'High ambitions': Freedom Cannabis starts construction west of Edmonton
Producer hopes to market product using events, artists
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A new cannabis producer setting up just west of Edmonton is angling to dig its heels into the local entertainment industry.
Freedom Cannabis co-founder and COO Troy Dezwart said his experience as an owner and operator of restaurants, clubs and live music venues like the former Edmonton Event Centre puts his new venture in a unique position to collaborate with artists and performers.
“With our experience in marketing with live events and artists, we think that we’re going to be able to uniquely market some of our products with events and potentially artist endorsements,” Dezwart said.
Freedom Cannabis began construction in January on a 56-acre plot of land near Acheson, Alta. that used to be a modular homes manufacturer.
Freedom expects to start growing this fall, once its first phase of 70,000 square feet is constructed.
Right now, Dezwart plans to produce about 15,000 kg of dried cannabis a year at a $50-million building with 125,000 square feet of growing space.
But the large plot of land allows expansion of up to two million square feet, which could include extraction labs, as well as packaging and processing facilities.
“We won’t just be growing cannabis, we’ll have a number of things that we’re doing to create cannabis products (with),” Dezwart said.
Freedom is also differentiating itself with its isolated growth strategy. Seedlings and plants will be grown in small rooms varying in size from 1,000 to 2,500 square feet, to avoid potential disease and crop loss.
“A lot of the companies in Canada and around the world have had a lot of challenges with crop loss due to contamination. So we spent a lot of time and energy researching and designing a model that is sustainable,” Dezwart said.
Freedom joins a growing list of cannabis producers cropping up in the Edmonton area.
Aurora Sky announced last week it got approved to start growing on its 800,000 square foot facility at the Edmonton International Airport, which the company is touting as the biggest in the world.
Dezwart said there is room for competition, as he expects a “massive” shortage of cannabis once legalization takes effect across Canada later this year.
He said the influx of cannabis facilities in the area makes sense, adding Albertans are entrepreneurial and resourceful at heart.
“Generally people in Edmonton and Alberta have high ambitions,” he said. “So it doesn’t surprise me that there’s all this activity happening.”