Construction underway on medicinal cannabis plant at Claresholm

By Geoff Smith (@GeoffSmithLNN on Twitter)
August 23, 2018 - 12:33pm

CLARESHOLM – While much of the recent focus has been on the pending legalization of recreational cannabis, a new producer of the medical variety hopes to help meet the surging demand from a plant at Claresholm.

Custom Cannabis has begun construction on a 45,000 sq. ft. facility, which will be divided between flowering and greenhouse production and post-processing. Plants are expected to be in the ground by early 2019.

Jeff Nielsen, CEO and co-founder, explained the project has been in the works for around five years.

“We began looking at this right in 2012-2013 when we first caught wind that there would be legislation changes coming around how cannabis was produced and that the model was moving from a small producer-home-based to allowing larger-scale commercial facilities,” he told Lethbridge News NOW. He said it’s a perfect fit for a small town like Claresholm.

“Right in the beginning, the MD of Willow Creek and the Town of Claresholm were super-receptive to have us,” Nielsen said. “You know, I think they see this change coming in the legislation, and they see cannabis production as really being a specialty agriculture product. Truthfully, southern Alberta, we do specialty agriculture and all manners of agriculture very, very well.”

The plant will rely largely on sunlight, supplemented by artificial light along with heating and air conditioning. Nielsen said it will allow year-round production. Hiring has already started for the 35-40 employees the operation will require.

The company will be a producer under Health Canada and the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purpose Regulations, with everything designed according to their specifications, he said. There are around 300,000 Canadians with either a prescription or permission to use cannabis medicinally, and Custom Cannabis will fill those needs by mail.

But with the industry already straining to meet that demand, the addition of legalized recreational use will require many more producers to enter the market, Nielsen said.

“I think what we’re going to see happen on the supply side is perhaps—you know, everyone continuously looking at shortages,” he explained. “But I think certainly as a very large number of potential recreational or adult users will have to access the same number of suppliers that are currently sometimes having a tough time keeping up with the 300,000 medical patients, I think certainly we’re going to see continued shortages here for the next few years.”

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