Kelly Coulter

Ethical Consumption, Cannabis, Feminism, and Environmentalism

Author: Kelly Coulter (page 1 of 3)

Farmers, feds, food and the future of cannabis

Kelly Coulter gives us her take on emerging food security issues and how they parallel changes in the cannabis industry

On Friday June 17th, over 100 farmers and citizens concerned about food security in Canada filled the local Cowichan Valley community centre on Vancouver Island, and were hosted by Alistair MacGregor.  MacGregor is the MP for the riding of Cowichan/Malahat, Justice critic for the NDP and will be sitting on the committee for Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act. He also farms on a small scale.

The Government of Canada is developing a first-ever food policy for the country. The food policy will revolve around the following four themes: increasing access to affordable food; improving health and food safety; conserving our soil, water, and air; and growing more high-quality food. The parallels between food, agriculture and cannabis, especially in regions like the Cowichan, are striking.  It has been estimated that a disproportionate number of cannabis cultivators are located in the region, much like the medicinal cannabis farmers of Northern California.

MP Alistair MacGregor wanted to engage with farmers and food security advocates in person and develop a comprehensive submission to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in order to ensure that their “views and priorities are included in the food policy for Canada. We need to look at the whole picture and bring an integrated approach to federal policy that connects agriculture, rural development, health, and income security.”

The panelists included: Niki Stutynski, a local farmer and member of North Cowichan Agriculture Committee; Chris Groenendijk, local area dairy producer; and Amy Melmock, the Economic Development Manager of the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD). There was an opportunity for Q&A, at which time the subject of “specialty crops” was raised, and parallels were made with the thriving vineyards and potential hop farmers of the region. Micro-breweries and distilleries on Vancouver Island are supported by local industry and consumers, with some private alcohol distributors actively promoting local brands over products made in other locales.

The community is clearly in touch with not only its agricultural priorities, but also strong considerations of environmental stewardship.

Sarah Campbell, director of the Craft Cannabis Association of British Columbia, who lives and works in the Cowichan Valley, was impressed with the turn-out and the calibre of the feedback, and how it paralleled what could happen to the local cannabis economy.

“Farming is a way of life here on Vancouver Island, and it was concerning to hear how a community that was once thriving is now decimated due to strict governmental regulations. Many abattoirs, for example, were forced to shut down or have been driven underground since new rules were implemented in 2007 to address public health and safety. The community itself feels they were not a cause for concern and that the new rules were a way of getting rid of small agriculture. It’s hard not to see the parallels between the agriculture industry and cannabis.”

For more info regarding the proposed Food Policy for Canada check here.

Featured image by David Stanley.

Bringing motherhood to the cannabis workspace

Kelly Coulter talks to Sandra Colasanti about balancing motherhood with an exciting career in the cannabis industry

“When we as a society begin to value mothers as the givers and supporters of life, then we will see social change in ways that matter.” – Ina May Gaskin

There is a woman who has worked harder, longer and with more tenacity than most, and if you were to meet her it is entirely unlikely she would speak of her own accomplishments. She would talk about her family, her business and how much she cares about the future of the industry, and especially, her hopes for more access to quality cannabis. Her name is Sandra Colasanti and she is possibly one of the most giving people in the Canadian cannabis scene.

Her journey began in 2001 when her husband, Remo, started growing his own cannabis to help manage excruciating pain he suffered after a career-ending back injury. Although Sandra is not a consumer of cannabis, she recognized its healing value, as well as the importance for individuals to be able to cultivate their own—and she made it a priority to help facilitate this need.

As a professional woman who had worked in sales her entire life, the jump into the medical cannabis industry seemed like a natural evolution. In the early days of the MMAR, the need for qualified, reliable and accurate information became paramount.

Sandra focused her enquiry entirely on plant nutrients, as she saw the relationship between the efficacy of the growing methods and the quality of the cannabis produced as critical to medical needs. Her breadth of knowledge in cultivation, nutrients and plant behaviour is sought after by even the most experienced professional growers.

Her family comes first though, and as much as Sandra is all business, it is her role as mother, grandmother and wife that will make her smile, laugh and share her favourite stories. Women who are currently entering into the industry or have been working hard to make their way in recent years know that the reality of balancing work and the love of family is possibly an even greater challenge than working in an industry that is historically dominated by men.

