Medical marijuana: Lambton County may soon be home to $30-million, 250-job factory producing medicinal pot

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A British Columbia-based company has applied to Health Canada for a licence to grow and process medical marijuana in Lambton County.

Tilray Canada Ltd. has been talking with officials in the Enniskillen Township, surrounding Petrolia, about investing as much as $30 million in a cultivation and processing facility on a 100-acre LaSalle Line property with 13 acres of existing greenhouse space. It’s currently used to grow peppers for the Enniskillen Pepper Company.

The company opened a facility in Nanaimo, B.C. in 2014 with the capacity to produce eight tonnes of medical marijuana each year.

“We’re looking at the opportunity for this facility to help our economy, because they’re talking of up to 250 jobs once it’s fully implemented,” Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott said.

The company said in a statement the first phase of the project will house a 10-acre cannabis greenhouse with approximately 40,000 square feet of processing space.

The Enniskillen facility is expected to hire about 50 people to work in operations, production, cultivation and facilities-related duties through the end of 2018, and is expected to create 200 to 250 full-time jobs over the next five years, the company said.

“It’s a great opportunity, finally, for us in rural Lambton to have some type of production-processing of something new,” Marriott said.

“I’m sure there’s definitely going to be some people question that,” he said about a medical marijuana facility operating in the municipality.

But he added medical marijuana is “becoming more mainstream,” and he pointed to the benefits it provides to patients.

“This company has a variety of products that are shipped worldwide, and they’re widely accepted,” he said.

“If it’s becoming that accepted, I think even Enniskillen residents will be OK with it, especially if we can work through all the hurdles to make it all happen.”

Marriott said he’s confident those hurdles can be dealt with so the company’s plan is able to move ahead. He added Tilray has said it wants to be operating by January.

He said the company will only be producing medical marijuana at the Enniskillen site.

“We feel very good about their history,” Marriott said about Tilray.

“We’re pretty comfortable about working with them.”

Marriott said that as part of its federal approval the site will required extensive security, including fences, cameras and security staff.

“The only issue so far from neighbours has been lighting,” he said.

Marriott believes those concerns can be addressed after hearing only a small portion of the facility will need to under lights after dark.

He said the township first learned about the proposal in January.

The company announced Thursday that its total output of medical marijuana is expected to increase to 51 metric tonnes annually by the end of 2018.

“The Enniskillen facility is strategically located and has a strong workforce of qualified, skilled agricultural professionals, and we are excited to be expanding our production processes there,” Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy said in a statement.

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