Given that Canada is now embarking on a long journey towards cannabis legalization, the path ahead is largely unknown from a commercialization standpoint.
With the future allowance of edibles, concentrates, cannabis drugs, cannabis cosmetics, and perhaps even cannabis health products, there is very little progress to date in developing the technology around such products. While there are many manufacturers (e.g., in California) that make finished cannabis products, historically these types of products haven’t been subject to analytical testing and shelf life estimates. In Canada, however, as the first G7 country to legalize cannabis finished products in the year ahead, there will be stringent requirements for finished product testing and licensing.
In most respects, the manufacturing methods have yet to be developed within a regulated context. At the end of the day, if a cannabis cookie is to be manufactured commercially, how does the manufacture validate that the cannabis content is consistent throughout batches (and even within each cookie)? What test method will be developed and used for validating the cannabis biomarkers? Are there any interactions between cannabis and other ingredients – positive or negative – by adding this to a cookie format? How long is the shelf life? And with edibles, there will be scores of other questions to answer from a marketing and consumer experience perspective – e.g., what flavour or texture will the consumer want? Should they be really sweet, or just mildly sweetened?
Or take unique delivery formats as another example. Suppose a company wants to manufacture a cannabis beverage and they want to ensure that the cannabinoids are stable in the liquid – how will they develop this technology? Nothing is as easy as just mixing the ingredients together. The product might leave the factory in perfect shape, but after a few weeks on a shelf in a hot convenience store, the product could degradate or spoil.
Canada is in a unique position among other global markets to create (and potentially even patent) the technologies around the manufacturing of cannabis finished products. Canadian cannabis firms will need to invest in R&D in order to come out with truly unique products; after all, the product will need to be shelf-stable and meet analytical testing requirements. Achieving these end results will compel Canadian producers to create standardized, validated methods for manufacturing and analyzing their products.
There are two types of facility licences in Canada that will allow a company to operate within this biotechnology facet of the industry: The Research and Development Licence, and the Analytical Testing Licence. The following pages in this section provide more details around the requirements to achieve these licences, as well as what activities these licences permit.