BRANDON, S.D. (KELO) — Medical marijuana is a growing industry in South Dakota.
Right now there are just a couple of dispensaries up and running, but there are others in the works. But where does all that cannabis come from to support the industry?
KELOLAND News got a tour of a new marijuana cultivation center in Brandon.
“We are like the farmer who creates the product,” Chief Operating Officer of TJ Cameron said.
It’s not your typical farm, but that’s how TJ Cameron best describes his marijuana cultivation center.
“One of the very first things I said to my wife 12 years ago when we got married, you know I just want to move to California and become a farmer and she laughed because she had no idea what I was talking about, because neither one of us are cannabis users,” Cameron said.
Cameron is the chief operating officer for the new Shangri-La South Dakota cultivation center in Brandon where they grow cannabis two different ways in a very controlled environment.
“One there’s a seed, like you see here, two is a clone which you see here; clones are a clipping from a plant like this where you can see it’s been clipped in half and this grows new roots,” Cameron said.
From the lighting to the temperature, it all plays a role in the quality and potency of the product.
“It’s much more complicated than it may seem, just plant a seed and growing a plant, there is a lot of things, especially under the medical regulations that have been eye-opening to show the quality of product we’re putting out when it’s regulated versus on the black market,” Cameron said.
Cameron has partnered with a company out of Missouri that owns a 21,000-square-foot growing facility there, where he also works with a consultant.
“So I’m still learning every day, if you ask somebody who may have had some kind of experience with cannabis or marijuana on the street and you ask them what their skill or knowledge is on a scale of 1-10, I think most people will tell you 8 or 9 if they’ve ever grown one plant in their closet, but I tell people I’m like a 2 or 3 and I mean that genuinely, I think it takes a lot longer learning process than people expect,” Cameron said.
Before the cannabis can be sold to a dispensary or manufacturer, it has to go through rigorous testing by the state licensed facility, where they look for foreign substances, mold or other bacteria.
Cameron will deliver his first batch of cannabis to a licensed dispensary this week.