Amid the scarred tracts of Alberta’s struggling oil region, an industry is taking shape that could give this part of western Canada an economy that’s a bit more green. Inside the perimeter of Edmonton International Airport, an 800,000-square-foot greenhouse—the size of 16 football fields—is being built. When it’s finished later this year, it will be the biggest marijuana “grow-op” in the world, capable of producing more than 100 tons a year of bud for Canada’s soon-to-be-legalized recreational pot market.
Cannabis is already big business in Canada. The drug was approved for medicinal use 20 years ago, and almost 30 percent of young adults say they use it recreationally. The world’s biggest marijuana companies have grown up in Canada. While the recreational pot business in the eight U.S. states where it’s legal still deals almost entirely in cash, Canada is home to several large pot corporations that trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange.