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Canada's legal cannabis fails to reap bumper air freight payloads

THE legalisation of cannabis for leisure purposes in Canada on October 17 has not yet delivered the bumper aircraft payloads that some had been anticipating

Canada's legal cannabis fails to reap bumper air freight payloads
11 November 2018 - 19:00

THE legalisation of cannabis for leisure purposes in Canada on October 17 has not yet delivered the bumper aircraft payloads that some had been anticipating.

Canada's largest freighter operator Cargojet has been flying cannabis across the country since the plant's use for medical purposes was legalised in 2001. Performing the line haul on domestic trunk routes for all major express parcel operators, the Hamilton-based airline ended up with cannabis on its freighters 'willy-nilly,' according to chief commercial officer Jamie Piteous.



In the run-up to legalising cannabis, Cargojet performed several charters in the summer, moving seedlings to a new production facility in British Columbia.



Since October 17 the freighter airline has moved cannabis shipments around its network, notably from Montreal, Vancouver and Edmonton, Mr Piteous said. However, he has no clear picture how much cannabis is being shipped, as only a fraction of this traffic is declared as such, reported London's Loadstar.



Some shippers use security firms like Brinks to transport their cargo, and those usually do not identify the nature of their shipments, he noted.



There are no special handling and security protocols for moving cannabis shipments, although Cargo jet, Air Canada and West Jet all implemented staff policies in the days before October 17, according to Mr Piteous.



'We had internal discussions before this started. What do we do if a plane gets diverted to the US and it has cannabis on board? But we often don't know that we have it,' he said.



Other carriers have reportedly been more circumspect.



'We had enquiries to carry plants to Scandinavia but we couldn't find a carrier that was willing to take that,' said Aerodyne Cargo Services managing director Ron Bushman.



'Apparently some airlines are concerned that some spill of the oil or residue could leave the smell on the aircraft, which could cause problems if they go through the US and snuffer dogs go on the plane.'



Although it is unclear how much of the newly liberated weed is on Cargo jet freighters, Mr Piteous found volumes less than anticipated.



'There was a lot of noise, with projections of significant volumes but we've not seen volumes anywhere close to those forecasts,' he said.



This should change if Aurora Sky has its way. The cannabis producer has set up an 800,000 square foot production facility right on Edmonton International Airport and most of the output is expected to leave by air. The facility is designed to produce 100,000 kilogram?s of cannabis per year.

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