The P.E.I. BioCommons will soon get a new tenant after a local business owner confirmed plans to open a medical marijuana production facility in Charlottetown.
Edwin Jewell, owner of Jewell's Country Market in York, confirmed Monday he is one of 10 investors in the new operation that he hopes will be inspected and running by the fall.
Jewell said he was interested in the business because at the heart of the operation, it was about growing plants, which is something he has been doing for most of his life, and providing an alternative to some medications.
"To be involved in something that is so new and can help people in that way it's pretty exciting," he said.
Starting in April, Canadians who use medical marijuana won't be able to grow it themselves or buy it from Health Canada.
Instead they will have to register with a licensed producer.
As of Monday, Health Canada listed 10 licensed producers on its website.
Last month Charlottetown city council voted in favour of changing its zoning and development bylaw to add the definition for "medical marijuana production facility".
The new facility will operate under the name Canada's Island Garden Inc. and start by employing about 15 people in a 14,000 square foot space in the BioCommons.
He said the facility will take about $4 million to get up and running.
The process to get a licence is rigorous including Health Canada wanting security clearances for people who will be on site and asking the company to submit a security plan, Jewell said.
"They want a lot of information."
Compared to his other business ventures, Jewell said there is a lot of bureaucracy to deal with, although he added Health Canada has been very good to deal with.
"There's a steep learning curve."
Jewell said one of the challenges with starting a medical marijuana facility was that he couldn't just walk into one to see how it works.
"We had to figure a lot of this out on my own," he said.
As for public reaction to the opening of the facility, Jewell said he has been monitoring it closely and he doesn't think it will be that controversial because medical marijuana is becoming more widely used.
"It truly helps people and it's pretty hard for people to argue with that," he said.