'Full steam ahead' for Canopy Growth in St. John's despite closures in B.C., says minister

The company also cancelled a third growing facility in Ontario

CBC News · Posted: Mar 05, 2020 4:49 PM NT


The Canopy Growth cannabis production facility in St. John's is still on track, according to government. (Submitted by Jordan Sinclair)

Canopy Growth is facing a new bout of struggles, letting go of 500 employees and closing two warehouse production facilities in British Columbia.

In its announcement Wednesday, it also said it's cancelling plans to start production at a third facility in Ontario where the company is based.

But, as one of the province's suppliers of recreational cannabis with a $40 million deal in place, the company told government its growth facility in St. John's is still on track to open this spring, according to Bernard Davis, minister responsible for industry and innovation.

The concern over closures on the other side of the country was brought forward by Tory MHA Lloyd Parrot during question period in the House of Assembly on Thursday.

"I spoke to the management of Canopy, they assured me that they are full steam ahead with the process that we have a $90 million facility at East White Hills Road," Davis told him.


Construction in St. John's underway

Parrott fired back at Davis saying the company's assurance isn't that reassuring, and bringing up the halted greenhouse in Ontario.

He also questioned why government hasn't mandated secondary cannabis processing in the province to go with production.

Davis deflected, stating the St. John's facility will create 140 jobs when opened, not including the jobs it has already created during the construction phase that began in May 2018.

In December 2017 Canopy made a deal with the province to open a production facility in St. John's that's expected to produce 12,000 kilograms of dried cannabis per year, create 146 jobs and ensure at least 8,000 kilograms will be available for distribution and sale in Newfoundland and Labrador alone.

Canopy's lease payments will be nearly $5 million per year over five years, with the option to buy the facility at the end of the term.


Staff work in a marijuana grow room at Canopy Growth's Tweed facility in Smiths Falls, Ont. The company's facility in St. John's is slated to open this spring. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Parrott further questioned whether or not there's even a market in the province for the projected 42,000 kilograms of cannabis being supplied to, or produced by, the companies Canopy, Auxly Cannabis Group and Biome Grow.


"We're trying to grow the industry. It's an export marketplace for Newfoundland and Labrador. Would the member sooner us import the product here and not create the hundreds of jobs in this province?" Davis said.

Canopy Growth couldn't make anyone available when CBC News requested an interview. A spokesperson for the company issued an emailed statement which said nothing about its facility in St. John's.

The company's CEO David Klein did say the decision to close facilities in B.C. was not taken lightly, but was a necessary step to "ensure that we maintain our leadership position for the long-term."

"When I joined Canopy Growth earlier this year, I committed to focusing the business and aligning its resources to meet the needs of our consumers," Klein said in the statement.