Article by Angela Gemmill, CBC News
There’s a different kind of drug deal going down in Kapuskasing.
The northern Ontario town’s economic development corporation will sign a memorandum of understanding Thursday with CannAssist Canada, a producer of pharmaceutical grade cannabis.
The public-private partnership involves the creation of a marijuana production facility, to be built on municipal land near the airport. It’s expected to create 60 full time jobs, initially.
Kapuskasing mayor Al Spacek says the town is supplying the serviced land, and in return will get a five per cent equity in the business.
Not only will the community see new jobs and profits from the production, but Spacek says there will also be economic spin-offs from sub-contractors interested in joining the market.
First products to market by late 2018
The cost to build the facility is estimated around $8.5 million, says CannAssist Canada CEO Janice Britton.
Before shovels hit the ground, Britton says they need to get all the necessary permits in place and choose a commercial developer.
Construction on the 45,000 square foot building should start in the spring, and take eight months to complete.
Britton expects the first medical marijuana products to be ready to distribute to customers by late 2018.
For now the Kapuskasing facility is meant for medical marijuana production, but that could change in the future.
“Certainly that’s a discussion that we’ve had,” Spacek says.
“I think that market is a little bit uncertain at this point from a production stand-point because of the economics and the business model, but certainly that’s something that I’m sure everyone will be looking at closely as an opportunity down the road,” he adds.
“Our primary focus is medical [marijuana]. Of course, right now that’s all we can focus on. But once the recreational market opens up we would sell into both markets,” Britton says.
“There is just huge opportunity to expand … there just won’t be enough producers to supply the demand, initially,” she adds.
Britton also says CannAssist Canada has been in negotiations with several other communities to develop similar partnerships to the one they now have with Kapuskasing.