Innovative Cultivators: Canabis Crops

Most people wouldn’t willingly file their income taxes under the category of “marijuana grower,” but Eric Nash and his wife Wendy Little aren’t most people. The Vancouver Island residents are bona fide organic pot producers, legally selling their product to Health Canada-approved patients who use cannabis to ease medical discomfort. Not the most ordinary of occupations for a small-town web designer and a teacher. The pair didn’t originally plan on becoming one of B.C.’s premier cannabis producers, but when one of Little’s relatives fell ill in 2001 they researched the medicinal benefits of the drug and decided they wanted to help. “We are definitely forging our own path,” says Nash from his Vancouver Island home, the exact location of which he keeps secret. “We declare all our income on our cannabis, we pay taxes on our cannabis, so yeah, it’s quite innovative.” Government regulations restrict Island Harvest to a production of 45 plants, but it previously grew up to 90, when the policy was more flexible. From an initial investment of $3,000, the duo have mastered the art of growing the plant with no major setbacks, and since 2002 have sold approximately $30,000 to $40,000 worth of pot. It costs them $1.29 a gram to propagate their seeds, which they sell directly to patients for $3.50 to $4.00 a gram. The cannabis is packaged at an off-site growing operation and is mailed to recipients directly through Canada Post’s marijuana shipping program. Their competition is the federal government, which grows its own marijuana at the Flin Flon Mine in Manitoba; a handful of compassion clubs; and other private growers across the country. Nash says a high user-to-producer ratio means there is more than enough room for everyone involved to make a living, especially if the ­government relaxes its growing limitations. Nash says Island Harvest follows the same business principles as any other company. “We adhere to high crop production standards and provide a good quality product to people that, from a consumer perspective, works well for their specific condition,” he says. “Basically it’s all about providing the consumer with a clean organic product that works well for their medical ­condition.”