To Apply For a Licence to Grow Cannabis in Canada, You Now Have to Have a Fully Built Site Ready To Go

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CANNABIS To apply for a licence to grow cannabis in Canada, you now have to have a fully built site ready to go That means would-be producers have to raise millions with no guarantee of a licence By Vanmala Subramaniam Cannabis plants in the greenhouse of licensed producer CannTrust in Fenwick, Ont. Health Canada now requires licence applicants to have their facilities ready to grow. Tijana Martin

Applicants seeking to obtain a Health Canada licence to cultivate and process cannabis and those seeking to sell cannabis in the medical market, will now have to show that they have a fully built cultivation site ready to go before they even begin the application process, Health Canada announced Wednesday.

It is a sweeping change from the present system, where applicants looking to become licensed cannabis producers had to merely secure a site before starting the application process. In many cases, a pre-approval letter from Health Canada stating that an application was in the queue would enable an applicant to begin raising funds from investors in the sector to fully build out a site.

“You did not even need a shovel in the ground to begin the application process, which can sometimes take years. Now you have to raise tens of millions and convince investors that you will get a Health Canada licence, when you have no physical proof of it,” said Trina Fraser, Partner at Brazeau Seller Law who advises cannabis companies on the licensing process.

To date, there are still hundreds of applications — either by existing producers looking to expand their cultivation sites, or new entrants to the cannabis space looking to obtain an initial cultivation licence — that Health Canada is processing.

In its statement, the department said it is implementing these adjustments to “better allocate” departmental resources. “A significant amount of resources are being used to review applications from entities that are not ready to begin operations, contributing to wait times for more mature applications and an inefficient allocation of resources,” Health Canada said.

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