The news surrounding Canada’s legalization of recreational cannabis on October 17th meant that a historic announcement went relatively unnoticed – the first indigenous-owned medical marijuana producer received licensing to begin operations.
Seven Leaf is a cultivation and processing facility owned and operated by members of the Akwesanse Mohawk community based in Cornwall Island, Ontario. Those running the facility have a diverse background in law, business admin, and horticulture, so it looks set to be a well-run operation in Akwesanse Mohawk Territory.
Lewis Mitch, President of Seven Leaf, said the licencing allows the company to provide a range of opportunities for members of the local community, with various full-time positions available in the facility.
“The Seven Leaf team is deeply rooted in the Akwesasne community,” Mitchell said in a statement.
“We take tremendous pride in our First Nations Territory and believe in providing advancement and growth opportunities for a strong, prosperous future. We are establishing quality jobs—where our college and university graduates have something to come home for, and to stay for.”
Mitchell believes that monumental licencing could inspire other members of the First Nation community to pursue similar economic opportunities in the medical cannabis market.
“Seven Leaf has the potential to create a new economy on Akwesasne which in turn will impact the broader Akwesasne economy with new jobs and contracting opportunities,” Mitchell explains.
Seven Leaf currently employs 24 people from Akwesasne, while developing the facility also led to opportunities for those with construction trades, while there are also plans to increase the number of employees to 75 once the facility is ready.
Mitchell notes that the employment opportunities will be available for members of the community with varying levels of education and experience. It plans to hire the next batch of employees in the next six months.
The company is using a former water bottling plant located on the reservation as the main facility for growing and processing medical cannabis. Seven Leaf expects that the 84,000 square feet facility will eventually triple in size to accommodate the growth in production over the first two years of operations.
Cultivation in the facility is reported to be a 120-day cycle from initial propagation to the final harvesting and processing. Their first crop of medical cannabis should be ready by mid-spring 2019, while the facility will be fully functional and working at maximum production by autumn that year.
The first ever indigenous medical cannabis producer has the blessing of the tribe’s Grand Chief, with Abram Benedict grateful for the economic opportunity the operation is bringing the community.
“The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne shares in the celebration of the licensing of Seven Leaf,” said Benedict.
“We look forward to the positive contribution Seven Leaf will have on Akwesasne’s economy and look forward to advancing our working relationship with Health Canada to ensure our common objectives are achieved.”