Company has set up shop in former Hershey plant
OTTAWA — Health Canada says it has awarded a licence to Tweed Inc. of Smiths Falls to produce medical marijuana.
Tweed CEO Chuck Rifici said Tuesday he wants to have 25 strains available for sale by April 1 — when new rules governing the pot-growing industry come into effect.
The company recently acquired the 470,000 square-foot facility formerly occupied by chocolate maker Hershey. Only part of the massive complex will be used to house the marijuana growing operation.
Under the current legal regime, marijuana users are able to grow the weed in their own homes. But as of April 1, they will have to procure it from licensed growers such as Tweed, which will manufacture a standardized product from secure premises.
Tweed is the fifth firm to be granted a licence by Health Canada, and the first one based in Eastern Ontario.
CanniMed of Saskatchewan — the monopoly supplier to the federal government since the medicinal marijuana program was introduced in 2001 — was awarded a licence last fall. Three others — Mettrum Ltd., The Peace Naturals Projects Inc. and Bedrocan Canada Inc. — have won licences more recently. They are located in or north of Toronto. Health Canada estimates the medicinal pot business will generate revenues of $1.3 billion annually within 10 years, but this is based on a twelve-fold increase in the number of users from the current base of less than 40,000. It’s not clear what would justify such a jump.
Tweed, which has a licence to produce up to 15,000 kilograms of marijuana annually, already has about 10,000 plants under cultivation. The active ingredients, which can be smoked or ingested, alleviate pain and other ailments.
Rifici said the products will be sold in April at prices ranging from $5 to $12 per gram, depending on the strain. (Mettrum began selling two strains of its weed earlier this month for $7.60 per gram). Tweed is committing at least 10 per cent of its production for sale at the lowest regular price.
In addition, low-income patients will get a 20 per cent discount.
Rifici said Tweed will be accepting patients early in February. The rules require patients to obtain a medical certificate from their doctor — a document that specifies how much marijuana should be taken each day. The next step involves forwarding a copy of the medical certificate to Tweed or other approved supplier. Patients will be given a secure ID that can be used to buy weed online or by phone. Suppliers will then courier the product to patients’ homes.
Tweed, which employs about 20, is laying the groundwork for what it hopes will be a $100 million-a-year operation. The company is acquiring a stock listing on the TSX Venture exchange. Tweed signed a letter of intent Jan. 2 to acquire the listing of LW Capital Pool Inc. through what is known as a reverse takeover. LW will issue so many shares to buy Tweed, that Tweed will wind up owning 95 per cent of the new entity.