Pubdate: Sat, 30 Apr 2016
Source: Chatham Daily News, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Chatham Daily News
Author: Lois Pin
Page: A2


Leamington greenhouse accounts for 10% of Canada's medicinal marijuana

Aphria, a Leamington greenhouse facility, is more heavily secured than
you would expect, with locks, security cameras, and
fingerprint-scanning devices at every door.

The medicinal cannabis producer is taking every precaution - and then

Founded in in 2013 and fully realized in 2014, Aphria is responsible
for more than 10 per cent of Canada's medicinal marijuana production.
The operators should see that number increase in the next few years,
as their facility continues its exponential growth.

The key now is to circumvent public stigma.

"It really starts with the mentality of staying as close to the pharma
world as possible," said Vic Neufeld, CEO of Aphria. "We are not a
"weed company =C2=85 we're truly medical cannabis."

Neufeld has experience in the pharmaceutical industry. He previously
worked with Jamieson Vitamins in Windsor, a vitamin production group
based in Ontario, and says the overall management for both is similar.

Some former Jamieson staff are even the same at Neufeld's new company,
including Aphria's director of quality and chief science officer.

"Our packaging [is designed] for a medical patient - not
recreational," Neufeld said. "You can see the bottles, the labels =C2=85
we've even changed the names to reflect names of Canadian lakes."

"Purple Kush" was renamed "Bell", "Sour Diesel" was renamed "Kusawa",
and so on.

Professionalism and security is essential for Aphria. A source in the
company who would prefer to remain anonymous says the company tries to
do far more than regulations require, due to both the security of the
facility and the stigma often attached to marijuana.

Bryan Landschoot, from Tilbury, is a lab technician at Aphria. Hired
in the last year, Landschoot is responsible for much of the chemical
extracts that happens inside the facility.

"It's hard to know what exactly to expect," Landschoot said.
"Everything is definitely over-thetop secure, more than what it
probably could be."

Landschoot oversees a process that evaluates potency of two important
chemicals in cannabis: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).

Both chemicals neurologically affect patients, but do so differently.
THC calms a person down and is more helpful when dealing with trauma,
especially for patients with PTSD.

CBD is more useful for aches, pains, and inflammation, and is becoming
more frequently recommended.

But according to Neufeld, some doctors - especially oncologists - are
still lukewarm about the idea of smoking cannabis medicinally. That's
why Aphria is looking to Health Canada to green-light its product in
the next few months.

"[Smoking] isn't socially acceptable," Naufeld said. "If you're a
78-year-old Mrs. Smith going through chemo treatment, the last thing
you want to do is go to your garage to toke at the end of the day. Now
with oils =C2=85 the big smoke a joint, a 'big doobie' stigma, is gone."

The anti-smoking movement in doctors goes beyond stigma, however. Many
state smoking any substance is problematic based on the method as well
as the substance.

"Oil based and ... vaporization is less harmful than smoke," said Dr.
David Colby, medical officer of Health for Chatham-Kent. "There is
excellent evidence to support that =C2=85 again, it all depends on how [t
cannabis] is ingested. Like any other drugs there are side-effects;
you just have to weigh the benefits versus the problems associated
with it."

Colby says the most important thing moving forward is to assess the
drug based on science, rather than public opinion, wherein he says
cannabis gets a bad rep.

"We can't just go on anecdotal evidence," Colby said. "As far as
toxicity goes, it's not a very toxic drug - but it does have
psychoactive effects that affect the operation of machinery and
driving. So we have to proceed cautiously =C2=85 we should use the same
standard to assess this as other drugs."

Economically, the success of Aphria could mean a number of jobs for
Leamington and the surrounding area, including Chatham-Kent.

Southern Ontario may be the perfect place for Aphria. Neufeld says
every greenhouse necessity is readily available, especially with so
many other greenhouses in the area.

"When we entered this race about two years ago, we were the only
want-to-be producer =C2=85 to grow in a greenhouse," Neufeld said. "Now
more and more licensed producers are moving =C2=85 our growing techniques

to greenhouses. And where else but Leamington?"

While Aphria is keeping their eye on the federal government's ruling
on recreation cannabis use, the more immediate decision surrounding
medicinal cannabis comes Aug. 24. That's when the federal government
is required to present a plan amending the MMPR, a set of regulations
surrounding commercially produced cannabis deemed unconstitutional in
February 2016.

Legislation for recreational cannabis will be introduced in 2017,
according to a federal announcement that was made April 20.
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MAP posted-by: Matt