Licensed cannabis producer Bonify had its license suspended on Feb. 4 by Health Canada after it was found selling unregulated cannabis.
According to Health Canada spokesperson Eric Morrissette:
“The department found that Bonify Medical Cannabis was possessing, distributing and selling product that was purchased from an illegal source, and selling product that did not comply with the good production practices as required under the Cannabis Act and cannabis regulations”.
He also said the case has been passed on to the RCMP and Canada Revenue Agency, and Bonify has 10 days to appeal the suspension, according to the CBC.
It was yet another blow to the beleaguered Manitoba-based LP that has faced multiple product recalls over the past few months for not only unregulated cannabis but for selling mold-contaminated cannabis and products with labelling mistakes as well- leading to Bonify products being pulled from dispensary shelves in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in December.
But visit Bonify’s website and you might not even notice the company is in any trouble at all, except for the small banner at the very top that says:
“Product ordering is temporarily on hold. An email notification will be sent to Members once resumed. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Notice how extremely vague that statement is, and how it minimizes the situation while providing no timeline in sight? That doesn’t inspire confidence and is not a good sign for the company’s future.
Just look at Agrima, another licensed producer that was suspended by Health Canada…
Will Bonify face the same fate as Agrima Botanicals?
One might wonder if the Bonify situation is similar to what happened with Agrima Botanicals, a licensed producer in Maple Ridge that had its licenses to produce and deal cannabis partially suspended in September 2018 as Health Canada gave it time to explain itself over what was called “record keeping issues” at the time.
In November, Health Canada threatened to revoke Agrima’s licenses because it wasn’t satisfied with Agrima’s answers about “unauthorized activities with cannabis that took place under the Company’s ACMPR license” while it was privately held, which ended when its parent company Ascent listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange on Aug. 3.
In an early January press release, Ascent Industries announced a debt refinancing that included the Agrima facility in Maple Ridge, and buried at the end is an acknowledgement that Agrima’s licenses are still suspended- but the use of “suspended” is interesting because that implies the license hasn’t been revoked yet- which means Agrima’s hearing session probably hasn’t finished yet.
But think about that timeline. Agrima had its licenses partially suspended in September and now fast forward to early February and the suspension still hasn’t been lifted, and there’s no sign it will be any time soon, which doesn’t bode well for Bonify.
Where do Bonify and Agrima go now?
The situations with these licensed producers not only makes the LP’s look bad, it makes Health Canada look bad, too, because it’s their job as industry regulators to make sure incidents like this don’t happen.
If the government ends up wanting to make an example out of the licensed producers to deter behavior like this, it could dole out punishments as harsh as 14 years in jail- not to mention hundreds of thousands (and potentially millions) of dollars in fines. But only time will tell because we’re in unprecedented territory and it’s unfolding before our eyes.
But the government should look in the mirror and consider its own role in the legalization debacle and how the cannabis shortages in the legal system were largely of its own making.
Regardless, it’s telling of the government’s priorities that if you sell mold-contaminated cannabis that could actually harm Canadians and make them sick, Health Canada will simply issue a recall and it’s business as usual, but if you sell unregulated, probably untaxed, cannabis?
You’ll get shut down, almost immediately, which highlights how Canadians are stuck in a situation where cannabis is legal on paper, but in reality, much of the cannabis in the country is still illegal, and it all comes down to who grew it.
Featured image courtesy of CTV News.
New Cannabis Ventures: Health Canada Threatens to Revoke Cannabis Licenses of Agrima Botanicals.