Courtesy of Lift Magazine
DOJA Cannabis, a small licensed medical cannabis producer in Kelowna BC, this week announced the successful importation of cannabis seeds from overseas.
With this import,DOJA becomes one of only a handful of licensed producers to have recently successfully navigated the legal import process for genetics from overseas.
BC’s Tantalus Labs also underwent a similar process earlier this year, and Vancouver Island producer United Greeneries imported 1 kg of seeds in December 2016. In 2015, Bedrocan made the first international import of live genetics.
Other producers like Tweed and 7Acres have been developing relationships with seed companies like DNA Genetics and Dinafem.
The process of importing seeds is a challenge for any licensed producer, with extensive paperwork and strict legal limitations on where and who you can source genetics form.
Ryan Foreman, the president and founder of DOJA, says the process took him several months to navigate, from locating a company able to legally export the product, to working through all the necessary paperwork with Health Canada.
“You have to apply with Health Canada,” explains Foreman, “and then prove that the group you are ordering from are allowed to export, prove that they have a license or seeds that were acquired during a time when they did have a license to conduct activity with cannabis seeds.”
Lift spoke with Foreman about the import as he waited at customs at the Vancouver airport to provide his paperwork to show the seeds are indeed legal. The founder says there are three forms that Health Canada provides to import the seeds: one to the importer (in this case, DOJA), one to the exporter, and one that accompanies the package. Because the paperwork accompanying the package was inside the package itself, Foreman says he had to go to the Vancouver airport to show his paperwork to customs officers, to approve the import.
From there, the seeds will make their way to DOJA’s Kelowna facility, where they plan on beginning a breeding process to select the best strains and phenotypes.
While he’s protective of a lot of details around how many seeds and of what varieties, Foreman says they imported more than a dozen different varieties, and they are expecting to begin growing them out soon.
DOJA received their cultivation license in June of this year, and Foreman says they have successfully grown out two crops, with a third expected to be harvested in January. At this point, he says they are ready for their final license inspection and hope to achieve their sales license very soon.
To begin growing out crops so they can work toward their sales license, the founder says they relied on purchasing clones from other licensed producers, but were not happy with the selection or process of these acquisitions, leading them to try and take on the maze of rules around importing seeds.
“If you want to differentiate yourself in the market,” says the founder, “there’s no other choice other than to purchase from other licensed producers, and then what you get is second tier, second grade product and nothing that’s unique.”
Last year, Health Canada said they were compiling a list of companies that LPs can potentially source genetics from, but according to many producers, this list currently only includes a few companies, one of which is owned by another LP. However, Health Canada says they have issued permits to LPs for four separate foreign companies in 2017.
“Unfortunately, Health Canada has throttled anyones’ ability to access unique genetics,’ With a little luck we were able to pull this off, but otherwise, the list Health Canada has is two groups, one is owned by another Licensed Producer and the other doesn’t even reply.”
Foreman says he looks forward to a future in Canada when the extensive genetics library of the unregulated market is allowed to make its way into the regulated market. While some LPs were able to source genetics through the MMAR prior to April 2014, that loophole has now been closed.
“We’ve always had plans to differentiate ourselves through our strain selection and breeding and to do that you need at least some starting materials that aren’t in the system. I really hope Health Canada opens the floodgates to the existing MMAR genetics pool that the original LPs were able to get their hands on.
“It’s frustrating, and I feel the frustation of the industry right now when it comes to this issue of genetics. I just hope that Health Canada re-looks at allowing existing grows to share their genetics to the LP industry. It’s what we need as an industry to not only succeed, but to thrive.”
DOJA is listed on the Health Canada LP list as Northern Lights Marijuana Company .
Featured image by Jorge Barrios.
Editor’s note: This article originally stated DOJA received a sales license in June. That was a typo. They were listed as receiving their cultivation licence in June.