Health Canada has given the OK to Tantalus Labs to start growing medical marijuana at its greenhouse operation on 272nd Street in east Maple Ridge, the company said Monday.
Tantalus Labs, based out of Vancouver, received permission under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations.
The company completed construction of its 75,000-sq. foot greenhouse operation last year, over the objections of Whonnock residents who feared an impact on the groundwater which supplies their homes.
Tantulus received a water licence late last year to draw out about 5,200 cubic metres of water a year from the Grant Hill aquifer.
That amount approved will not affect other water users in the area, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said then.
The company, though, will use the roof of the greenhouses to collect rainwater, which it will then filter and store and use as the primary water source for irrigating crops and to reduce demand on the aquifer.
Dan Sutton said Tuesday that the company will have the facility’s first crop planted by the end of June. It will take about three months to grow before its ready for processing and sale to medical marijuana customers.
It’s now making some key hires and could have between 30 and 50 people eventually working at the greenhouse.
The company will start fundraising t0 help launch its first crop, although it’s not in desperate need of capital.
Tantalus says its operation is unique because it uses sunlight and greenhouses, instead of artificial light, to produce pot.
“We’re the first cannabis-tailored, industrial greenhouse in B.C. history,” Sutton said.
While the neighbours rallied against the operation, Sutton said he hasn’t heard anything in the past six months. The rainwater recapture system reassured residents, he added.
He said the company is ready to respond when Canada legalizes recreational marijuana, something expected a year from now.
“We are licenced to provide the medical marketplace at this time, and as that marketplace shifts and evolves, we will adapt to it.
“If Canada legalizes cannabis … Tantalus Labs is ready to adapt to those new challenges and opportunities.”
Thornhill resident Betty von Hardenberg, with the Thornill Aquifer Protection Study, was disappointed “with the outcome of all of the efforts of everyone to ensure our water source would be protected.”
She still has concerns about the effect on the aquifer and said the company’s water rainwater recapture plan remains unproven.
“The former [Maple Ridge] council could have done something [to prevent that location], but they chose not to,” she added.
Other cities have been able to direct where medical marijuana operations go within the Agricultural Land Reserve, she pointed out.