There’s a place where you can buy medical marijuana without any worries, a place where the people growing marijuana wear laboratory-style “clean suits,” where scientists do extensive research into potential treatments using cannabis, and where marijuana business owners can put their cash into a bank account instead of a vault.
We don’t have a roadblock in regards to banking; we don’t have a roadblock in terms of conflict between state and federal law,” said Brendan Kennedy, president of Tilray, which runs a 60,000-square-foot, indoor marijuana facility in Nanaimo, British Columbia.
Tilray produces and sells medical marijuana to 4,000 patients through a facility that can produce 4,000 kilograms of pot a year. It opened last year after the Canadian government decided to farm out medical marijuana production to privately run facilities. “We’re one of 15 companies licensed to produce cannabis for patients,” Kennedy said.
“We like tight, tough regulations, but we also like clarity, and there just isn’t the type of clarity that we see in Canada … in the U.S.,” he said.
Kennedy took 18 KARAT REGGAE on a tour of Tilray’s state-of-the-art facility. “This is a narcotics vault,” he said, standing above a room surrounded by 10 inches of concrete and rebar, in a complex surrounded by 140 security cameras and a badge entry system that evokes Fort Knox.
“It’s a vault which can store up to $35 million worth of narcotics,” he said.
Tilray has 40 grow rooms where employees where “clean suits” like you’d see at a Silicon Valley microchip facility. Grow lights in the room where “clones,” or seedlings, are potted and have lights that burn brighter than sunlight at the equator. They run 24 hours a day with plenty of C02 filtered in to provide an effective growth environment.
Eades said Tilray can research cannabis in ways not allowed in the U.S., opening up the possibility of future medical treatments. He said there are “huge gaps” in knowledge about the properties of cannabis.
“We want to be leading the cutting edge of research in order to fill those gaps,” he said. Later this year, Tilray executives said they will partner with the University of British Columbia to study the effects of marijuana on post-traumatic stress disorder among Canadian military veterans.
Canada does have limits to its tolerance of cannabis. Insurance will not reimburse for medical marijuana, and patients can buy it only in herb form. No edibles or extracts are allowed.