After Canada legalizes pot, industry eyes rest of world
CAM Battley is a top executive at one of Canada’s biggest marijuana companies, but he isn’t sticking around to savor the country’s historic pot legalization.
He’s off to Germany on Friday and Australia next week — a sign of what a leader Canada has become in the global pot industry, and of the reverberations its decision to legalize could have internationally.
“It’s a special moment, not just for Canada, but for the world because my strong conviction is that the rest of the world will follow suit,” said Battley, chief corporate officer at Aurora Cannabis. “We’re not known as wild and crazy. We’re known for good public policy and I think they will follow our lead.”
Battley will attend an investor conference in Germany and then head to Australia, which legalized medical marijuana in 2016. He’ll meet with a corporate business partner and talk with policymakers in Sydney and Melbourne.
Battley’s itinerary is indicative of the internationalization of the marijuana industry. And with national legalization taking effect Wednesday, Canada has emerged as the world leader. It’s the second nation — and by far the largest — with countrywide legalization of so-called recreational pot.
Its deliberate approach, which took more than two years of planning, allows provinces to shape their own laws within a federal framework, including setting the minimum age and deciding whether to distribute through state-run or private retail outlets.
That offers other countries a model somewhere between the more strictly regulated system in Uruguay, the only other country with legal sales, and the more commercial version in some of the nine US states that have approved recreational marijuana.
Canada’s federal approval has given its industry a huge advantage over its American counterpart, including unfettered access to banking and billions of dollars in investment. Canadians can even order marijuana online and have weed delivered by mail to their door.
That’s all made for some envy among American cannabis entrepreneurs, including Derek Peterson, the chief executive of California-based marijuana producer Terra Tech. Peterson took out a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal this week urging President Donald Trump to help ease prohibition and eliminate hurdles for the U.S. pot industry before Canada leaves it even farther behind.
Some in the US. Congress have also taken notice, pressing for the federal government to get out of the way of states that want to legalize, but it remains unclear what weight Canada’s legalization might carry south of the border.
It might have a more immediate effect in countries like New Zealand, where the government has promised a legalization referendum by 2020, said John Walsh, of the advocacy group Washington Office on Latin America. Mexico, the Netherlands and Italy are among other nations that have been mulling legalization. To the surprise of many familiar with Amsterdam’s marijuana cafes, Holland has only very limited legalization.