Does the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of cannabis sig­nal a wa­ter­shed mo­ment in Cana­dian busi­ness?

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS -

Si­mon Sherry, Psy­chol­o­gist, Dal­housie Univer­sity, and critic of NSLC cannabis mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties

Com­mer­cial­iz­ing cannabis is not a wa­ter­shed mo­ment for Cana­dian busi­ness. Here are four rea­sons why: First, the cannabis mar­ket is al­ready at or near its ceil­ing. Cana­di­ans are far from an un­tapped mar­ket in terms of cannabis use. In fact, Cana­di­ans are al­ready among the world’s heav­i­est cannabis users (United Na­tions Of­fice on Drugs and Crime, 2018), and Nova Sco­tians con­sume the most cannabis per capita in Canada (Statis­tics Canada, 2018). Sec­ond, cannabis le­gal­iza­tion elim­i­nates bar­ri­ers to cannabis use (e.g., crim­i­nal penal­ties). But re­search shows cannabis le­gal­iza­tion is un­likely to sub­stan­tively in­crease rates of cannabis use (Wayne Hall & Lynskey, 2016). Third, we are not cre­at­ing a new cannabis econ­omy. Rather, we are re­plac­ing an il­le­gal cannabis econ­omy with a le­gal cannabis econ­omy. Il­le­gal jobs will be lost, and le­gal jobs will be gained. And more jobs will be lost than gained, mostly be­cause the le­gal cannabis econ­omy will be more ef­fi­cient than the il­le­gal cannabis econ­omy. For ex­am­ple, le­gal cannabis pro­duc­tion (vs. il­le­gal cannabis pro­duc­tion) will bet­ter cap­i­tal­ize on economies of scale. Fourth, var­i­ous sources project cannabis mar­ket profits be­tween $5-bil­lion and $8-bil­lion (Par­lia­men­tary Bud­get Of­fi­cer, 2016), rep­re­sent­ing a small in­crease of around two per cent to Canada’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct. And even this in­crease may very well be an ac­count­ing il­lu­sion, as much of this money was al­ready part of Canada’s econ­omy in the form of il­le­gal and un­ac­counted for profits.

Sean Gal­lagher, Lion and Bright and Lo­cal Source Net­work

It’s cer­tainly an in­ter­est­ing time. Although the laws may be chang­ing to de­crim­i­nal­ize cannabis use within strict guide­lines, the so­cial norms will take some time to catch up. Liquor, even with the blip of pro­hi­bi­tion, has been so­cially ac­cept­able and a pub­lic part of Cana­dian so­ci­ety for a long time. The im­pli­ca­tions of drink­ing and the reper­cus­sions of the be­hav­iours brought on by drink­ing have helped to shape our so­ci­ety. The so­cial use of recre­ational mar­i­juana has re­mained un­der­ground, part of a sub-cul­ture vs. main­stream. Cannabis has been used by hu­man so­ci­eties for a long, long time and has re­mained a strong sub-cul­ture in Canada for the last 50-odd years with plenty of av­er­age cit­i­zens en­joy­ing a mi­nor flir­ta­tion with the un­der­ground econ­omy due to the laws pro­hibit­ing it. The un­der­ground has flour­ished un­der this pro­hi­bi­tion as mar­kets have evolved and mar­ke­teers have prof­ited. Now that the law has loos­ened and the govern­ment is mak­ing an ef­fort to ben­e­fit from the ex­ist­ing mar­ket, times will cer­tainly change. The real boon for small busi­ness re­mains to be seen. It’s a new in­dus­try with plenty of med­i­cal, and so­cial ben­e­fits if con­sumed within mod­er­a­tion, and the mar­ket is huge in Canada.

Me­gan Patey, Co-owner of Is­land Re­Leaf Glass

“Ab­so­lutely it’s a big mo­ment. I’d say it’s piv­otal. There’s al­ready a green rush of peo­ple try­ing to get their feet in busi­ness be­fore le­gal­iza­tion. The un­for­tu­nate part is that some prov­inces have made it so other busi­nesses, like ours, won’t be able to reap all of the ben­e­fits be­cause of the leg­is­la­tion. But I’d say it’s the big­gest cul­tural change we will prob­a­bly see in our life­time. The last time some­thing this big hap­pened was pro­hi­bi­tion. I think it’s go­ing to cre­ate new op­por­tu­ni­ties as long as they’ll al­low it.”

Ste­fanie Turner, En­gage­ment co-or­di­na­tor with Event At­lantic

“I’m not ben­e­fit­ing from its le­gal­iza­tion, be­cause I don’t smoke it. I’m not, like, ab­so­lutely must be le­gal­ized, and then on the other side I’m not say­ing it shouldn’t. I don’t re­ally have any opin­ion on it. Oc­to­ber 17 is just go­ing to be an­other day. I mean, yay for job cre­ation and a new line of busi­ness open­ing, but I don’t think the le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis makes us any dif­fer­ent. We’re not the first place in the world to le­gal­ize it. I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I’m just happy it will be reg­u­lated, and you’ll know what’s in it.”

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