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Cannabis Legalization

Cannabis Conclave Returning To Davos: Meet Benzinga At The Event

The Cannabis Conclave is returning to Davos on Jan. 23, alongside the World Economic Forum.

The Conclave, which is hosted by the Consumer Choice Center and Prohibition Partners, is an industry event that seeks to connect industry leaders, investors and policy makers. The purpose of the event is to advance the legalization discussion internationally, for both medical and recreational cannabis.

The event consists of a networking luncheon at the mountainside Restaurant Höhenweg, where guests will be treated to a full Swiss three course lunch, along with thought provoking presentations.

“We are excited to be back in Davos for our second annual Cannabis Conclave. This year we will have industry leaders from 24 countries in attendance. Our event will ensure that cannabis policy remains front and center as the world’s most influential people descend on Davos for the week,” David Clement, North American Affairs Manager at Consumer Choice Center, told Benzinga.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

What NZ can learn from Canada’s cannabis experiment

New Zealand and Canada, despite being 13,000 kilometres apart, have a lot in common. Both countries are small in terms of population, punch above their weight economically, and are politically compassionate.

If New Zealand is to succeed where Canada has failed in legalising cannabis, it needs to create a more consumer-friendly regulatory regime, says Clement.

If New Zealand votes to legalise cannabis in 2020, that will be one more similarity that these two Commonwealth countries will share.

The draft policy positions for New Zealand’s cannabis referendum have been released, and for the most part, they mirror what Canada has done for recreational cannabis legalisation.

As a Canadian, I can tell you that legalising cannabis is the right thing to do. I can also say that New Zealand should avoid the regulatory approach that Canada took.

There are several mistakes that Canada made which New Zealand should steer clear of replicating.

The first major one is the failure to differentiate between THC products and non-intoxicating CBD products.

The draft policy positions state that any product produced from the cannabis plant is to be considered a cannabis product. This puts CBD products that are not intoxicating on par with THC products that are.

If New Zealand is to succeed where Canada has failed in legalising cannabis, it needs to create a more consumer-friendly regulatory regime, says Clement.

Following what Canada has done fails to regulate based on a continuum of risk, and runs against the New Zealand Government’s goal of harm reduction.

If the Government cares about minimising harm, it shouldn’t regulate non-intoxicating low-risk products the same way as intoxicating psychoactive ones. Harm reduction should mean making the least harmful products more available, not less available.

The second major mistake in the draft policy positions is the ban on all cannabis advertising. This proposal takes Canada’s very paternalistic advertising laws and exceeds them.

Complete marketing and advertising bans for legal cannabis products are misguided for two reasons. The first is that they are wildly inconsistent with how New Zealand treats other age-restricted goods, such as alcohol. Alcohol has a much higher risk profile when compared to cannabis, but does not have such strict advertising rules.

The second reason is that a complete ban fails to properly understand the role marketing has in moving consumers over from the black market. Modest forms of marketing allow for the legal market to attract existing consumers, who are buying cannabis illegally, into the legal framework.

Legal cannabis accounts for only about 20 per cent of all cannabis consumed in Canada, and that is in large part because the legal industry is handcuffed by regulations that stop them attracting consumers from the black market.

For purchases, and a personal carry limit, the proposed policy is that no New Zealander be allowed to purchase more than 14g of cannabis a day, and that no-one should exceed carrying more than 14g on their person in public. This is extreme when compared to Canada’s 30g limit, and inconsistent when compared to alcohol, which has no purchase or personal limit. It is reasonable to assume that the people criminalised by this arbitrary limit will be the same who were most harmed by prohibition: the marginalised.

Lastly are the policies on potency and taxation. The Government wants to establish a THC potency limit for cannabis products, which is understandable.

That said, whatever the limit is, the Government should avoid setting it too low. If the limit is excessively low, consumers are likely to smoke more to get their desired THC amount. That runs directly against the Government’s harm reduction approach. Secondly, if the limit is too low, it creates a clear signal for black-market actors that there is a niche to fill.

It is important to keep taxation modest, so that pricing can be competitive between the legal and illegal markets. Canada’s onerous excise, sales, and regional taxes can increase the price of legal cannabis by upwards of 29 per cent.

