A Mohawk-owned company is nearly ready to start growing and selling medical marijuana in Canada. Seven Leaf is retrofitting an old water bottling plant on Cornwall Island in Akwesasne. The multi-million dollar project hopes to employ 100 people. The company enters a booming and crowded market.
According to Health Canada, more than 200,000 Canadians are licensed to buy medical marijuana. The system started with a grow-your-own model in 2001. But Canada started licensing commercial growers in 2014. Today, there are 67 growers across Canada, half of them in Ontario.
A former police chief seizes the opportunity to grow marijuana “to ease a lot of pain”
Seeking to compete in the medical cannabis market is an unlikely trio – a pharmacist, a former Mohawk chief, and a 23-year veteran of the Akwesasne Mohawk police force.
Lewis Mitchell was police chief for 13 years, and during that time, he says he saw the criminal effects of illegal marijuana. “It creates a market for criminal organizations to take advantage of.”
But at the same time, Mitchell says he also witnessed firsthand the pain and suffering of friends and family due to disease and illness, from diabetes to cancer. Once medical cannabis became legal in Canada, Mitchell says they used the plant as an alternative to more addictive opioid drugs. “I’ve seen the benefits of the use of marijuana to ease a lot of pain.”
Mitchell owns a lacrosse stick manufacturing company. So with his partners Lorraine White, the former chief, and Michael “Gus” Pyke, a longtime pharmacist in Akwesasne, they decided they could manufacture weed as Seven Leaf.