TORONTO — As warmer weather makes its way across the country, many licensed cannabis producers are still waiting for the green light from Ottawa to start an outdoor crop—and the clock is ticking.
Health Canada says it has granted one licence that includes outdoor cultivation, which many companies are banking is cheaper than growing pot in a greenhouse or indoor facility, as of May 9.
The agency would not say which company received its approval, for confidentiality reasons, but Good Buds on Salt Spring Island believes it is the first, co-founder Tyler Rumi said.
“We were biting our fingernails a bit. You can’t change the season outdoors. So we are extremely grateful and excited to get it when we did,” he said of its licence issued on May 10.
But for the many other licensed producers still in the queue, the window is closing for them to get their plants in the ground and produce an ample harvest by the fall.
As of March 31, there were 191 applications in the queue for a licence including an outdoor area, which could be for cultivation or destruction and composting, Health Canada spokeswoman Tammy Jarbeau said.
Some of these companies are looking to ramp up production of cannabis for use in edibles, topicals and other next-generation pot products when they are legalized in the coming months.
In April, CannTrust Holdings Inc. said it had purchased 33 hectares of land in B.C., part of its plan to acquire 81 hectares earmarked for outdoor cultivation.
In March, WeedMD Inc. said it closed a purchase of an additional 24 hectares of land adjacent to its existing facility in Strathroy, Ont., and that it has applied for a licence to expand beyond its greenhouse cultivation there.
48North Cannabis Corp. has already secured farmland in Brant County, Ont., where it intends to grow organic cannabis. Co-chief executive Jeannette VanderMarel said it has roughly 40,000 plants it has begun propagating indoors to be transferred outside, but its hope is to grow its crop starting from seeds outside.
“Those grown from seeds have a stronger tap root system that will allow for a more robust plant,” she said. “It’s important to grow from seeds.”
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