Cannabis pro­duc­ers un­likely to meet con­sumer de­mands: ex­ec­u­tive

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - BY PETER RAKOBOWCHUK

An of­fi­cial with a large Cana­dian pro­ducer of med­i­cal cannabis is con­fi­dent con­sumers will be ad­e­quately sup­plied come next July, but says pro­duc­tion will need to be in­creased.

“Right now, the ex­ist­ing ca­pac­ity and what is al­ready en­vi­sioned will not be suf­fi­cient to meet the needs of the adult con­sumer mar­ket,” Cam Bat­t­ley, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of Aurora Cannabis Inc., said in an in­ter­view Mon­day.

He has urged other com­pa­nies to ramp up their pro­duc­tion ahead of next July 1, when recre­ational mar­i­juana is ex­pected to be le­gal­ized.

“We need to ex­pand our ca­pac­ity right away sim­ply to meet the de­mands of the rapidly grow­ing med­i­cal cannabis sys­tem,” Bat­t­ley said. “When the de­mand of the adult con­sumer sys­tem is lay­ered on top of that, it’s a rush to build as much ca­pac­ity as pos­si­ble.”

Bat­t­ley made the com­ments on the same day that Aurora (TSX:ACB) be­gan trad­ing com­mon shares on the Toronto Stock Ex­change.

Al­berta-based Aurora, one of sev­eral pro­duc­ers now listed on the TSX, is build­ing what it de­scribes as the world’s largest cannabis pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity at Ed­mon­ton In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Bat­t­ley said Canada has a well-de­vel­oped and suc­cess­ful med­i­cal cannabis sys­tem.

“This is a com­ing of age, not just for Aurora, but for the cannabis sec­tor and what we’re see­ing now is that Canada has es­tab­lished it­self as the world leader in a brand new emerg­ing in­dus­try that we are lit­er­ally in­vent­ing in real time,” he said.

Bat­t­ley added that of­fi­cials from around the world have been com­ing to his fa­cil­ity in Al­berta to visit and to learn how Canada has been so suc­cess­ful both on the med­i­cal side and on the con­sumer side.

“There’s some­thing very big hap­pen­ing and it’s a global move­ment and it is be­ing led out of Canada.”

Jor­dan Sin­clair, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX:WEED), an­other ma­jor med­i­cal cannabis pro­ducer, agrees.

“There’s no doubt that we al­ready are ...that Canada is the global leader in cannabis on the med­i­cal side cer­tainly,” he said.

“The de­mand doesn’t seem to be slow­ing down on the med­i­cal side of things and then with recre­ation, ob­vi­ously that’s a mas­sive mar­ket op­por­tu­nity.”

Sin­clair pointed out that Canopy, whose head­quar­ters are in a for­mer Her­shey choco­late fac­tory in Smiths Falls, south­west of Ot­tawa, was first listed on the big board of the TSX in July 2016.

“We’re very proud to have done that be­fore any­one else in the coun­try,” he added.

“It does seem like now the pace is speed­ing up with other com­pa­nies fol­low­ing in our foot­steps (and) it sig­nals that there is cred­i­bil­ity across the sec­tor.”

On its web­site, Health Canada says there are 52 au­tho­rized li­censed pro­duc­ers of cannabis for med­i­cal pur­poses.

On­tario has is­sued 29 li­cences, fol­lowed by Bri­tish Columbia with 12.

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