Harvest Time at South American Historical Medical Cannabis Plantation
In the northern hemisphere, all thoughts are on Spring and the new outdoor planting season. However, in the southern hemisphere, March and April means the beginning of Autumn and marijuana harvest time.
In a quiet suburb of Santiago, the capital of Chile, a quiet revolution has been taking place since last September. On a small plot of land 400 marijuana plants have been growing big and fat in the summer sun. These plants form the basis of Latin America's first legal cannabis grow, organized by The Daya Foundation (Fundación Daya), which will provide cannabis oil to treat 200 patients with cancer.
Daya Foundation's First Legal Medical Cannabis Rollercoaster Ride
When the Daya Foundation got the license for the medical cannabis grow for the Municipality of La Florida (a suburb of Santiago) they did not realise how much attention would come from the world media. Since September, their project has been the focus of news reports from all over Latin and North America, Europe and as far away as India and Japan.
The Daya Foundation project may have also influenced recent political events in Chile. The House of Deputies recently voted to recommend adjustments which could lead to the relaxation of anti cannabis laws if approved by the Chilean Congress. These include allowing the growing of up to 6 plants for personal recreational or medical use.
As Daya Foundation director, Nicolas Dormal says, "At each step we have had more interest. Because this is a new project it has been tough at times. It is like putting a jigsaw together for the first time - making all the pieces fit together. We are working with doctors, health authorities, politicians and of course learning lessons from growing cannabis on this scale. But if we get things right now, step by step, then we have a blueprint for the future."
Along the way the grow has had its share of problems to overcome including epic storms in March that threatened to spoil the harvest. Luckily the Daya gardeners were able to minimise the damage and the result is a yield that is expected to provide 120 kilos off the 400 cannabis plants grown from varieties provided by Paradise Seeds.
Nicolas explains that the Daya Foundation has ambitious plans for expansion. "The medical cannabis industry is so new we want to put in place an innovative model to show the rest of Latin America (and maybe even the world). We plan to buy some land and expand the grow next season. We are talking to other Municipalities around Chile and hope to have 20 enter into the project, each financing 'their part' of the grow. In return they will get cannabis extracts to treat patients in their district."
"Not only will this will reduce the costs of producing the medicine, but it will mean that the next grow will provide enough cannabis oil to treat 4000 patients. We hope that once the cannabis extract is stabilized in the laboratory we can provide a generic medicine for future use by medical patients in Chile."
120 kilos of Medical Marijuana
So it has been harvest time at the Daya plot since mid March and the results have been fantastic. The 120 kilos of bud that have been harvested will be sent to the laboratory this month (with a police escort) where medical cannabis oil will be extracted to treat the medical patients of the Municipality of La Florida.
Paradise Seeds has been involved in the project from the start, as detailed in our South America article earlier this year. Our new video features exclusive footage from the plantation, which we visited in October when we were at ExpoWeed. Paradise Seeds founder Luc is given a tour by Pablo Mendez, the Daya Foundation gardener who has guided the plants from cannabis seeds to flowers these last few months. Video after the break:
We caught up with Pablo to get his impression of the Paradise Seeds cannabis strains. When the project started the gardeners were very pleased with the 98% germination rate. The top performers were Wappa, which, according to Pablo was "Most impressive in size and yield", and Durga Mata which gave a superb yield and also displayed "outstanding colours in the plants as a consequence of its two phenotypes." Ice Cream was also highly commended for its rapid growth acceleration.
Now harvested, the bud is drying, ready for transportation to the laboratory where the next stage of the process begins. A Paradise Seeds film crew is following the progress of this amazing story and we look forward to bringing you the next chapter in this great South American marijuana adventure.