Now edging into London's manufacturing sector: Marijuana processing

London will soon become home to High Park, a major cannabis processing plant that will turn out recreational marijuana leaf, extracts and vaping products and eventually a variety of edibles.

London will soon become home to High Park, a major cannabis processing plant that will turn out recreational marijuana leaf, extracts and vaping products and eventually a variety of edibles.

The company bought a 5,200-square-metre industrial building at 300 Sovereign Rd. and is working on a $10-million retrofit to install cannabis processing equipment. The plant is expected to open late this summer - writes

High Park is a subsidiary of Tilray, a licensed medical marijuana producer.

A recreational cannabis plant may be controversial for a city more accustomed to auto parts plants and food processors, but Tilray chief executive Brendan Kennedy said attitudes about cannabis have changed with the imminent legalization by the federal government.

Tilray chief executive Brendan Kennedy. (Submitted photo)

“The government of Canada is marching down this path and we need to make these investments somewhere and create these jobs,” he said.

The plant will initially employ about 75 people but will expand staff and add facilities such as a bakery when the federal government moves ahead with plans to make edible cannabis products legal.

The London plant will be paired with a $30-million cannabis greenhouse operation now being constructed in Enniskillen Township near Petrolia.

That five-hectare greenhouse, which was formerly used for bell peppers, will grow all the cannabis that will be processed in London. The retrofit and expansion of the greenhouse has been underway for several months and Kennedy said the first marijuana crop should be planted next month.

The greenhouse will initially employ about 50 people.

“We have a sense of urgency to get the London plant going. We hope to have the first harvest from Enniskillen in June,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy said London was a good location and the Sovereign Road plant was the right size for the processing facility.

Tilray plant on Sovereign Road. (Submitted photo)

“If you draw a straight line from Enniskillen to Toronto, where the product will be distributed, London was right on that path.”

High Park has acquired the Canadian licences for a number of existing cannabis brands with names such as Marley Natural, Dutchy, and Grail as well as edible brands such as Goodship and Wallops.

Much of the product from the London plant will go to the Quebec and Manitoba markets.

Kennedy said High Park will hold job fairs soon but dates have not been finalized.

He said the company will need a wide variety of employees from chemists to custodians.

Kennedy said Tilray Canada is an established medical marijuana brand with a facility in Nanaimo, B.C. The company is also building a combined cultivation and processing facility in Portugal.

Kennedy said when Tilray first established the Nanaimo plant five years ago there were few municipalities willing to host a cannabis facility, but he said that changed.

“This time around, almost every municipality was very interested in a $10-million investment and the taxes we pay and jobs we create.”

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