Poor tax policy in Canada is in large part why legal cannabis can be more than 50 per cent more expensive than black-market alternatives. Incentivising consumers to stay in the black market hurts consumer safety, and cuts the Government out of tax revenue entirely.

New Zealand is on the right path regarding cannabis legalisation, but it is important that regulators learn lessons from Canada’s process. For the sake of harm reduction, and stamping out the black market, it is vital that New Zealand has a consumer-friendly regulatory regime, one that specifically avoids, and not replicates, the mistakes made in Canada.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

Banning Cannabis Vape May Lead to Bigger Black Market Problem, Warns Consumer Choice Center

Banning Cannabis Vape May Lead to Bigger Black Market Problem, Warns Consumer Choice Center

The Consumer Choice Center says the province’s cannabis vape ban is a dangerous mistake.

The provincial government on Wednesday announced that it is not going to allow the sale of cannabis vape products in Newfoundland and Labrador – at least for the time-being.

David Clement of the Consumer Choice Center, an anti-regulation non-profit organization, says the move to ban cannabis vape devices does more harm than good, and will put consumer safety at risk.

Clement says available evidence shows that severe lung illnesses from vaping are being caused by illegal vape products with harmful and prohibited additives, that are not in legal products.

He says the ban prevents legal and compliant products from stamping out the black market alternatives that are hurting people, making the problem worse.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

Cannabis Conclave Returns To Davos in 2020

Annual Cannabis Conclave Davos

The Cannabis Conclave, a premier cannabis industry event, will be returning to Davos on January 23rd, 2020.

Washington, DC, Dec. 06, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Consumer Choice Center is pleased to announce that the Cannabis Conclave will be returning to Davos, Switzerland on January 23, 2020.

The Cannabis Conclave was first hosted in January 2019. The conclave is a legal medical and recreational cannabis event that takes place at the mountainside Restaurant Höhenweg in Davos, Switzerland. The conclave brings together cannabis industry executives, global investors, policy makers, and international media. The purpose of the event is to fuel the legalization debate globally, both for recreational and medical cannabis, and to highlight the growing legitimacy and maturity of the legal industry. As the world’s most influential executives, activists, and change-makers descend on Davos, the conclave will ensure that cannabis is front and center in the global discussion. The conclave is a one-day event, taking place from 11:00am – 4:00pm on January 23rd. 

The event is officially sponsored by the Consumer Choice Center, Prohibition Partners, Fluence by OSRAM, and Golden Eagle Partners (GEP).

For sponsorship opportunities, speaking opportunities, or to request to attend the Cannabis Conclave, please email event organizer David Clement at [email protected].

Consumer Choice Center: The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at www.consumerchoicecenter.org.

Prohibition Partners: Prohibition Partners is widely recognised as the world’s leading provider of market intelligence, data-driven solutions and corporate strategy for the emerging cannabis industry. Our knowledge, insight, and network is unrivaled at the forefront of regulatory change and investor engagement across multiple global markets. Learn more at www.prohibitionpartners.com

Fluence by OSRAM: Fluence Bioengineering, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of OSRAM, creates the most powerful and energy-efficient LED lighting solutions for commercial crop production and research applications. Fluence is the leading LED lighting supplier in the global cannabis market and is committed to enabling more efficient crop production with the world’s top vertical farms and greenhouse produce growers. Fluence global headquarters are based in Austin, Texas, with its EMEA headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands. For more information about Fluence, visit https://fluence.science

Golden Eagle Partners (GEP): GEP’s combined experience in the early stages of the cannabis and life science sectors helps us confidently close strategic and financing transactions that match the near- and long-term goals of our marijuana and hemp clients. We specialize in mergers, acquisitions, reverse mergers, financings and incremental transactions such as licensing, joint ventures and co-development arrangements. Learn more at www.goldeneaglepartners.com


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

Consumer Group Says Open Up Cannabis Market

A consumer advocacy group is concerned with the Higgs government’s requests for proposal for a single operator to take over Cannabis NB.

