Inside the BOAZ Cannabis Cultivation Facility
On a snowy Sunday morning outside Calgary, we rolled up to a nondescript building surrounded by a tall fence, topped with razor wire. There's no sign outside so the only thing to indicate that we were in the right place were the many security cameras and fencing, designed to protect the plants busy growing inside. We buzzed into the reception where they were expecting us and the gate slowly rolled open, allowing us entry to the BOAZ cultivation facility.
Inside, we were greeted by several members of what we came to learn is an incredibly dedicated and passionate team.
We were given hair nets, latex gloves, clean room coveralls, and shoe covers to suit up in before entering the growing area, these items we would later swap out before entering each pod to avoid cross-contamination. This wasn’t an effort to protect us from scary and potentially harmful cannabis plants but rather, an effort to protect the precious plants whose flowers are destined to be used as both medicinal and recreational products from us. This is because cannabis flowers or buds are very sticky and attract all sorts of particulates (think dust, hair, skin cells etc) that could be harmful to patients. Cannabis grown in federally licensed facilities like this one observe strict hygiene (and security) guidelines imposed by Health Canada in an effort to produce high quality, standardized, world-renowned bud.
Carefully Cultivated Cannabis
BOAZ has received a cultivation license from Health Canada, allowing them to grow and store cannabis for future sales in the Canadian market. Currently, there are 159 cultivators, processors and sellers that hold a license issued by Health Canada under the Cannabis Regulations listed on Health Canada’s website
The goal for BOAZ is to create truly artisanal cannabis while maintaining Health Canada compliance. The cultivation team hand waters all the plants, the trimmers hand trim every flower, nothing is automated, this is not BIG WEED in the way that we often think of it, but rather a smaller more mom and pop style operation, albeit one that most of us only dream about building. BOAZ is still in the midst of building out their grow rooms or “pods”. Once they are fully operational they’ll have 18 grow pods, 2 nursery pods and 2 drying/curing pods. They expect to produce just under 10,000 kg per year with an average of 800 kg per pod. They’ll be working with about 21000 square feet of grow space.
Inside the Grow Pods
The pods themselves are big and bright, lit with enough lights that if there were no ceiling on the facility, they would be visible from the Space Station. Bethan Rider, Quality Assurance Manager (ARP, QAP) pointed out that the facility is one of ENMAX’s biggest customers and the City of Calgary's biggest energy consumer. On a cold wintery day like the one we were having, I was especially grateful for the heat being generated by those lights. There is something so fantastic and almost magical about spending time in a warm cozy room with hundreds of cannabis plants. Having said that, it’s important to note that BOAZ is taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint by 1) optimizing the lighting system using LEDs and 2) recovering and reusing 60% of water.
As the tour drew to a close, we stopped by the future lab and marveled at the high tech equipment that one day will produce extracts that can then be turned into all manner of products. It’s days like this that remind us just how lucky we are, not only to have this amazing job where we get to talk about weed all day but because we live in a country that is progressive enough to recognize that cannabis prohibition was wrong and caused more harm than good. We’re thrilled that companies like BOAZ exist and are creating jobs in their communities and clean, quality products for Canadians.