The Other Cannabis Genetics Bottleneck

Article by David Brown, Lift

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While access to legal sources of starting materials is a known issue for patients in Canada, the ability for Health Canada-regulated licensed producers to source seeds and clones is a lesser known issue within the industry.

Early-licensed, established producers have been given access to sources of genetics that those licensed later on, in a more than three-year-old program, haven’t been given the same access to.

When Health Canada introduced the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) in June 2013, it allowed — for the first time in Canada — the commercial retail production and sale of cannabis for medical purposes. Prior to this, medical cannabis in Canada was regulated under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR), but production was limited to personal or designated growers (in August of this year the government replaced the MMPR with the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).

Up until March 31, 2014, those licensed by Health Canada to produce cannabis could transfer genetics from approved Health Canada producers under the previous MMAR regime. No retail sales were regulated through this regime. Nonetheless, it blossomed into an enormous cottage industry of medical cannabis growers and breeders, giving birth to strains unique to Canada, as well as bringing in genetics from overseas.

Many of the first licensed producers (LPs) sourced their genetics this way, and many of the existing strains available within Canada’s legal medical cannabis regime to authorized patients come from these MMAR sources. Some of these represent unique options developed in part by Canadian growers under Canada’s old MMAR. Two of the early licensed LPs, Tweed and Mettrum, even had a shipment of MMAR genetics seized by RCMP in the final moments of the exemption, in what was described as a miscommunication.

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