To mark the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, we check in with some of the key players in the B.C. cannabis world. From pot growers to government officials to medical professionals, meet the people helping move the industry forward and keep British Columbians safe. Today’s subject is Jonathan Page, CEO of Anandia Laboratories
The first scientist to sequence the cannabis genome, Jonathan Page was born in Victoria and spent his childhood in the Comox Valley, poking about the countryside for interesting plants. He was especially fascinated by those with hallucinogenic, medicinal and cultural qualities. After graduating from UBC with a BSc in plant biology, Page studied chimpanzees’ use of medicinal plants in Tanzania and completed a PhD in botany, also at UBC. He did postdoctoral research into opium and cannabis in Germany, then headed the National Research Council’s Plant Biotechnology Institute in Saskatoon.
In 2016, back in B.C., Page co-founded Anandia Labs with chemist John Coleman on the UBC campus to develop new varieties of cannabis for medical and non-medical use. The company has also tapped into a lucrative source of revenue, testing other producers’ cannabis for potential contaminants before going to market, as required by federal regulations. The 2017 Lift Canadian Cannabis Awards named Anandia Top Testing Lab in the country.
In August, Anandia was acquired by Edmonton-based Aurora Cannabis for about $115 million in stock, which will allow it to accelerate its activities. The original staff of four has grown to 42, including 31 scientists, and Anandia expects to move into 12,500-square-foot headquarters in Vancouver’s Great Northern Way neighbourhood by the end of the year. Legalization will increase the demand for certifying products for both the adult-use and medical markets, and the new facility will enable Anandia to expand its testing and tissue culture operations severalfold.
The company will keep its original UBC lab but is also building a Cannabis Innovation Centre in Comox, Page’s boyhood home. The 22,500-square-foot greenhouse and 10,000-square-foot laboratory will house a cannabis breeding and genetics program. The site, chosen because of affordable land, proximity to an airport and a welcoming municipality, has obtained zoning approval for cannabis production and processing. It has the option to expand to more than 100,000 square feet.
Check out the November issue of BCBusiness for more profiles of B.C.’s pot players