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Amir Abbas-Khan, J. Huete International:

What to consider in greenhouse projects for medical cannabis cultivation

"The issuing of new licenses for new medical cannabis projects is becoming frequent. This sector and market have not yet reached their full potential and are still in their infancy in most countries, with a few exceptions such as the United States, which has a longer track record," says Amir Abbas-Khan, Medical Cannabis Project Manager at J. Huete International.

According to Amir, medical cannabis projects bring together fundamental, even decisive, aspects when it comes to ensuring success in the operation and also in the design and construction of the facilities. "The concern to avoid problems and comply with all requirements is growing, which is why projects are becoming more and more demanding. And now even more so because of the serious energy problems."

Specifications to take into account
"Some of these aspects are the standards and protocols, both GACP and GMP, as well as other obvious aspects such as the control of the physical, chemical, and biological parameters of the crop," says Amir.

"In other words, not only is it important to comply with all international and local standards to be able to produce and export, but we must also ensure that parameters such as temperature, relative humidity, DLI, and CO2 concentration are controlled as precisely as possible."

"It is possible to further increase the degree of success of the project by controlling the air quality through filtration, creating positive pressure, as we must not forget that this is the pharmaceutical sector and every precaution is a precaution in itself."

The majority of clients are usually aware of these variables and their importance in medical cannabis projects, but they do not do the same when they consider the operation of their future greenhouse or its logistics, Amir says.

"For example, the management of harvests is usually studied and taken into account so that projects are designed to be able to meet the proposed objectives of harvesting frequency and, therefore, supply of the final product. To this end, a certain number of compartments is foreseen, which is necessary for this purpose. However, despite designing the projects taking into account the harvesting frequency of the cycle of the plant, or rather of the genetics in question, as they can have a short or long cycle, there are a series of factors and activities that can alter what had been previously designed," Amir says.

"In other words, we must take into account the duration of cleaning and disinfection of the compartments that have already been harvested and whose raw material is taken to the processing line, but this is not the only thing we must take into account. It is well known by professionals in the sector that different types of coatings are chosen according to the climatic characteristics of the region in question since it is not the same to use plastic, double plastic chamber, polycarbonate, or glass. In this case, we will not go into the technical characteristics of all the existing coating alternatives, but we will focus on the useful life of the coatings and mention other specifications above to facilitate a better understanding of the importance of this choice."

Amir explains that in the case of polycarbonate, you can assume a useful life of 10 years, although this material will lose its characteristics more quickly compared to plastic, whose useful life is shorter, being 3 to 4 years depending on the radiation that reaches the property and depending on whether it is a layer of plastic or if you install a double plastic chamber.

"On the other hand, we have glass, known as Venlo. Its useful life is also longer than that of plastic, but it is not advisable to use it in certain regions of the world," Amir says. Why? "Because it is not easy to manage some parameters such as relative humidity and therefore the air renovations increase. This can lead to problems if we do not control the renovations biologically. Moreover, it is not a material that is suitable for insulating rooms from the cold. The same happens when we want to keep the heat in, being better than simple plastic, but has worse insulating characteristics if we compare it with polycarbonate or double plastic chamber since both solutions provide similar levels of insulation."

This type of coating, Venlo, is more common in areas such as Canada, the Netherlands or Eastern Europe, where there is a lack of solar radiation. This is because the glass loses its light transmission characteristics less rapidly, Amir explains.

"As a result of the above, it is common for customers planning to locate their projects in certain parts of the world to opt for polycarbonate on the perimeter because of its durability and lower risk of breakage, but since the main advantage of greenhouses is the use of natural light, as well as the lower cost compared to indoor growing, it is common to use plastic or double plastic for the roof covering, as it has higher light transmission than polycarbonate and is cheaper than polycarbonate and glass," Amir concludes.

For more information:
J. Huete International

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