Legal Canadian cannabis grower plans to produce 1.3 million pounds of weed next year


In October of last year, we reported here at Toke of the Town on a landmark move by the Canadian government to pump over $1.3 billion dollars into a new national medical marijuana program. The approach was aimed at providing the rapidly growing number of medical marijuana patients with access to cannabis produced by massive, state-of-the-art growing and distribution operations.
The new law proposed to outlaw home growing, forcing medical marijuana patients to go to these large-scale pot shops for their weed. But on March 21st of this year, a Federal Court ruling put a halt to that section of the new regulations, and temporarily grandfathered in anyone who was already licensed to grow at home before September 30th, 2013.

Additionally, law enforcement groups in large metropolitan cities like Vancouver readily admitted that the new laws would not change the way that they treated storefront medical marijuana dispensaries.
There was a legitimate fear that if these stall tactics weren’t used, that the newly formed mega-cultivation centers would not be prepared to keep a high enough supply to meet the patients’ demands.
Not to mention, the multiple rulings left a lot of Canadian cannabis lovers confused. Dana Larsen, a local pro-cannabis activist, told CBC News, “It’s very confusing right now, and for people like me who are thinking about this and absorbed in it all day, it’s kind of hard to keep track of what’s going on. For an average person … there’s a ton of confusion.”
Chuck Rifici is the CEO of Tweed, one of the monolith marijuana providers now sanctioned by the Canadian government to be a caregiver to the masses. He doesn’t see production being a problem on his end, nor does he see the continued allowance of home growing impacting his business plan too heavily.
“The immediate effect of the … court decision will likely mean lower initial numbers of … patient registrations in the short term, as many may choose to continue growing their own medicine until the issue is settled by the pending trial,” Rifici told CBC this past March.
Some experts predict that under its new regulatory system, the booming Canadian weed market could be worth up to a billion dollars annually by 2024. But if one already-approved applicant for the highly sought after commercial growing licenses gets their way, they don’t plan to wait ten years to start doing ten-digits in annual sales, and they don’t plan to stop in Canada.
CEN Biotech has put the finishing touches on the “largest and most advanced” legal marijuana cultivation center on the planet – a $20 million dollar high-tech growing/packaging/distributing outlet spanning over 80,000 square feet of operating area on a six-acre site in the town of Lakeshore, in south western Ontario.
There they plan to grow 50,000 marijuana plants in 50 different strains, expected to yield 1.3 million pounds of pot each year, worth an estimated $5 billion dollars annually. Not in 2024, but in 2015.
CEN Biotech CEO Bill Chabaan told the New York Post, “The facility is done, it’s ready. It’s laid out [like]a manufacturing facility for prescription drugs.”
In 2007, the Canadian government had 422 medical marijuana patients registered in its system. By 2012, that number had exploded to well over 37,000 registered patients. Government estimates were that the continued expansion of the program would lead to as many as 450,000 registered medical marijuana patients by that same target year of 2024.
Chabaan and CEN Biotech once again look to expedite that timeline, and with the new regulations, they envision over a half a million registered patients by the end of 2016.
While this may seem like a goldmine for the handful of government sanctioned growing facilities, CEN Biotech is not satisfied with stopping in Lakeshore, or in Canada for that matter. Their sights are set south, on the United States, where they know the real revenue resides.
“Being located in Canada and the treaties between US and Canada currently, we believe once it changes federally we can export to the United States and supply the market,” Chaaban told the Post. The group is already eyeballing Nevada for a possible sister-site.
While Canada’s reefer revolution may seem favorable to the foot-dragging we are seeing by the U.S. federal government on the issue, it’s not quite all it is cracked up to be.
The new laws currently allow only for the sale of dried marijuana buds. Edibles, tinctures, concentrates, topicals, and capsules are not allowed under Canadian pot laws, despite having very legitimate medicinal value. This gap in the law is sure to be filled by an already established grey market from the previous set of laws – including street dealers, rogue home growers, and quasi-legal storefront dispensaries.
Though, as one Canadian pot shop owner put it, “If the day comes when my dispensary can’t compete because legal cannabis products are cheaper, higher quality and more accessible than we can provide, I would happily shut down and consider that a victory.”