Future looks bright for Alberta’s commercial cannabis producers
Published Wednesday, January 11, 2017 3:44PM MST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 11, 2017 7:47PM MST
Aurora Cannabis is getting ready to open its second facility in Alberta to meet the current and future demand for cannabis.
It already has a 55,000 square foot purpose-built space just west of Cremona to produce medical marijuana, and has added legal recreational pot to the production roster in preparation for legalization.
The company is ready to be the go-to place for marijuana, trading on the TSX and featuring a handy mobile app for customers to place orders.
But all that is just the practice round. The real game will get underway in Edmonton this year when Aurora opens its new facility, conveniently located right at the airport.
“It will be the largest cannabis production facility in the world, it will be 800,000 square feet and capable of producing 100,000 kilograms of cannabis per year,” said Cam Battley, Executive Vice-President of Aurora Cannabis.
The business of pot started in this country with medical marijuana, and demand for it is taking off.
“There are currently in excess of 130,000 registered patients in Canada’s medical cannabis system, these are patients with a prescription, and that number is growing at 10 per cent per month, so the demand on the medical side is significant and we need to expand to meet that demand,” said Battley.
It’s all very state-of-the-art with top technology and security to produce what Aurora calls the best pot in the world.
“We produce a variety of strains from low to mid-range THC, THC being the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, to high THC products, to products that contain virtually no THC and are high in another cannabinoid or active ingredient known as CBD or cannabidiol,” said Battley. “This is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is used for pain relief and anti-inflammation.”
Battley says the growing demand for medical marijuana stems from research that shows it works for patients.
“It helps them with their chronic pain, it helps them with their anxiety disorders, it helps them with their sleep disorders,” he said. “And the same thing goes for conditions such as spasticity from multiple sclerosis and bowel disorders and seizures associated with epilepsy,” he said.
But the biggest area of growth for Aurora is expected to be the new recreational market, soon to be legal in Canada under new rules set to be introduced by the Trudeau government.
“The anticipated market for that will be between three-and-a-half and five million Canadians,” said Battley.
Aurora Cannabis has plans to expand operations across Canada in the future, but chose Alberta as the starting point due to lower taxes and lower power costs under a deregulated system.
Currently, Aurora employs 110 people, and will add 200 more when the new facility opens.