David Clement, North American affairs manager for Consumer Choice Centre, says the government is taking away any chance of healthy competition and entrepreneurship and should use the Alberta model.

“It has competition between different firms and different companies. You have small businesses applying for these licences and opening up stores with more than 200 outlets thus far,” stated Clement.

“Most of the benefits from the private sector come from the competitive and entrepreneurial spirit that exists when you open a market up, so by consolidating everything in one company, it is almost trading one monopoly for another.”

Although the centre agrees with the idea of having Cannabis NB privatized, it says the Higgs government is taking one step forward and two steps back with this approach.

Originally posted here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

Now Is the Time: Congressional Legalization of Cannabis Will Unite a Polarized Nation

CONTACT:
Yaël Ossowski
Deputy Director
Consumer Choice Center
[email protected]

Now Is the Time: Congressional Legalization of Cannabis Will Unite a Polarized Nation

Washington, D.C. –  The eyes of the nation are on the U.S. Capitol this week as millions are tuning in to the impeachment hearings of President Donald Trump. There is plenty of polarization to go around, but Congress has a unique opportunity to deliver a bipartisan win that will be cheered by millions of Americans: rescheduling cannabis would do exactly that.

The House Judiciary Committee today reviewed H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, a bill that would remove Schedule 1 drug status for cannabis, set up simple rules and community incentives for decriminalization, and allow states to create their own rules.

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the DC-based Consumer Choice Center, said a bipartisan endorsement of cannabis decriminalization and legalization before Christmas would unite the nation in a time of bitter partisanship.

“Americans are united in their opposition to the status quo on cannabis policy at the federal level. That’s why now, with so much polarization emanating from Washington, is the perfect time to remind the American people why they elected their representatives in the first place,” said Ossowski.

“Federal cannabis prohibition has created generations of victims, plagued our criminal justice system with injustice, and inflamed a vibrant illegal sector that operates without regulation or concern for safety.

“That’s why we urgently need smart cannabis policy now, one that encourages competition, entrepreneurship, avoids red tape, and eradicates the black market. This is the biggest opportunity for a major policy change we have seen in decades, and consumers and citizens are clamoring for it.

“Consumers should be able to choose their cannabis products safely in a legal and regulated market. That would benefit not only citizens and patients, but also promote economic growth, raise revenue for cash-strapped cities and states, and finally restore justice to the millions who have been locked out of society due to their use of cannabis.

“Nearly a third of the country already has legal cannabis. Now it’s up to Congress to give the rest of the nation that opportunity and help us heal the partisanship divide when we need it most,” said Ossowski.


Earlier this year, the Consumer Choice Center published its Smart Cannabis Policy Primer, available here.

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice.

We represent consumers in over 100 countries across the globe and closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Therapeutic CBD oil doesn’t belong under restrictive Cannabis Act

The federal election is behind us, and all Canadians are probably pretty thankful for that.

That said, in what was arguably Canada’s most irritating, and cynical, election, no one spoke about Canada’s cannabis market. The opposition parties did not take aim at the Liberals for their mistakes, nor did the Liberals really use legalization as a talking point on their legislative success. Now that we have a minority government, it is important that this new government enacts change to make Canada’s cannabis market more open and consumer-friendly.

Much has been said regarding the issues with excise taxes, the federal government’s overly paternalistic marketing and packaging rules, and burdensome production regulations that have handcuffed producers. All of these missteps have hurt the attractiveness of the legal market, and that only benefits those who are selling cannabis illegally.

One mistake made in the Cannabis Act that hasn’t gotten any coverage is the federal government’s failure to differentiate appropriately between THC and CBD.

For those who don’t know, CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. On its own, it has a variety of medicinal and wellness uses. CBD can be used for pain in patients with disorders such as fibromyalgia and can be used to prevent seizures for people who suffer from neurological disorders such as epilepsy. It can also be used to treat common issues such as joint pain, inflammation, and act as a sleep aid. Most importantly, CBD is not an intoxicating substance like THC.

Because CBD products are not intoxicating, and have a significantly lower risk profile, they shouldn’t be treated the same as cannabis products with THC. All that would be required to right this wrong would be to remove non-intoxicating CBD products from the Cannabis Act altogether.

