We should encourage and work with our policy makers and legislators to develop and implement the most sustainable model possible as we move towards a fully regulated cannabis…

Originally published in Lift News.
Imagine a commercial sponsored by a cannabis industry association in the future.

Here is what you will see. In the first 5 sec, a man holding a pitchfork or shovel in his garden. He says, “I’m going to get my marijuana from my backyard”. Cut to a stylish Mom and her 20-something daughter. “We’re going to get our marijuana from the Cannabis Boutique”. Next is an elderly woman who proudly proclaims, “I’m getting my medicine from the cannabis dispensary”. Cut to a Zoomer couple standing beside their convertible on a country road. “We’re getting our cannabis from the micro-growery”. And finally a blue-collar worker packing up his gear at the end of the day, turning to the camera; “I’m going to the big Canadian marijuana store for mine”. Fade out to the graphics “This public service message was brought to you by Sustainable Canadian Cannabis Farmers”.

As Canada slowly navigates the inevitable legalization and regulation of cannabis we are also being given the opportunity to incorporate the most sustainable and environmentally friendly model for the industry. It is our responsibility and obligation to do this and potentially create a template for sustainable models in other countries. Canada could be the first of the G7 nation to federally regulate cannabis.

The potential wealth distribution to local communities via employment and taxes will be a boon to many. “Micro-groweries” could have the same blue signs on the highway directing travellers to small towns across Canada, bringing with them tourism dollars and prosperity. Small farmers are also the natural providers for dispensaries, catering to their local markets in the adjoining towns and cities

In the most sustainable model for all consumption, we should be “growing our own”. However, as society has become less rural this model has become less practical and realistic. Most people do not grow their own food anymore although many do have a few tomato plants and herbs outside their door. It is not unrealistic for some people to grow their own cannabis and so in the future it would be sustainable and desirable for people to be able to maintain their own personal gardens, whether it was in their backyard, on a balcony or even in a community garden.

Canada has a long history going back three generations now to highly skilled and knowledgeable cannabis cultivators. Many of these farmers are seasonal outdoor but the majority grow indoors year round. Not all climates are conducive to outdoor cultivation but indoor has become the norm primarily due to prohibition.

Once prohibition is lifted cultivators will seek innovation and more cost effective methods. Solar/Sungrown farms and greenhouses with supplemental lighting will become popular, as will more attention to how farms impact water tables and power grids. The most ideal farms would have their own power source and a recycled watering system. Small farmers are the natural providers for dispensaries. Think of it as the 100 Mile Cannabis Diet.

Jan Slaski checks plants in a nursery

Jan Slaski checks plants in a nursery field of “Silesia” industrial hemp seed in 2013. image via albertafarmexpress.ca


The wine and beer industry has developed in such a way over the past 50 years to what we see becoming more and more sustainable as the market demands. Marketing and an investment in the culture of sustainability has made craft brewers and small wineries highly successful for both artisans and consumers. There is no reason that cannabis cannot replicate these models immediately under a regulated regime.

The potential wealth distribution to local communities via employment and taxes will be a boon to many. “Micro-groweries” could have the same blue signs on the highway directing travellers to small towns across Canada, bringing with them tourism dollars and prosperity. Small farmers are also the natural providers for dispensaries, catering to their local markets in the adjoining towns and cities; Farmers Feed Cities.

Currently Canada has a legal medical industry with 26 currently licensed producers with a cumulative indoor growing space of well over 1 million sq ft of currently approved space. If Health Canada allows these large indoor facilities to transition into the regulated non-medical market the infrastructure is in place for the “bigbox” consumers. Even though the indoor facilities are currently not the most sustainable they would likely transition into greenhouse cultivation as cost will drive them to it.

Although the current medical marijuana rules allow for import and export, the notion of cannabis coming from China ala The Walmart model does not seem plausible. This possibility is something that the larger licensed producers will want to pay close attention to in the future. If Canada is in fact the first kid on the block, it will be a considerable advantage over other potential competing markets.If they hope to participate in that market, the legal medical market in Canada has the opportunity and obligation to create sustainability in the industry as we move into the future of regulation.

Ultimately it is the consumer who dictates the market and who will thrive. With good messaging and proactive sustainability marketing there is a the potential for many to succeed and thrive in the “growing economy”. It will be the competition of lower costs and ethical cultivation practises that should dictate the flow, but it will also be imperative that the most sustainable models are allowed for under federal and likely provincial policy.

It is critical that we encourage and work with our policy makers and legislators to develop and implement the most sustainable model possible as we move towards a fully regulated cannabis industry.

It is our obligation to the plant and the planet.