Earlier this week, a subsidiary of Lexaria Bioscience (LXX.C) received a R&D license from Health Canada, prompting the question, ‘we have those?’
“You were as surprised as we were,” said Alex Blanchard, communications manager for Lexaria.
Lexaria isn’t your average grower. The company is much more of a tech-play, developing new delivery systems for nicotine, vitamins, anti-inflammatory drugs and, of course, CBD.
But the difficulty with CBD in particular and cannabis in general has been getting the go-ahead to commence research. Despite the complete legalization of cannabis in Canada, researching cannabis has so far not been possible.
Universities and LPs alike have been applying for licensing to begin experimenting with different cannabis molecules, but until now have had to work outside of Canada, according to Blanchard.
And that includes the U.S. Unfortunately for Lexaria, transporting CBD samples which have been experimented on (sounds ominous, but isn’t) across international borders isn’t an option.
Until now, companies like Lexaria have had to operate in a Janus-esque fashion, with the part based in Canada entirely disconnected to the one based in the U.S.
Blanchard said his company previously would have to develop samples in the U.S. and have potential clients examine them there.
“It looks like somebody lit a fire under the ass of somebody in the R&D section because Health Canada hasn’t issued any licenses as far as I can find,” Blanchard said.
A sentiment echoed by a July 2019 report by CTV News discovered hundreds of cannabis research licenses were being hampered by red-tape:
On July 10, PhD candidate and cognitive neuroscience researcher Bertrand Sager came forward to say Health Canada had told him his study on the effects of cannabis on drivers would have to wait at least a year for the appropriate approvals, despite having passed the rigorous requirements of Simon Fraser University’s ethics board.
“Some people don’t even try [to conduct research] because it’s so difficult,” he said, pointing out that when cannabis was illegal research was very difficult and there hasn’t been much peer-reviewed work done in a variety of fields. “For example, there are still a lot of things that aren’t known about how cannabis impacts cognitive performance in general and driving specifically.”
Blanchard said his company moved into their new facility in February of this year and expected to receive their R&D license in June, but there were delays in the licensing process.
Now, Lexaria’s Canadian clients won’t need to pack their passports before deciding on making a purchase or not.
“Receipt of our R&D License from Health Canada will allow us to implement and complete investigatory studies significantly more rapidly now, than at any previous time in our Company’s history,” said John Docherty, President and Chief Scientist of Lexaria. “This license will greatly enhance our ability to work with cannabis Licensed Producers to perform work in-house on customized formulations that could benefit each of Canada’s licensed cannabis companies.”
CBD has been prevalent within the Canadian market for some time now, but with their license in hand, Lexaria–and soon, other Canadian cannabis companies–has the clearance it needs to begin research in the Great White North.
“The lag in the licensing in Canada has put some companies behind and now they’re ready to close the gap,” Blanchard said.
Lexaria closed at CAD$1.13, up 2.7% on the day. The company has a market cap of $85M and has 77.3 million shares outstanding.