Alberta cannabis producers say new federal rules restricting licence applications are a blow to aspiring growers.
Health Canada announced Wednesday that it will now require new applicants who want to cultivate or process cannabis, or sell it for medical purposes, to have a fully built site that meets all federal requirements at the time they apply, rather than building their facility during or after filling out their papers.
That could mean spending millions of dollars with no guarantee they will be allowed to operate.
“I think everybody suspected that Health Canada would eventually start tightening up, but didn’t expect it to happen so soon and so dramatically,” said Troy Dezwart, executive director of Freedom Cannabis.
“We believe this is disruptive, and that it’s going to create a major barrier for entry for new applicants, as well as some that are already in the licensing queue.”
Freedom Cannabis sponsored the WE Cann conference in Edmonton on Wednesday, which saw industry professionals gather at the airport’s Renaissance Hotel. Dezwart said conference attendees were “caught off guard” when the news came down.