Wheat­ley-area med­i­cal pot fa­cil­ity in home stretch

J.P. Mari­well aim­ing to have one-acre fa­cil­ity open by the end of year

Windsor Star - - CITY - ELL­WOOD SHREVE

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.”

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