Aphria's new Leamington cannabis extraction facility needs skilled workers

Aphria's $55-million cannabis extraction facility planned for Leamington sounds a bit like something out of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

CEO Vic Neufeld says he's looking for chemists, chocolatiers and others for new products

Leamington, Ont. cannabis producer Aphria anticipates its new extraction facility will employ 20 to 30 skilled workers. (Nicolas Pham/Radio-Canada)

From chocolates to Listerine strips, cannabis producer Aphria is setting out to make a grand expansion to its Leamington, Ont. facility — and they need skilled workers. 

The company's CEO Vic Neufeld announced last week the company was raising $225 million for expansions, with $55 million set aside for "cannabis extraction."

"We are actively pursuing various infused products from a research and development perspective," Neufeld said.

His company is working with their related company, Florida-based Liberty Health Sciences, as well as industry experts in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, on coming up with state-of-the-art oils that can be used in a variety of cannabis products. 

"As we ponder what the next 12 months of adult use in Canada is going to be ... there is language in [federal Bill] C-45 that indicates that government is prepared to advance other product offerings with a cannabis space to it," said Neufeld. 

The cannabis extracts will be used to make edible products like chocolate bars, tea bags, and rapid-dissolve technology like Listerine strips. 

Neufeld said he's searching right across North America to find employees who can make these products happen.

"I could see anywhere from 20 or 30 employees — but these are going to be not general greenhouse labourers, rather semi to skilled employees that know how to run an oil distillate," he said. 

CEO of Aphria, Vic Neufeld, was photographed in Toronto's Shangri-La hotel on Jan. 18, 2018. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The search is now on for chemists, chocolatiers and other types of inventors with a scientific background. 

The modern extraction facility will be able to process more than 200 tonnes of cannabis annually, and Neufeld anticipates the oil extraction aspect will give Aphria a competitive edge.

Although the business expansion is already underway, Neufeld notes final production depends on the outcome of Bill C-45 — Canada's legislation for the legalization of recreational marijuana, which just received Senate approval including amendments

About the Author

Kaitie Fraser

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Kaitie Fraser is a reporter at CBC Windsor. Email Kaitie.Fraser@cbc.ca

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