Pubdate: Mon, 07 Aug 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Laura Kane
Page: S1


In a tree-nestled First Nation community on Vancouver Island, forestry
and farming used to be the major industries that kept the economy
humming and put food on families' tables.

But members of the Cowichan Tribes, like people from so many small and
rural towns in Canada, have seen jobs driven elsewhere through
dramatic changes to those sectors.

So when a medical-marijuana company moved next door, Chief William
Seymour saw an opportunity for his members to get good jobs and stay
in the area.

"It's their home. It is hard for any First Nation, doesn't matter
where you go, when they grow up in their own community. Having to move
is always a huge thing," he said.

Harvest One Cannabis Inc.'s grow facility is located on land owned by
the Cowichan Tribes just outside Duncan, B.C. The company hopes to
employ members of the First Nation once it completes a $9-million
expansion, and the band is offering to pay for training courses to get
prospective workers up to speed.

Across Canada, medical-marijuana companies have begun increasing
production capacity and staff levels in anticipation of legalization
of recreational cannabis on July 1, 2018. The companies need space -
and lots of it - to grow thousands of plants, making rural areas or
former manufacturing towns a natural fit for their operations.

Canopy Growth Corp., Canada's largest pot producer, transformed a
vacant Hershey chocolate factory in Smiths Falls, Ont., into a grow
facility that largely employs locals. In Alberta, suffering since the
oil-price crash, Aurora Cannabis Inc. is building a nearly 75,000
square-metre production plant in Leduc, while Invictus MD has moved
into the tiny hamlet of Peers.

British Columbia's Cowichan Valley, which includes Duncan, is an
example of a region that's been supportive of the cannabis industry,
said Graham Whitmarsh, chief operating officer of Harvest One and a
former industry consultant who once worked on projects in the
province's Interior, including Merritt.

In U.S. jurisdictions that have legalized recreational marijuana, some
small towns have reaped the benefits.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported the town of Sedgwick was on the
verge of collapse before it allowed cannabis dispensaries to open in
2012, and it has since used the tax revenue to rebuild crumbling

Across the country in Adelanto, Calif., commercial marijuana growing
ignited a land rush that prompted home values to skyrocket, LA Weekly

Still, some experts remain skeptical.

Prof. Werner Antweiler of the University of British Columbia's Sauder
School of Business said he expects legalization to create few new
jobs, but it probably will move some illegal jobs into the legal economy.

"I seriously doubt that small towns in particular would benefit from
cannabis legalization," he said.
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