Reefer Madness

Checking in after Canada’s recreational legalization

Yes, the kids will be alright. The “Real Public Enemy Number One” is legal, and we’re all okay. Some might even say it’s really quite enjoyable. Reefer Madness is now mainstream.

Legalization has come and gone, and other than a few reports of feelings of paranoia and issues surrounding short-supply, there have been no major glitches in our society. The “reefers” have not collapsed society in one fell swoop. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

We’re still in the infancy of legalization and this fragment of time provides little insight into what legalization will actually look like. Legalization doesn’t mean we’ve crossed the finish line. October 17th wasn’t the set it and forget it date, it’s a marathon, better yet an Ironman, and we have only just begun.

As we transition into this new, legal environment, the unknown can create valid concern. Looking to the States as an example, specifically Colorado, the first state to fully legalize recreational cannabis, we can take note of their bumps and blips to set out realistic expectations. It’s important to note that five years into legalization, the state is thriving – with a booming cannabis tourism industry, revitalized food scene and generating impressive tax revenues from cannabis. But it wasn’t always that way.

Supply.

Colorado took three years to navigate the supply issues – and that’s just one state with a population of 5.6 million. Even with a moderate portion of the population consuming cannabis, if we extrapolate that number over our entire country, with minimal Licensed Producers (who are not meeting quotas), we can see the demand is great and supply will be an issue. While Colorado caters to a tourist demographic as well, noting in 2017 to have seen 17 million cannabis tourists, the population of Canada is just a smidge bigger. It will take time to work out supply kinks. Prices will drop, and commodities will become increasingly available. Patience is a virtue! Weird to think of cannabis as a commodity, but here we are!

Where supply becomes a large issue is for medicinal patients, who are waiting for weeks to receive the product they need to treat ailments. This poses a grave concern for their wellbeing as the recreational market takes precedence over those who truly need it. Licensed Producers are faced with turning a profit or allotting resources to those they have served for years, which is an extreme ethical dilemma that needs prompt attention.

We are also patiently waiting for seeds to arise. AGLC has not released seeds since legalization and demand is huge. The silver lining is there is a lot to look forward to. AGLC operates as the only supplier in the province, which can backlog product accessibility and distribution. But, AGLC is ensuring the industry operates responsibly and in compliance with federal regulations. The process of buying through a regulatory body also ensures public safety, so while it might pose a small pain now, we fully support the government’s actions to ensure social responsibility.

Price.

In Colorado, from 2014 through 2017, average annual adult use flower prices fell 62 per cent, from $14.05 to $5.34 per gram. The market will settle, it will just take time. Let’s use a tech reference…computers used to cost millions. Now many of us are lucky enough to have computers at home, work, school as prices have dropped drastically.

The economic potential for cannabis is huge. While some may find dismay in its initial launch, what isn’t being acknowledged is the future potential of this plant. Here in Calgary alone, in a city crying out for economic diversification, cannabis presents an excellent opportunity for economic revival.  Legalization of a previously federally controlled, criminal substance brings research and development opportunities for Canada as a whole.  This presents a unique opportunity for Canada to position itself as an innovative leader in the industry. Science rules.

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