TerrAscend’s cannabis crop, grown by Nick D’Amelio, is almost ready for the Apothecarium in Phillipsburg, which is opening later in November.
D’Amelio is Cultivation Manager /Head Grower at TerrAscend New Jersey. TerrAscend. He began cultivating its first cannabis crop for their Apothecarium dispensary in August.
Growing Cannabis for TerrAscend/Apothecarium
As a Head Grower, combining different strains (or cultivars) to create a new one fascinates him.
“I just love genetics. I think that helps me more informed in terms of what patients need,” he said.
D’Amelio said, “I am one of few Head Growers who actually use this plant. I pride myself on being a huge consumer.”
Originally from Waldwick, NJ, in Bergen County, he was featured in High Times for his passion for medical cannabis and its ability to treat his step-father’s pancreatic cancer and colitis.
“The only time he got relief was when he smoked a bowl,” D’Amelio said.
He said that he enjoyed smoking with him. His stepfather got great relief from using cannabis. Unfortunately, he ultimately passed.
Afterward, D’Amelio started learning all he could about the cannabis crop. A couple of years later, his cousin was diagnosed with stomach cancer. While chemotherapy beat it the first time, it returned. D’Amelio helped him obtain CBD Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO) or Rick Simpson Oil (RSO).
D’Amelio said it did help his cousin somewhat. But by then it was the cancer was too advanced to be halted, and his cousin though
He then thought, “There is more this plant can do.”
Soon after, D’Amelio enrolled in an educational program on the nuances of the cannabis crop. His first employer in the industry was one of the original Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) before he ultimately came to work at TerrAscend. Their managers were impressed by him and made him their head grower in New Jersey as their first hire.
Cultivating a Cannabis Crop
“Everyone thinks it’s easy. It’s not,” D’Amelio said about growing a cannabis crop. He added it involves a lot of testing, trial and error, and enduring failure.
“The quality of the indoor is going to be substantially higher,” he said. He explained that a grower has more control of the environment indoors. Cultivating a cannabis crop in a greenhouse involves more obstacles, such as cloudy days when supplemental lighting is needed.
D’Amelio lamented that it is costly to grow indoors since electricity bills often run high.
Working at TerrAscend
“It’s been great at TerrAscend,” he added.
Though D’Amelio admitted being part of a start-up has been challenging.
He said one of 13 growers is cultivating the TerrAscend greenhouse seven days a week.
“I wouldn’t be here without my team,” he said.
Unfortunately, D’Amelio could not divulge the strains of the cannabis crops he has been growing for TerrAscend not listed on their website. He noted their medical cannabis has to be first inspected by the NJ Department of Health (NJDOH) along with their seed-to-sale tracking system.
The greenhouse growing experience in New Jersey has taught him a lot about the effects of ventilation and light on plants. They plan to expand to indoor growing soon.
“But the greenhouse is still great,” he added.
“Corporate cannabis gets a bad name,” D’Amelio acknowledged.
At TerrAscend, he works to create a higher quality medical cannabis than the standard in New Jersey. Unfortunately, the steep price for medical cannabis is very difficult, D’Amelio acknowledged. That part is out of his control.
He said in the future, New Jersey could top California’s legal cannabis market in terms of size. D’Amelio added New Jersey would need both small-batch and corporate cannabis producers to accomplish that.
TerrAscend is just at the beginning of its efforts at cultivating cannabis crops in New Jersey. Most of their cannabis will be sold at their Apothecarium dispensaries.
“There’s much more to come,” he promised.