Article by Dale Carruthers, London Free Press
An Ontario cannabis company’s plan to put down roots in London – and bring more than 200 promised jobs – has gone up in smoke.
Beleave Kannabis Inc., a licensed pot producer with an operation in Hamilton, bought the former Heritage Garden Gallery greenhouse at 6867 Wellington Rd. S. last September, paying $6.7 million at the time.
The company planned to grow cannabis inside the 23,000-square-metre greenhouse and on an outdoor plot located on the 34-hectare property.
The Oakville-headquartered grower pledged to invest $30 million in the facility, employ an estimated 240 workers and be operational by September 2019, then-chief executive Bill Panagiotakopoulos told the Free Press at the time.
But Beleave appears to have abandoned the plan, putting the south London property for sale for $7.9 million.
“Opportunity to purchase a pre-licensed cannabis commercial grow operation . . . Application made to Health Canada ready for reviewer. $2 million invested in upgrades,” says an online ad for the property, which also features a house and pool.
Repeated interview requests to Beleave went unanswered.
The move by Beleave to shelve its expansion plan mirrors the actions of many other cannabis companies across Canada as investment in the fledgling sector slows.
One industry observer calls it is a case of “reality catching up with the industry.”
“There’s not as much funding available to pay for construction expansions,” said professor Michael Armstrong of the Goodman School of Business at Brock University.
Armstrong, who previously sounded the alarm on a shortage of legal cannabis, said the issue now largely has been resolved after licensed producers increased output during the spring and summer.
“Supply has caught up with demand, finally,” he said. “So, I think the industry is taking a pause (on expansion).”
Cannabis companies also are shifting resources to prepare for the lucrative market for marijuana-infused food and drinks, products that now are legal, but aren’t expected to hit the markets until January, Armstrong said.