Sandra has been a vocal patient advocate for over 16 years, and knows the next 16 years are going to change our world for the better. “Growing cannabis is incredibly challenging, and most people prefer not to grow their own. They need to have an option as well.”  She says she believes that licensed producers definitely have the ability to grow medical cannabis that is as high quality and effective as what can be grown at home.

“That’s why we started our nutrient company,” she says, referring to Remo Nutrients, which she co-founded in 2014. “We’ve been experimenting with different cannabis fertilizers in Remo’s garden for years, and we developed a solution that is completely safe for growing, while also helping to produce safe high quality end-results that patients can expect.”

It is not just this “giving” that the mothers of the cannabis industry bring to the table: most easily recognizable in women like Sandra is the level of caring that goes into their products and their business relationships. Sandra has been around for a long time, but her recognition is muted by her nature to give any recognition she gets away to others. She is a person who cares deeply about the integrity of her words. In the future, her values will be a cherished commodity as the cannabis industry moves into the unchartered waters of legalized and regulated cannabis in Canada and beyond.

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

What is the perfect price for legal weed?

A hypothetical cost analysis for undercutting the black market

*The estimates in this article are open to debate, but they make the point.

Let’s just say that, hypothetically speaking, the current black market in Canada is based on three models of cultivation. The first model is the seasonal outdoor grower, the second is the hobby indoor grower and the third is the commercial indoor grower. Model one harvests every fall and sells his/her crop based on market prices which vary greatly from province to province, in the vicinity of 900-2500 dollars per pound. The second model harvests casually and sells privately and in small amounts ranging from 125-250 an ounce. The third group harvests every 3 weeks to 90 days and sells based on market prices ranging anywhere from $1400 to $3000.

According to a recent article in Lift, the average price of a gram of cannabis in a dispensary is $10, which equates to $4535 per pound. This price is based on a perverted/distorted marketplace and should not be taken into consideration when trying to set acceptable tax structure. Unfortunately, this is what is being done, and it is a critical mistake.

Examining the profit margins

If the average profit margin on 100 pounds of cannabis, based on an annual harvest for models one and two, is 90-250K and 2-10K respectively, cannabis cultivation would appear to remain profitable and worthwhile. For model three, an annual yield can bring in millions of dollars depending on the size of the operation. Model three also happens to be the most expensive cultivation method and the easiest to trace.

The only way the mandate to defund organized crime will be fulfilled is to effectively remove profit incentive. The fact that only 5% of the cannabis trade is affiliated with “organized crime” should make this goal attainable, but this does not mean that the black market is going anywhere at all. In the wild and wacky world of weed, the average cultivator, farmer and consumer are not gun-wielding gangsters, but ordinary folks who either enjoy farming and the additional income or are just growing a bit extra to subsidize their own consumption.

Defunding organized crime

If the federal government really wants to defund organized crime, two things need to happen. The government should do a cost analysis of what it really costs to produce a pound of weed and then tax accordingly at a rate, bringing the final retail price in under, or close to, what would make this commodity so profitable for the “bad guys.” The current large commercial indoor grow-ops that are typically favoured for covert operations are not the most cost-effective method. By adopting and incentivizing more visible, environmentally-friendly and naturally-grown cannabis the government will effectively kill two birds with one stone.

In the future, the price of cannabis will likely become more in line with other agricultural commodities.  If we approach this from a public safety standpoint, and not from a distorted version of what has been the norm for far too long, the potential for success increases. We have to be prepared to think differently—this is likely our greatest challenge moving forward.

International Women’s Day is an opportunity for the Canadian cannabis industry to reflect

In honour of International Women’s Day, the cannabis industry must take a good long look at how it will not only include and support women, but also raise…

In honour of International Women’s Day, the cannabis industry must take a good long look at how it will not only include and support women, but also raise them up. This will require forward thinking folks, and some fierceness on all of our parts.

There are initiatives from within the sector, but also significantly outside of the industry, that women would be well-advised to tap into.  The recent announcement by the Canadian and American federal governments of the creation of a Canada−United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders—a joint initiative meant to help businesses owned by women as a way to contribute to economic growth, competitiveness and the integration of the two economies—is a signal of what is to come for all women.

Some of us may feel like we have been here before.  In her recent editorial for Maclean’s, Arlene Dickinson pulls no punches:

“We already know the challenges that women face when starting a business. We know that financial markets are tilted against women, and that, as a rule, women have more difficulty accessing capital from investors and banks alike.

