NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Creative Edge Nutrition (FITX) CEO Bill Chaaban had hoped to open a super grow facility this summer in Canada but the launch was delayed.
"Health Canada inspectors were present on July 31, 2014 and conducted their pre-license inspection,” stated Chaaban in an August 25, 2014 press release. “The facility was built according to specifications provided to Health Canada.”
A partially owned subsidiary of Creative Edge Nutrition, CEN Biotech submitted an application to become a licensed producer of dried marijuana for medicinal purposes.
“I can’t comment on an application that is currently in process,” said Sara Lauer, spokesperson for Health Canada, the equivalent of the Department of Health in the U.S. “We‘re pretty consistent in inspecting and approving.”
Although Health Canada inspectors have come and gone to CEN Biotech, the facility has yet to be licensed.
“After pre-licensing, if you’re approved they will allow you to start growing while you wait for your license to be issued,” said Chaaban about inspection.
So far, 22 commercial producers are licensed but only 13 are included on Health Canada’s website. “Some may have been approved but their website or facilities aren’t yet up and running,” said Lauer. “We are still considering others.”
The list of approved commercial producers includes Tilray, Tweed and Canna Farms.
“There’s no set timeline for when a facility is licensed after inspection,” Lauer told MainStreet. “Approval depends on the applicant and it’s on a case by case basis.”
CEN Biotech wants to supply the Canadian public with pharmaceutical grade medical cannabis under the newly established Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).
“Requirements for the safety of a site facility are stringent,” Lauer said. “There’s a lot producers have to fulfill to get a license. It takes time.”
If licensed, CEN Biotech will reportedly house the legal production and distribution of 1.3 million pounds of pot.
“If CEN Biotech sells a quarter of what they expect to produce, the facility will be profitable and very economically feasible,” said Alan Brochstein, founder of 420 Investor.
While they wait for word from Health Canada, Chaaban’s company has purchased 25 acres of land a quarter of a mile away from CEN Biotech, which is intended for hemp trials, because the law does not allow hemp to grow near cannabis.
“We’re growing hemp outside and indoor there’s a research and development facility for medical marijuana,” Chaaban told MainStreet in June during an on camera, in-studio interview.
Chaaban’s company acquired Hemp Technologies in March for $15 million shares and a $4 million cash commitment over two years. Industrial hemp cultivation is permitted in the U.S. in Colorado, Oregon, California, Kentucky, Vermont, Montana, West Virginia, North Dakota and Maine.
President Obama signed into law a $500 billion Farm Bill, which prevents federal officials from prosecuting farmers and researchers who grow hemp.
"We’re still hopeful of getting licensed by Health Canada in the future," said William Swalm, publicist for CEN Biotech CEO Bill Chaaban in New York.
--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet