Hopefully, no one has their fingers crossed for a nuclear winter. But as the proliferation of weapons intensifies and some of the leaders of the world rattle their sabers like a pneumatic paint can shaker, it’s nice to know some creature comforts could make it through the fallout. Outside of the small town of Memmingen, Germany one entrepreneur is working with the German government to open the largest weed farm in Europe in a nuclear shelter. Not that it’s being built for this purpose, but on that off-chance, the rest of the world dies withering in a radioactive wasteland, this crop of pot will probably fare far better than the rest of us.
The Bunker Pflanzenextrakte is being built inside a decades-old nuclear bunker in the state of Bavaria. A Cold War relic, the bunker was built for NATO to respond to a worst-case scenario, including its own missile armament. Thirty years later, those tools of warfare are gone. Essentially empty, the bunker has sat there as a collection of thick steel doors, thick vaults, and thicker concrete walls. The building has green camo paint on the outside, a green that can be fitting in a whole new way.
There are also a handful of cartoons painted on the walls by NATO staff back in the day. Had the US or USSR started lobbing bombs at each other, it’s good to know a drawing of ALF would be one of the last surviving works of art.
“I feel really safe and I know our plants will feel safe too,” assures Bunker Managing Director Christoph Rossner in an email. “We can use this military building in a peaceful way, I think that is a good way to show my philosophy: Do not have fear… Cannabis and hemp will lead us in a new and safe future.”
Medical marijuana only became legal in Germany earlier this year. The rules for cultivating marijuana, however, are extremely strict, and because of its safety and isolation, a nuclear bunker happens to meet many of those conditions. Christoph Rossner is working with the government but is still critical of some of these limitations.
Rossner had his shoulder crushed by steel beams during a workplace accident as a teenager. Now in his forties, Rossner has been using cannabis as a pain suppressant long before the government allowed for it. Rossner was arrested for selling pot in 2000 and served five months in prison. In something of a Catch-22, the new government regulations require growers to have cultivated and delivered at least 50 kilos of product in the last three years, despite the fact it would have been against the law.
Despite the tight squeeze in regulation, Rossner’s big old bomb shelter is making it easier to qualify for the German rules. Laws require excess stock be eliminated, and as much as that is a bummer it helps that the bunker happens to have an incinerator. Germany demands high-security measures, even for a farm’s own staff, to ensure no one is pinching stock for their own use. Nuclear bunkers aren’t known for being easy to slink in and out of, as slow-moving titanic steel doorways will attest. There are also chambers and vents that give Rossner a more surgical control over airflow, and he plans to use some of the vaults to keep the mother plants isolated.
Rossner believes the facility will be perfect not only for cannabis cultivation but for research as well.
Rossner told us that he grew up nearby the bunker, remembering this “concrete block” from his childhood.
When he was looking for a space, he picked up a phone to see if it was available. There’s nothing in the bunker at the moment, but Rossner looks forward to footing what he expects to be a big, big order for the country. Federal studies suggest that in the country of 80 million, five million had consumed marijuana in the past year, and that’s just the smokers willing to admit it to the government. Germany believes that by 2021 they’ll require 4,400 pounds annually for medical patients, and Rossner thinks they’re lowballing that number it by about ten tonnes.
“We in Germany have an old adage,” said Rossner. “Who heals is right.”
So in the unfortunate scenario that someone with their finger on the button decides to ‘am become Death, destroyer of worlds’ but you still want to ‘am become high, destroyer of jelly beans,’ mark Bavaria on the map. It might be a trek but, assuming it’s a little tighter than the disaster faring Arctic seed bank that flooded earlier this year, you’ll still know a good place to pick up when everywhere else is literally gone.