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Massive cannabis facility set for Lonesand

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 12/18/2017 10:00 AM

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Thaddeus Conrad displays some of his medical marijuana product during a visit from The Carillon in 2015. Conrad now has plans to develop 100,000 sq-ft. marijuana production facility in Lonesand.

IAN FROESE | CARILLON ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Thaddeus Conrad displays some of his medical marijuana product during a visit from The Carillon in 2015. Conrad now has plans to develop 100,000 sq-ft. marijuana production facility in Lonesand.

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A local medical marijuana producer has announced an ambitious plan to begin producing and selling recreational cannabis products after passing regulatory requirements that he expects will take three years.

"I’m really excited to finally do it," Thaddeus Conrad, president and CEO of Med-Man Brand, said in a recent phone interview.

His phased plan first involves the construction of a new 100,000-sq-ft production facility in Lonesand, the tiny RM of Stuartburn community where he resides.

Currently, Conrad’s company produces medical marijuana and sells 10 proprietary medicinal strains, bred in-house, to other licensed commercial producers.

While those strains will be grown in the new nearby facility, he explained a new corporate entity called Platinum Cannabis Group will also produce as-yet unreleased recreational strains out of the new facility.

Conrad, who is applying for a Health Canada licence to build, said a construction timeline depends upon application processing times, which in turn are affected by legalization and Canada’s blossoming commercial cannabis market.

"Based on their track record, we could be looking at three years until we’re licensed to produce. Then it’ll take three quality assurance crops that we have to test for Health Canada and keep in storage," he explained.

A sales licence is then issued. Health Canada guidelines will require Conrad to submit production, waste, and plant tracking data monthly. Provincial oversight will occur through a tracking system at the point of sale, he explained.

"They want to know where every gram is going," he said, likening cannabis regulation to current provincial tracking of liquor bottles and cigarette cartons.

Producing five crops annually, he pegged production capacity at 24 million grams per year, with each gram carrying a retail value of between $5 and $20.

The facility could employ 100 people once fully operational.

"I’m really excited to be giving the opportunity to the community where I actually live," he said.

The facility’s floor plan will be divided into three security zones: executive offices and quality assurance (low security); growing and processing areas (medium security); and weighing, storage, and disposal areas (high security).

"My main objective is to be profitable, and in order to be profitable you have to…be eco-friendly," Conrad said.

To that end, the entire facility will be powered by biofuel and solar energy, with a mandatory backup gas generator.

To fund the estimated $20 million construction cost, Conrad said he intends to take his company public, and has already assembled a team of executives to oversee quality assurance, security, and technical operations—three key aspects he said Health Canada examines closely when assessing applications.

"The team is the most important thing," he said, declining to name the individuals, as well as the architect and contractor attached to the project, until the application is submitted. One executive is a former longtime Health Canada employee, he said.

"It’s kind of like a work of passion for everyone involved."

Using a business model he termed "radical transparency," Conrad said his executive team will be on site regularly, and won’t get paid until a production licence is secured.

This week, he planned to notify the municipality, law enforcement, and fire officials of his plan to build.

The final phase of his plan involves opening a string of 10 retails cannabis stores in Manitoba. While he said he would "absolutely" look at opening a Steinbach store, he is currently waiting to see whether local municipal councils will allow retail cannabis sales within their boundaries.

In the meantime, Conrad spoke approvingly of Manitoba’s "hybrid" regulatory framework, which he said rightly asks entrepreneurs, and not the province, to assume the financial risk associated with any new business venture.

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