“But we also know that women-owned businesses, on average, perform very well compared to those owned solely by men. And we know that if a company’s board includes a strong contingent of women, it will more likely do better. So, smart companies are now taking steps to seek out and support women entrepreneurs and leaders—not out of pity, but out of self-interest.”

The women of cannabis should embrace such initiatives with optimism, but also be willing to participate with a sense of pride in their duty to pioneer for the generations of women who will come behind them.

The tech sector has in recent years come to face its own shortcomings in diversity.  Uber, the golden child of the sharing economy, is being hit hard by its own much-publicized misogynistic leadership. This is not only bad for the women affected but it is really REALLY bad for business.  There are parallels here for our own sector that we can learn from as men and women who truly want the best for the industry.

Women are at the heart of the cannabis industry as much as men. When Melissa Etheridge spoke at the inaugural Women Grow Leadership Summit, her words garnered the heaps of affirmation that every woman has known for as long as women have been healing with plants. “We are at a paradigm of all of this wellness and it is now time for us to become balanced.” Ms. Etheridge was referring to our relationship with our healing attributes and our relationship with the patriarchy of money and business.  We owe this shift in thought and practise not only to ourselves, but also  to our daughters and grand-daughters and the young women who will come behind us.

Happy International Women’s Day to ALL the women of cannabis, the future is ours, if we take it!

Featured image via Donnie Ray Jones.


About ten years ago I was having a heated and on-going debate with a friend about the economy, environment and how on earth we were going to save the planet.  We argued about this for months going back and forth about consumption, the necessity to grow the economy, human nature, frugality, ethics, greed, social ills…all the good stuff left wingers argue with their right wing colleagues about.  At the time I kept going back to the recycling economy and how we could create a global industry based on recycling rather than extraction.  Let’s just re-cycle what we already have rather than producing more from our natural and limited resources.  The destruction of the environment was something I could not bear.

Trees in particular were my thing from a very early age.  I had worked as a Junior Forest Ranger in my 17th year for the Ministry of Natural Resources.  We were camped in an incredibly pristine and romantic lodge outside of Chapleau, called Five Mile Lake.  My dream of working in the wild and helping to preserve its’ natural beauty was replaced with the horror of my first exposure to clear cuts and the degradation of our planet.  Collecting pine cones and tree planting in the barren wastelands of de-forestation was not my idea of what I thought my summer was going to be, nor my romantic vision of the wilds of Northern Ontario.  I had just finished reading Lord of the Rings for Grade 11 advanced English and the scenery was reminiscent of my own vision of Mordar.  My mind could not comprehend the sheer destruction and the ugliness of clear cutting.  Where did the animals go?  Why did they have to take everything?  It was a psychologically brutal experience but it also planted a seed in my own soul which I am thankful for.

In 2009 the Conservative government decided it was a good idea to close the prison farms.  I was living in Kingston at the time and working at a sustainability centre.  There was a very organized and passionate campaign spear-headed by the National Farmers’ Union to stop this from happening.  There were information sessions, sign-ups, fund-raisers, even Margaret Atwood got involved.  This campaign spoke to me as someone who believed strongly in the importance of preserving good farmland as there was much conjecture that the lands the farms were on, particularly the waterfront acreage at the Kingston Penitentiary  were to be developed.  One of the speakers was Justin Piche, who is now a Professor at the University of Ottawa.  Piche spoke of the Prison Industrial Complex and what was really going on in the judicial system aswell as the prison system.  My jaw was on the floor the entire length of his presentation.  He spoke of the upcoming crime bill which would impose mandatory minimum sentences and the hallmark of the emergence of big private prisons; a policy which Bill Clinton now admits as “one huge mistake.”  The rate of incarceration in the United States is the highest in the world and is also disproportionately populated by young black men.  There was much more to this than just the closure of a farm.  The omnibus crime bill and its’ predecessors were targeting among others cannabis cultivators.  The mandatory minimum sentence for six plants would be six months in prison.  It was pretty ridiculous, but the Harper had a certain kind of hate for cannabis based on his evangelical religion which put cannabis at the forefront of the end times. Just like Nixon, this tough on drug stance worked well for the base and took aim at the low lying fruit of criminality.  The prisons would be easily filled and the wheels of the prison industrial complex would begin to turn at a quicker rotation.  It was another version of Mordar.