Quite simply, any CBD product with a THC concentration of less than 0.3 per cent (the U.S. legal standard) should be treated as a natural health product, and exempt from the rules and regulations of the Cannabis Act.

Removing CBD products from the Cannabis Act would have several immediate benefits for consumers. The first is that it would exempt CBD products from the overly heavy-handed marketing, branding and plain packaging restrictions set out in the Cannabis Act. Having cannabis regulated in the same way as tobacco was a huge mistake, given the differences in risks between products. Regulating cannabis like tobacco was a mistake, but treating CBD products like tobacco is downright comical.

Beyond the chance to peel back federal paternalism, the removal of CBD products from the Cannabis Act would allow for products to brand their desired impact, something that is currently, and irritatingly, illegal for all cannabis products. The current prohibitions are a huge disservice to consumers because they prevent them from being presented with more product information when making purchases. Public policy should encourage informed consumer decisions, not actively prevent them. Removing CBD from the Cannabis Act would allow for these products to free themselves from the silliness of the act’s marketing regulations, which will serve to empower consumers.

In addition to giving consumers more information through appropriate marketing and branding, removing CBD from the act would significantly increase consumer access. As it currently stands, non-intoxicating CBD products are only available via outlets that are licensed to sell cannabis.

This is problematic because for many consumers, the rollout of storefronts has been horrendous, with the government-run online alternatives taking days to deliver product. Removing CBD from the act would, overnight, allow for these products to be sold alongside other natural health products. It would also allow for products to become available in cities and towns that made the misguided decision to ban cannabis retail within their boundaries, as in Ontario. Increasing points of sale for CBD products would increase consumer access, which could help steer people away from the black market alternatives that currently exist.

Whether in co-operation with Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, or Jagmeet Singh’s NDP, Trudeau needs to make changes to CBD regulations. Removing CBD from the act would be simple, and would actually be in line with concessions Health Canada has already made.

When the new regulations were announced for edibles, extracts and topicals, Health Canada explained that the excise tax would only be applied based on THC level, which means that CBD topicals, edibles or extracts wouldn’t come with any excise tax whatsoever. Removing CBD from the act would be a straightforward and consistent continuation of that regulatory correction. Most importantly, it would be a correction that would benefit consumers nationwide.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

Ontario to allow cannabis retailers to sell online and over the phone

Cannabis retailers will soon be able to sell products online or over the phone for in-store pick-up as the Ontario government adopts a “click-and-connect” sales model to expand access to legal marijuana.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips announced the proposed changes in the government’s fall economic statement Wednesday, saying they will decrease waits for cannabis and help combat the black market.

The shift comes as the Progressive Conservative government pledges to lift a cap it imposed on the number of cannabis stores in Ontario.

“All of the provincial jurisdictions are learning and trying to make sure that we take the best approach,” Phillips said. “Our priorities are getting rid of black market cannabis and safety in our communities.”

The government had initially said there would be no cap on the number of retail pot shops after cannabis was legalized. That decision marked a change of course from the previous Liberal government, which created the Ontario Cannabis Store and had planned to tightly control cannabis sales through government-owned stores similar to the LCBO.

But a supply shortage prompted the Tory government last December to cap the initial number of pot retail licences to just 25 so operators would be able to open.

The number of legal pot outlets in Ontario is increasing from 25 to 75 this fall.

The government also said Wednesday it will allow licensed producers to have retail stores on each of their production sites to further increase access.

The Tories had planned to allow that after coming to power in 2018 but did not enact the necessary regulations when the supply shortage caused them to cap the number of retail stores.

The government said Wednesday it will amend legislation and provincial regulations to make the changes but has given no immediate timeline when they will take effect.

Omar Yar Khan, a vice president at strategy firm Hill+Knowlton who advises cannabis sector clients, said the changes will help encourage customers to move from the black market to legal retailers.

“In an era where customers are used to an Amazon Prime experience … anything the government can do to allow these legal markets to reach consumers on channels they’re already on is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Khan said the government needs to uncap the retail market if it wants to continue to fight the illicit market.

“They need to move fast on that, and I think they will,” he said.

