The Liberal’s election win has many talking about the recreational side of cannabis legalization, but medical producers are wondering what the plan means for them.
“We’re kind of in a wait-and-see mode right now,” said Canadian Bioceutical Corp president Scott Boyes. “But at least it’s wait-and-see with a light at the end of a hallway. Before, it was wait-and-see with absolute darkness at the end of the hallway. So, from that perspective, I think it’s positive.”
Canadian Bioceutical Corp plans to operate a facility in Owen Sound, but has still not received a license from Health Canada.
In September, the company’s plans to refurbish a 155,000 square-foot facility in Owen Sound were scaled back due to uncertainty in the industry. The plant had been forecasted to employ up to 100 full-time staff.
“Right now, the system is broken and broken badly, Boyes said. “Until such time as it gets fixed, it’s pretty difficult to raise capital. There’s not a licenced producer in Canada that’s making money.”
Boyes said with Health Canada waiting for direction from the new government, licences are in limbo, leaving producers unable to make significant plans. According to Boyes, if recreational cannabis is legalized, medical regulations would need to undergo a “radical change” that could take years.
Supreme Pharmaceuticals president John Fowler has also been waiting for a Health Canada license, forcing the producer’s plans to open a facility in Kincardine to stand still, but Fowler said he was optimistic the company would receive its license by the end of the year.
Fowler saw the election as a “watershed moment” for the cannabis industry and hopes the new government will improve the medical cannabis industry and not just focus on recreational users.
“We see this as a great opportunity to work with a new government on improving access for Canadians who need medical marijuana and on generally making a better functioning MMPR program,” Fowler said.
Steve Barber of Alternative Medical Solutions, which recently received permission from Health Canada to complete its facility in Hanover, said the Liberal party seems more open to the use of cannabis as a medicine than the previous government who were “not as open to making it available to anyone who needed it.”
The previous Conservative government created the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations in 2013, restricting the production of cannabis to Health Canada licensed producers.
Currently, up to 40,000 patients are enrolled in the MMPR program, with the total market estimated at $80–$100 million.