Siksika wants to build 25,000-square-foot medical marijuana facility

By Anna Brooks | Calgary Herald | Nov 4, 2016

The Siksika Nation could be the first indigenous people in Alberta to produce medical marijuana on-site.

An application was filed in July 2016 to Health Canada to grow pharmaceutical-grade marijuana on Siksika land, a decision approved by the Siksika Nation chief and council.

Council member Marsha Wolf Collar said after researching and observing trends across Canada and the U.S., the council determined the construction of a medical marijuana production facility is a smart move for business and community reasons.

“As a First Nation, we believe in a holistic view of health,” Wolf Collar said. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing in most communities a lot of opiate use, and synthetic drugs doing a lot of damage.”

With mounting evidence showing that production of high-quality, medical-grade marijuana can alleviate chronic pain, insomnia and even improve overall quality of life, Wolf Collar said manufacturing cannabis on Siksika land would benefit community members and outlying areas.

“We’re looking at marijuana use through a medical lens,” she said. “This is something we could bring not only to our First Nation community, but distribute to the rest of Canada and even internationally.”

A joint venture between Siksika Resource Development Ltd. and Siksika Herbz Ltd., the $14.2-million project east of Calgary will feature a 25,000-square-foot facility that is projected to “deliver upwards of $14.4 million in annual revenue from dried cannabis alone.”

Siksika Nation expects final approval of the initiative by 2018.

Wolf Collar added that besides the potential revenue from a local medical marijuana source, the facility would address and alleviate other community concerns, such as housing issues, addictions and medical problems.

“We’re really excited about it,” Wolf Collar said. “We’re also looking at this as a prevention model. We want to give back to the community and help address some of our social issues, and we think it can really help us in the long run.”

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