared due to the ‘top-secret’ nature of the industry.
Code Of Silence
That same restrictive, secretive attitude is seen everywhere in the cannabis industry, no matter where you are in the world, thus hindering further growth and development.
Problematic legislation and impractical policies have led to a lack of research and knowledge. Without it, unlocking the full potential of cannabis is challenging.
What does the future hold? Only time will tell. But your future should include watching Tom’s educational video.