Winnipeg's newest licensed cannabis farm is ready to grow after receiving cultivation and processing licences from federal regulator Health Canada.
The 120,000 square foot MJardin Group facility, built inside a former meat packing plant on Warman Road in St. Boniface, is part of a planned joint venture with Peguis First Nation, which will hold a 51 per cent stake.
Peguis paid $11 million in October to buy the facility's buildings and land from MJardin, and will lease them back to the joint venture. Peguis will also provide about $20.5 million in funding to complete the second phase of the MJardin facility. (The company was previously known as GrowForce, which was acquired by Denver- and Toronto-based MJardin in late 2018.)
"Our partners have been working very hard to get to this day and we look forward to reaching full production and employment capacity in 2020 and bringing this significant economic development project to full fruition," said Peguis Chief Glenn Hudson in a press release issued Monday by MJardin.
Only part of the facility has been licensed for cannabis cultivation so far, said MJardin Group director of corporate affairs Jocelyn Advent. The company hopes to start growing plants indoors by the end of the year or in January.
"And the first harvest as a result of that, if everything goes to plan, would be May 2020," said Advent.
MJardin's Winnipeg facility has not yet received a cannabis sales licence from Health Canada. The second phase of the project, which will add a greenhouse aspect to the facility, is scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2020, Advent said. The company plans to achieve EU Good Manufacturing Practices certification for the plant, as well as packaging capability.
Only four people work at the nascent cannabis farm right now, but Advent said it will ultimately employ about 100 full-time workers. The company just posted a position for a cultivation technician, she said.
"It's a great opportunity, and what's wonderful is the diversity of jobs in a facility like this, from cultivating to... microbial science positions," Advent said.
"It's a nice operation to have a large group of (employees) from various backgrounds and educations."
Advent confirmed that MJardin and Peguis have applied for retail cannabis stores in Manitoba.
Solomon Israel is a full-time reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press and for two years, the lead writer for Free Press cannabis news site, The Leaf News. He continues to provide coverage of the cannabis beat while covering business in the city and province.
Updated on Tuesday, December 17, 2019 at 8:40 AM CST: Corrects that plant location is St. Boniface