Pubdate: Wed, 24 Jun 2015
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 The London Free Press
Author: Hank Daniszewski
Page: A3


Medical Marijuana: Companies Mired in Flood of More Than 1,200 Applications

Two medical marijuana plants in the London area are almost ready to 
roll, but are waiting for the spark of a federal licence. WeedMD Rx 
Inc. has completed renovations on the Imperial Tobacco plant in 
Aylmer, which closed in 2007. In London, AAA Heidelberg has almost 
completed work on a 817-square-metre plant in an industrial park.

But both companies are stuck in a flood of more than 1,200 applications.

Only 25 licensed facilities are operating across Canada so far.

"Our facility is completely built and ready for inspection. . . . 
There's nothing we can do at our end. We're just waiting, waiting, 
waiting," said Allison Gordon, spokesperson for WeedMD Rx.

The Aylmer facility is about 2,300 square metres, including office 
space. Don Shaxon, a partner in AAA Heidelberg, said the company is 
installing the elaborate security features required to get a federal 
licence and is accepting applications to hire employees.

Faced with a flood of applicants, Shaxon said Health Canada keeps 
"raising the bar" on applicants.

But he's confident the London facility will be approved.

"We're not just building a grow-op. This is a pharmaceutical and 
everything will be top-of-the-line," said Shaxon, a London native now 
based in Burlington.

Shaxon said the company isn't ready to disclose the location of the 
London facility.

But city building records show AAA Heidelberg has been given a 
building permit to carry out interior alterations for production 
facilities on a building on Neptune Crescent in east London.

The federal government created a boom of proposals for commercial 
medical marijuana production when it moved to ban personal grow-ups 
and supply the market with licensed producers.

But the ban on personal grow-ops faces an ongoing court challenge 
that should be resolved this summer. Shaxon said he hopes a number of 
new licences will be granted once the court challenge is resolved. Of 
the 25 Canadian licensed producers, 13 are in Ontario, but the only 
facilities in southwestern Ontario are in Leamington, the Niagara 
Peninsula and the Collingwood area. The Supreme Court of Canada has 
also ruled recently that medical marijuana users have a right to use 
an edible form of the drug, instead of smoking it.

Shaxon said the ruling is a breakthrough for commercial producers 
because it allows them to create safe edible products with leftover 
leaf that would otherwise be destroyed.

Shaxon is working with two other companies on a 7,000 sq. m. medical 
marijuana facility in Burlington and has plans for a second, much 
larger medical marijuana facility in London in the future.



Medical marijuana production:

25 - licensed production facilities across Canada.

13 - licensed producers in Ontario.

40,000 - medical marijuana users in Canada.

10,459 - Ontarians authorized to possess medical marijuana.

450,000 - estimated users by 2024.

$1.3 billion - estimated value of medical marijuana market by 2024.

Sources: Health Canada, producer websites, AAA Heidelberg
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom