To mark the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, we check in with some of the key players in the B.C. cannabis world. From pot growers to government officials to medical professionals, meet the people helping move the industry forward and keep British Columbians safe. Today’s subject is Dan Sutton, founder and managing director of Tantalus Labs
From the big operations to your middle-aged neighbour down the street who grows a few plants and hawks the extras for a profit, any entity that grows cannabis and sells it is a marriage of economics and agriculture.
So when Dan Sutton, an economics graduate from UVic, started looking at getting involved in the cannabis industry in 2012, he called on his uncle, a 40-year veteran of B.C.’s forestry industry who worked mostly in greenhouses, creating genetically uniform tree cuttings for planting. “We have some of the most advanced greenhouse technology and farming specialists in North America here, and it’s not actually widely known how leading-edge the B.C. greenhouse industry is,” Sutton says.
Vancouver-based licensed producer Tantalus Labs put a lot of work into its SunLab facility in Maple Ridge, which he calls “the first of its kind.” SunLab is an environmentally controlled greenhouse, engineered to grow cannabis using sunlight and rainwater.
For Sutton, the privately held (for now), 24-person (again, for now) operation represents B.C. bud, and the Vancouver native takes great pride in heading a team made up almost entirely of British Columbians. “But then also, it’s a huge responsibility. We have to come correct with that product and make sure people are looking at Tantalus and saying that’s a great representation of what B.C. bud is.”
Sutton believes that with legalization, his product will rise to the top of the many offerings in B.C. and elsewhere in the country. That’s mostly thanks to Tantalus’s intensive processes, he asserts. “Our differentiator is just a thousand tiny decisions that we’ve made over the course of the life of our business,” Sutton says. “We flower our plants a little longer, we run our dry times really long–these things of forgoing a mandate of maximizing productivity to pursue a more quality oriented strategy.”