Canada leading an industry with enormous potential for creating wealth and knowledge
By Allan Rewak, Executive Director, Cannabis Council of Canada
On October 17, 2018, a failed prohibition will end, and Canada will become the first G7 country to choose to regulate cannabis in a better way.
By making this choice, we will serve to keep product away from kids, profits away from organized crime and will create an entirely new industry that will generate sustainable jobs and opportunity for countless Canadians.
Moreover, this choice will firmly establish our country as the globally dominant centre of a new industry; one that will create wealth while also expanding knowledge around how cannabis can improve human health.
While we made this choice together through a beautiful expression of democracy, we must acknowledge the innovators, pioneers and policy-makers who gave us the ability to make it.
Firstly, we must recognize and applaud the patients, who experienced the real and tangible benefits of medicinal cannabis and fought through the courts to rightfully and legally access it.
Secondly, we must recognize and applaud our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, for being brave enough to recognize that with 20 per cent of our population consuming cannabis in some way, shape or form, a better way needed to be found.
Thirdly, we must recognize the innovators who had the foresight and courage to listen to the government’s call and take the risks necessary to secure the capital and investment to build up the emergent Canadian cannabis sector.
Together, these three forces have begun the process of harm reduction, innovation and wealth generation that will profoundly change Canada for the better; and make no mistake, this process of improvement has just begun.
In about a year, the Canadian cannabis economy will exponentially speed up with the introduction of edibles and concentrates. When this occurs, licensed producers will directly and through partnerships bring to market an entirely new legal product category for adult recreational consumers: one that I believe will be immensely successful.
This is partially due to the fact that while these products (and cannabis in general) are not entirely risk free, they carry far less harm than alcohol or tobacco, which, unlike cannabis, are listed as group 1 carcinogens according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
However, as we harness the potential of a legal adult-use marketplace, which is estimated to be worth up to $9 billion annually in Canada; or the global medical market, which is estimated to be worth up to $75 billion per year by 2025, we must retain a laser-like focus on our primary goal – keeping cannabis away from kids and profits away from organized crime.
Key to this will be the migration of illicit consumers to the legal marketplace, because, simply put, it’s criminals who are putting cannabis in the hands of kids today. Replacing these elements in the supply chain will take time, but the Canadian cannabis sector is up to the challenge.
Once we have allowed for the legal industry to take root and those roots have become strong, we will ensure that in this country, it will be difficult for kids to get their hands on cannabis, we will have dealt a crushing blow to organized crime, and we will have created sustainable wealth for our citizens.
We still have a long way to go, but we will get there in the best traditions of Canada; by working together as partners in the spirit of compassion and collaboration.