Across Canada, gleaming glass greenhouses that once grew produce for consumers are being retrofitted with air filters and light-blocking shades. Gone are the tomato plants and peppers. In their place are tens of thousands of sun-grown cannabis plants and hundreds of farmworkers transplanting, watering, trimming and packaging pot.
Experts and regulators say driving down the price of legal marijuana will help drive out those cartels and black-market dealers, in part by moving cannabis growing into farmland like Delta's, where high-value crops can be grown more cheaply. It's already happening, to some extent: Three years ago, wholesale marijuana was selling for $2,000 a pound. Retail prices have also dropped as competition increased: In Colorado, for instance, the price of smokable “flower” has dropped 40 percent since January 2014, from $7 a gram to $4.19 a gram today, according to BDS Analytics.
"The price was always set based on risk," said Kyle Speidell, co-founder and CEO of The Green Solution, a 17-store cannabis company based in Colorado that was paying $5,000 a pound for marijuana when it first opened four years ago.
As an increasing number of U.S. states have legalized marijuana, growers are getting more comfortable and scaling up their operations. Indoor growers of both legal and black-market marijuana consumed 4.1 million megawatt-hours of electricity last year, roughly equal to the total electricity generated annually by the Hoover Dam, according to cannabis analytics firm New Frontier Data. The company said electricity costs make up to 20 percent of indoor growing prices, compared with 8 percent for outdoor grows.