Saugeen First Nation, a Neyaashiinigmiing based indigenous business has officially confirmed their plans to build an industrial park to harvest cannabis.
According to terms laid out in an agreement, Saugeen First Nation will partner with Wiisag Corporation to make this possible. Jake Linklater, co founder and executive chairman of the Wiisag was quoted as referring to this as a legacy deal, that could be bigger than Saugeen First Nation’s Bruce to Milton hydro line deal.
It’s also apparent that Linklater has invested his faith in Saugeen First Nation as well. He had even mentioned in a phone interview on Sunday that future projections for the company could reach an annual $2 million – $5 million easily.
Bryan Hendry, Wiisag Corporation’s marketing and communications director has elaborated on the details too. He highlighted how Saugeen First Nation had 750 acres ready to be converted into a full fledged industrial park which will include outdoor and indoor marijuana harvesting. He also mentioned that there would be plans for retail components as well, sometime in the future.
Hendry also described how they would have to contend with tough timelines too, as they intend on beginning on cultivation as early as June. However, seedlings would have to be planted and readied much before that if they are to target harvest sometime in September.
The Saugeen harvest will be overseen by Burnstown Farms, a company that has prior experience in growing marijuana outdoors in the Ottawa Valley. The same company had earlier tweeted about their plans on raising $1 million to be invested later in a premier organic cannabis farm.
Of course, the 750 acres of cannabis is a ‘notional concept’ says Linklater. For now, only 25 acres will be used by Saugeen to harvest the marijuana. The structure is a pretty simple one too, that comprises of a fenced off lot of land surrounded by lighting, cameras, and some indoor building close by for processing of the product. Gradually, more plants will be cultivated.
The product being referred to here is the oil, that will be extracted from the plants and be used for developing medicines in the first two years of the project. The company has plans on hiring some twenty employees right away to get started on initial plans. They will hire another thirty more people in across the next four weeks. Linklater later added that there will be a job fair to help support this part of the project.
Saugeen First Nation have their own plan of action too, where they will make use of greenhouses to grow even more cannabis plants and that retail cannabis sales are part of the bigger picture.
Based on how things pan out over the next two years, both sides might consider foraying into the adult recreational pot market. But that discussion will have to wait till after the outdoor grow takes place and is a success. Of course, there are certain ethical ties connected to that part of the project, where the Saugeen community will also have a say in whether thy would want to go down that path or not.
Wiisag Ventures, the holder of the outdoor grow license, is still waiting on their approval, which they say should come in the next few weeks. Linklater says that they are the first to own such a license and that Saugeen First nation will own 51% of it.
The Wiisag Corporation was set up to oversee funding for this project to share, develop expertise on cannabis. Other than building an indigenous cannabis brand, their other objectives include partnering with indigenous communities and manage, fund and even operate their cultivation practices. Wiisag will also work on research and development, providing access to global markets.
Linklater stated that First Nation communities will be viewed as partners who have 51% share in the license and the rest belonging to Wiisag. This is to support a business model where various strains of the same plant will be grown by several of these partners, subject to differences in growing conditions.
He added that he hasn’t received any notice on whether the Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation wishes to be involved in their project.
One silver lining as pointed out by Hendry is the Indigenous Service Canada, and the changes they made to regulations concerning the cannabis funding ventures, breweries and distilleries on reserves.