Canopy Growth secures cannabis site, won’t say where

Company faced recent deadline to buy land for construction of N.L. production facility

Canopy Growth Corp. says it has picked the location of its cannabis production facility in Newfoundland — but isn’t yet ready to reveal where.

“We’re very excited to be making progress in the province and I’m happy to report Canopy has indeed secured the site of our future production facility,” company spokesman Jordan Sinclair said in an email to CBC News.

“We will share more details in the weeks ahead on the exact location and path forward. There’s a lot of work to do and we’re right on track to date.”

In December, the Newfoundland and Labrador government signed a deal with Canopy Growth to ensure the province has a “safe and secure supply” of cannabis when it is legalized this coming summer.

As part of the agreement, Canopy Growth pledged to build a production plant on the northeast Avalon. It will be operational by 2019, and create 145 jobs.

The deal does not include any up-front cash from the government, but has the potential for $40-million worth of tax breaks down the road.

Bruce Linton, chief executive officer of Canopy Growth Corp., is pictured at press conference in St. John’s on Dec. 8, 2017 where an agreement was announced with the Newfoundland and Labrador government. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

CBC News, using access-to-information laws, obtained a heavily-redacted version of the agreement between the province and Canopy Growth.

That contract includes a schedule of deadlines for the company

The first deadline was for the “completed transaction of purchase of land … where the production facility is to be built.”

That deadline hit last week — 90 days after the signing of the Dec. 7 deal.

Pre-deal correspondence

Other records obtained by CBC News through access-to-information suggested that Canopy Growth was ready to move on a location even earlier.

In mid-November, before the contract with the government was signed, a company executive told provincial officials that Canopy Growth’s “baseline assumption” was that it would “own or have access to a site by Jan. 1, 2018.”

That email — from vice-president of government and stakeholder relations Jeff Ryan — listed a number of project milestones, including having the building structure complete by Aug. 1.

“These dates are best effort and we will likely beat all of them,” Ryan wrote in a Nov. 17, 2017, email to a senior government official.

Operations in 7 countries

Canopy Growth is based in Smith Falls, Ont., where it has set up operatIons in a former Hersey chocolate factory.

According to a recent press release, the company has operations in seven countries across four continents.

It operates seven cannabis production sites, with over 665,000 square feet of production capacity.

The agreement with the Newfoundland and Labrador government has sparked some controversy, both among potential competitors and opposition politicians who have been critical of the deal.

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