Meet 15 key play­ers in the prov­ince’s cannabis world

BC Business Magazine - - Front Page -

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.

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