Study shows pot producer’s impact on Nanaimo economy

NANAIMO – Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation reports on economic impact of medical marijuana producer.

Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation has released an analysis of Tilray’s impact on the local economy in the medical marijuana grower’s first year of operation.

The 14-page report, presented Wednesday at SquareOne co-working space, examined Tilray’s impact on the region since the start of construction and operation of its 5,600-square-metre research and production facility.

It also offered economic predictions from Tilray’s proposed operations and workforce expansion.

The company currently employs 120 people in Nanaimo and is on track with its expansion to become the No. 1 employer in the Nanaimo region, Sasha Angus, NEDC CEO, said at the presentation.

The study, prepared by accounting firm MNP LLP, estimates Tilray’s construction and operation in 2014 at $48.1 million in total economic output in B.C. and $27.4 million in total provincial gross domestic product.

To date, Tilray has contributed just over $3.2 million in local wages and salaries and $8.5 million in taxes.

Nanaimo city council approved rezoning in December for construction of a second facility four- to five-times larger than Tilray’s existing structure that could create hundreds of new direct and indirect jobs in Nanaimo, plus $90 million in annual economic output.

Greg Engel, former pharmaceutical executive who became Tilray’s new chief executive officer in February, touted Tilray’s research and development programs, specifically a trial study with the University of British Columbia scheduled to start before the end of 2015, to study marijuana’s effectiveness in treating post traumatic stress disorder.

Staffing research programs meant attracting professionals – research scientists, managers, botanists, horticulturalists and security experts – locally and from abroad. Tilray has also attracted investors from around the world to Nanaimo. The trial study is scheduled to start before the end of 2015.

“I was brought in to help legitimize the industry and legitimize the overall perspective,” Engel said. “We are treating cannabis like a medicine because it is a medicine and my role is to continue that focus as a company.”

Tilray’s expansion will increase the facility’s laboratory capacity and research capabilities, Engel said, and research could branch out into studying hemp extracts for industrial and medical purposes, but marijuana will remain Tilray’s primary focus for the immediate future.

“In the future our vision is to continue to look at things like plant genetics and other delivery methods, etc., in the facility, so those are our plans for the future,” Engel said.

The full report is available online at

Nanaimo News Bulletin