Medical-marijuana firm eyes Barriere

Tentative deal made for two lots at Louis Creek Industrial Park

By Cam Fortems

Kamloops This Week

A medical marijuana start-up firm has made a tentative deal to buy two industrial lots in Barriere’s Louis Creek Industrial Park for a production and research facility.

GreenSkyLabs, a company incorporated in Alberta, made its plans public on Oct. 27, to locate an operation in the North Thompson town of 1,800.

Mayor Bill Humphreys said the company has submitted an offer to purchase two lots in the Louis Creek subdivision — site of the former Tolko Industries Ltd. mill that burned in what was dubbed Firestorm 2003 — contingent on it receiving approval from Health Canada.

Company founder Sam Scherwitz, who also owns an LED supply company, told KTW GreenSkyLabs intends to build a “testing, research and cultivation centre” in Barriere.

He said availability of inexpensive land, location between Alberta and Victoria and a desire to develop “in an area where we can help growth” is what brought the company to Barriere.

Scherwitz said in addition to its required permitting with Health Canada, GreenSkyLabs is also hoping to list on a Canadian stock exchange in the first quarter of next year to raise money for the venture.

The first profit generator in the Barriere building would be growing medical marijuana, but Scherwitz also said the company wants to develop research facilities for extraction of compounds in marijuana that can be used in the pharmaceutical industry.

“We’ve committed with the mayor and made a deal with the city,” he said.

The industrial park where GreenSky’s facility would be operated is owned by the municipality of Barriere.

Scherwitz also credited Humphreys for pursuing the economic opportunity.

“It could be pretty huge,” the company founder said. “It’s hundreds of job opportunities.”

Humphreys said he originally met GreenSky officials at a Vancouver Board of Trade meeting.

The mayor described himself as originally “exceptionally skeptical” about the reality of company claims.

But, he added, the company and its principals are real — and have credibility and business experience to make it happen.

Health Canada no longer issues licences for medical-marijuana users and has shifted to licensing large facilities for commercial production of medical marijuana.

That financial opportunity has produced what some publications have dubbed a “green rush” to profit through public listings, in some cases taking over dormant junior mining companies.

Barriere council just released its negotiations from in-camera status.

“They checked out . . . They appear to be well-funded and well-intentioned,” Humphreys said, noting he opposes recreational use of marijuana and educated himself about the medical side before pursuing the opportunity.

The next concrete step for the company will be the filing of building plans and, after obtaining of a Health Canada licence, closing the deal to buy industrial land for the facility that Humphreys forecasts would start with a basic crew of about 30, with opportunity for many more.

Scherwitz also cautioned the company is withholding some business deals so it can comply with its goal of public listing next year.