The Hydropothecary Corporation just announced that it acquired 78 acres of land adjacent to its existing 65 acre facility in Gatineau, QC which allows them to construct a new 1.0 million sq. ft. greenhouse on the newly acquired land, increasing its production capacity to 108,000 kg of dried cannabis per year and bringing the Company’s total production to 1.3 million sq. ft. of advanced cultivation and manufacturing labs, with more room to expand. The production capacity expansion will be completed for December 2018.
BofC had the opportunity to speak with Pierre Killeen, their Vice President Of Corporate Communications & Government Relations for his views on what’s missing from the public narrative, what’s ahead for 2018 and his career in the cannabis sector.
Business of Cannabis: Between the announcement today and the recent product awards that Hydropothecary won, it’s been a pretty nonstop press tour for you – we’re wondering what’s the question that you wish you’d been asked or the missing component of the story?
Pierre Killeen: What’s missing from the current story is what Hydropothecary’s success and growth really means for the province of Quebec. As Canadians know, Quebec has a unique position in Canada and as the cannabis sector grows exponentially, Hydropothecary is in the privileged position of building a globally competitive company from within the province. This means mass talent attraction to the area – the cannabis sector and the type of jobs we are looking to hire for are high paid, technical and professional roles in an exciting and growing sector. We currently employ 100 people locally and expect this to grow to 300 by the time our expansion is complete. Finally, there are only two LPs currently in Quebec, so Hydropothecary is playing a significant role in navigating the public policy challenges and questions with the unique perspective of being based in Quebec.
BofC: The current story has naturally been focused on the one million square foot green house and the $80 million in funding that now puts Hydropothecary in the same capacity league as Canadian market leaders like Canopy and Tweed – we are wondering what it means as well for product innovation – an area where Hydropothecary has really made their industry mark. PK:
Well, the expansion means that we are now fully in the major leagues with a tremendous opportunity ahead to really execute to a new level in terms of product innovation. The industry is evolving so rapidly and new innovations are coming out of the US that will cross-pollinate the Canadian market – so expect to see more research and development, new products, increased delivery and even further improvements to the user experience. BofC: What are your views on how the shift to the recreational market will impact business?
PK: At Hydropothecary, we are very conscious that medical cannabis pioneers and advocates brought us to this point. Our product innovations have been particularly well suited to medical patients, especially those facing end of life issues. For instance, our Decarb dried and fine milled product, which just won Best New Product at the inaugural Lift Canadian Cannabis Awards 2017, can be easily added to a smoothie or booster drink. Similarly, our sublingual cannabis oil mist, Elixir, which also won second for Top High THC Oil and third for Best New Cannabis Product, is another smoke free, easy and convenient way for medical patients to ingest cannabis. In terms of what this means for the recreational market, we believe the non-smoking options will be incredibly appealing to very large consumer markets who would not use cannabis in the more traditional forms that come with some negative connotations.
BofC: Careers in the cannabis sector are still so new – tell us a bit about how you came to the industry.
PK: My career started as a lawyer and then I spent 15 years in the communications and government relations business, culminating in a senior position for one of the top PR firms in the world. Working in the “bubble”, you come to deeply appreciate the power of regulatory systems and the importance of policy-making. This makes my engagement in the cannabis sector so exciting – to me this is the biggest public policy issue in Canada since free trade and I get a front line role in how it all happens. I’ve been at Hydropothecary for three months now and every day has been a thrilling ride of growth and expansion.
BofC: What do you expect to be the defining themes of 2018?
PK: What’s essential for 2018 is that the industry needs to work closely with governments at every level to make sure that it is smooth and positive transition to recreational cannabis. The reality is that polls show that half of all Canadians have concerns with legalization – and industry has to recognize that large scale social change like this has to happen through small steps. To get there we need to be, we need to tell a better story about ourselves and we need to do this in close partnership with government.