ATHOLVILLE, N.B.– Canadian licensed cannabis producer Zenabis has received Health Canada’s approval to start cultivating at its new facility in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, which the company says plays a big role in its future growth.
Zenabis CEO Andrew Grieve says having the 255,000-square-foot facility in operation not only will allow the company to produce more, but also allow more flexibility to how it disperses its resources across its two other plants, one in New Brunswick and the other in Langley, B.C.
“We actually have a 255,000-square-foot facility that we can use for a variety of different components of our business, whether that’s processing and packaging, manufacturing, or a range of other activities,” says Grieve. “This provides us with additional significant flexibility and additional cultivation capacity.”
The new Nova Scotia facility currently employs around 20 people, excluding construction staff. Once the facility is fully built out, the number is expected to grow to over 200 people. Right now, the facility only has a license to cultivate cannabis. This means while it awaits approval for additional licensing, the cannabis grown in Stellarton will be transported to New Brunswick to Zenabis’s Atholville facility for distribution.
“At the moment, the product that’s cultivated in Nova Scotia will be brought to New Brunswick for distribution,” says Grieve. “However, upon receiving the processing license at the Stellarton facility, there will no longer be a requirement for the product to first be shipped to New Brunswick.”
Grieve said the Stellarton facility will also help determine how the Atholville facility builds out.
“The addition of the Stellarton facility provides significant additional flexibility in terms of what activities take place here in New Brunswick, versus what activities take place in Stellarton,” he says. “As a result, as we build out our New Brunswick facility, we can dedicate additional rooms, for example, to cultivation, if we want to rely on the processing space in Stellarton.”
In the meantime, for the Atholville facility to take on the additional cannabis product to process, more manpower will be needed. About 231 people are currently working at the plant, with the number expected to grow to 400 by the end of June when the facility’s expansion reaches completion.
“We are going through a massive expansion right now,” said John Alexander, the manager of the Atholville facility. “We’re probably going to need to bring on another 200 plus people over the next four to six months.”
That additional space and manpower are definitely needed. Zenabis recently announced that it will become a supplier of medicinal marijuana for Shoppers Drug Mart. The company also plans on expanding its recreational cannabis lines. In addition to its Namaste brand, which launched last year, the company will be introducing its Blazery pre-roll brand. Grieve says they’re looking to hire locally in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
“There are a lot of opportunities here from an employment standpoint. We’re committed to finding quality people and providing them with high-quality employment. We’re first looking for people from the local area, but beyond the local area, we will also look for talent anywhere in the Maritimes or beyond,” says Grieve.
“It’s a fast-growing industry, but there’s definitely an opportunity for training and there’s a unique opportunity to participate in something that really is a brand new industry in the country and globally.”