A British Columbia-based company focused on medical cannabis research and production is investing $30 million to lease what will soon be a former pepper growing operation in Enniskillen Township.
Tilray Canada Ltd., which is based in Nanaimo, will be responsible for the property, which is owned by Jack Greydanus.
Kevin Marriott, mayor of Enniskillen Township, told Lambton Shield that Tilray’s expansion into the area is good news for the economy.
“This is by far one of the largest pieces of good news that we’ve had,” said Marriott. “I’m very happy to take the steps to make this endeavour a reality in the community. This diversification will help our community grow and prosper in this ever changing and challenging economy.”
Marriott said he was not overly concerned about any negativity around the cultivation of medical marijuana. “The benefits to people who are suffering from cancer and MS [multiple sclerosis], for example, are well known by now,” he said.
Under an agreement announced Thursday (August 17), Tilray will lease the 100-acre property that is currently growing its last pepper crop.
That includes 13 acres of existing greenhouse and Tilray has submitted an application to Health Canada to receive a federal license to produce medical cannibis (marijuana).
In the first phase of the project, the property will house a 10-acre greenhouse facility and about 40,000 square feet of processing space.
Along with the existing Nanaimo facility, the total Tilray operation will have a combined production capacity of as much as 51 metric tonnes by the end of 2018.
The initial 10 acres of greenhouse in Enniskillen will eventually be tripled in size to 30 acres, according to the release.
Tilray officials say they chose Enniskillen because of its strategic location and the strong workforce of qualified, skilled agricultural professionals.
About 50 people are expected to work at the new facility with 200 to 250 full-time jobs possible in the area as a result of the expansion over the next five years.
Local politicians, including Marriott as well as Marilyn Gladu, Member of Parliament for Sarnia-Lambton, and Bob Bailey, Sarnia’s Member of Provincial Parliament, welcomed the announcement.
“This new facility . . . will create goods and growth for our community,” said Gladu. “It is an important step in diversifying our industry and will be a great help to Canadian patients.”
Tilray is said to be the first licensed producer to legally export medical marijuana products from North America to the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and South America.
The company is aggressively expanding international distribution of its products to export to a total of 11 countries by the end of 2017.