Medical marijuana finds market in Canada’s economy among legalization delays

Published On March 1, 2018 | By | News

FILE PHOTO: Various-sized joints for sale are pictured at the annual 4/20 marijuana event at Sunset Beach in Vancouver, on April 20, 2017. (REUTERS/Jason Redmond/File Photo)

Matthew Frank

Canadians may be seeking alternative methods to get high this summer due to delays in the Senate this month. 

These delays mean Canadians will not be able to purchase legalized recreational marijuana until August — or even by late September.

Marijuana use by young people has more than doubled over a 30-year-period between 1985 and 2015, according to a Statistics Canada report.

But, the supply may not be keeping up with those who are using it.

Only some licensed producers are expected to thrive post-legalization, according to a report from tax experts EY Canada. 

The report notes that to be a “successful long-term player in this [industry], these companies will need to accelerate their operations and progression through a typical business lifecycle.”

Market data from Ontario showed there were under 100,000 clients registered for medical marijuana at the end of the second quarter of 2017.

Only half of that number, however, received shipments within that same period.    

The shortages may create problems in keeping marijuana out of the hands of the illegal market at first, some believe.

Craig Jones, of advocacy group NORML Canada, says government-controlled operations are effective, but he is concerned that they have the potential to be flawed.

“It’s not 100 per cent,” he said. “Young people can still get access [to illegal markets], but [government-run operations] are a more effective method than trying to suppress the supply through criminal prohibition.”

Suppressing the use of recreational marijuana comes on the heels of police raids to dispensary locations around the city last year.

And Toronto Police will still be keeping a vigilant eye on illegal marijuana and its distribution until it’s legalized. 

Toronto Police communications director Mark Pugash said police will continue to enforce the law, and regularly execute warrants and arrests on illegal storefronts and those who continue to sell it.  

Mike, 29, from Toronto, who purchases marijuana from dispensaries says that he will try to keep buying from them while he still can because “he trusts them.” 

Several dispensary owners, who were reached by phone, did not want to provide any comment about their stance on the issue. 

FILE PHOTO: Master Grower Ryan Douglas waters marijuana plants in a growing room at Tweed Marijuana Inc in Smith’s Falls, Ontario, Canada on February 20, 2014. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo

Medical marijuana, however, is in a completely different situation.

Association group Cannabis Canada wants to ensure their patients they will be getting access.

“Bill C-45 will have an exception for medical cannabis. There is no delay for legislation on medical patients,” said Allan Rewak, acting executive director of Cannabis Canada. 

“[Patients] will continue to be served by companies licenced to sell,” he said.

This means patients will have access to services when they need it.

And it is a system he is sure will work well.

“This is one of the most remarkable sectors in the industry. We have an eye to reducing social harm,” Rewak said.

“Market data shows people are using cannabis more and more. We think [industries for medical marijuana] will bring about great economic benefits,” he said.  

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