A homegrown Canadian cannabis company is hoping to plant deep roots and stimulate economic growth in Saskatchewan.
On Sept. 17, exactly one month before recreational marijuana is legalized in Canada, Westleaf Cannabis Inc. secured a development loan of up to $24-million from ATB Financial.
The funding will be given in two instalments, with the first $12.5 million going towards the company’s 115,000 square foot cannabis facility located on land owned by Thunderchild First Nation, off Highway 16, within the municipality of Battleford.
“It is a fairly large-scale cultivation facility and therefore does have a decent construction timeline,” said Taylor Ethans, the chief financial officer and co-founder of Westleaf Cannabis.
Construction began on the site, which will be named the Thunderchild Cannabis Facility, this past summer. Ethans said it’s expected to be complete in fall 2019.
At that point, Health Canada will inspect the site to move forward on issuing a production licence.
Once fully operational, the facility could produce up to 15,000 kg of dried cannabis flower a year.
The co-founder noted the decision to build in Battleford dates back to the start of Westleaf. Thunderchild First Nation was an early investor in the company, and is currently the largest shareholder.
“As part of that relationship, we decided to locate the facility on Thunderchild-owned land in Battleford, Saskatchewan, with the idea of really being able to stimulate economic growth,” Ethans said.
Last month, the company hosted a job fair in North Battleford to tell people about possible career opportunities.
Ethans said once at full production capacity, they expect to have more than 100 jobs in the facility— with the overall vision being a vertically-integrated company.
“Effectively, the first part of the cannabis life cycle is the growing of the plant (in Battleford) to get to the raw flower and end product,” he said.
“Then you can either sell that as a finished dry good or bring it into an extraction facility.”
That will take place at a 60,000 square foot facility in Calgary, which is a 50/50 joint venture between Westleaf and Delta Nine cannabis out of Winnipeg.
The facility will be used for manufacturing and processing to create oil gel caps and tinctures, which are essentially alcohol-based cannabis extracts.
After that, Ethans said, the branded products created at those facilities will be sold in Westleaf’s own retail stores, Prairie Records.
“It’s marrying the instinctual tie between cannabis and music, which will really create a unique consumer experience,” Ethans said.
The company plans on opening multiple retail locations across Western Canada and Ontario over the next 12 months.