The CEO of the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation approves of Ottawa's decision to standardize medical marijuana operations across the country.
Sandra Pupatello told CBC's Gino Conte our region could benefit from the Federal government's decision to phase out the older system that relies on small-scale, homegrown producers.
Starting Tuesday, private growers will no longer be able to get licences from the government. By April 2014, users will only have the option to buy from suppliers approved and licensed by Ottawa.
Pupatello said this could be an opportunity to expand on our region's expertise.
"Agri-business is what we do very well. It's part of the wealth that we've always seen in Windsor-Essex County. We've perfected [greenhouses]. We've perfected that for a number of years," she said. "We've done it for different types of vegetables and plants, so there's no reason why we can't cross-purpose that level of expertise."
Pupatello said diversifying our business would boost our economy, especially since we already have the resources.
"We are a border community that takes one third of the nation's trade in commercial goods. We're used to a high level of security. We're used to border crossing issues," she said. "So, combine that with the powerful second punch of being so good at agriculture and, in particular, the greenhouse operating business. This is a very powerful combination for our region."
Health Canada announced the changes to their policy in June.
Don Taylor, of the Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association, said medical pot has piqued the interest of some of his members.
"We’re aware that some of our growers have expressed interest in it and are looking into it. Individual growers could look into that," he said. "Certainly there’s an opportunity there and certainly our growers have the expertise and potentially the physical operations to take advantage of this."
The government proposes paying $7.50 per gram — or more than $3,000 per pound of pot.
Taylor chuckled when asked if that might entice some greenhouse growers to turn to pot.
"Someone would have to do detailed calculations, the numbers certainly sound high. But there are costs involved. From a greenhouse perspective you have to maximize the yield," he said.