One of Vancouver Island's largest medical marijuana growing companies announced Thursday it is laying off 61 employees.

Tilray opened its Nanaimo facility in 2014 and at its peak employed nearly 200 people, giving it a high profile as a major employer in the region.

The company insists the layoffs will not have any impact on "the thousands of patients we serve," according to a statement from Tilray CEO Greg Engel.

"Tilray is making changes to our operating model to more efficiently serve patients and the MMPR market as it exists today," Engel wrote.

"Tilray is well-capitalized and confident in our long-term business strategy, and we are operating more efficiently than ever before."

Major employer

It's quite a change for the company that held numerous job fairs just last year, and even hosted an information session in an effort to fill positions.

A report released in March by the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation found Tilray generated more than $48 million for the local economy last year and fostered 395 jobs during the construction and operation phase.

But Ted Smith, founder of the Cannabis Buyers' Clubs in Victoria, wasn't surprised by the apparent downsizing of operations.

"A number of companies that have been authorized by Health Canada have been very aggressive and I believe overestimated the profits that they'll be able to make off patients in this short amount of time," said Smith.

"Ì think we'd be doing a lot better by having dozens of smaller companies than having one large company controlling the market."