Saint John to consider bylaw change to allow marijuana production

'Completely absurd': Lawyers doubt clout of pending pot regulations

Three years after Moncton and Fredericton made the move, Saint John is now considering a change to its zoning bylaw to permit medical marijuana production.

And while the city has been slow getting into the game, an industry analyst says it may not be too late to attract industry players.

"We expect about 20 to 30 more licences to be added in the next two years," said Jason Zandberg, special situations analyst with PI Financial in Vancouver.

"There's still a shortfall of about 200,000 kilograms of capacity that needs to be built."

There's plenty of interest, however, in getting one of those licences.

Some 2,200 companies have applied for permits from Heath Canada, and 41 have been approved so far.

"So if you're not in the game this year, you're probably going to be a niche player," said Zandberg.


Getting into the marijuana businesses is a time-consuming process, as Kent Hovey-Smith of Tidal Health Solutions in St. Stephen discovered.

Tidal Health hopes to have approval to produce and sell cannabis later this year.

"The process with Health Canada is a long one," Hovey-Smith recently told CBC News. "I think ours was just over two years. 

"It took a long time but that's fine. They're being strict about their regulations and that's the way we want the industry to be governed."

The City of Saint John's planning department is proposing a zoning bylaw amendment to allow "medical marijuana production facilities" as a permitted use in medium and heavy industrial zones.

The matter will be considered by city council at its meeting Monday night.

Like Tidal Health, Zenabis in Atholville also awaits a green light from Health Canada.

Organigram in Moncton started shipping medical marijuana to producers in early 2015.

While 2017 may be make or break for companies hoping to be major players in the industry, Zandberg believes there will be room for specialty producers in coming years.

He likened the future recreational marijuana market to the beer industry, where 75 to 80 percent of the 520 companies operating in Canada are now small craft brewers.