by Peter Wojewnik
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
37,000 Canadians use medical marijuana to soothe a variety of illnesses, including chronic pain, epilepsy, nausea, loss of appetite due to chemotherapy and tremors associated with Parkinson’s.
On March 31 of this year Health Canada announced a change in its policy for medical marijuana with the introduction of Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR). No longer could patients produce their marijuana themselves and no longer could they obtain it from the government itself. The Conservatives decided to privatize the market for medical marijuana, regulate licensed producers and, of course, tax the industry.
What followed was a rush by hundreds of investors and entrepreneurs to obtain a license for production, now commonly referred to as the Green Rush.
Estimates predict that the industry will be worth somewhere between $120 million and $220 million in the first full year. Within a decade, the marketplace will have at least 400,000 registered patients, generating annual sales of approximately $3.1 billion.
Thirteen companies have been licensed to sell marijuana so far, and some are already having trouble meeting demand. One in particular has a 70,000 square foot facility in place and is looking to open or acquire a second, larger facility in Canada as it ramps up production. Another producer has closed patient registration as current production capacity has reached its limit. They are expanding their facilities and expect to accept new patients in the fall.
For now, firms are setting up production to meet the high demand expected in the coming years. With their eyes on the long-term, they are also anticipating the possibility that marijuana could one day be legalized for recreational use, similar to alcohol and tobacco. The Liberals, particularly Justin Trudeau, hint at an agenda that aims to legalize pot.
All is not gold, however. So far only thirteen companies have received licenses. At least 500 others have applied, many of them committing hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, just to get started. Clearly many applicants are having trouble meeting the rigorous requirements and many investors are holding back at this point because there is simply too much regulatory uncertainty.
“Medical marijuana is a controlled substance in Canada and like any controlled substance production needs to take place under a very strict and well controlled quality environment,” reports Peter Wojewnik, Vice President of dicentra, a leading regulatory firm that helps companies obtain licenses for medical marijuana production under MMPR. “We’re talking about a pharmaceutical grade facility with standard operating procedures, rigorous testing and quality assurance personnel in place. Something like this is not going to be built and implemented with a low-cost budget in mind.”
Nevertheless investors across the country are proceeding without hesitation. To them this is an opportunity that can not be missed. To help in the process dicentra has announced an online webinar, taking place September 24, to provide clarity on all the steps required in becoming a licensed producer under the new regulations, also covering all of the issues to consider in remaining a licensed producer, and finally a close look at expected costs and total market size. For further information please visit www.dicentra.com/webinars or please call 1-866-647-3279.
dicentra provides sought-after regulatory and scientific guidance for health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. They have a long term working relationship with the Health Canada Office of Controlled Substances as well as expertise in the areas of MMPR, Good Production Practices, Quality Assurance, Standard Operating Procedures, and in establishing a compliant production facility.