Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB), one of the world’s largest pot producers, said it received the green light from Health Canada to grow cannabis outdoors at sites in Quebec and B.C.
The Edmonton-based cannabis company announced Monday it will be able to plant cannabis at a 207-acre operation in Westwold, B.C. it will call Aurora Valley, and at a 21,000 square-foot field in Lachute, Que. called Eau Aurora.
“Our team plans to use these areas to ensure we are able to consistently grow the high-quality cannabis Aurora has become known for around the world. We’re proud to be a Canadian company and this is a further commitment to research and job creation in Canada,” said Aurora CEO Terry Booth in a release.
Health Canada also awarded outdoor cultivation licences to The Flowr Corp. (TSXV:FLWR) to grow on a 3.5-acre plot in Kelowna, B.C., and Emerald Health Therapeutics (TSXV:EMH) to cultivate on a 12-acre site in Metro Vancouver. Meanwhile, the federal regulator amended Aleafa Health Inc.‘s (TSX: ALEF) licence to increase its outdoor growing space to 25-acres at its Port Perry, Ont. facility.
All three licensed producers will start commercial production immediately with hopes for an early fall cannabis harvest to provide biomass for edible and derivative products that will be legally available for sale in mid-December.
— Health Canada and PHAC (@GovCanHealth) July 12, 2019
Aurora’s R&D obsession
By contrast, Aurora said it won’t be using what’s left of the shortened growing season for commercial production – or potentially the entire outdoor growing season next year – but aims to use the outdoor space for cultivation research to develop new technology, improve genetics and enhance intellectual property.
“For this season and next, our focus will be on researching cultivation methods and evaluating genetics in order to produce high THC and CBD cannabis in outdoor-grown plants, with the ultimate goal of extracting these components,” said Jonathan Page, chief science officer at Aurora.
“The unique climates of each site also presents a great opportunity to determine which cultivars will perform best in different outdoor environments.”
The company said it will also conduct research on cultivation techniques in varying climate conditions and will examine approaches to environmentally sustainable cannabis agriculture.
In addition to the two new outdoor production sites, Aurora also announced it received a Health Canada processing licence for its Aurora Air facility, located near the Edmonton International Airport, and its Aurora Sky growing facility that has a production capacity of 100,000 kilograms per year.
Its new processing facility, Aurora Air, will produce edible products such as gummies and chocolates that will be sold mid-December.
Cheap outdoor weed
Health Canada only began allowing outdoor cultivation in June 2018 due to concerns about theft and to ensure quality control. Since then, several companies have started planting cannabis outdoors including Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX:WEED)(NYSE:CGC)
The Toronto-based company claims its the largest legal cannabis cultivation site in the world where it will harvest 40,000 kilograms annually.
48North also says its outdoor farm will produce the lowest cost cannabis in Canada, which is huge for the industry as Statistics Canada recently showed prices for legal weed are roughly 80 per cent higher than pot from the black market.
Some experts speculate high-quality cannabis can’t be produced from outdoor sites, but that’s why Aurora is taking the slower approach to develop not only lower costing pot, but top-notch stuff as well.
“Because, maybe more so than others, we’re heavy into R&D and we want to get it right,” Page said.