Article by Doug Schmidt, Windsor Star
There’s still a month to go before adults can legally light up a joint recreationally, but licensed producer Aphria started shipping its weed across Canada this week to help ensure consumers have something to puff starting Oct. 17.
It’s a major milestone for the Leamington-based grower. Launched just four years ago, the company, as of Thursday, was valued by investors at $4.6 billion. It employs almost 500 workers and is in constant hiring mode.
On a visit to Aphria’s sprawling production facilities on Wednesday, rows of employees could be seen busily rolling joints, filling and labelling tubes and jars containing aromatic bud and readying shipping orders for the launch of what’s expected to be a multibillion-dollar industry in Canada.
“It’s been all hands on deck, for a couple of months now,” said John Jacobs, Aphria’s director of labour. He said that’s meant double shifts and weekend work, hiring extra part-timers and having supervisory personnel help out in the production process.
Investors have pumped billions into the nascent industry but the extent of how Canadians take to legal pot is still a big unknown. Some observers peg the adult recreational pot market at $5 billion annually by 2020.
“We don’t know what the retail side will look like,” said Cole Cacciavillani, the company’s co-founder and vice-president of growing operations. As for the opening of the recreational market in four weeks, “we think it’ll be a little crazy,” he said.