Wheatley-area medical pot facility in home stretch
J.P. Mariwell aiming to have one-acre facility open by the end of year
CHATHAM There is light at the end of the tunnel for a Chatham-Kent company planning to open a medical cannabis facility near Wheatley.
Tina Furlan, vice-president of marketing and communications for J.P. Mariwell, said the company is targeting to have a one-acre facility, that includes a state-of-theart greenhouse, open by the end of this year.
The facility, to be located just east of Wheatley, will also have a customer contact centre and processing facility that is capable of producing 6,000 kilograms of premium medical cannabis annually.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a crop ready for early 2018,” Furlan said.
She noted it is anticipated there will be four cycles of production each year, with 1,500 kilograms of medical cannabis produced during each cycle.
While the finish line is near, it has been a long journey to get there for J.P. Mariwell.
“We’ve been in the process for a little over three years and we’ve moved into the review phase, which is Stage 5 of the licensing,” Furlan said.
She noted there are two more stages to go through Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulation. This includes the pre-licensing inspection, that involves inspecting the facility once it’s constructed, then inspecting the processes.
“Once that stage is done then we can actually begin to cultivate crop,” Furlan said.
The facility will also create new job opportunities.
“We’re looking to hire approximately 50 people once we’re operational,” Furlan said.
She noted the company will need to fill positions in the greenhouse, along with the on-site laboratory where research and quality assurance testing will be done. There will also be administrative jobs available, she added.
Geoff Wright, an economic development officer for ChathamKent, said from his experience speaking with J.P. Mariwell and other companies in the process of opening medical marijuana facilities in the municipality, they bring a tremendous knowledge and skillset to the community.
“I’m very much looking forward to people in this industry becoming part of Chatham-Kent’s employment base,” he said. “The community will benefit from that knowledge.”
Furlan said J.P. Mariwell, which has a 170-acre property, plans on expanding in the future, once they complete the initial licensing phase.
She added that involves another licensing process to expand.
“We’ll deal with this one first and then expand as the market demands,” Furlan said.
Wright said medical marijuana could be just the beginning of job opportunities this industry could bring.
He noted if the federal government proceeds with its indicated plan to legalize marijuana, it will create a whole new recreational market, which will have a multiplier effect in creating new jobs.
Furlan said no one knows what the recreational marijuana market will look like, because those details haven’t been announced by the federal government.
“What we’re planning is strictly serving patients with prescriptions,” she said.
“We’re just really, really excited we’re able to build a facility in Chatham-Kent,” Furlan said, adding site plan and zoning approvals have been received from the municipality. “We think it’s going to be great for the community.”