Fredericton company sees boost from prescription pot
RPC responsible for testing medical marijuana for companies that produce over 50 per cent of Canada's product
An industrial research centre is expanding thanks to the boom in medical marijuana — and with legalization on the horizon, that boom may intensify.
The Research and Productivity Council [RPC] in Fredericton is one of the the largest companies in the medical marijuana testing business. It calls 19 of Canada's 43 medical marijuana producers clients, four of whom produce 50 per cent of the medical marijuana in the nation.
RPC tests medical marijuana for pesticides, THC levels and different cannabinoids that can be used for medical treatment.
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Eric Cook, the executive director and CEO of RPC, said they are extremely busy.
"We're right on the edge of keeping up to demand and we're working to expand that capacity constantly," said Cook.
Cook admits he's been caught off guard by how popular the business has become in a relatively short amount of time.
"We thought it might have leveled off and it has not. It continues on a growth curve and we're a little bit surprised at that," said Cook
The growth has caused the company to expand quickly, driving its number of employees from 96 to 128. Twenty-six of the 32 new staff were hired in the last year, most of them chemists who graduated from UNB. RPC hopes to hire 12 more staff members in the upcoming months.
The expansion has also meant more equipment in the labs.
"We've … bought new instrumentation, leading edge instrumentation, fairly intensive capital investments and we've made them. The equipment is fully utilized, in fact much of it runs through the night," said Cook
The company originally got its start by testing a variety of products, including water and soil, since 1962. The Crown corporation got an early start to medical marijuana testing from a Federal license they had to test hemp products.
The New Brunswick research organization received its first product for testing in November of 2013.
"We were one of the very first commercial labs to be offering services for medical marijuana," said Cook.
Looking towards legalization
The company anticipates even further growth with the upcoming legalization of marijuana.
"It's been estimated to be four to five times as much production from the licensed producers and that would imply four to five times as much testing," he said.
Cook believes that the province can become a leader in the marijuana industry.
"We've proven that," said Cook, admitting that there have been some growing pains for the successful company.
"Things like running out of parking spots and lunchroom space, but those are good kinds of problems to try to solve," he said.
With files from Harry Forestell