EDMONTON -- Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) says it is expanding production with a massive new grow facility at the Edmonton International Airport.
The medical marijuana company said the airport is close to customs for importing the supplies and equipment it needs and the location will make it easier to export pot to its customers in Canada and eventually to other countries where marijuana is legal.
The company said the 74,000-square-metre facility, called Aurora Sky, will be larger than 16 football fields and will be capable of producing more than 100,000 kilograms of cannabis per year.
Aurora vice-president Cam Battley said the new operation will help meet growing demand for medical marijuana and position it to supply recreational pot once it is legalized by the federal government.
"The demand is now about 130,000 patients in the medical cannabis system," Battley said Thursday.
"We need to expand to meet that demand and we also have our eye very much on the federal government's intention to table legislation in the spring to legalize the consumer use."
On Wednesday, a federal task force on legalized recreational marijuana recommended sales be allowed to Canadians 18 years and older.
Battley said it also chose the airport location on federal land for its warehouse space, security and its proximity to shipping and courier companies.
Heather Hamilton, spokeswoman for Edmonton International Airport, said the lease agreement with Aurora will earn money for the airport, help attract more businesses and bolster the region's economy.
Hamilton said it's a legal business so the airport has no concerns about the marijuana grow operation.
"It is a done deal," she said.
"We don't have an opinion on it. We are looking at it in terms of, is it compatible with what we are doing? Is it compatible with our other businesses?"
Battley said work is underway on the project that is to include an automated greenhouse. The company plans to have construction complete by next October.
Aurora Cannabis Inc. (ACB.TO) already operates a federally licensed medical marijuana growing facility near Cremona in central Alberta.
A Health Canada website indicates that Aurora is one of 36 producers in Canada that are licensed to grow and sell medical cannabis such as dried marijuana, fresh marijuana and cannabis oil.