The numbers of medical marijuana growers and users are fast on the rise and one local grower is banking on this booming business for his B.C. bud.
Statistics just released to Pique by Health Canada suggest that more medicinal marijuana growers are getting ready for legislative changes to the industry in the next two years.
One Sea to Sky grower has convinced others of the potential of pot.
Together with his investors, he has set up a small grow op facility in the Sea to Sky corridor, producing a couple of pounds of legal medical marijuana per cycle — about every two months — for a "limited number of patients" as allowed by Health Canada.
But there's no money in that. And so, they are biding their time, banking on the signals from the federal government that big changes to the medical marijuana industry are in the pipeline — ones that will see them capitalize on this early groundwork as Canada moves towards a system of bigger, more regulated, commercial growers of the medicinal plant.
"I figured that if I'm going to be competitive when that comes around then we need to start developing facilities now that are going to meet what I anticipate are going to be the requirements for commercial grow facilities, and also start developing a variety of strains because when the market opens up to all these medical patients... it's going to be a competitive market," said the local grower.
"You're going to be competing with other guys who are really good at growing pot and have a variety of strains to offer and patients are going to be selective about where those come from. So I figure if I don't have my ducks in a row now then when that change comes about, it'll be too late."
Pique has agreed to conceal the grower's identity and the location of his facility for security reasons.
"(The location) is appropriately chosen to take into consideration things about safety and security and the wellbeing of the community," he said. "That sounds like bullshit but it's true. I don't want it to burn down. I don't want anybody to be bothered by it. I want to ensure I'm running a safe and secure facility."
It is, he said, up to code, meeting fire, building and electrical requirements.
The facility is "modular" — built to a certain size right now with more space to expand in the future. The medical marijuana licenses are tucked into a folder on the wall, ready proof that this is a legitimate business.
But as legitimate as it is, the business of medical marijuana is still an underground one.
"Right now everyone operates under the radar," he said. "The whole entire community of medical growers operates on the hush-hush."