Fast Forward Six Years

Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Vermont and Hawaii have legalized adult-use cannabis.  Canada is just around the corner of being the first G7 nation to introduce federal legislation.  The world will follow.  Are we creating an industry that could be positive for the environment?  Is it possible this new paradigm is the economic force that could replace the negative forces of our consumer habits and one that rather than leaving a carbon imprint actually gives back to the health of the planet?  Is this the how we could save the planet?  It remains to be seen.  What we do know for sure is that it will definitely change the planet in a very positive way if it is done properly.

The environment is not the first thing one thinks about when we talk about cannabis.  It should be.  Cannabis cultivation in the near future will impact our environment immeasurably.  Covert cultivation practices are a direct result of prohibition and now that this is ending in Canada, various states and worldwide we are obligated to embrace not just more practical models, but also more ethical models. Ultimately it will be the consumer who decides if given the choices they deserve and it is imperative the choices are based on evidence and science.  Ethical consumer practise impacts not only the environment but also our communities.  My writing intends to start important conversations around the ethics of cannabis consumer practices, cannabis cultivation and the potentially positive impacts which are on their way. I have hope.

Climate change, cannabis and Trudeau

If the commitment to combat climate change is credible and sincere it should also impact the government’s regulations with regards to cannabis cultivation

Originally published in Lift News.

“We can fight climate change without sacrificing growth and prosperity. In fact, our global push toward a low-carbon economy will produce new companies, new growth, and new prosperity.”
— Prime Minister Trudeau.
World Economic Forum 2016, Davos, Switzerland

Earlier this year Prime Minister Trudeau resolved to combat climate change without sacrificing growth in his speech to the Economic World Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This is a marked difference from our previous government’s attitude towards a greener economy, and was welcomed by the environmental community.

If this commitment is credible and sincere it should also impact the government’s regulations with regards to cannabis cultivation. The current practice of indoor cultivation is driven by criminalization, pursuit of security, pest and disease management, and the desire for greater process control and yields. Once criminalization is no longer a relevant issue in Canada, would it not be responsible to pursue cultivation practices that are environmentally friendly as well as potentially environmentally beneficial?

The good news is we can fight climate change without sacrificing growth and prosperity in a very big way with the help of smart cannabis and hemp cultivation practices. It would be incredibly negligent for the Liberal government and the legalization task force not to take the environment into consideration, as the environmental impact of indoor cannabis cultivation is staggering.

Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, is aware of these impacts, as are other environmental advocates, politicians and policy makers. The sustainable cannabis movement is picking up energy in the United States and particularly in Northern California where the future of cannabis cultivation is taking on a strong environmental message. This is partially due to self-preservation but also because the cannabis farmers of NorCal are inherently committed to what is best for the planet as well as their own futures. It would be ideal for Canadian cannabis farmers to adopt a similar strategy for the same reasons.

According to a study published in the journal Energy Policy in 2012, the carbon footprint of the indoor cultivation industry in Colorado is consistently compared to the same usage as small cities. It is estimated that the energy consumption for indoor cultivation in the United States is 1% of national electricity use, or $6 billion each year. “One average kilogram of final product is associated with 4600 kg of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, or that of 3 million average U.S. cars when aggregated across all national production.” Jonathan Paige Founder of cannabis biotech company Anandia Labs and Adjunct Prof at UBC, believes that “The take-home message is that if legalization leads to an all indoor industry under HPS lights, it is going to be an environmental nightmare.”

The environment is not the first thing we think about when it comes to cannabis, but it should be. As Canada moves toward a regulated adult-use market, the consequences of decisions made by policy makers will impact future generations.

The Prime Minister also went on to say during his speech in Davos that the next industrial revolution will bring about “enormous change.” If the government implements environmentally responsible cannabis cultivation incentives, enormous change might be an understatement. The world is watching.

Cannabis Clickbait

Originally published on Canlio

“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”
— Marshall Mcluhan

The Toronto Star recently ran a story about how the government would not allow home grows. The article was based on zero evidence and frankly the headline,“Ottawa might try to prohibit homegrown pot” was, for me, just clickbait based on a sensational, unqualified claim. Comments on social media were alarming and angry but they were directed at the wrong culprit.

