Cannabis startup NordikLeaf plans to be first licensed pot grower in urban Ottawa


Several former executives from a Carleton Place cannabis firm are launching a new venture and hope to construct a 100,000-square-foot facility in west Ottawa and start cultivating marijuana by May 2019.

NordikLeaf CEO James Mackenzie says the firm has raised $1 million to date and is looking to raise a total of $25 million from high-net-worth individuals to launch the project. Additionally, the company has an agreement with “a large Canadian construction company” based in Ottawa that will help finance the building of the facility.

Mackenzie declined to name the construction company or the specific location of the planned facility, beyond saying it would be in the western part of urban Ottawa. It’s believed to be a first for the city, where cannabis grow facilities have been proposed for rural areas such as Metcalfe and outlying communities including Winchester.

NordikLeaf’s site would have a 50,000-square-foot growing area capable of producing 13,000 kilograms of cannabis annually – enough for the equivalent of 40.6 million joints, by some calculations – in its first phase.

By comparison, Canopy Growth Corp. of Smiths Falls, Canada’s largest pot firm, had almost 17,000 kilograms of dried cannabis in various stages of production in its third quarter.

“The design of what we’re doing will allow us to keep our production quantity and quality high,” said Mackenzie, a 2012 Forty Under 40 recipient and local data centre executive. He is also the former interim CEO of Carleton Place pot firm RockGarden, which was acquired by Cannabis Wheaton in November 2017.

NordikLeaf’s executive team includes several other RockGarden alumni, including William First, who leads NordikLeaf’s regulatory and compliance efforts, as well as chartered accountant Wynand Stassen.

Mackenzie said he’s unfazed by the prospect of not bringing NordikLeaf’s products to market before the expected legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes this summer, saying there will still be plenty of market share available.

“Supply is so low (and) demand is so high,” he said. “The amount of production scheduled to be put onto the market is well below what experts say is going to be required (to meet demand).”

NordikLeaf said in a statement that it expects construction to be completed by next March, at which time Health Canada will conduct an inspection prior to granting the firm a cultivation licence.