The Whistler Medical Marijuana Corporation (WMMC), one of the country's first licensed producers of medicinal marijuana, is opening a satellite facility in Pemberton.
Construction will begin on the 6,039-square-metre building in April, allowing the company to significantly expand its production capacity and employ 25 additional full-time staff.
"We are limited by our current facility in terms of products, and demand is driving the need for a greater sized facility," explained WWMC founder Chris Pelz. The new purpose-built facility is expected to produce approximately 6,500 kilograms of dried cannabis a year, more than 10 times the capacity of its current base in Function Junction.
WWMC has grown rapidly since opening in 2014 as the ninth medical-marijuana producer licensed under Health Canada's updated Access to Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations. It remains the only licensed producer in Canada with 100-per-cent certified organic marijuana, and the company has had to close off its patient list intermittently as demand surged for its products.
Even Pelz has been taken aback by the company's tremendous progress.
"It's pretty amazing," he said. "Here we are, one of the earliest licensed producers in the country, and we're going to basically expand tenfold. It's incredible. We're growing great medicine, period."
The federally approved WWMC facility is permitted under the current zoning regulations at Pemberton's industrial park. It's slated to open in Spring 2018.
The Village of Pemberton (VOP) has wrestled with the regulation of pot dispensaries — which, unlike Health Canada licensed producers, largely operate in a legal grey area in certain jurisdictions around B.C. — following a proposed zoning amendment to restrict dispensaries in January. One option considered by council as it awaits the anticipated federal legalization of recreational marijuana, was to issue Temporary Use Permits (TUP) to dispensaries, which can be granted by the VOP for any time period and can be renewed for up to three years. A TUP sanctioning a dispensary gives officials more flexibility and would not carry over indefinitely when Ottawa introduces legislation to legalize pot, expected to come before the House of Commons late this year or in early 2018.