A change of hands is underway at the 5N Plus building in the Waneta Industrial area.
The three-year old facility caught the attention of Worldwide Marijuana Inc. (WMI), a private corporation that grows, produces and sells medical marijuana.
The company secured the right to buy the 46,000-square foot structure last month, and in a $2.2 million deal, is slated to take ownership in December. The site is located just past the Trail airport in Area A of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.
The modern building, combined with a certain West Kootenay talent for cultivating cannabis, has WMI ready to hire some locals and begin legal production of crops in the early new year.
“They did a world class job on the building,” says Phil Hahn, from WMI. “I've seen all 13 licensed production facilities that are on Health Canada's list right now, and there's nothing even comparable at this point in time in our country.”
Once the sale is complete, pending approval for a Licence to Produce status, WMI will import their own master grower to supervise the operation, explained Hahn, adding that all other positions will be filled by people living in the region.
“This definitely means jobs,” he continued. “We are looking to hire because the Trail and Nelson corridor has some of the best growers in the country. And they will be working in a world class building.”
The building was appraised at $6.4 million, according to a WMI report, that states a substantial amount of equipment is included that's useful in medical marijuana production, and the site's 17 additional acres leave ample room for future expansion.
“What we are doing is completely legal,” noted Hahn. “And we've done due diligence with the municipalities and local law enforcement as a courtesy and to let them know the strategy and plan so we have their support as well.”
The federal government rolled out new legislation on April 1st, that put an end to mom-and-pop pot farms and grew the medical marijuana industry into a commercially licensed business.
The past system of personal use licences and designated licences was phased out by the summer, and new federal licences geared to large scale production and distribution facilities were established under Health Canada's Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulation.
The production of medical marijuana is now classified as a farming crop, along with related accessory uses such as the drying, processing and packaging of the product.
"In the RDKB, medical marijuana production is permitted as a form of agriculture and in various agricultural zones within in the region," explained Mark Andison, RDKB's general manager of operations.
However, part of the regional district's ongoing review of its long range plans includes consulting with various rural communities to determine whether specific restrictions should be imposed upon this form of agriculture.
Those restrictions may include regulatory provisions such as minimum setbacks from property lines, fencing requirements, or requiring production to move indoors.
"While local governments may impose such restrictions, they may not prohibit the use outright," he explained. "It is considered to be a bona fide farm use."