For decades the Cannabis Industry has propped up the economy in many parts of our country whether we want to admit it or not. It’s part of our economy. Canada’s decision to provide a legal framework for legal access to cannabis however is wrought with challenges. After the initial implementation submitted applications seemed to stall once they were reviewed leaving Health Canada in a pickle to fill the supply chain with product. On May 8th of 2019 with a surprise announcement many hearts sank – as Health Canada shifted from being the ones left to battle through stacks of application and facilities that were not proceeding to final build out – to demanding that facilities be fully (or nearly fully built) before even considering an application. This sudden change left a crowd of people with a knot in their stomachs as information was scarce and was in stark contrast to the very detailed requirements lists published under the ACMPR rule.
As you may imagine as someone looking to invest, build and operate a facility this was an intimidating setup – a small fortune now had to be invested into a facility before even being able to get an inkling of an indication whether you interpreted the scarce information issued by Health Canada correctly.
The initial intent of converting the Backyard growers turned into a business for the already wealthy who were able and willing to take the risk of a build-out without any guarantee whatsoever of being approved, or knowing if standards of the facility would meet ever changing expectations of Health Canada.
The upshot of the May 8 change in policy however was a proposed 90 day service window for Health Canada to review an application for cannabis cultivation or processing. Prior to May 8 there was no indication whether it was a 3 month or a 3 year process. So in an ideal world a company could apply and meet all expectations and cruise through the process and receive licensing within 90 days. However it seems that a 10 + months turn around is probably more realistic when taking weekends, holidays and repeated requests for further information into consideration.
Don’t leave yourself stranded! Make sure you can afford to build out and survive paying wages and application fees for more than the indicated 90 days! Guaranteed it will take longer.
But there is an upside! Once you have jumped through all the hoops and completed the renovations and applications you are now set – you can sell the cannabis you grow to any processor licensed under Health Canada or even apply for your own processing license and sell medical cannabis online or recreational cannabis through the provincial distribution system.
‘Why would I care to be Health Canada licensed’ you may ask – the black market is alive and well and I can sell easier the way I have for the last 20 years. This is true at this moment in time but you can rest assured that the government will start cracking down on black market growers (using large medical licences to cultivate much more than any human could possibly need to consume – take my word for it – they know it’s happening), the government may turn a blind eye to the fact you are growing something that is now legally available, what they will not ignore is lost tax revenue! It’s big business for the operator and for the government. Once fully operational, tax revenue will be substantial and if I were to guess you may see a 1:1 crackdown. For every new grower they add to the legal system they may chose to remove someone who is colouring (or growing) outside the boundaries of this system.
So get on board and start the process early. If you love growing you want to be sure to join while the system is aiming to convert the black market and lending a helpful hand opposed to defend yourself when being accused of tax evasion possibly coupled with drug related charges down the road that will most certainly hinder your entry into the legal market.