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The Greenhouse Effect: Pros & Cons of High-Tech Facilities


By: Gregory D. Thomas, Esq.

In the past several months, I have received a number inquiries about the possibility of starting greenhouse grow operations inside and outside of Colorado. While most of these inquirers were already set on a greenhouse cultivation operation versus an outdoor or warehouse facility, it was clear that very few of these prospective operators had given serious thought to the type of grow option or greenhouse they should choose.


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There are many factors to consider when selecting a cultivation facility, including cost, return on investment, location, local ordinances, efficiency, and quality of product, to name a few. Greenhouses may not be the perfect solution, but they can satisfy many of these considerations.

According to an article in the Marijuana Business Daily, many marijuana growers believe a high-quality crop can be grown in a greenhouse; one as good can be cultivated in an indoor illuminated operation. Dutch greenhouses apparently dominate the industry because of their emphasis on sophistication and quality. They focus on hygiene control, air-tightness (to maintain high CO2 levels), and brightness (the more light, the greater the yield). Greenhouse operations that hold these traits are typically the most cost-efficient facilities, especially operations that produce high-grade product year round. Additionally, it is believed the demand for high-grade product will increase with a more competitive market as lower quality marijuana products are pushed out.

However, high-tech greenhouses do not come cheap. The cost of a Dutch facility can be 20%-40% higher than a conventional facility and delivery lead times are longer. Operational costs can be higher for a high-tech facility as well, whether you are growing in a humid, seasonal state such as Maryland, or a relatively uniform, dry climate, such as Colorado or Arizona. On the bright side of the expense equation, an operator can achieve a positive return on investment in about a year depending on the location of the facility.

The size of a greenhouse depends on how much yield an operator wants to achieve. A general rule is that one ton of product can be produced annually in a 10,000 square foot facility, not including support areas for potting, trimming, packaging, etc. Of course, no greenhouse, large or small, high-tech or otherwise, makes sense if the local jurisdiction will not allow it.

So, before you decide on that sophisticated Dutch greenhouse facility, check with the local licensing authority, determine whether you will grow mid-grade or high-quality product, consider how large of an operation you want, and make sure you have sufficient time and money to make it all happen.

For additional consultation on the above or related matters, please contact an experienced Marijuana business professional at Feldman Nagel, LLC.

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