Graphic of Sundial Growers Inc.’s flagship cannabis facility that is under construction in Olds. Contributed photo

Central Alberta companies still in the cannabis game

Central Alberta cannabis proponents not in first batch of provincial licences but more to come

Half a dozen companies which have proposed major cannabis projects in Central Alberta are not on the first list of licensed operators released by Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission this week.

Although those companies still have plenty of time to seek their own licences.

Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) released the names of 13 companies that met licensing criteria, including Aurora, which is already running a 55,000-square-foot facility near Cremona and is building an 800,000-square-foot facility near Edmonton International Airport.

An expression of interest put out by the AGLC and closed in February attracted 31 proponents.

Olds Softgel, Sundial Growers Inc., PacWest Canopy Ltd., Blissful Science Inc. and Crescent Enterprises Inc. have all gone public with proposed cannabis production projects in Olds. Element GP Inc. recently proposed an operation in Clearwater County.

Not making this list does not mean other companies are out of luck.

“This is kind of our starting point,” said AGLC spokesperson Heather Holmen. “The announcement of the 13 is not an exclusive agreement.

“It’s just to get the ball rolling to make sure that we’re in a place and prepared to have product available for consumers upon legalization in October.”

Sundial Growers Inc. is busy building its facility in Olds, which is expected to be completed next year. The company announced last month that it had begun to receive and install custom-built cannabis cultivation modules, accelerating the expansion of their 35,000-square-foot cultivation facility.

Once complete, the company says the “flagship facility” will be able to grow more than 100,000 kg of cannabis a year. the company already operates a production facility in Rocky View and two more are under construction.

Company spokesperson Claire Buffone-Blair said the initial batch of approval was only for companies that had their Health Canada licences. Sundial has already submitted its evidence package to Health Canada, which is a requirement to obtaining a licence.

Olds Softgel, a subsidiary of Terra Life Sciences, was not a part of this round of licences.

As a pharmaceutical company focused on the medical cannabis sector, it is not focused on the recreational adult use sector being legalized in October and which the province’s licence announcement addressed, said company spokesman Henry Stevens.

“We are currently conducting testing of cannabis-derived products under our Controlled Drugs and Substances Act licence from Health Canada, pending receipt of our (Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations) production and cultivation licences from that department,” said Stevens in an email.

The company has also completed the first 5,000-square-foot phase of its Olds cultivation facility and is in the process of building its 230,000-square-foot phase two facility along with an onsite breeding and research facility.

Holmen said the province expects others companies to come forward.

“There will be other expressions of interest that go out,” she said. “Both the AGLC and the province is very much interested in supporting local producers and making sure that industry is supported and the economy is supported.”

Holmen said the province has no cap on the number of producers or retailers that can be approved.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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