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Plans continue at qathet region cannabis facility

Meridian 125W working toward obtaining cultivation licence

Meridian 125W Cultivation is active in its developmental phase to grow high quality craft cannabis from its facility in Townsite.

According to lead investor Thomas Ligocki, Meridian 125W acquired the former Santé Veritas assets from TILT, which is a publicly listed company.

“We are not coming in from the outside where this is one branch of a much larger entity,” said Ligocki. “Meridian 125W is Powell River. Looking at the map, you can see Powell River is located between the 124W meridian and the 125W meridian, and a little closer to 125W, hence the name.

“We are going to be growing craft cannabis – not the mass production type. It will be great quality, as the west coast wants and deserves.”

Ligocki said construction at the facility in the qathet region is well underway and the company is busy attending to the regulatory activity necessary for production of cannabis.

“We probably have a month left to finish and submit our application to Health Canada for a cultivation licence,” said Ligocki. “Health Canada has made it clear about what their expectations are and our team understands what needs to be done. The people before us had done a very good job of getting to that 90 per cent. There was definitely more left to be done.”

Ligocki said Meridian 125W is applying for a cultivation licence, and two or three months after the application is made, it is expected that the licence will be received.

Between when the company applies for the licence and when it can start cultivation, it can prepare by acquiring the materials in which the growing will be done, such as the nutrition.

“All of that can be brought in after we have submitted our application,” said Ligocki.

The cannabis at Meridian 125W will be grown hydroponically. Ligocki said the quality of water flowing into the facility is very good.

“We love the water we have here in Powell River,” he added. “It is perfect. It doesn’t need the type of treatment that perhaps other locations might need.

Growing technique

“Hydroponics has a methodology as a growing technique where about 10 times less water is used, and therefore, less waste. We are growing this way because it’s the right thing to do. We are doing it because we believe we can get the higher quality and the best results in the most sustainable, consistent way.”

By dripping into each plant the necessary nutrients, in a scientific manner, certain attributes for each plant can be achieved. Ligocki said that includes such components as the level of THC, which is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, and CBD, which has been touted for a wide variety of health issues.

“We will be able to achieve the results the market is looking for,” said Ligocki. “We’ve done a lot of research, and there’s a lot of smart people who we have hired to be consultants, to give us guidance on not only where the market is today, but also where it is going.

“There’s a different niche that can be carved out. We don’t have to meet what everyone else is doing. It’s not just about the percentage of THC. Sometimes by balancing it with CBD, you get a better experience. Or, the quantity and type of terpenes that accompany that creates a much different experience and enhances the outcome far more than just focusing on one attribute, which is the percentage of THC.”

To ensure the quality of product, Ligocki said the company has hired people from the science community. The head of quality assurance has a doctorate in chemistry. Ligocki said having this type of experience, and also having young people bringing ideas, will give new insights into what is possible.

Job creation

Ligocki said Meridian 125W will be creating about 60 jobs initially. He said there are currently people working in construction in the facility and those are short-term positions.

Long term, the company will be looking for people who are passionate about cultivation and want to take an approach that appreciates the niche the company is trying to create, and who can adhere to the high level of quality and consistency.

“We are looking for staff who can fill all different ranks,” said Ligocki. “We need maintenance staff and sanitation because sanitation goes hand-in-hand with that quality. We need people who are scientists, but also people who just enjoy interacting with the plants. That human touch and human interaction – loving the plants – can ultimately give a better result than using machines.”

Additional hiring will be taking place after construction is complete and after the application has been submitted to Health Canada.

Packaged products

In terms of the cannabis to be produced in the Townsite facility, each room should be able to produce five crops per year. The product will be dried and packaged at the facility before it is marketed. Because the building has a number of growing rooms on different floors, Ligocki said Meridian 125W can grow different genetics in each room to create some different products.

“That gives us the ability to respond to different market dynamics,” said Ligocki. “If the market starts shifting on us, we can experiment with bringing a new genetic to market and test that response prior to converting other rooms. We plan on being adaptable and staying attuned to our markets.”

Meridian 125W is not a global player, according to Ligocki.

“We are a niche craft cannabis producer, located here in Powell River,” he said. “The cannabis market is made up, through consolidations, of a lot of large players that mass produce cannabis. Then, there are some niche players that are tiny operations, comparatively. We are right in the middle.

“We can use the sophisticated technology that big players have to measure and control, but, at the same time, we can have the passion and the attention to the craft cannabis industry and bring that level of love for the plants. We’re at the apex of that right combination where those two come together.”

Ligocki said the end product will be distinguished and will delight.