In February, weeks before COVID-19 was labeled a pandemic and the Canadian securities exchange was sent into a spiral, a group of Canada’s biggest cannabis companies were getting ready to trim production.
In British Columbia., Canopy Growth was getting ready to shut down what was at one time the world’s biggest legal indoor grow facility, a rambling 12-hectare nursery in Aldergrove, near a smaller nursery close by in Delta. The early March terminations laid off 500 workers.
Gone were the hay days of 2018 when the legalization of recreational marijuana was not too far off, and cannabis organizations were so flush with money that Canopy Growth hired planes to fly seedlings from Ontario to British Columbia where their arrival was greeted by the local media that chronicled the event. Independent photographer Jen Osborne shot photos of one of the cargo planes landing and more photos when the seedlings were planted at the Aldergrove nursery (one of her photographs showed up in Maclean’s).
“It wasn’t the look that stunned me, it was the warmth and the vibe; a blend of individuals in suits and underground flower children,” she said. Nearby farm hands tending the harvests were filmed by a group of big name marijuana companies promoting their brands.
“They were discussing how cool everything was,” Osborne said. “I sensed that I was encountering what’s to come.”
Today, the goliath nursery sits idle, and may be sold to a company to grow vegetables. The buyer has yet to be chosen, said Jordan Sinclair, Canopy Growth’s vice president.
Aurora also put the brakes on its Aurora Sun developing office in Medicine Hat, Alberta; the organization initially had reported plans to develop 14.8 hectares in 30 developing plots. Now that has been downsized to six.
The larger growing area cannabis organizations were relying upon to make them the top provider of recreational sales in October 2018 have since faded away. Begging the question, why did Canadian cannabis sales go sideways before the pandemic?