New Brunswick

Atholville anxious for medical marijuana plant to be approved

Atholville community leaders are rallying behind a medical marijuana plant still waiting for approval from Health Canada, saying the region needs the jobs Zenabis will create.

About 1,400 people have applied to work at Zenabis, but Health Canada still hasn't issued licence

A medical marijuana plant planned for Atholville has stalled, along with the estimated 400 jobs it was expected to create for the hard-hit northern New Brunswick village over several years.

Atholville Mayor Michel Soucy says the region needs the jobs the Zenabis plant is expected to create. (CBC)
​Zenabis is still waiting for approval from Health Canada and Mayor Michel Soucy wants to know why.

"We need some quick answers," he said. "It's important for the Village of Atholville and the whole area because of job creation. Job creation is very important for us, and we're backing the company in this," he said.

A spokesperson for Health Canada says the agency has received more than 1,000 applications from potential producers, and almost half were incomplete, refused, or withdrawn.

So far, only 22 licences have been issued.

How long it takes to get a licence varies, depending on security checks, the quality of the application and the readiness of applicants, the spokesperson said.

When International Herbs Medical Marijuana bought the old 400,000-square-foot Atlantic Yarns warehouse in March, the B.C.-based company expected to be producing product by now.

About 1,400 people from Grand Falls to the Acadian Peninsula have applied to work at the plant, according to the Restigouche Community Business Development Corporation, which has been recruiting for the company.

But the Zenabis parking lot remains empty.

"We might have a rally," said Régis Maltais, president of the Campbellton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"I'm going to meet with all the mayors and get the community together. I think if we join forces, it will go through, but if we just lay back and wait until things happen, it doesn't seem like it's gonna happen."