Article by Gordon Kent, Edmonton Journal
A northern Alberta First Nation is poised to be one of Canada’s first Indigenous communities to establish a legal marijuana production facility.
Fort McMurray #468 First Nation hopes to start construction of a plant in May on its land near Gregoire Lake, about 50 km southeast of Fort McMurray, says a spokesman for a Vancouver company consulting on the scheme.
The operation is designed to produce 2,600 kilograms of pot annually — possibly for medical or recreational users — after the structure is finished around the spring of 2019, says Mathieu McDonald of RavenQuest BioMed Inc.
RavenQuest reached an agreement in November to build the project, which McDonald expects will cost about $12 million.
“Cannabis is looking to be quite a profitable business, at least for the first few years and likely many years after. Even at a conservative $5 a gram, that’s ($1.3 million) a year in cash flow and revenue.”
The facility will likely create 25 to 40 jobs and give First Nation #468 a chance to be part of a major industry, McDonald said.
Also, many Indigenous communities are starting to examine cannabis as a possible part of a harm-reduction strategy to deal with the country’s opioid crisis, he said.
“You can’t die from it the way you can from opioids … There’s never going to be a bad dose that goes out and kills everybody.”
The First Nation’s website says it has about 700 members.