Canada’s record-breaking heatwave may have decimated food and vegetable crops in British Columbia, but cannabis plants are thriving in the hot, smoky conditions.

Dunesberry Farms owner Bill Bilton told The Independent his new crop has flourished in recent weeks, despite the extreme heat and smoke.

“The plants actually like the smoke because it’s full of carbon dioxide,” he said. “It’s a perfect combo, because we’re getting sunlight, plus the carbon dioxide.”

Bill Bilton (image: Ashleigh Stewart)

Inland British Columbia’s mild, sunny climate is a favoured spot for cannabis growers, with around 70 licensed cultivators operating across the province. In 2019, cannabis production and retail contributed approximately C$2.4 billion to BC’s gross domestic product.

Bilton said plants in a crop planted a month ago have grown more than 30 centimetres in the 10 days since the heatwave began – far more than in normal conditions.

“It’s the industry’s secret recipe. If you’re in a casino, they pump it full of oxygen to keep you awake. In the cannabis industry, you pump out carbon dioxide. You can actually get 30% bigger plants and therefore a bigger yield that way – but it’s got to be the right amount.”

According to Bilton, the ‘right amount’ is a light smokiness in the air – anything more than that and the plant’s resin absorbs the smoke, altering its flavour.

“If it’s super smoky, way worse than this, then there’s a slight chance that the plant actually takes on a smoky flavour. But some people like that – it’s like a smoky wine.”

Even then, he said, that would only affect his recreational flower – around five to 10% of his crop. The rest is used for oil extraction.

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

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