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Pot Will Transform Local Jobs


This article was previously published in Okanagan Edge and is reproduced with permission.

Legalized cannabis will usher in major economic shifts in the Okanagan as economic activity explodes and the labor market transforms dramatically.

Those are just some the predictions a panel of industry experts came to today at a Kelowna Chamber of Commerce luncheon exploring the business of cannabis in the Okanagan Valley.

Okanagan College professor David Cram told the packed house that when pot is officially legalized this year it will mean a massive shift in the workforce.

“With the number of square footage (of production facilities) that is being built out in B.C. right now, I think there’s going to be an enormous drain on personnel when these facilities are all up and running,” he said.

With several Okanagan companies in the middle of massive expansions, the Okanagan will feel this shift more than most other regions.

Already, Lumby’s True Leaf Medicine is building a new, state-of-the-art production facility after raising millions of dollars of its own.

Kelowna’s Cannatech Plant Systems was also recently sold to big-name pot producer The Flowr Corporation, which plans on setting up its “massive,” “flagship” production operation in the city, bringing in hundreds of jobs.

Cram says facilities like those won’t just mean a “shortage of workers,” they will also create an “incredible demand for training” in the cannabis sector.

Peter Guo, who leads MNP’s Enterprise Risk Services practice, agreed but said the “giant movement re-deploying the human capital in this area” won’t necessarily be a bad thing.

He said the plethora of new opportunities in the cannabis industry has the potential to provide retraining for people who aren’t “fully participating in the economy” right now.

However, Guo pointed out that economies of scale in the cannabis industry will also mean “smarter ways of growing.”

Cram cited data suggesting that, in 2012, the cannabis industry produced an estimated 80 times the value of the grape crop in B.C.

While most pot crops have been hand-harvested up until now, Guo said legalization will likely usher in new mass harvesting methods.

Just like the beer industry is divided between craft brewers and massive operations like Anheuser Busch, so to will the pot industry.

Someone, he said, will have to be the bud light of pot.

Cram pointed out that cannabis legalization will be like a light switch going off, bringing an entire economy that was once semi-legal or entirely illegal into the light of day.

“When that switch turns you’ve got a whole industry that’s going from black / grey onto the table,” he said. “The magnitude of what’s about to happen, because it’s going to be crazy.”

Contact Peter Guo, B.C. Enterprise Risk Services Leader, at 604.637.1513 or [email protected]