Media likes to sell media and will say the strangest things to do so. The culprit was not the government at all, it was the Toronto Star. This is critical for reasons you may not know. The media acts as a purveyor. Its form has changed with the advent and influence of social media and it can now be seen as a gauge of public opinion. Whereas at one point in history people would write letters to the editor, nowadays the online comments section gives a great indication of how the public feels about issues and events.

The comments that came In response to the Toronto Star article made it evident that the majority felt that denying Canadians the right to grow their own cannabis if they chose to was not going to sit well. The reasons included personal rights and freedoms, costs, and anti-government and monopoly sentiments. Those opposed to home cultivation were very much in the minority, citing potential fire hazards and stolen hydro.

Is the government watching this public discourse? possibly. It is more likely that some of the people who advise individual politicians are paying closer attention to the issue, and that is why this interaction is critical. Politicians and their advisors pay even closer attention to public opinion in their own constituencies. They are always campaigning for re-election even when they are already elected. There is no job security in being an elected official, and less so if you adopt positions and policies contrary to those who are capable of firing you. With this in mind it would be helpful in the future when such clickbait generates comments to go directly to the source, such as The Toronto Star.

Social media can be a very effective instrument for change, but more so when it is used to its fullest and most effective potential. Sharing articles is good for getting the information out. If headlines are misleading or sensational or clickbait, post a disclaimer when you share. This will help others and will also steer the conversation in the right direction.

Comments are good, but in most cases you are preaching to the choir. Go to the source of the story and comment on their social media if you want to be heard by the influencers outside of your network. Sharing good information is great and not sharing bad information is also great. Cannabis clickbait is going to be a problem, but it is a problem we can control by not rewarding bad behaviour and instead rewarding only good journalism and reporting. We have a part to play in this and the media will need our help as much as the politicians will, they are listening.

Republished with permission from Canlio.

The Stories Project

Originally published on Canlio

These are without question exciting times to be in the cannabis industry in Canada. Actually, it is beyond exciting. It is nerve wracking, roller-coaster riding, nail biting and downright heart attack inducing for past, present, and future cannabis folks. For some it is change they thought would never come and it is celebratory. For some this change is scary. For others it is the beginning of a new chapter where dreams could be fulfilled or destroyed. It will require nerves of steel and the will of giants.

It is more important now than ever that we tell our stories: who we are, what we are doing and why we are doing it. I have long believed that cannabis farmers were the last pioneers, aside from space travellers. I think most would agree with me. The reasons we need to tell these stories are many.

Firstly, we need to communicate to the policy makers and politicians who we are, and how the changes might impact our lives.

Secondly, we need to put faces to the industry, as this humanizes something that most Canadians are not familiar with at all. I know there are some incredibly beautiful, good people currently working with cannabis. Canadians need to meet you.

This leads me to the third reason. If Canadians do not know your stories, your stories are told for you. In other words, when the media gets the facts wrong or skews them or sensationalizes them, this is what Canadians will believe, as they know no different. In the same vein, it is important to speak truthfully and with integrity. When falsehoods are shared, when sensational quotes are repeated, when media darlings spout overblown pontifications for the sake of their own media darlingishness, we lose credibility.

I occasionally run into a local photographer who is on staff for a newspaper that has a seriously negative view of all things cannabis. We always talk about the angle the newspaper takes and how we could overcome some of their reefer madness. He has repeatedly said to me he needs the pictures to show the real stories. I hope in the near future we will be able to make that happen.

Finally I would like to relate a story some of you might be familiar with that illustrates the power of personal testament. In her speech to the UNGASS Assembly at the United Nations on April 20, 2015, Health Minister Jane Philpott said the following:

“A few weeks ago, in preparation for this event, I met with a group of NGOs in Ottawa. There were lawyers, doctors and highly articulate activists. But the most powerful voice of all belonged to a mother. She was there to tell the story of her young daughter, who lost her life due to complications of substance use. She described watching her daughter slip away as she struggled to access the treatment and services that may have saved a beautiful, fragile life.”

This story was in reference to the meeting my friend Donna D May had with Minister Philpott. Donna’s daughter died of an opiate overdose. Donna is one of the bravest and most wonderful women I know. Telling her story will save lives in the future.

