Officials in the Campbellton area are urging residents to put pressure on the federal government and Health Canada to accelerate the licensing process for medicinal marijuana facilities.

Zenabis bought an old warehouse in March and promised to hire 400 people to work in its medicinal marijuana plant.

The facility will be located in northern New Brunswick, a region hard-pressed for jobs. So far, 1,400 people have applied to Zenabis to work for the company.

The plant was supposed to be operating in the fall. But Zenabis still doesn't have its federal licence to produce marijuana for medical purposes.

Health Canada has received 1,100 applications from would-be producers across the country. Only 22 have been approved to date.


Zenabis has promised to create 400 jobs in the Campbellton area if it receives a licence to produce medicinal marijuana. (CBC)

Atholville Mayor Michel Soucy and the president of the local chamber of commerce staged a news conference Monday outside the Zenabis plant.

They are calling on people to put pressure on on the federal government and Health Canada to speed things up.

Soucy said they want all of the proper security checks to be done properly but he wants to know why it is happening so slowly.

"But can we accelerate a bit the file so we can give what the people are expecting from this company — Zenabis — creation of new jobs and good jobs for the area," he said.

Régis Maltais, the president of the Campbellton Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the project has a lot of local support.

Maltais said all local mayors are endorsing the project.

"In the past year, I've been talking a lot to the business community," Maltais said.

"Our next step, if this doesn't work … we'll have to get the business community involved and the population involved. So we'll have more people, more letters going to the minister."

An early supporter of the Zenabis plant was Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, who is the local Conservative MP.

Valcourt expressed his support when Zenabis announced its plans, but has not been available to comment on the progress of the company for the last few months.

Statistics Canada's three-month average for the unemployment rate in the Campbellton-Miramichi region was 13 per cent in September, the highest of any region in the province.