Article by: Shawn Gibson, Barrie Today
Since the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada two years ago, few businesses have pushed to become a global brand as much as one that calls Barrie home.
MediPharm Labs has been growing since its founding in 2015 and has been a big part of the change in the cannabis industry, president Keith Strachan said in an interview with BarrieToday.
Strachan says he has seen a change in the business in just a short time of its existence.
“There is far less stigma associated with the business than when we started,” he said. “I rarely encounter people or situations that overthink the business. Especially in Canada and here in Barrie, we have progressed very well.”
MediPharm Labs is the first fully licensed extraction-only company in Canada. Their headquarters is a 25,000-square-foot lab in Barrie and specializes in research-driven, pharmaceutical-quality cannabis extraction, distillation and derivative products for the medical market.
The company sells to many in the medical field, but has also started to sell provincially to British Columbia, Alberta and to the Ontario Cannabis Store. Canadian drug-store chain Shoppers Drug Mart is also a client.
But MediPharm has also gone global.
“Some of what we make in Barrie is sold to other countries, Germany being one,” said Strachan. “The really cool thing is the relationship and base we’ve built in Australia. Being a cannabis concentrate company, we didn’t want to be solely Canadian.”
The focus on the market Down Under led to the announcement on Friday (April 24) that MediPharm Labs Australia had signed on to supply pharmaceutical-quality, white-label cannabis oil products to New Zealand’s Helius Therapeutics Ltd.
Back home at the John Street headquarters in Barrie, it takes a wide array of 170 employees on three shifts to help run the company. Backgrounds in pharmaceutical, engineering and manufacturing make up the local team, as do those four or five with PhDs and seven or eight with MBAs.
Strachan has a history in supply-chain management and entrepeneurship. One business he had a hand in from 2008 to 2018 is loved by anyone who has walked the boardwalk by Barrie’s lakefront in the summer.
“You know the little ice cream hut down by the marina, Scoops and Cones? Yeah, I co-owned that for about 10 years,” Strachan said. “A little different business than what I’m doing now, but every step along the way led to gaining experience.”
MediPharm continues to grow with an ever-changing industry. The cannabis business has evolved with what Strachan calls 2.0 products.