So it is time to tell our stories, in our own words, with integrity and truth and the hearts of lions. A handwritten letter carries more weight and is more likely to be read than any other form of correspondence to decision makers, which is why we are creating this unique presentation. It is also faster and much less expensive, and longer lasting than a twenty minute meeting. Please consider participating in the project, we don’t have a lot of time.

The Stories Project

The “Stories” project is launching and we would like to hear from as many of you as possible. Politicians and policy makers need to hear our stories, written by us. They need to hear how being in the cannabis industry as a medicine-maker, cultivator, trimmer, ancillary business-owner/employee, teacher, or advocate, has contributed to our lifestyle, well-being, financial security, and sense of self. The priority would be to show that if the new regulations might exclude people such as ourselves, how that might impact your life. A sincere, hand-written, one to three page letter with or without your name would be very impactful. We will be compiling and sharing these “Stories” with many of the politicians and policy makers who are going to be making the decisions that will impact our lives in the future.

I am hopeful many of you will participate in this project. These are incredibly important times and your stories are more important now than ever.

Please mail to:
c/o The Green Ceiling
1625 Quadra St.
Victoria, B.C.
V8W 2L5
Deadline is July 30th 2015

Republished with permission from Canlio.

Balancing the government’s legalization objectives will be a challenge

If Canada approaches marijuana regulations equitably from the perspective of public health and safety, they have a much greater chance of succeeding

Originally published in Lift News.

The Government of Canada believes that the new regime for legal access to marijuana must achieve two of the following objectives:

  • Protect young Canadians by keeping marijuana out of the hands of children and youth.
  • Keep profits out of the hands of criminals, particularly organized crime.

In Colorado and Washington neither of these objectives have been achieved after regulations and legalization came into effect, so how does Canada expect to achieve what very well could be the impossible?


With respect to youth consumption, the challenges are twofold. If the government intends to stop or curb youth consumption by strictly “regulating and controlling” it, they will have to essentially quash any unregulated or uncontrolled market behaviour, as this is the existing market that youth are accessing in legal jurisdictions now. Access is a factor, but it is not the most effective way of curtailing youth consumption. According to Dr. Neil Bernstein in How to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do if You Can’t, the reasons teens consume fall into eight categories: other people, popular media, escape and self-medication, boredom, rebellion, instant gratification, lack of confidence, and misinformation.

The first reason speaks volumes to the enormity of the challenge ahead for Canada, as teens are often introduced to cannabis and other substances, including alcohol, by their elder peers and family members. In a regulated market, access by these same people will translate to access for youth, as is the case in Colorado.

Rather than approaching youth consumption from a “restrict and control” enforcement perspective, society might be better served by studying and addressing the other contributing factors that lead to youth cannabis consumption. This would entail considerable investment in education, community programs, family programs, prevention programs and youth initiatives. Investment in prevention is not only monetarily responsible, it is socially responsible.

Organized Crime

The majority of organized crime groups in Canada are involved in drug trafficking due to the high revenue of Canada’s import and export drug market, with drug trafficking accounting for approximately 57% ($44.5 billion). Footnote2

Canadian-based crime groups continue to import illicit drugs from the United States, Mexico, China, India and several South American, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries. Drugs exported from Canada, such as marijuana, are targeted mostly at the United States, Australia and Japan.

Cannabis is the domestic product of Canadian organized crime groups. If the Canadian government intends to de-fund these groups it should be strategic in its approach. Home cultivation and small business integration of cannabis cultivators would decrease costs, increase access, and remove profit incentive for the illicit domestic market. A decentralized market that includes current cultivators who are not affiliated with cartels or organized crime groups would create a highly competitive and robust market, driving prices down and removing the profit incentives that sustain the black market. Inversely, a tightly controlled and restricted regime would create the vacuum the black market relies on to thrive.

The de-funding of organized crime groups is a priority from a public safety perspective as much as it is from a public health perspective, as the two are intertwined. A safe society is a healthier society.

If Canada approaches the regulations equitably from the perspective of public health and safety, we have a much greater chance of succeeding in our goals, as lofty as they may seem at this time.

The beauty of sun grown cannabis

If the outdoor farmer is to prosper in a regulated market, now is the time to start educating the public about the benefits of sustainably grown cannabis

Originally published in Lift News.
If you have ever walked into a field of sunflowers, then you can imagine the hypnotic beauty of a sun grown cannabis garden.

