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Canada Approves Testing “Pharmaceutical-Grade” Cannabis

Prairie Plant Systems staff hand pick stems from marijuana at the CanniMed facility in Saskatoon.
Prairie Plant Systems staff hand pick stems from marijuana at the CanniMed facility in Saskatoon.


Canada Approves Testing “Pharmaceutical-Grade” Cannabis

Roughly one month after enacting a new medical marijuana program that does not allow patients to grow their own supply, Health Canada has approved a clinical trial of “pharmaceutical-grade” cannabis conducted by CanniMed and its parent company, Prairie Plant Systems.

“Today we are announcing the launch of our clinical trial program where we will formally study several varieties of medical marijuana to determine not only the safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis, but also to provide prescribing physicians with the clinical data they are looking for regarding dosing,” Brent Zettl, president and CEO of Prairie Plant Systems and CanniMed, said in release issued Thursday.

The trial will test the effects of vaporized cannabis in adults suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee.

Canada’s new medical marijuana system, enacted April 1, was designed to replace small-scale growers with large indoor production farms. CanniMed was the first producer to be licensed under the new Marihuana for Medical Purposes regulations. CanniMed’s parent company, Prairie Plant Systems, was previously the sole medical marijuana supplier to Health Canada under the former medical marijuana system.  The former Canadian medical marijuana system also included 40,000 licensed patients, ordered by Health Canada to destroy their homegrown supply before a March injunction extended home cultivation pending a future trial.

Earlier this year Prairie Plant Systems made moves in the U.S. as well. Senate Bill 660 was fast-tracked through the Michigan legislature and signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder in January. The bill was promoted though the company’s Michigan Lobbyist Chuck Perricone, a former Michigan speaker of the house. The law, Public Act 268 of 2013, will allow pharmacies to sell medical marijuana, contingent on the federal government rescheduling cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance.

If enacted, the Michigan law would give current medical marijuana patients the option of remaining within the current medical system. Those wishing to participate the “pharmaceutical-grade” program would have to forfeit their participation in the current medical marijuana system, but could later re-apply.

Prairie Plant is not the only Canadian company hoping to provide Americans with “pharmaceutical-grade” marijuana, Canadian-based CEN Biotech Inc. – which has a Michigan-based nutritional supplement company Creative Edge Nutrition – is in the final stages of building a 58,000-square-foot grow facility in Lakeshore, Ontario, across the Detroit River from Michigan. This February the company announced a partnership with RXNB Inc. for the first right of purchase of a pharmacy license in the state of Michigan.

“Senate Bill 660 is in line with our philosophy that medicinal marijuana is a controlled substance that must be recognized for its medicinal properties, which requires a licensed individual and entity to dispense to the patients accordingly, for various ailments” Bill Chaaban, CEO Creative Edge Nutrition, said in a release.

According to an article in Forbes, Chaaban believes he will eventually be able to supply Canadian cannabis to the U.S.

“Once the feds come on board we’ll definitely enter the U.S. market,” Chaaban said.

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