Jay Wilgar is the CEO of a Brantford company but he and his staff are sticklers when it comes to rules.
“Just so you know, we won’t be giving you any goodie baskets to take with you after the tour,” Wilgar says with a sly smile after greeting a visitor to Hemisphere Pharmaceuticals, a medical marijuana production facility that is looking to establish deep roots in the community.
“We’ve been working on this since 2013,” Wilgar, a Laurier University graduate.
“And there were some times when we’d be sitting in the board room here and it felt pretty lonely.”
Getting a new business up and running, especially in regulated new industry like medical marijuana, takes time, patience and a meticulous eye for detail. It began with the idea and one of the first few steps of the process was to find a facility.
Wilgar and company officials found what they were looking for in Brantford.
“We have 14,200-square-feet over two floors here,” Wilgar said. “It was empty space when we arrived and working with the people here has been nothing but positive.
“We’ve had people from the city, the police department and the fire department all come through the facility and they were great, very supportive.”‘
Since arriving in Brantford, the company has been putting in place its manufacturing process, as well as extra security measures. There are cameras everywhere. And entry to various rooms is restricted and monitored.
Anyone entering a room must wear a white lab coat, shoe coverings, a hairnet and, for those with facial hair, a mask.
Company officials have asked that its address not be published. But the facility is located in an industrial area.
Last December, Hemisphere received a licence from Health Canada to start producing medical marijuana at its Brantford facility. The company started growing medical marijuana in January.
There now are several rooms fitted with all the equipment needed to grow high quality marijuana.
Now, Wilgar has got plenty of company at work. Hemisphere has 15 employees with plans to add another five to 10 as the business grows.
Some of the jobs are part-time and have flexible hours to accommodate employees. The positions were filled with the help of the city’s economic development department.
The next step for the company is to get a Health Canada licence to sell its product. Company officials are optimistic but can’t say when that will happen.
The company’s products will be sold directly to a consumer who has received a prescription from a medical doctor.
Once a prescription or order is received, it will be vetted by staff at Hemisphere. The the order is filled and shipped in a plain, odourless package.
Meanwhile, the company is in the process of becoming a publicly traded company on the TSX Venture Exchange through a deal with Newstrike. Once that process is completed, Hemisphere will trade under the name Newstrike.
The move will give the company greater access to capital and further support its plans for the Brantford facility, the company said.
By Vincent Ball, Brantford Expositor