The glacial pace at which Ottawa has approved licences for medical marijuana production under new federal regulations isn’t keeping one B.C. bud company from growing its operations by 10 fold.
Victoria’s Thunderbird Biomedical Inc. is one of just 13 companies licensed to produce pharmaceutical-grade cannabis under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) that went into effect in April.
The company announced September 22 it’s leased a 29,000-square-foot facility for production purposes.
The company already has a much smaller 3,000-sqaure-foot facility, but the MMPR licence for its first operation won’t transfer over to the new facility.
As of August 25, Health Canada has received 1,009 applications for MMPR licences but only about a dozen companies have received a licence over the past year.
Thunderbird investor Kam Thindal, managing partner of Hamza Thindal Capital Corp., said he’s still optimistic the licensing process will move swiftly despite the logjam at the federal agency.
“If you’re looking at it from a Health Canada standpoint, we’re definitely easier to deal with given that we have rapport, we’ve met their high standard for licensing and approval already, versus a fresh new company that would have to start from scratch,” he said.
Thunderbird said in a statement it anticipates the new facility, slated to begin renovation in the next month, will be ready for its first Health Canada inspection by the first quarter of 2015.
However, James Poelzer, COO of Maple Ridge-based Agrima Botanicals, told Business in Vancouver in August his company has been waiting for a final Health Canada inspection for about six months.
Poelzer said he hasn’t heard anything definitive from the federal agency about when the inspection would take place. Without the final inspection, Agrima has been unable to attain its MMPR licence and start bringing in revenue.
A Health Canada spokeswoman told Business in Vancouver in an email that screening times have varied significantly for applicants depending on the quality of the application and the necessary security checks.
Out of the 1,009 applications Health Canada has received, 462 were returned because they were incomplete, another 201 were refused and 32 were withdrawn.
Thindal said Thunderbird hired a consultant to ensure its initial application was processed smoothly.