The burning debate over legalizing marijuana was on full display last week. HBO’s Real Time host Bill Maher sparked up a joint on TV, blowing smoke in the face of lawmakers and challenging them to come to their senses.
Here in Canada, Bill Blair, Toronto’s former top cop, has been put in charge of the pot portfolio. Blair has repeated, in multiple interviews, that while he supports legalization, the emphasis will be on “control” and “strict regulation” — something the current marijuana industry knows all too well.
I decided to strap on a lab coat and hairnet to obtain an inside look at one of Canada’s fastest-growing industries: The bud business.
Pulling up to the front gates of Aphria Inc. (LP), one of Canada’s leading medical marijuana producers, it looked like any other greenhouse in the Leamington, Ont., area, aside from the barbwire-lined fences. Leamington may be the “Tomato Capital of Canada,” but this new crop of farming is surely a sign of change to come.
When I walked through the front door, the aroma alerted my nose as to what was growing behind the walls. At times, the scent of weed was overpowering and at other points, pleasantly fragrant.
Once I passed through a multitude of security checkpoints and entered the growing room, I became keenly aware of the hi-def cameras following my every move. A sprawling half acre of medical cannabis plants and state-of-the-art man-made ecosystem is laid out as far as the eye can see. They use the power of natural sunlight combined with climate control systems to produce different strains and potency of medicine.