Medicinal cannabis became legal in Denmark on New Year's, and one of the country’s most prolific family-run farms is already making the transition from tomatoes to THC.
Only two weeks into 2018, the new year has already brought big news for the cannabis industry, from adult-use sales in California and legal weed legislation in Vermont, to the persistent threats of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And that’s only the United States. In Denmark, January 1st ushered in a new era, too, and it marked the start of a four-year trial to legalize medicinal cannabis, a program that has already prompted one of the country’s most successful tomato farmers to go green.
According to Denmark’s The Local, Mads Pedersen, a fourth-generation tomato farmer and the current director of Alfred Pedersen and Son Produce is already in the midst of transitioning part of the decades-old business to support the cultivation of medical cannabis. Nicknamed the “Tomato King,” Pedersen is confident that his lifetime of red fruit expertise has already prepared him for success in the country’s brand new cannabis industry.
“We are working and planting in advance,” Pedersen told Denmark’s TV2. “We have logistics and climate already in place [from the company’s tomato farm], and that is the same thing you need with regard to cannabis in order to deliver the quality patients need.”
With Denmark’s brand new medical marijuana trial run, Pedersen hopes to become the country’s largest producer of the sweet leaf. Wasting no time, Pedersen and Son have already begun construction on a new $33.5 million euro ($41 million) cannabis cultivation facility that’s the size of 13 combined soccer pitches (which is, apparently, how they measure things in Denmark). When all is said and done, Pedersen says the family-run cannabis farm will have upwards of 150 employees.
But while Pedersen is already well on his way to diversifying his tomato kingdom to include cannabis, Denmark’s doctor’s have been significantly slower to welcome the newly legal cash crop. According to the Copenhagen Post, even with government-approval, doctors across the country have largely refused to prescribe medical marijuana to their patients, citing worries about safety and moral “principal” for their anti-ganja stance.
“We know nothing about dosage, length of treatment, side effects, and long-term effects, whether there are precautionary rules in relation to other treatments or questions of addiction,” Danish Medical Association chairperson Andreas Rudkjøbing told TV2.
Still, with support from Denmark’s federal government, ganjapreneurs are paying little mind to the precautious doctors.
To fill in any knowledge gaps in the company’s agricultural evolution, Pedersen and his tomato farm have teamed up with Canada’s Aurora Cannabis, the owners and operators of the Great White North’s largest cannabis grow-house, Aurora Sky. With Aurora’s expertise in constructing compliant structures for cultivation and distributing the still-controversial medicine, Pedersen is hopeful the collaboration will be, well, fruitful.
“They know about the clinical medicine,” Pedersen told TV2. “What we know about is the climate aspect, which enables us to ensure the quality of our products from the ground to the table.”
Pedersen and Son’s cannabis facility is slated to be completely finished and producing medical marijuana by next year, giving the Tomato King at least three years to claim Denmark’s cannabis crown before the country’s medical marijuana trial period is either extended or comes to a close.
“I think this is a chance that comes once in a lifetime,” Pedersen told TV2. “To work with a product that makes a difference.”
By Zach Harris – Merry Jane