Eligible Canadian marijuana cultivators and processors can seek financial support through the new Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership program (Suitable CAP), valued at C$3.5 billion ($2.6 billion). The program could bring relief to the smaller players in Canada’s marijuana industry that have been grappling with continuous deflationary pressures and intense competition, coupled with limited access to funds from private-sector lenders.
The support provided by the Sustainable CAP will be an addition to various other federal funding sources that Canadian marijuana companies have been leveraging. These include the National Research Council Canada (NRC), the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), and the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program. The Sustainable CAP program is a collaborative effort between the federal and provincial governments under the umbrella of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the governmental department responsible for agriculture.
George Smitherman, CEO of the Canada Cannabis Council, expressed satisfaction with the initiative, describing it as a significant shift in the agricultural department’s acknowledgment of cannabis as a value-added agricultural product. The council serves as the national industry association, representing the interests of numerous licensed processors and producers in the country.
Replacing the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), the Sustainable CAP program will be operational from April 1, 2023, until March 31, 2028. It comprises a C$1 billion allocation for activities and programs directly managed by the federal government, with an additional C$2.5 billion committed to cost-shared programs overseen by territories and provinces.
Until now, no marijuana companies have been involved in federal projects under the Sustainable CAP.
One of the federal programs of Sustainable CAP that marijuana-related enterprises may qualify for is the AgriAssurance Program, which includes two segments: the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) and the National Industry Association (NIA). The NIA segment finances projects at the national level to facilitate the industry in creating and adopting tools, standards and systems that bolster safety and health claims pertaining to agricultural and agri-food Canada products. The SME segment aims to aid for-profit SMEs in executing assurance projects that cater to market and regulatory prerequisites.
Cannabis businesses are eligible to seek funding from both the AgriScience and AgriInnovate programs, provided that their proposals align with the program’s objectives, they possess valid licenses and their activities are consistent with their Health Canada licenses.
Applications for Sustainable CAP programs are evaluated on an individual basis, contingent on the specific program’s funding criteria. Additionally, applicants must already possess the requisite licenses and comply with federal and provincial laws and regulations, including the Cannabis Act.
Licensed operators such as TerrAscend Corp. (TSX: TSND) (OTCQX: TSNDF) could be pleased by these developments that show that the cannabis industry is now being embraced as any other industry that needs to be supported in any way possible so that it can thrive not just nationally but on a global scale too.
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