Amid growing concerns about the impact of medical marijuana on the health of patients, the country’s biggest producer of medicinal plants has announced it will stop growing and selling the product in the UK.
Read moreGrow Your Own, a division of British Columbia’s Aphria, said it would end the sale of its “sustainable, natural and low-risk” plant medicine, G.S.M.I.L., in a statement Monday.
Read the full statement here.
The statement also said it will start distributing the product to patients at its dispensaries, in partnership with the government, in the U.K. and overseas.
“G.S., for more than a decade, has been providing a range of cannabis products to the Canadian market in the most efficient way possible,” said Aphria CEO and co-founder Peter Breggin.
“We are happy to be able to continue this legacy in the United Kingdom, and look forward to continuing our partnership with both the government and the public.”
The company is the largest Canadian producer of cannabis, with sales reaching $12.5 billion last year.
Aphria said the change would save the company about $2 million annually and would help it diversify its product offerings.
In a statement, Health Minister Jeremy Hunt called the move a “great example of government doing what it can to help grow our economy and provide support for Canadians.”
Hunt said he expects the move will help to support the industry, as it would “lower the cost of cannabis by providing the support necessary for patients to get their medicine.”
But critics, including the Marijuana Policy Project, have questioned whether the move would actually help the economy.
The MPP’s chief economist said the move was a “sad day” for Canada.
“The government has repeatedly failed to keep its promises to the people of Canada, but it seems the government is not even paying its bills,” said John Sifton.
“With cannabis taxes rising by more than 300% over the past decade, this will only further damage the economy and leave Canadians behind.”
The Marijuana Policy Action Network also criticized the move, saying it would hurt small producers that are already facing “high barriers to entry.”
In Canada, there are currently about 200 licensed producers that make up about half of all medical marijuana patients in the country, according to the organization.
The group said it estimates about 100,000 patients are in the system.
“This is a massive setback for the industry and for patients in Canada,” said MPP CEO Evan Siddall.
“The Government of Canada is committed to doing all it can in Canada to help these small producers succeed.”
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