Meet 15 key players in the province’s cannabis world
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
By the time you read this, Canada will have become the second country to let its citizens use cannabis recreationally without breaking the law. The change, which follows federal legalization of medical pot back in 2001, comes with a host of new rules—and unanswered questions. In B.C., where pot has a long and illustrious history, we’re waiting to see what will become of our dozens of illegal cannabis dispensaries. And in the wake of October’s civic elections, municipalities across the province must decide whether to welcome legit retail outlets.
No matter what happens, there’s money to be made. In the first year of legalization, Canada’s medical, legal recreational and illicit cannabis industries could generate as much as $7.17 billion in sales, Deloitte estimates. The legal recreational market could account for $4.34 billion of that total, with the Western provinces contributing as much as $1.37 billion.
As part of its 2018 cannabis report, Deloitte surveyed current and likely cannabis users across the country. Although the overall sum that Canadians shell out for marijuana won’t change dramatically after legalization, how they spend it will, says Jayana Darras, a Vancouver-based partner with the advisory firm. “It does point to [their buying cannabis] more often, and their willingness to pay a little more to know that they’re getting good-quality product and that they’re buying it legally.”
Cannabis stocks have been volatile, to say the least, as October 17 loomed. Take Tilray, a Nanaimo-based licensed producer of medical marijuana that peaked at US$214 in September before sliding to the US$145 range by month’s end. The American-owned outfit, whose majority investor is a private equity firm backed by billionaire Peter Thiel, debuted on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in July at US$17, briefly becoming the world’s most valuable pot company.
Speaking of Americans, anyone with ties to the Canadian cannabis industry risks being turned away at the U.S. border—or even a lifetime ban. The question is how far President Donald Trump’s administration will push things, given that marijuana remains a controlled substance under U.S. federal law, even though medical and/or recreational use is legal in 31 states and Washington, D.C.
Kirk Tousaw (see p.26), a B.C. attorney who has defended the rights of medical-cannabis users, notes that the number of Americans who can buy weed legally now exceeds the population of Canada. “I expect it’ll be a few years off, but I certainly hope change is coming on a countrywide basis to the U.S. as well,” Tousaw says.