FREDERICTON – Canopy Growth, one of the largest cannabis producers in the world, is investing $40 million in a new production facility in Fredericton. The Smiths Falls, Ont.–headquartered company will also create up to 136 jobs over the next six years.
Canopy Growth will be looking to fill various positions, including lab supervisors, technologists, growers, post-harvest crews, quality assurance experts, maintenance crews, and shipping and on-site retail staff.
So far, the company has hired five people and will host a job fair soon.
“Most of the jobs are full-time. If you’re in quality assurance or production, they’re full-time jobs. I’m sure there’ll be some part-time opportunity for people that are going to be in retail,” said Canopy Growth chairman and CEO Bruce Linton in a phone interview with Huddle.
All of Canopy Growth’s workers will be offered an equity stake in the company. The salaries for the Fredericton jobs will begin in the mid $30,000 level and move up from there.
“These are intended to be good jobs where you’re going to be doing something that’s actually quite interesting and new,” he said.
“We don’t expect you to show up and say I’m an expert at this because that would mean you were doing a lot of things that are illegal. It’s more important to us that you be timely, on schedule and ready to learn the methods that we use.”
Some positions may need scientific background, but Linton is confident there are plenty of New Brunswickers living elsewhere with those skills who want to return.
“Now we’re creating that sort of way to get home,” he said.
The Fredericton facility is located at Vanier Industrial Park and spans nearly 100,000 square feet. Around 50,000 square feet will be used for production. The facility will be used for growing the raw ingredients, shipping and possibly as a specialization centre for certain products in the future. It will also have a retail component.
“Our objective is this is live and running and licensed before October 17 [when marijuana will be legal] happens. So we’re well on track for that,” said Linton. “This makes us a local New Brunswick-operating company, which means people can buy cannabis legally and also support local. I think everybody is enjoying this opportunity to change the rules when it creates jobs, not just bring it from one spot to another.”
Linton said the investment in Fredericton highlights New Brunswick’s leadership among Canadian provinces in implementing steps ahead of marijuana legalization.
“There’s a reason we set up here. It’s because these guys were on the game two years ago,” he said.
Initially, the Fredericton plant will focus on preparing dry products and sell recreational cannabis and oils. It will also produce medicinal marijuana. But it could later become a centre that specializes in producing one or two types of ingestible products, like drinks and edibles. Canopy Growth plans for its facilities across the country to also have areas of specialization.
“This next wave is gigantic. But it seems there’s another one we can see in mid-2019, when the [federal] government is going to enable additional products. And that means more processing, more equipment, more people, and a much better job range,” Linton said.
“One of our expansion opportunities is maybe this becomes the best place to make product ‘x’ for 2019, it could be some kind of chewable product. We might end up making that here and have those products shipped to four or five other provinces from here,” he added.
Premier Brian Gallant said the move underscores the strength of the province’s growing cannabis industry, which is identified as a strategic opportunity in the government’s economic growth plan.
“We are [pursuing] the economic opportunities created by the legalization of cannabis by the federal government,” said Gallant in a release. “When world-leading companies like Canopy Growth choose to invest in New Brunswick because of our skilled workforce, it reinforces that our multi-year economic growth plan is working.”
In August 2017, Canopy Growth announced the acquisition of Spot Therapeutics, a Fredericton-based company that was in the process of applying for its medical marijuana license at the time. In September of that year, the company signed a deal to be a supplier for Cannabis NB for two years, including 4 million grams of cannabis and cannabis derivative products for year one. The retail value of the deal was estimated to be worth $40 million in the first year.
Opportunities New Brunswick (ONB) is investing up to $1.3 million in the form of payroll rebates to support the job creation targets. Canopy Growth will receive a rebate each year based on a percentage of the salary of every position filled that meets the conditions of its agreement with ONB.
The jobs created from this investment are estimated to generate up to $6.5 million in income tax revenue for the province and $61.2 million in direct GDP over six years.
Cannabis research is currently carried out in universities in New Brunswick and training courses are being offered at the Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick. ONB estimates up to 3,000 new jobs will be created in the sector by the end of 2022.
“A lot of people think this is just about marijuana. No. This is about the whole ecosystem of jobs and distribution. And the rest of the world’s watching,” Linton said.
Canopy Growth operates in 10 countries and has plants in Denmark and Australia. Some of its workers have made the move from Smiths Falls to international locations.
“These good jobs become great training. If I can take people and distribute them around the world, who learn the processes, it’s a lot easier to bring people on board,” Linton said. “This is kind of a chance to get in at the beginning of a global change.”