Now, one of those companies – WeedMD – is opening a head office in London, the first cannabis firm to be headquartered the city.
WeedMD, a marijuana grower with operations in Strathroy and Aylmer, is converting a Victorian home near Richmond Row into its new corporate office.
Around 20 people will work out of the space at 232 Central Ave. – a two-and-a-half storey brick house overlooking Victoria Park – including chief executive Keith Merker, chief financial officer Nichola Thompson and the company’s finance team.
The company draws nearly half of its 200 employees from London, including Merker and Thompson, so it wanted to establish a presence in the city, said Josephine DesLauriers, WeedMD’s vice-president of people.
“We’re really rooted in the community itself,” DesLauriers said.
The head of the London Chamber of Commerce applauded WeedMD for the decision, noting the city has a history of being home to head offices of large Canadian companies.
“If they’re going to be establishing headquarters anywhere, London is a great spot for that,” chamber chief executive Gerry Macartney said of WeedMD.
Although London has lost some corporate headquarters during past decades – London Life, Labatt and Canada Trust are some of the most notable – the city still has its fair share, Macartney said.
“Voices.com, Digital Extremes, all kinds of companies now have their headquarters here. Look at GoodLife . . . they chose London,” he said.
DesLauriers said extensive renovations at the new WeedMD office will begin shortly and are expected to be completed before summer. Two executive suites are being added on the upper floor for visiting company executives who otherwise would have stayed at a hotel during visits to the region.
The building, located between Richmond and Wellington streets, is owned by Shmuel Farhi.
WeedMD also opened a corporate office on the second floor of a retail building in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood at the beginning of April. The space houses sales and marketing, business development, investor relations, communications and corporate affairs staff.
“We’re very much focused on building sites that align with our culture,” DesLauriers said.
Southwestern Ontario has become a hub for cannabis companies. More than a dozen have set up cultivation operations and processing facilities in recent years. A handful of them, including WeedMD, also have applied to Health Canada, the federal pot regulator, to grow cannabis outdoors.
Two cannabis growers already have operations in London – a third is in the works – but none is headquartered in the city.
Indiva has an indoor growing facility and administrative office on Hargrieve Road, employing 45 people. The company’s executive team is based in Ottawa.
High Park, a subsidiary of Tilray, one of Canada’s largest cannabis companies, has a processing plant in London.
Beleave, a Hamilton-based company, recently received a building permit to begin renovations on its 23,000-square-metre greenhouse at 6867 Wellington Rd. S., where 240 employees eventually will work.