Business

Epican employs 20 for cannabis farm

BY KARENA BENNETT
Business reporter
bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

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Cannabis cultivator Epican says it has already secured 20 skilled labourers for its 43,000-square-foot cultivation facility in Blue Mountains, St Andrew.

Last week the company was granted the first commercial licence as a tier one cultivator. Another licence was also issued to Everything Oily for the processing of cannabis. The two signed the tripartite agreement at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries, signifying their arrangement to conduct business together in keeping with the requirement to have the industry operate as a closed-loop system.

But before Epican begins operation, the company now awaits clearance from the Ministry of National Security on each of its employees. Nonetheless, the company has used the time to train small farmers across Jamaica, some of whom are now employed to the company in cultivating for the global market.

“We are implementing a programme to employ small farmers not just within our company but outside, because we recognise that small farmers all over Jamaica need some kind of guidance to cultivate for global standards. The people we have hired, some of them have experience and others don't, and we also have people who went through our course,” CEO Karibe McKenzie told the Jamaica Observer.

He is confident that the skills acquired by the workers during the training course, or otherwise, in addition to the technology employed by the company, will allow Epican to produce the highest grade and purest quality of cannabis.

“Our cultivation is strictly organic and sun grown,” McKenzie said.

Epican has also received conditional licences for three other categories — processing, retail, research and development — and anticipates the final approval and issuance of those licences in the near future.

The company said that upon receiving the other licences it plans on implementing a vertical integrated operation producing both high and low cannabis extracts at a 5,000-square-foot processing facility. Epican was, however, tight-lipped on the details of the processing facility.

The company said it also intends to open several retail locations across the island making products available to Jamaicans and visitors.

“The first one will be in Kingston. I cannot give further details on it at this time, but we have already identified several locations and we are in negotiations with stakeholders for these locations. We are now awaiting the licence of our retail stores,” the CEO told the Business Observer.

Epican has also submitted 11 products to the Ministry of Health for registration and awaits approval from the Medicinal Cannabis Unit.

Epican is engaged in the development of advanced super and sub-critical CO2 extraction technologies for phytocannabinoids, terpenes and cannabis-based phytonutrients from the cannabis plant. The company said it is aiming to meet the demands of the growing medical cannabis industry in Jamaica.

The company has invested in researching the plant to extract strains for medicinal purposes. It said its investigations have identified strains with healing properties that can be used for medicinal pills, oils, nutrients, creams, and inhalations.

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