British Columbia

Medical marijuana a gamble, says B.C.'s 1st licensed grower

CBC Radio took an exclusive tour of Canna Farms in the Fraser Valley, B.C.'s first federally licenced medical marijuana producer.

CBC Radio took an exclusive tour of Canna Farms in the Fraser Valley

Four-week-old "Red Cherry Berry" marijuana plants growing at Canna Farms in the Fraser Valley. (Canna Farms)

The first B.C. company with a new federal licence to grow medical marijuana says the budding industry is full of uncertainties.

Dan Laflamme, part-owner of Canna Farms, says the market for medical marijuana is still unclear.

"Right now, there's only 40,000 patients, and how many of them are actually going to use the system?" Laflamme said.

"We've received many phone calls from people that are happy with the system and many that are not. We know the system's not for everyone, and all we can do is do our best to provide quality product at a reasonable cost."

There is speculation that medical marijuana users could continue to grow in homes, even though that will be illegal come April 1. Under the new federal regulations only licensed commercial operations will be legally allowed to grow marijuana for medical users.

Laflamme says his dried marijuana will sell for between $5 and $7.50 per gram and he's eventually hoping to produce 700 kilograms per year.

Four producers licenced in B.C.

CBC Radio recently took an exclusive tour of the Canna Farms facility in the Fraser Valley where they are growing about 2,000 plants, with strains ranging from Master Kush to Lemon Skunk.

A week-old "Pure Kush" marijuana seedling at Canna Farms. (Canna Farms)

Three other producers have now been licensed in B.C., including one in Whistler and one on Southern Vancouver Island, and 159 are in the application process.

Laflamme says he's purposely kept his facility small, when compared with producers such as Tweed Inc. in Smith Falls, Ontario, which is planning to seek a listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"I think it's a fairly large gamble if you're going large-scale," he said, adding that pest prevention could be a challenge for producers because of a lack of approved pesticides.

High-security operation

Security is also a worry. Canna Farms has a lock on every door, and CBC agreed not to disclose its location because of security concerns.

Despite the risks of his new industry, Laflamme says it's worth it.

It feels good to be able to do this legally and properly- Dan Laflamme, part-owner of Canna Farms

"It feels good to be able to do this legally and properly. It's always been a passion, so you can't ask for much more," he said.

It appears his passion has found a market. Laflamme says he's been swamped with calls and emails since being licensed.

In fact, there's been so much interest that Canna Farms had to temporarily suspend registration. They plan to start accepting new patients this summer.