The provincial government of New Brunswick announced this week that it is looking to the cannabis industry to provide an economic boost to the region, which it sees as being capable of creating thousands of jobs over the course of the next several years.

New Brunswick’s economic policy advisor Susan Holt on Wednesday said that the provincial government will increasingly look to nurture its fledgling cannabis industry for its job-making potential.

“Year over year we’re expecting hundreds next year and hundreds more the year after that. So over a five-year term, we are looking at this being thousands of jobs,” she said in an interview.

Holt’s comments come on the heels of the provincial government’s announcement that it would supply $4 million in support to build a medical cannabis facility in the province. The facility — still in its pre-license inspection phase — will be known as Zenabis, formerly International Herbs Medical Marijuana Ltd. It is expected to generate as many as 208 jobs in the northern region of the province.

New Brunswick Liberal leader Brian Gallant addresses supporters as he campaigns in Caraquet, N.B. on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. The provincial election is on Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
New Brunswick Liberal leader Brian Gallant – THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant on Tuesday delivered the announcement of the government’s financial backing, saying that the cash infusion was a positive step that would bring jobs to the region.

“We understand how important job creation, education and health care are to New Brunswickers,” he said. “With this investment we are getting things done to grow the economy and create jobs for people right here at home.”

New Brunswick has continued to grapple with chronic unemployment: Over the course of the past year, the province’s unemployment numbers have fluctuated between 7.1 and 11.9 percent, according to a Labour Force Survey conducted by Statistics Canada, the country’s national statistical agency.

The support for Zenabis was also praised by Holt, who voiced her belief that the partial financing of the company would benefit the local economy.

“We anticipate a need for labour, the jobs Zenabis will create and what other producers will create, may challenge the talent pipeline,” she said.

“So we’re going to assess what kind of educational systems we have in place to deliver the kind of people can work in either the product research or production side of it to make sure that educational side of it is being supported.”

zenabisNew Brunswick’s financial support for Zenabis is not the only move taking place in the province’s nascent cannabis industry: Recent reports indicate that Canutra Naturals — a British Columbia-based company specializing in CBD-specific products — plans to purchase a research farm in the New Brunswick city of Bouctouche in order to produce hemp products.

“You can develop 50,000 different products from this plant,” said Stu Mills, the marketing director for Canutra’s New Brunswick site. “It’s the start of a major movement. It’s the start of a major industry here.”

The provincial government’s actions come as Canada itself appears to be shifting towards a more cannabis-friendly approach: Earlier this month the government unveiled a new set of regulations for medical cannabis‘ cultivation, use, and sale.

Stephen Calabria is a New York City-based journalist and a media advisor for nyvapeshop.com.