October 31, 2017 5:59 pm
Updated: October 31, 2017 7:32 pm

Edmonton company ‘very excited’ to be city’s first licensed marijuana grow op

WATCH ABOVE: In late September, Health Canada gave GreenEx Pharms the city's first licence to grow medicinal cannabis. The Edmonton company feels the market is full of opportunities. Fletcher Kent reports.

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It took years of planning, paperwork and millions of dollars, but GrenEx Pharms Inc. has finally received a licence from Health Canada and is now Edmonton’s first medical cannabis grow operation.

READ MORE: Alberta government details pot plan, proposes 18 as minimum age 

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“There are so many opportunities. There’s export, the market. I get calls every day from people who want product from jurisdictions where it’s legal, globally,” GrenEx chief executive John Simon said.

“We’re in the game now so it’s huge… We were very excited but then it was like, ‘Boy, we’ve got to get going here.’ So it’s a lot of pressure right now.”

It has not been a quick or simple process with Health Canada.

“We’ve been waiting for four years to get the licence and finally have a chance now to be active in the industry,” Simon said.

“Every week, they’re putting together more and more licences. It is a big deal. There’s only [so] many across the country.”

READ MORE: Canadians have a long way to go to meet new marijuana use guidelines

According to the federal government, there are four authorized licensed producers of medical marijuana in Alberta.

“Only producers who are authorized to produce and sell to the public may sell or provide dried marijuana, fresh marijuana, cannabis oil or starting materials to eligible persons,” the government website states.

Acreage Pharms Ltd. is licensed for cultivation, Aurora Cannabis Enterprises Inc. is licensed for cultivation and sale, GrenEx Pharms Inc. is licensed for cultivation, and Sundial Growers Inc. is licensed to cultivate.

Ontario has 39 licensed producers and B.C. has 16.

READ MORE: Business applauds Alberta consideration of private marijuana retailing option 

“We’ve got a licence to cultivate so we can start production,” Simon said. “But we have to be operationally ready to have plants and seeds on site, so we’re still working on the last pieces of the plan to get ready.

“Hopefully, we’ll have plants on site by early December.”

Plants spend two months in the vegetative growth phase and two months in the bloom phase. At GrenEx, the “bloom room” is where the plants grow larger and flower, triggered by light. Any person entering the bloom room must wear sunglasses.

Simon says the company will start producing cannabis next month before distributing it out to stores to sell several months after that.

READ MORE: Learn to be a pot grower, vendor or ‘cannabis sommelier’

While the medical marijuana industry is quite new, the recreational marijuana industry is even newer. The federal government has said regulations will be in place to make pot legal by July 1, 2018.

What will this new market mean for businesses like GrenEx?

“Recreational and medicinal are both regulated by Health Canada, so it’ll be coming from the same facilities, the same processes,” Simon said. “We’re regulated by Health Canada to manufacture cannabis and to create dried bud, and for either market, our processes will be the same.”

“It’s given us a seat at the table. It’s given us the opportunity to get operational faster than if we were just waiting for the medicinal market to grow.”

READ MORE: Brian Pallister to push premiers to ask feds for extra year before pot legalized

“Health Canada was issuing licences based on market demand so there was a lot more applicants than there was need for people to be producing,” Simon added. “[It] finally got to a point in the process where the forecast demanded more licensed producers to be producing to meet the upcoming demand.”

READ MORE: Construction underway on 800K square-foot cannabis facility near Edmonton airport 

While more businesses enter the market, Simon is grateful his company is at the forefront.

“It’s a big market. The opportunity is global. We’ll be producing the highest regulated, best cannabis on the planet.”

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