The Okanagan is becoming a hot spot for pot. Several current and proposed marijuana production facilities are popping up across the Okanagan Valley from Lumby to Osoyoos ahead of the federal legalization of recreational cannabis retail sales later this year.
A 16-acre site off Highway 3A in Kaleden could soon be home to a 200,000-square-foot pot production facility.
Wholesale cannabis company Green Mountain Health Alliance has purchased the private property on ALR land.
It hopes to become a licensed producer, pending Health Canada approval, to grow 10,000 kilograms of marijuana every year.
“We will be distributing across Canada and globally to the medical market,” said head facilities designer Dominic Unsworth.
The Okanagan is quickly becoming a leading region in cannabis production.
“The Okanagan has always become an incredible centre for agriculture and we have the unique opportunity here of taking advantage of the long days, the bright sun, and an incredible job pool in the agricultural community to draw from,” Unsworth said.
Commercial real estate firm Colliers International said industrial and agricultural land is getting gobbled up to grow pot.
“The closer we get to the legalization, there is so much more activity but interestingly, there is a lot of money behind all of this,” said managing broker Murray Wills.
Some First Nations also want to cash in.
Penticton Indian Band member Marnie Kruger said she is in negotiations to lease her property to Green Mountain Health Alliance.
“It’s a growing industry and with legalization that’s coming this summer and early fall, it just seems timely,” she said.
The Okanagan is also seeing workers traditionally involved in the wine industry move into cannabis, like Unsworth.
“It’s a logical transition for people who are used to growing high-quality fruit. We’re growing high-quality flower. There is very little difference,” he said.
Expect more people to jump from red and white to green as legalization looms.