Cannabis company chaired by ex-premier Mike Harcourt says new facility will bring jobs to B.C. logging community

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      Executives at Vernon-based cannabis company True Leaf are preparing for the construction of the company's first-ever medicinal cannabis grow facility, True Leaf Campus.

      The company, chaired by former B.C. premier and Vancouver mayor Mike Harcourt, will break ground on a 16-hectare plot of land in the town of Lumby, B.C., tomorrow afternoon (March 2), where a 25,000-square-foot facility will be constructed in the coming months. 

      Founder and CEO Darcy Bomford will be joined by Harcourt, Lumby mayor Kevin Acton, and other community leaders to mark the ceremonial dig.

      The facility, approved for construction by Health Canada, will consist of a 16,000-square-foot hydroponic grow building that will yield up to 2,500 kilograms of dried cannabis per year, and an additional 9,000-square-foot structure that will house laboratory services, extraction, and post-production processing. 

      True Leaf hopes to complete construction by this summer, with the first crop produced in the fall of 2018. 

      True Leaf purchased the plot of land in January 2018 for $3.3 million after the company raised $14 million in equity financing. Executives hope that with the construction of its new facility, it will become one of the "main" employers in Lumby, a logging community of roughly 1,700 in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley.

      “The company is pleased with the completion of our offerings and the purchase of the land and we can move forward in our pursuit of growing what we hope will be the best-quality medicinal cannabis in the world,” Bomford said in a news release.

      In a March 1 phone interview with the Straight, Harcourt said the 2014 invitation to chair True Leaf came as a surprise but also piqued his curiosity about medical cannabis.

      He said that since "enthusiastically saying yes" to the invitation to become True Leaf's chairman, he's seen how cannabis can benefit people suffering from a range of medical conditions. 

      "A surprising number of people I've run into over the last little while have found it beneficial to use medicinal cannabis for pain management, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and other reasons," he said, adding that he's long been an advocate of not only legalizing cannabis but of decriminalizing all drugs, "just like Portugal has done".

      Harcourt said the construction of True Leaf's new facility in Lumby would create almost 100 construction jobs and at least 25 permanent, full-time positions once construction is complete, with the possibility of more.

      "[Lumby] has been a community that's been hard-hit by losses in the forestry industry, so we hope that this will help to diversify their economy," he said.

      With the new facility using approximately one-tenth of the 16-hectare parcel, Harcourt said future expansions are a possibility.

      True Leaf was founded in 2013 and operates two subsidiaries. One of them, True Leaf Medicine Inc., was launched in July 2013 with the intention of becoming a licensed producer of medical cannabis.

      Although it has been granted federal approval to build its grow facilities, it won't receive a licence to produce cannabis until its first crop passes an inspection by Health Canada.

      The company's second subsidiary, True Leaf Pet Inc., was established in 2015. Its True Hemp pet-supplement line—marketing hemp-based products for the pet industry—has launched in Canada, the United States, and Europe.