The Great White North is about to give the global market a new product: Canadian marijuana. Aurora Sky, a gigantic 800,000-square-foot cannabis cultivation facility in close proximity to Edmonton International Airport, has erected approximately 80 percent of its planned greenhouses, with six of its 17 growing bays completed already.
Aurora Sky’s parent company, Aurora Cannabis, currently has another facility in Mountain View County with roughly 55,000 square feet available for production. Each of Aurora Sky’s growing bays will be much larger than the current operation’s entire grow space. The company claims it is the largest production facility for cannabis in the world.
Cam Battley, vice president of Aurora Sky, is most enthusiastic about how Canada is now in the running to become a world leader in the medical marijuana industry. She said, “I have spent my whole career in biotech and farming and I have never seen anything like this. We are literally inventing a new industry in real time.”
Canada can thank its government for Health Canada. One of the main reasons that the country is about to lead the world in medical marijuana sales is because of its reputation. Health Canada is already famous for its strict regulations governing quality control. Every cannabis connoisseur anywhere knows that Canadian weed promises the highest quality.
“Because Canada has these established and licensed producers, that are so highly and successfully regulated by Health Canada, we are trusted internationally,” Battley explained. More importantly, however, pending legalization gives the country a competitive edge over its larger, often domineering neighbor, the United States.
Despite more than half of all 50 states legalizing medical weed, with eight permitting recreational use, it remains a federally illegal substance in the United States. Under federal law, states are unable to export cannabis abroad, restricting sales to legal states exclusively. This huge limitation prevents global sales, and it makes it difficult for marijuana companies to access capital or financial services from big banks.
While the United States dilly-dallies, Aurora is busily targeting the German market already. Pedanios, its German-based subsidiary, has plans to export products into the country. According to Battley, “We are actually in the tender process right now to become a German domestic supplier.” Aurora Sky will not be an average operation. In fact, it is likely to shake the entire industry.
The company is going high-tech. Built on a Dutch closed-system design, its greenhouses accurately and precisely measure and control all aspects of cannabis cultivation, including light, temperature, nutrient requirements, and even humidity. “This is not only going to be the world’s largest capacity cannabis production facility, but also the most advanced and high tech in the world,” Battley claims.
The greenhouses will not require human interference at all. In fact, no people will even enter them. To decrease the risk of potential contamination, robotic cranes will be solely responsible for moving and retrieving plants. They will have cameras attached to high-tech software, which will help identify any symptoms of stress or disease in plants.
According to Battley, “We are using technologies here that have never been used in agriculture.” Aurora Sky plans to reach full capacity as early as the latter months of 2018, and the moment legalization happens, the company will begin selling to the global consumer market. Right now, the only country even close to providing any sort of real competition for Canadian marijuana is the Netherlands.
This lack of competition leaves the market literally wide open for Canada to take advantage of, and this fact is one that Battley feels very good about. “There is a patriotic aspect to this that I feel very strongly about, and Canada is by far the leader in it,” she said. One thing is certain, the world waits in anticipation for Canadian quality to become legally and globally accessible.