Legalization promises a boom for Alberta

Testing and research laboratories across Canada are preparing for the October 17th legalization of cannabis, expecting a boom in business once recreational cannabis is finally made legal.

Canada has forty two laboratories that are authorized to test and research cannabis, which includes experimenting on cannabis samples. Four of these laboratories are in Alberta, which is posed to become an international leader in cannabis testing and research. According to James Mackillop at the DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research at McMaster University, the federal regulation of cannabis puts Canada in a great position to become a world leader in this field. “One of the great advantages in Canada is the current legal environment is basically compatible across provincial and federal law,” he says, unlike in the USA, where state and federal laws over the issue are “tortured.”

Also, Mackillop believes Canada has positioned itself well internationally, since it has allowed its labs to test marijuana since 2013, giving it expertise and a jump on worldwide competition.

Keystone Labs, an Edmonton research and testing facility, has been testing cannabis since 2015, which now accounts for 20% of the Lab’s business. Manager of Keystone Labs, Jodi McDonald, says they expect that with the increase of cannabis producers, labs will be performing more testing on the drug. “We expect more producers to be online,” she says, “which will require more testing.”

Keystone expects to increase its testing of cannabis further, with the inclusion of edibles when they are legal for recreational use.

Alberta is wise in its dedication to preparing its testing and research facilities for the legalization of cannabis, since cannabis growing is slated to be a considerable business venture within its province. One growing operation in particular is being planned for Edmonton alongside the International Airport. Housed in an 800,000 square foot facility in Leduc Country, Aurora Cannabis is expected to produce up to 100,000 kilograms of cannabis annually. Currently, it is a medical cannabis growing facility, though this will change after October 17th of this year as it expands to meet the boom in the recreational market. Cam Battley, executive vice president of Aurora Cannabis, says the company planned this expansion well ahead of the curve, and fully anticipated that the legalization legislation would go through. “This is something that we planned on and that’s why we started construction on this enormous facility,” he said. “This will give us enormous, high quality capacity to serve the Canadian medical market and ultimately the Canadian consumer market.”

As for online sales, Battley is equally optimistic. “The intention here is to offer our clients the same level and quality of service as retail giants like Amazon.com,” he said. “Being located by the airport, we’re right beside the courier services so this will allow us to greatly expand our same-day and next-day delivery.”

Currently, including Keystone Labs, Alberta hosts three other testing facilities: the University of Alberta’s Rexall Centre for Pharmacy and Health Research, InnoTech Alberta, Inc., and Labs-Mart Inc., which are all primed to meet the influx of business come October of this year.

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