The sunlight flickers between the broad leaves as resin sparkles on the flowers, and the sounds of nature are almost in congress with the good energy such a field evokes. Most of these fields are in remote and secret places, amongst the pines in the north, in the swamps further to the south, hidden between the rows of corn in many a farmer’s field, and on the sides of mountainous hills further west.

Hard to get to, hard to spot, and hard to maintain. “ Set it and forget it” is a cannabis farmer’s creed in many parts. It’s not like there is a lot of investment initially other than the hard labour of the planting. These fields grow themselves and they are bountiful with the right amount of sun and rain. Bumper crops are like winning the marijuana lottery. There is very little investment until harvest. An experienced seasonal marijuana farmer can easily live off their annual crop. It is a beautiful thing.

Seasonal cannabis farming is a cheap start up with potentially very high rewards. It is also high risk. Bad weather, getting ripped off, and the long arm of the law are just the obvious risks. There is also incredible stress, cost to personal freedoms and relationships, and uncertainty. It is a unique lifestyle. Sun grown seasonal farmers are the pioneers of cannabis cultivation. It is how things began and it is how they might end, ideally with much less risk.

In Northern California the seasonal farmer is the artisanal grower of the past and of the future, as they are now organizing to protect their economy and their way of life.

In various regions across Canada, seasonal farming supports communities. The nature of the activity lends itself to the notion of rural sustainability. There are a lot of plots in the back forty. Career seasonal farmers are men and women who have lived off and from the land for generations and they have done it with a lot of hutzpah.

Some folks have chosen to forego seasonal cultivation and have made cannabis a full-time way of life. This is partly due to technology, and a lot of loopholes in the medical marijuana systems that exist in all jurisdictions, as well as good old fashioned greed.

Indoor cannabis cultivation began in the early 80’s with the advance of technology and the heightened demand for a year-round supply. Also, grow stores started popping up in every city in North America. High Times magazine, which was the go-to for all things cannabis back then, began advertising lights, seeds, nutrients, and the big buds and bucks that would come with indoor grows.

It was intoxicating, but it was also extremely high maintenance and high tech. Then there were the costs. Hydro bills rocketed, and mold destroyed many a habitat. Indoor cultivations were not for the timid, technically challenged, or lazy — they were the factory farms of cannabis, even on a small scale.

Enter the new regulations for medical marijuana that began in California and made their way across the US and Canada at an alarming rate. The seasonal farmers of Northern California were always the providers for the more populated regions to the south, and business was booming.

The medical marijuana rules were a direct result of the AIDS epidemic. Since the early 90’s, California has been the frontrunner in the cannabis movement. And even with the failure of Prop. 19, which would have made it the first state to legalize recreationally, it remains the visionary and this is very much due to the efforts made by the seasonal farmers of NorCal.

The imminent legalization and controversial regulations facing California producers reflect similar concerns held by Canadian farmers.

In Canada, the Medical Marihuana Access Regulations (MMAR) created a cottage industry almost entirely based on indoor cultivation. The outdoor medical marijuana cultivator was given some advantages but not nearly enough to make it truly worthwhile, economically and psychologically. Outdoor cultivators were given an increased plant count, and the costs were certainly lower, but it required a considerable amount of privacy and security due to visibility, not to mention the risks of a poor growing season. Thankfully, Health Canada, in the re-vamp of the MMAR — the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulation (MMPR) — have since allowed for greenhouse cultivation, which is both cost effective and environmentally friendly.

The medical marijuana landscape is just the beginning. Where do we go from here? Cannabis will be legal for adult use everywhere eventually, it is happening. Will we build an industry that is conducive to positive environmental practises? Ultimately it will be the consumer who decides.

If the seasonal farmer is to continue to prosper in a regulated market, now is the time to start educating the public about the benefits of sustainably sun grown cannabis. Although this may not matter. During a recent conference in California, Steve DeAngelo pointed out that if farmers are excluded from a legal market, “We’ll take to the hills, like we always have.”

The concerns are legitimate for the regulators, the seasonal cannabis farmers, and the environmentalists who are now becoming more aware of the positive and negative impacts of cannabis cultivation.

The secret beauty of sun grown cannabis farming in a legal framework is that it will not only effectively create a fair market by minimizing the costs to the farmers and the consumers, it will also effectively bring about a shift in how we impact the environment with our cannabis consumer habits.

~See you in the Future~

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