With all licenses reinstated, CannTrust aims for cannabis product relaunch

(This story has been updated to include a statement from Heath Canada about additional oversight measures.)

Embattled cannabis producer CannTrust says all of its cannabis licenses have been reinstated, and the Vaughan, Ontario, company plans to relaunch it marijuana products in the final quarter of this year.

The company received notice that the licenses for its Vaughan facility were reinstated by Health Canada.

“CannTrust will restart manufacturing operations at its Vaughan facility imminently,” the company said in a news release Thursday.

“With all licenses now reinstated, the company expects to have cannabis products available during the fourth quarter of 2020.”

The company’s federal licenses were suspended in September 2019, months after a whistleblower alerted regulators to illegal production.

CannTrust was one of the biggest cannabis companies in Canada at the time, with an active medical clientele of 67,000 customers.

Shane Morris of Ottawa-based Morris and Associates Consulting, said it is too early to conclude whether CannTrust got off too lightly, but, he said, “the industry is only as good as its weakest players, or how compliant folks are.”

“Obviously, there are many ways to pull out of compliance. I think the CannTrust way was quite egregious,” the former Aurora Cannabis executive said.

Morris said any regulated industry needs the ability for players to come back into compliance.

The company’s standard cultivation and processing licenses for its Niagara facility were reinstated earlier this year.

Asked by Marijuana Business Daily if CannTrust faces any additional censure for the 2019 breaches, Health Canada said it “is satisfied with the actions the company has taken in response to the suspension.”

“These include restoring the site perimeter, updating security measures, significant personnel changes, implementation of controls, processes and systems to mitigate the risks related to the original suspension, improved recordkeeping as well as comprehensive training for all staff,” the health department said.

The Health Canada spokesman added: “CannTrust Inc. will be subject to additional oversight measures, which may include increased frequency of inspections.”

“Before its licences were suspended on September 17, 2019, CannTrust Inc. was authorized to cultivate cannabis, process cannabis, sell directly to individuals authorized by their healthcare practitioner to use cannabis for medical purposes, and any activities under its research licence and cannabis drug licence,” the regulator noted in an email.

“It was also authorized to sell cannabis products – e.g., plants, seeds, dried, fresh and oil – to other licence holders and to provincial and territorial distributors. CannTrust Inc. will now be able to resume these activities with the reinstatement of its licence at this site.”

CannTrust entered creditor protection in March to try to resolve civil litigation exposure and complete a review of strategic alternatives.

CannTrust fired its chief executive, Peter Aceto, with cause last July over the scandal. The company also asked for the resignation of its longtime chairman, Eric Paul.

The Ontario Securities Commission’s Joint Serious Offences Team launched an investigation into the situation shortly after.

When reached for comment, the OSC would not provide any update on the year-old investigation.

Health Canada did not immediately answer queries from Marijuana Business Daily.

Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at mattl@mjbizdaily.com.