As so many have, Renee Gagnon took her first hit of weed when she was a teen. She had just moved to Canada’s British Columbia province, an area famous for its cultivation of the plant. She was a fan but never thought she’d get involved in marijuana professionally and instead “got sucked into the internet and dot-coms and built a whole bunch of start-ups,” says Gagnon. But she did learn about hydroponics on the side as a hobby during that time.

In 2001 Canada legalized medical marijuana, but it wasn’t until 2012 when the country started to change its regulations from a home-grown personal-use model to a commercial-grower model, that Gagnon joined the ranks of cannabis professionals.

“I’d been waiting my whole damn life for a legal opportunity to participate, where I have the…

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