A marijuana company with plants in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows is ramping up for the recreational pot market, as the industry enters the mainstream following legalization across Canada on Wednesday.
Agrima Botanicals received its Health Canada medicinal marijuana cultivation licence in November 2017.
Now, with supply agreements pending, it’s working on getting its sales licence so it can begin supplying Aurora Cannabis, as well as the governments of B.C. and Ontario, with recreational marijuana.
Agrima, in January this year, reached an agreement to supply Aurora with up to 20,000 kilograms of dried cannabis flower per year, for the next five years. In addition to dried cannabis flower, Agrima will also supply up to 6,000 kg of cannabis trim per year.
“Were in the late-stage application process right now. So we’re still awaiting our sales licence at the Maple Ridge facility,” said Jordan Winnett, vice-president of marketing with Ascent Industries.
Agrima is a subsidiary of Ascent Industries, a licensed producer of medical marijuana.
Once the sales licence is obtained, it can start production at the Agrima Meadows facility, a new 600,000-sq. ft. greenhouse in Pitt Meadows that the company just bought and is converting from growing peppers.
It also operates Agrima Labs on Airport Way in Pitt Meadows, and is expected to produce a million vegan capsule bottles and tincture bottles each month.
Agrima Labs used to be known as the Pinecone Products.
Winnett is hopeful the sales licence comes soon.
“We’re doing everything we need to do. We think we’re as ready as we can be. We’re very optimistic that it’s going to happen very soon.”
Getting a sales licence was the goal it had set six years ago.
“So it’s pretty exciting.”
The company started with six people in a small place and now has more than 100 employees. If the sales licence comes through, that number will double.
“Even for the community of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, it’s pretty exciting, I think,” Winnett said.
Winnett described Oct. 17 as a “monumental day” for Canada.
Despite that, it’s business as usual, he added.
The company also plans to expand into Europe.
“We anticipate having our greenhouse operational in early 2019, as we are currently retrofitting the existing facility.”
Maple Ridge economic development manager Lino Siracusa said the city remains open to any other companies interested in starting a marijuana production facility within the Agricultural Land Reserve in Maple Ridge.
Cities, however, have the power to ban pot production in concrete-based greenhouses.
Maple Ridge, in 2013, passed a bylaw allowing medicinal marijuana to be grown within the ALR zones within the city.
“There’s a lot of interest in this particular industry right now and I think there is a lot of potential,” said Siracusa.
On Tuesday, Maple Ridge council approved its bylaw allowing stores to sell pot within commercial zones, subject to city and provincial approval, and a minimum of one-kilometre distance between each store.
On the day that recreational marijuana was legalized, people came into the Hemp Hemp Hooray store in downtown Maple Ridge in a celebratory mood, said Kelsie Esson.
The store only sells marijuana-related paraphernalia.
“Lots of [rolling] papers were being sold, lots of people with celebratory joints. Lots of people asking if we’re a dispensary, [they’re not],” Esson said.
Many people are already using marijuana, but there should be more people trying different products, she added.
People are also interested in the non-intoxicating varieties of cannabis.
Marijuana is commonly accepted in B.C. as in California, but having it now legal will remove some the stigma from the product, she added.
“It does make me feel better a little bit,” Esson said.
“It’s kind of nice knowing that weed smokers are not being looked down on.”