A marijuana cultivator that’s been called the “Tesla of cannabis” is bringing the industry out of the darkness and into the light — literally.
Tantalus Labs, which could start selling product as early as 2018, has wrapped construction on a state-of-the-art cultivation site designed to give marijuana plants the benefits of indoor and outdoor growing. The greenhouse lets sunlight pour in, enabling the plants to grow fuller buds faster.
Shafin Diamond, a prominent Canadian angel investor, gave Tantalus Labs the moniker “Tesla of cannabis” because of the company’s dedication to pioneering new, sustainable technologies. Like the company behind electric cars and aesthetically appealing solar panels, Tantalus Labs optimizes for environmental stewardship.
Marijuana grows well in the outdoors. However, the vast majority of legal cannabis cultivation sites grow their marijuana in indoor facilities.
“Why is it that this industry was driven indoors? The core reason was stealth,” Dan Sutton, founder and managing director of Tantalus Labs, says. “It’s a lot easier to hide plants in basements and in bunkers than to cultivate it in the light, because it is federally illegal.”
Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2000, and the country is working to broaden its program to include recreational use by this spring. The legal market is expected to generate $22.6 billion annually after the recreational market opens up.
Tantalus Labs was founded in 2012 in an effort to advance the way marijuana is cultivated. A team of scientists, designers, and engineers spent over two years designing the facility, and another two years constructing it. They looked to the agriculture industry for best practices.
“We take those core concepts and we iterate on them so we can provide consistency, not only in product output, but in [meeting] a pharmacological standard,” Sutton said.
The non-artificial sunlight helps the plants turn a rich green color and grow productive — or dense — buds. Plus, it helps Tantalus Labs save on electricity.
The facility cycles its air every seven minutes, which helps get rid of pests and prevents stale air from settling around the leaves of the plants and creating mold.
British Columbia gets lots of rain, so Tantalus Labs created a water recapture system on the facility’s 120,000-square-foot roof. The rain is filtered, fed natural fertilizers, and pumped through an irrigation system that waters the plants.
Sutton describes the future buyer as someone who is likely to shop at Whole Foods.
“Nature has done an excellent job of cultivating plants for the last billions of years. The closest we get to a natural strategy, the more effective we are,” Sutton said.