Cannabis Conversations: Is Sun-Grown the Sustainable Future of Cannabis?

Sun-grown cannabis uses 90% less electricity than the industry norm of growing indoors. In the first part of our Cannabis Conversations series, we visit Tantalus Labs, a pioneer in the sun-grown cannabis movement.

City & People

With national legalization a month away, the conversation surrounding cannabis couldn’t be more relevant to Canadians. There are many questions surrounding laws, education, health, business, economics, tech, and more, we’ll be answering them through our new Cannabis Conversations series.

Based in Maple Ridge, B.C., Tantalus Labs is the world’s first greenhouse specifically designed and built for cannabis cultivation. We met their founder and CEO Dan Sutton to discuss what makes Tantalus Labs and British Columbia unique in the cannabis industry.

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An inside look of Tantalus Labs. (The MIX/Ross Allen)

In mid-2012, Sutton recognized the opportunity to advance cannabis in a more sustainable way, that benefits the environment, plants, and people involved. Many in the cannabis industry believed the idea of pursuing greenhouses was crazy and that it was necessary to stick with the industry standard of indoor growing. “When we first started looking at this problem, we realized that about 90% of the cannabis in North America is cultivated indoors,” said Sutton. “There’s no real agricultural reason to do that. It’s largely a function of stealth and a desire to keep the illicit operations out of the prying eyes of law enforcement. We thought this was a cool opportunity to see if there are any other agricultural solutions. We came up with cultivating cannabis in environmentally controlled greenhouses.”

The Washington Times reported that in the States, 1% of national electricity use goes to cannabis production, costing about $6 billion. Greenhouse-grown cannabis can save upwards of 90% in electricity use. Dan noted we don’t grow tomatoes in warehouses or basements, but bringing cannabis into the world of greenhouse-grown plants came with its own set of challenges.

“The future of cannabis is certainly sun grown. The era of large-scale, indoor cultivation is over. It’s economically uncompetitive. The quality differentiation is far from substantial and likely to be surpassed.”

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Outside drone shot of SunLab. (The MIX/Ross Allen)

In order to create a more sustainable cultivation process, Tantalus Labs faced new agricultural challenges that indoor growers never had. This included having to sacrifice the convenience of energy-guzzling equipment like indoor lighting and air conditioning. They took the greenhouse concept back to the drawing board to see what works and what doesn’t for cannabis.

Like Tesla, Tantalus took a risk to achieve something that benefits all stakeholders, from customers, investors, collaborators, and the environment. Electric cars aren’t a new concept and neither are greenhouses. When Tesla’s Model S hit the market, the auto industry was forced to step up. By (successfully) pushing past the norm, tantalus Labs is setting a new bar in the industry for a more sustainable future.

“Instead of focusing on what we need to know. We focus on being able to adapt to the new things that we learn. And you’re never going to figure it all out because the government hasn’t figured it all out. And the operators that exist currently haven’t figured it all out. “

Marijuana plants inside the greenhouse. (The MIX/Ross Allen)After four years of design and construction, the first SunLab started growing. On top of the reduction in energy use, sunlight provides full-spectrum light. Giving their plants the ideal photosynthetic input, which is something the most advanced indoor lighting can only imitate. To save water along with electricity, the plants are fed with pure, filtered rainwater. Tantalus Plans to eventually expand their sustainable design to locations around the world.

“If we can crack this nut and cultivate cannabis at scale without the use of pesticides… That alone has so much potential value in a globalizing and ultimately socially-progressive cannabis movement that we’re now seeing have implications on every corner of our earth.”

On September 12th, 2018, Tantalus Range, their first sun-grown, rain-fed, pesticide-free cannabis product line was released through an e-commerce membership program called Tantalus Prime. Their exclusive, B.C.-based, medical cannabis strains are now legally express-delivered across Canada.

“We’re just trying to get really good at solving novel problems. [We had] to re-engineer and innovate a lot of new ways to take the amazing cannabis genetic history of British Columbia and honour it. Make sure we’re putting out product that is proudly B.C. Bud. which is a global brand that is synonymous with excellence in cannabis.”

Like Tesla, Tantalus took a risk their competitors wouldn’t, to achieve something that benefits all stakeholders, from customers, investors, collaborators, and the environment. Electric cars aren’t a new concept and neither are greenhouses. When Tesla’s Model S hit the market, the auto industry was forced to step up. By (successfully) pushing past the norm, Tantalus is setting a new bar in the cannabis industry for a more sustainable future.

For more information on Tantalus Labs, be sure to check out their social media pages below.

Tantalus Labs

Website: Tantalus Labs
Facebook: Tantalus Labs
Twitter: @tantaluslabs
Instagram: @tantaluslabs