Maritimes budding marijuana industry shows signs of growth

The Maritimes budding marijuana industry is showing signs of growth this weekend in New Brunswick.

One of the region’s big players is expanding its workforce, and at the same time, industry leaders from around the world will soon be arriving for an international meeting on the future of the business.

Organigram already has close to 300 employees at its rapidly expanding facility in Moncton, and that number is poised to grow even larger.

“We’re looking for approximately another 100 people, and that’s an immediate need, so this won’t be our last job fair,” says Jeff Purcell, Organigram’s Vice President of Operations.

The company is preparing to supply product for retail sales when cannabis is officially legalized in Canada, an event that seemed unlikely just a few years ago.

“As we hire people we explain the pace of growth and it’s been remarkable to see our employees have really grasped the notion of change,” adds Purcell.

A very significant change occurred this week when the Senate passed a historic bill to legalize recreational marijuana. The bill still has to go back to the House of Commons for final approval.

There were more signs in Saint John on Saturday that the international cannabis industry are taking notice of these changes.

The Saint John Convention Centre is preparing to host the World Cannabis Congress, which begins Sunday.

More than 400 industry leaders will be attending. Expected talking points include health and safety issues surrounding legalization, as well as the business of growing and selling pot.

“These are serious markets with serious revenue potential for private companies and for governments around the world,” explains Derek Riedle, Co-Chair of the World Cannabis Congress. “So as much as it is still a shock for us to see people in suits and government officials making announcements at cannabis events, we’re going to see a lot more if it.”

While Senate approval was another step towards legalization, most people involved in the industry are waiting to be able to circle a date on the calendar when legalization will actually take effect.

Even if legalization gets final approval from Ottawa, it is expected to take two to three months for the provinces to prepare for retail sales.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.