Cannabis lessons from the Netherlands: the silicon valley of greentech

Growing medical cannabis does not only require the right knowledge, it also asks for a commitment that goes beyond ‘mere’ growing. “My mission is to develop affordable medicines for patients,” says Eric Uleman, president of CannNext. “We have an ultramodern cultivation facility in the Netherlands. This is one of the top five indoor growing operations in the world, because we do not use any pesticides, we use LED, and we recycle 100% of the water. We grow a fully organic product that is specifically meant for patients.”

However, growing following such high standards is not easy at all, and this is evident by the small numbers of companies that can actually grow according to those standards. “There are only a handful of companies that can grow at the level necessary for patients,” says Eric. “Most of the medical cannabis is not GMP.”

Consistent quality is key
According to Eric, the number one challenge is growing flowers with consistent quality. “You need to grow a plant with a flower that has exactly that amount of THC, for instance, so that patients get the same effect every time.” There are many elements that factor in when it comes to growing cannabis. “Light, irrigation, temperature, just to name a few,” Eric explains. “We have been conducting extensive research on the elements that influence the growth of the cannabis plant. We have seen that even a difference of 2 degrees in temperature could mean a plant growing well or growing not well. Eventually, many elements can influence the THC components.”

The lack of commonly accepted standards results in cannabis growers that cannot grow a consistent product. “The poultry industry has mastered breeding chickens that constantly weigh 1 kg, for instance,” Eric says. “However, when it comes to growing plants, outlining standards can be a bit trickier – but it does not mean it is impossible.” He further explains that to grow consistent plants, you need to monitor a lot of data very closely, such as light and environment. “This is exactly what we are able to do thanks to our highly computerized facility. But this is only a part of the whole. We combine growing with research: we have a growing and research team which is one of the best in the world, and then we have another team with data analysts. Usually, innovation can be slow in agriculture. But we try to innovate and to push the boundaries of our research on a weekly basis.”

Research showing the way for best practices
Thanks to the extensive knowledge that CannNext has been gathering during its years of activity, the company has been advising and helping companies all around the world. “We not only perform research with our multinational clients, but we also advise them on how to be successful in this highly regulated sector,” Eric explains. “There are a number of cannabis companies that have great plans to tackle the medical cannabis market, but their knowledge of green tech is not as extensive as it should be. We help them in understanding what it means to grow in such a highly modern facility, and to grow consistent plants throughout every cycle. We leverage our knowledge to make companies worldwide successful.”

“It could happen that a company spends a substantial amount of time setting up a business plan, but by the time that is finished, the market has changed. So, they can participate in a research education plan, so we can teach them how not to make mistakes, with regards to configuring the facility and so forth. Companies and operators can participate in this, and we teach them how we grow with this consistency.”

Common mistakes
Eric continues to outline some of the most common mistakes that novel cannabis growers make. “The first one is that some think that they understand climate control for cannabis, while there are different elements that influence growing indoors or in a greenhouse, or even outdoors. The second mistake is that they might have wrong assumptions on how to start the growth – they think they can start immediately with, say, 10,000 plants. But in this way, you can potentially make too many mistakes, especially at the beginning. And of course, the biggest problem of the industry as a whole is a general lack of knowledge when it comes to professionally growing in large-scale operations.”

However, Eric points out that recently, he has definitely seen more mature business plans. “Investors are starting to ask more questions related to cultivation. This is mainly because the cannabis prices are decreasing, and therefore it is necessary to be extremely efficient in order to have a good revenue.”

“As of now, there is an oversupply of mediocre cannabis, and a shortage of premium, high quality cannabis. My mission is about patients, it’s about providing them with what they need. Therefore, producing companies need to strive for perfection, and this is exactly what we teach them here at CannNext.”

For more information:
Gondel Building, Gondel 1
1186MJ Amstelveen, the Netherlands  

Publication date:
© /

Receive the daily newsletter in your email for free | Click here

Other news in this sector:

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber