Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Applications Up, Approvals Slow for Health Canada Medical Marijuana Licences

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Applications Up, Approvals Slow for Health Canada Medical Marijuana Licences

Article excerpt

Applications up, approvals slow for med weed

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OTTAWA - The number of Canadian firms applying for lucrative medical marijuana licences has topped 1,000, as a so-called "greenrush" continues to overwhelm Health Canada.

So far, only two new licences have been approved this summer even as the department tightens the application rules -- and as nervous investors await decisions on their multimillion-dollar bids.

Health Canada says that as of Aug. 25, it had received 1,009 formal licence applications to grow medical weed since a call for proposals was issued last year, with 462 returned as incomplete, 201 rejected and 32 withdrawn.

That still leaves almost 300 applications being assessed.

Some 13 licensed producers are actively providing medical marijuana to patients, while another nine Health Canada-approved producers are about to market their products.

Just two new licences were issued in the last three months, raising questions among applicants about why the department's approval process is so slow.

In July, Health Canada tightened the rules for prospective producers, increasing some security requirements to ensure inventories of medical marijuana were stored in secure facilities.

A spokesman for the department says the new restrictive rules have not affected the approval process.

"The increased security requirements have not had an impact on the processing of active applications," said Gary Scott Holub in an email.

Even so, some applicants say the move appears to be aimed at smaller players, to discourage them from applying. And some still-unapproved firms are under pressure from their impatient investors, who have leased buildings, hired staff and paid legal fees with no returns in sight. …

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