STELLARTON – People. Pride. Pot? It’s high times in Stellarton as a marijuana production corporation looks to use the former Clairtone building to grow medicinal marijuana.
Vida Cannabis has signed a purchase and sale agreement to produce marijuana in the long-vacant building.
The deal is scheduled to close on or before April 15 for a total purchase price of $500,000. At full production, Vida Canada indicated a labour force of 200 to 300 employees might be needed although they plan to start with between 20 and 30 and build as demand grows.
The company, which is aiming to take the lead in the rapidly developing global marketplace for the legal use of marijuana, stated the Clairtone building was the perfect structure to house a large-scale medical marijuana production plant.
The project is being funded by a venture capital group and is not looking for any government funding.
“I think there’s a huge business opportunity here and we’re really approaching this as business people,” said CEO of Vida Cannabis, Greg Wilson. “It’s a medical product that’s been proven to alleviate some pretty serious symptoms for patients.”
The location in Stellarton is ideal, with the modern infrastructure in place and the building itself meets the requirements of Health Canada.
“It’s a controlled substance and they want to know the facility has the security in place to monitor the movement of the product,” Wilson said.
Stellarton Mayor Joe Gennoe stated he was delighted to see the Clairtone factory put back into production.
“Albeit in an industry I never could have imagined even five years ago,” he said. “As things change, we too must adapt.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the Town of Stellarton will grant the company a 50-year irrevocable licence to produce medical marijuana at the facility, subject to Vida Canada obtaining a commercial licence from Health Canada. Such local approval is a condition necessary to making a successful application to Health Canada.
"Health Canada has established policies and procedures that ensure the legal production of medical marijuana is secure,” Gennoe said. “We welcome Vida Cannabis to bring much-needed employment opportunities back to the Town of Stellarton and support their efforts."
Wilson noted he is extremely pleased with the total package that accompanies this remarkable facility.
"The people of the Town of Stellarton are at the top of that list. The local support for our Canadian medicinal marijuana operations has been virtually 100 per cent," he said. "We look forward to bringing quality employment opportunities to the area and will hire and train people from the region whenever possible.”
Built by Peter Munk’s Clairtone Sound Corporation in 1966, the production plant manufactured high-end stereos and, briefly, colour televisions. After a series of poor business decisions, growing debts and costs and injections of public funds, Clairtone closed its doors. The building has been largely dormant since.
Clairtone’s rise and fall from grace has been chronicled in a book by Maritime author Dan Soucoup called Failures and Fiascos: Atlantic Canada’s Biggest Boondoggles.
While there had been interest in using the building, including Art Munro, who was prepared to purchase the building for $500,000 and transform it into a viable business, nothing had materialized until now.
Vida calls the building itself a virtual fortress, stating the 315,000-square-foot facility is contained entirely under one large, steel roof erected on windowless 18-foot-high concrete walls supported by an engineered concrete floor.
“As the interior of the facility is structured like an aircraft hangar, it is literally wide open with no restrictive points to developing a customized medical marijuana plant that optimizes the building’s entire square footage,” the news release stated.
Vida Canada noted the 12-acre property has a single access point making security remarkably efficient for such a large building, which is already surrounded by a three-metre high fence with barbed wire top.
In keeping with Health Canada requirements for licensing of medical marijuana production facilities, Vida Canada said intrusion detection systems, round-the-clock surveillance and other minor security-related alterations will be implemented.
Wilson said they’ve already engaged a few contractors who would be willing to help do the work to restore the building to the standards necessary.
Once production starts, the marijuana will be shipped throughout Canada to people who have a prescription.
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