From Tomato King To Cannabis Kaiser - Inside Europe's Largest Medicinal Cannabis Farm© Alastair Philip Wiper
Mads Pedersen, a third generation tomato grower, is the owner of Scandinavia’s largest tomato growing empire, Alfred Pedersen & Sons. Five years ago Mads attended a conference of investors in Canada where a ten year old boy described the way that illegally obtained marijuana had ended his forty epileptic seizures per day, and allowed him to live life free from disability. “He was standing in front of 60 grown men and he was crying, and the audience was crying as well,” says Mads. “It was very emotional.”
Mads was hooked, and realised that most of the legal producers had moved from the underground and were not using optimal techniques and facilities. “I said OK, if they can grow it here then I can grow it much better in a greenhouse. Our family has grown in a controlled environment for 70 years”. Mads’ new business interest coincided with a huge surge in Danish public interest - and political debate - about medical cannabis, and just as his plans were coming to fruition the Danish parliament began issuing trial licenses to produce medical cannabis. Mads snapped up the first one. “It was just the right timing,” says Mads. “It was just luck.”
Mads formed a partnership with an experienced Canadian producer and together they formed “Aurora Nordic”. They quickly built a complex of huge greenhouses next to his tomato growing facilities close to Odense, a couple of hours from Copenhagen. “The one we’re using now is 5,000 square meters, and in a couple of weeks we will have 5,000 more. We are also building a 50,000 square meter facility 2 km from here.” That’s a lot of weed. The facility grows ten different strains of cannabis, which are very similar to the ones you would find in an Amsterdam coffee shop, and from these plants ten different products are produced. "Some with high THC, some with a high THC low CPD, and some with high CPD and low THC, and some hybrids” explains Mads.
“Eight out ten of the employees we have here are here because they have some aunt or mother or father or friend that has had a positive impact from medical cannabis” continues Mads. “They’re all very passionate because they found out that this really makes a difference to peoples lives” And what about Mads’ experience? “ I did try it when I was very young” he smiles. “But I was not a regular, no."
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