At any given time, thousands of plants rely on her for their health and well-being. Meet Emily Moeller: Bedrocan Canada’s head grower.
Moeller, who took up her position in February after completing a Master’s degree in plant breeding and genetics at the University of Gueph, spoke with the Toronto Star about her work, misconceptions about the medical marijuana industry and her thoughts on legalizing recreational pot use.
What does your job entail?
I make up the schedule for when plants will be going into production and getting harvested for the entire year. I also schedule cleaning dates, potting dates and make sure all the work is executed and that the plants are healthy.
What are the biggest misconceptions about the work you do?
The minute I tell someone what I do, the jokes inevitably start happening — like everyone here must be a big stoner and everyone blazes at work. A lot of people also think that we grow knowing that our patients are not really patients.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face?
The biggest are some of the regulations put on us by Health Canada. You need to be approved by Health Canada to be present alone in a room with any cannabis, be it live plants or dried product. But because I’m still waiting to be approved to be a PIC (Person in Charge), I can’t be in a room with my own plants.
Legalizing marijuana for recreational use has been a hot topic in this year’s election. Do you have an opinion on this?
As far as I’m concerned, this has very little to do with what I do. If the recreational market gets legalized it will obviously change how we operate as a business, but as far as I’m concerned the recreational market is one market and the medicinal market is a totally different fish.
Is it rewarding knowing that the work you do helps people in need?
It is. When I first got this job, there was a strong realization that I am in charge of thousands of people’s medicine. If something that I do doesn’t line up properly, that could potentially mean that someone who really needs medicine doesn’t get it. So it definitely adds a bit more pride in what I do.
Is there anything you’d like to see changed in the industry?
I would like to see it be a little bit easier for patients to get access to medicine. Right now, it can be time consuming and even somewhat costly for patients to get their prescription and get signed up with a licensed producer. If you’re sick and you need medicine, you shouldn’t have to jump through all these hoops and find a doctor who will prescribe you medicine, because many won’t.
While in school, did you ever imagine that you would be growing marijuana for a living?
No — never! When I first started university, there were always jokes about it from my family, and I always was like, ‘oh yeah, right — I’m going to go through all this school just to grow dope.’ But when harvesting every now and again, I’ll be holding a kilo of live plant in my hand and I’ll think, ‘God — how did I get this job?’
This interview has been edited and condensed.