Published by: Inside Ottawa Valley

Renée Ellison, founder of Fleurish (formally Farmacopia), was inspired to spearhead a medicinal cannabis company offering products specifically for women as a result of personal experiences dealing with serious family health issues.

“It changed my perspective on life,” Ellison said, “and I realized that I wanted to be able to help people dealing with health issues.”

Ellison’s vision is built on a holistic approach to health, and she believes the Fleurish brand will empower women so that they can make informed decisions about their use of medical cannabis.

As a result of her background in public health and understanding issues around gender-based health disparities, Ellison identified the important female gap in the Canadian cannabis market.

“Fleurish is truly unique within the cluttered Canadian cannabis landscape,” said Mary Beth Williamson, chief marketing officer at Fleurish. “We are the only company 100 per cent dedicated to enhancing Canadian women’s specific health and wellness needs through the responsible use of cannabis.”

The Fleurish facilities, located at 2725 County Road 20 in Oxford Station (the former location of Oxford Furniture), rest on eight acres of farm land. Currently, Ellison and her team are working through the final stage to become a licensed producer under the Canadian Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations.

Site plan amendments and approval were first brought to North Grenville Council at the Oct. 2, 2017 committee of the whole meeting, when proposed changes to the Fleurish site plan were reviewed, and the requirement of high security fencing by the Ministry of Health was discussed.

A number of local residents to the Fleurish site addressed their concerns at the meeting, pertaining to the location of a neighbouring property’s septic system, the proposed installation of a tree line between the properties, proposed lighting, ventilation and security camera installations for the facilities, as well as renovations for the existing buildings on site.

No building permits were issued, but the plan to convert three buildings for the purposes of production, processing and shipping of medical marijuana was disclosed. This type of activity was already a permitted use within the existing zoning of the property, and the only change to the site plan that was confirmed at the meeting was the change of location of the entrance to the main building.

A resolution moved by Coun. Frank Onasanya and seconded by Deputy Mayor Barb Tobin was carried to authorize director of planning and development, Phil Gerrard, to proceed with the approval of the site plan amendments pursuant to his delegated authority, once all of the outstanding site plan issues had been addressed to his satisfaction.

“The Municipality of North Grenville has been an important partner for us,” said Ellison, “from their foresight in having zoning in place for a medical cannabis businesses to their support throughout our licensing process, to more recently, with the build-out of our facility…thank you to the Municipality and to the community.”

Ellison and facilities manager/head grower, Harvey Gracey, discussed employment opportunities at Fleurish at the annual Spring Job Fair held at the North Grenville Municipal Centre on March 8. Ellison is currently looking to hire staff to fill a variety of positions on the farm, including Production Assistant, Grower, and Trimmer.

Fleurish’s products are specifically designed to address the medicinal needs of Canadian women.

“We’ve conducted research to understand Canadian women’s preferred formats of consuming cannabis products,” said Williamson. “We’ve combined these insights with what will be allowed within Bill C-45 (commonly known as the Cannabis Act), and we expect to initially provide oral oil and dried cannabis with additional products introduced as regulations allow, based on women’s preferences identified through our research.”

For example, Fleurish is developing specific strains of marijuana to reduce pain from menstrual cramps and relieve mood swings that are associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Additionally, products specially designed with strains to reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, treat insomnia and relieve pain will be offered.

“Our strains recognize that women are more likely than men to use cannabis in the late evening as a sleep aid or with a partner,” Williamson said. “We are also developing high-CBD (non-psychoactive) products, as women often seek the many therapeutic benefits of cannabis without getting high.”

Staff at Fleurish expect to have their LP license to cultivate cannabis this April, and will start to grow product immediately.

“The timing of product availability will depend on how soon we can grow, to our own high standards, the exclusive cannabis strains we have selected to meet the needs of Canadian women and the timing when Health Canada processes our sales license,” Williamson said.

For distribution, Fleurish’s plan is to develop an e-commerce site that will allow our customers with a medical prescription to order online directly from Fleurish with timely home delivery.

Products may also be made available via provincially legislated distribution systems such as the LCBO in Ontario, but will not be sold directly from the farm as per government regulations.

Fleurish will also develop cannabis products specifically for women that will be available without a medical prescription for the recreational market, when legalized.

“The entire Fleurish team, from founders to our newest employees, is extremely excited and proud to bring the many benefits of cannabis to Canadian women,” Williamson said. “We are very fortunate to have a community partner in North Grenville that is supportive of our vision and of bringing new industry to the region.”