Pubdate: Mon, 28 Aug 2017
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Calgary Sun
Author: Bill Kaufmann
Page: 3


Three years ago, Karen moved her pungent garden into an outbuilding in
the heavily timbered mountains outside Nelson.

Under metal-hooded halide lamps and its own ventilation system, the
woman soil-cultivates about 250 marijuana plants at various stages of
growth, an operation that yields about 14 kg of bud every two months.

"It's not a high-yield cannabis, it's a more specialized, high-CBD
strain," said Karen - not her real name - referring to the marijuana
ingredient considered to have the best medical applications.

She's typical of the trend in the weed-friendly Kootenays; when Karen
planted her first humble crop that yielded less than a kilogram two
decades ago, it was one of many clandestine, illicit gardens in the
verdant region.

Today, the woman who said her foray into cannabis was a way to procure
medicine for an epileptic son, is now a licensed grower who supplies
area dispensaries.

Before the current legal regime existed, Karen was busted by police
and sentenced to house arrest for a year.

But she'd already applied for and received a licence to legally grow
before being sentenced - an example of the cross-pollination and
murkiness that's typified Canada's journey to legal cannabis.

While Nelson police and RCMP say they still enforce the law when
broken by unlicensed growers, "I'm not aware of as many house raids
going on," said Karen.

"It's more relaxed now, definitely. It was more stressful 10 years ago
when there was so much more shadiness."

There's still a need for some anonymity and caution, given the crop's
value. The grow room is kept secret and under surveillance cameras.

"And the workers and trimmers are trusted as they are paid well, not
just for their work but for their discretion," said Karen.

But none of that should obscure the reality that her colleagues are
mainstream, "conscientious, taxpaying, contributing members of society."

They're people who compare their business to the craftsmanship of
micro-brewers, she added.

"Those with 20 or 30 years experience don't see it as a commodity,
it's a passion," said Karen.

She and other growers in the Kootenays are hoping it stays that way.
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