A tale of two Vancouver pot farms

I got a chance to go over and visit with Farmer Tom Lauerman, a Vancouver organic medical grower, on Wednesday afternoon.

Tom Lauerman
Tom Lauerman

Lauerman’s farm, which isn’t supplying I502 recreational stores (although he is trying to license some of his strains to rec growers) makes an interesting contrast with CannaMan Farms, a recreational grower, in Vancouver.

Both growers have lovely plants, from what I’ve seen.

But while CannaMan has been under constant pressure to produce product for recreational stores during the statewide shortage, things on the medical side, which has been operating in legal gray area for many years, are decidedly more mellow.


Gentle breezes pass through the outdoor semi-covered greenhouses that are home to a variety of strains that Lauerman’s been cultivating for years. His wife, Paula, and a medical grower from Portland sat out on his patio and enjoyed some iced lemon water during the visit.

He showed us some of his organic vegetables, and talked a bit about his strategy for feeding the marijuana plants through their cycle with what he calls the “NPK rotation” – short for nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.

“Nitrogen promotes green growth, phosphorous promotes quicker flowering and potassium helps create finished flowers,” Lauerman said. “So I’m constantly feeding them and getting them ready for each cycle.”

Amnesia Haze

The farm is beautiful country calm. Tour groups also come on the weekends as part of a package offered by Kush Tourism in Seattle.

Every day, he goes out and gently shakes the plants through a mesh to make sure the stems are sturdy. He takes breaks now and again to smoke because he is also a medical marijuana patient.

Rows back

In general life on the medical side of things is perhaps a little loose with the vague laws governing it, but also far more relaxed and established.

Unlike Colorado, Washington had no well-regulated medical system that it could use as a base for its recreational system. So officials here decided that all I502 growers should enter a new system from scratch.

CannaMan Farms owner Brian Stroh went over to Portland to hire a skilled medical grower, Shane Wahl, to help him build his indoor farm when it became one of the first licensed growers in the state early this year.

After that, Wahl and Stroh had to hunt down strains and plants to cultivate so they could build out a business from nothing in a short amount of time.

Baby pot plants at CannaMan in May
(Baby pot plants at CannaMan in May)

With a growth cycle of at least 8 to 10 weeks, plus a few more weeks to cure the plant, CannaMan was barely producing product when the first retail stores opened in the state on July 8.

And the pressure has been on for I502 growers to churn out as much product as they can as fast as they can throughout Washington. That’s something that CannaMan has been a bit reluctant to do because it wants to ensure quality.

(Shane Wahl smells the bud flowers at CannaMan)
(Shane Wahl smells the bud flowers at CannaMan)

But Wahl and Stroh also realize how strong the demand is.

Their facility is a packed with marijuana plants in various stages, and they’ve hired some extra help as they harvest and cure the plants as best they can through the rush.

(CannaMan Farms)
(CannaMan Farms)

When the chaos finally subsides and more growers come online, things should calm down for rec growers. But looking at the pace of the two Vancouver farms is telling about how the different systems evolved.

Hopefully other states, if they legalize, will be able to take the good parts of both Washington’s and Colorado’s systems and set up something even more streamlined.