HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Output To Increase As Pot Deal Extended
Pubdate: Wed, 04 Oct 2006
Source: Reminder, The (CN MB)
Copyright: 2006 Reminder Online
Author: Jonathon Naylor, Staff Writer


Health Canada has awarded Flin Flon's famous grow-op a one-year 
extension that calls for a significant jump in medicinal marijuana output.

The $2.1-million deal requires contractor Prairie Plant Systems to 
supply 1,712 lbs of pot throughout the year, up 85 per cent from the 
previous annual total.

Brent Zettl, Prairie's president and CEO, said his Saskatoon-based 
company will spend nearly $500,000 in upgrades to accommodate the 
increased production.

"We're going to maximize what we have," said Zettl, noting that most 
of the money will be spent on capital infrastructure and efficiency 

More marijuana will also mean more jobs at the company's growth 
chamber, based in an abandoned Trout Lake mine outside city limits.

But Zettl isn't yet sure how many new employees will be added to the 
nine Flin Flonners currently on the payroll.

The increased production is necessary as more terminally ill 
Canadians receive authorization to use the government-grade weed as medicine.

As of Sept. 1, 1,492 Canadians were authorized to possess marijuana 
for medical purposes. Of those, 301 were receiving dry marijuana 
grown in the subterranean chamber -- more than double the 124 from 
two years ago.

A University of Montreal study on marijuana's possible benefits for 
chronic pain sufferers is also upping the demand, Zettl said.

Many patients with diseases such as AIDS, cancer, and multiple 
sclerosis say that smoking marijuana helps alleviate their symptoms.

The contract extension was signed last Friday, one day before a 
previous extension expired. The prior extension had been put in place 
while Health Canada readied a new long-term deal for tender. That 
tender has yet to be put out.

Prairie Plant Systems was awarded the initial five-year, $5.5-million 
contract to supply the product in 2000.

A decade earlier, the company had established its first 
state-of-the-art underground growth chamber in Flin Flon.

Since then, the local operations have been used to study over 500 
plant species, including culinary herbs and agricultural crops, 
according to Prairie's website.
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