Canada's med-pot, hot or not?
Prairie Plant Systems ? the Canadian government's official pot-grower ? has about 250 kilos of crystally bud packing their shelves. Brent Zettl, the company's co-founder, says that the crop came out even better than he had hoped.
"It is not easy to build a 12,000 square foot chamber deep in a mine, get it security cleared, and then produce a crop that meets the contract obligations in stellar quality within 12 months," Zettl told Cannabis Culture.
Originally, Prairie Plant only intended to produce cannabis for clinical research, but that plan changed when their specialized growing techniques produced way more than the clinical trials could use, partly because the number of approved clinical trials was smaller than expected.
As pot from Prairie Plant gets ready to hit the market, it has been besieged by a wide range of critics, including patients, compassion clubs and competitors.
"One thing it does is set the expectation pretty low, which gives us an opportunity to excel," said Zettl. "We have been criticized for not knowing what we are doing with this particular plant, despite the fact that we have a corporate resume that looks at well over 3,000 different species of plants. We've had to figure out way harder things with way less information going in. We always emphasize quality. We want to make the best that can possibly be made."
Indeed, Prairie Plant's product is testing at higher than the 5-6% maximum THC levels set out by the government under the new Medical Marijuana Access Regulations.
"Preliminary test results have shown that the majority of [the plants] are more than double the percentage [of THC]," Zettl enthused. "The 10-12% range is common. Of course, that is still undergoing verification at this time, and it does go beyond the scope of the contract. But there are provisions within that contract that allow [Health Canada] to receive higher percentage material."
Some critics have claimed that potentially dangerous trace elements from the mines would find their way into Prairie Plant's pot. Zettl, who was raised in a family of organic gardeners, assured Cannabis Culture that his pot is totally clean.
"I guess the question I'd ask," said Zettl, "is what are they basing their criticisms on? No one has any samples of our stuff. It sounds more like a smear campaign. These allegations are completely unfounded."
Zettl then described in detail the meticulous methods used by Prairie Plant to ensure an utterly clean product. "The final thing is that all the material, prior to being distributed, will be tested for all heavy metals. We will do a full profile on the gas chromatograph before sending it out."
Zettl says he has no doubts that the pot will speak for itself. "Criticisms that we are producing substandard stuff will be revealed as quite unsubstantiated once the exemptees receive Prairie Plant-produced material from Health Canada," he said.
Although Zettl claimed the pot will reach patients by May, Health Canada has absolutely no idea how. "It has not been decided yet how [the cannabis] will be distributed," Health Canada spokesperson Andrew Swift told Cannabis Culture. "We are presently evaluating the marijuana to ensure the consistency, potency and a safe and homogeneous supply. We will decide in the coming months how that marijuana will be distributed. There are no details yet on how that will be accomplished, what the options are, or what ones are even being looked at."
Next issue: just how does Prairie Plant grow those buds?