Canada lead­ing an in­dus­try with enor­mous po­ten­tial for cre­at­ing wealth and knowl­edge

The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - CANNABIS REPORT - By Al­lan Re­wak, Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor, Cannabis Coun­cil of Canada

On Oc­to­ber 17, 2018, a failed pro­hi­bi­tion will end, and Canada will be­come the first G7 coun­try to choose to reg­u­late cannabis in a bet­ter way.

By mak­ing this choice, we will serve to keep prod­uct away from kids, prof­its away from or­ga­nized crime and will cre­ate an en­tirely new in­dus­try that will gen­er­ate sus­tain­able jobs and op­por­tu­nity for count­less Cana­di­ans.

More­over, this choice will firmly es­tab­lish our coun­try as the glob­ally dom­i­nant cen­tre of a new in­dus­try; one that will cre­ate wealth while also ex­pand­ing knowl­edge around how cannabis can im­prove hu­man health.

While we made this choice to­gether through a beau­ti­ful ex­pres­sion of democ­racy, we must ac­knowl­edge the in­no­va­tors, pioneers and pol­icy-mak­ers who gave us the abil­ity to make it.

Firstly, we must rec­og­nize and ap­plaud the pa­tients, who ex­pe­ri­enced the real and tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits of medic­i­nal cannabis and fought through the courts to right­fully and legally ac­cess it.

Sec­ondly, we must rec­og­nize and ap­plaud our Prime Min­is­ter, Justin Trudeau, for be­ing brave enough to rec­og­nize that with 20 per cent of our pop­u­la­tion con­sum­ing cannabis in some way, shape or form, a bet­ter way needed to be found.

Thirdly, we must rec­og­nize the in­no­va­tors who had the fore­sight and courage to lis­ten to the govern­ment’s call and take the risks nec­es­sary to se­cure the cap­i­tal and in­vest­ment to build up the emer­gent Cana­dian cannabis sec­tor.

To­gether, these three forces have be­gun the process of harm re­duc­tion, in­no­va­tion and wealth gen­er­a­tion that will pro­foundly change Canada for the bet­ter; and make no mis­take, this process of im­prove­ment has just be­gun.

In about a year, the Cana­dian cannabis econ­omy will ex­po­nen­tially speed up with the in­tro­duc­tion of ed­i­bles and con­cen­trates. When this oc­curs, li­censed pro­duc­ers will di­rectly and through part­ner­ships bring to mar­ket an en­tirely new le­gal prod­uct cat­e­gory for adult recre­ational con­sumers: one that I be­lieve will be im­mensely suc­cess­ful.

This is par­tially due to the fact that while these prod­ucts (and cannabis in gen­eral) are not en­tirely risk free, they carry far less harm than al­co­hol or to­bacco, which, un­like cannabis, are listed as group 1 car­cino­gens ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Agency for Re­search on Can­cer (IARC).

How­ever, as we har­ness the po­ten­tial of a le­gal adult-use mar­ket­place, which is es­ti­mated to be worth up to $9-bil­lion an­nu­ally in Canada; or the global med­i­cal mar­ket, which is es­ti­mated to be worth up to $75-bil- lion per year by 2025, we must re­tain a laser-like fo­cus on our pri­mary goal – keep­ing cannabis away from kids and prof­its away from or­ga­nized crime.

Key to this will be the mi­gra­tion of il­licit con­sumers to the le­gal mar­ket­place, be­cause, sim­ply put, it’s crim­i­nals who are putting cannabis in the hands of kids to­day. Re­plac­ing these el­e­ments in the sup­ply chain will take time, but the Cana­dian cannabis sec­tor is up to the chal­lenge.

Once we have al­lowed for the le­gal in­dus­try to take root and those roots have be­come strong, we will en­sure that in this coun­try, it will be dif­fi­cult for kids to get their hands on cannabis, we will have dealt a crush­ing blow to or­ga­nized crime, and we will have cre­ated sus­tain­able wealth for our cit­i­zens.

We still have a long way to go, but we will get there in the best tra­di­tions of Canada; by work­ing to­gether as part­ners in the spirit of com­pas­sion and col­lab­o­ra­tion.

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