Champlain Farma Corporation has purchased two properties along Robert Street East, with the intentions of building a 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art medical-cannabis production and processing facility.
Simcoe Holistic Health, a medical-cannabis resource center in Barrie, is the parent company behind the business venture.
“Our consumer will not be smoking our product,” said Doug Rawson, president and CEO. “Everything we are doing is to produce extracted materials — oils or capsules.”
Rawson, who is also a Penetanguishene town councilor, and his partners, Mark Tremblay and Dr. Mark Churman, currently provide education, counseling and support for patients seeking cannabis as a therapeutic option.
After serving more than 2,300 patients, the three fully understand the impact cannabis oils can have in helping ease the symptoms of patients with chronic pain and seizure disorders.
“Many are getting into this (industry) purely for financial purposes, without having the medical background. We come from a different angle,” said Tremblay. “We have seen the benefits and hear many life-changing stories, and that’s what is driving us to do this.”
The trio has heard countless stories from patients suffering from chronic back pain or seizures experiencing relief after using cannabis oils.
“We have a patient aged 14 who was having more than 10 seizures a day, and, with the help of cannabis oils, it’s down to two or three seizures a week,” said Churman. “That’s someone being treated with every seizure medicine there is, and the only thing that worked was cannabis.”
While the majority of their patients have found solutions to their pain, many are forced to wait weeks for the products, as cannabis oils are in short supply. This need was enough to convince them to build their own production facility.
“Our patients are getting frustrated because the oil they are using isn’t available and they can’t get access,” said Rawson.
In November, Champlain Farma took control of an abandoned warehouse at 177 Robert St. E. and the adjacent wooded lot.
The first phase of their project will see the warehouse renovated into a two-story building with production on the first floor and cultivation on the second floor. Once that is complete, they will start working on expanding into the wooded lot.
The facility will have approximately $1.3 million in security equipment, including more than 250 cameras, a wired and alarmed exterior fence, a controlled-access gate with a license-plate scanner and controlled access into every room in the facility. It will also have onsite and offsite security 24-7.
“We are meeting or exceeding every Health Canada standard,” said Rawson.
Champlain Farma recently filed its application under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations with Health Canada. Designs for the entire facility have been drawn up and several key members of the leadership team have been hired as part of the application process.
The facility is forecast to produce around 16,000 bottles of cannabis oil per year from up to five strains of standard medical-grade cannabis.
The first phase, to be completed later this year, will bring 24 jobs. The second phase will increase the employee base to around 60.