One consumer advocacy group praised the move towards “click-and-connect” sales but said the government could have gone further.

“It makes the legal market more consumer-friendly by increasing access and allowing consumers to place orders and pick them up … but it would be that much better if they coupled that with the ability for stores to provide deliver services,” said David Clement, manager of North American affairs for the Consumer Choice Center.

Clement said the changes that allow pot producers to open retail space could create a tourism industry around cannabis.

“If you go to brewery or a distillery, often you can take a tour or talk to the master brewer,” he said. “That on-site selling opportunity has been used to provide consumers with other experiences they otherwise wouldn’t have.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov, 6th. I was posted on Yahoo Finance here.


FOR MORE INFORMATION ON SMAT CANNABIS POLICIES CLICK HERE


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

The green rush is already here and we need smart cannabis policy to direct it

This week, 60 Minutes ran a report on the failure of cannabis policy in California, specifically the marijuana-rich region of the Emerald Triangle. Though California legalized cannabis beginning in 2017, the region has created a special conundrum for law enforcement and regulators.

The northwestern region of the state, with its ideal growing climate, grows an estimated 70% of the nation’s cannabis. A good chunk of that, as you can guess, is sold illicitly in states where cannabis is not yet legal, recreationally, medically, or otherwise. 

Much more, 78% of all cannabis sold in California is estimated to be grown illegally, beyond the reach of taxes and regulations. Police have seized more than $30 million worth of cannabis, and are spending more time policing cannabis now than when it was illegal. It’s a disaster.

On a recent trip to New York, I saw California brands and products for sale in an illegal dispensary just off Times Square. Supply is liquid and flexible, even if the regulations are not.

And herein lies the problem.

The impressive growth of the national black market of THC cannabis is enabled by its legality in states like California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, but cemented by burdensome regulation and taxes that discourage consumers from using the legal market.

That’s why we need to transition urgently to smart cannabis policy, one that encourages competition, entrepreneurship, avoids red tape, and eradicates the black market.

Consumers know why current policies have failed. States, counties, and municipalities view cannabis as a cash crop for public budgets rather than a new consumer product. High taxes at all levels of production and sale, as well as expensive fees, licenses, and local prohibitions on dispensaries make it a racket.

Comparing prices alone easily nudges consumers to buy the cheaper, illicit products. The same issues plague Canada, which legalized cannabis just one year ago, but where 42% of cannabis purchases are outside the legal system. That’s a problem no one in government is addressing, much less discussing.

The regulatory burden faced by growers and retailers alike erects immense barriers to entry, practically guaranteeing the emergence of a new generation of scofflaws not seen since the days of Prohibition. This enables low-quality and sometimes harmful products to reach consumers, without significant testing or verification for pesticides or other chemicals.

California’s problems will soon migrate to Massachusetts and Michigan, cobbling together their regulatory regimes to tackle the green rush but not adapting the lessons learned from the western experience.

The culprit isn’t regulation or taxation per se, but rather an unbalanced and uninformed cannabis policy that puts the state’s tax earnings ahead of the consumer experience.

The same issues are beginning to plague the CBD and hemp market, the non-intoxicating cannabis derivatives quietly legalized via the 2018 Farm Bill. 

With little to no clarity from the FDA, states such as North Carolina will ban different forms of CBD, much to the detriment of farmers converting millions of dollars’ worth of fields to hemp production, and to consumers relying on CBD to address anxiety, pain relief, and depression. This is a national problem, rather than limited to states with recreational cannabis markets.

This is compounded by the DEA’s Schedule 1 classification of cannabis, more severe than opioids or cocaine, making it illegal for legal cannabis firms to establish legitimate bank accounts, take out loans, and offer public shares of their businesses. Not to mention the myriad of issues that force dispensaries to deal in cash for transactions, tax payments, and equipment procurement.

Thankfully, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are close to passing the SAFE Banking Act to alleviate these concerns. But bad cannabis policy at the state and local levels still exists. And that’s bad for consumers and entrepreneurs alike.

Nascent cannabis companies should be able to establish brands and consumer loyalty, comply with reasonable and smart regulation, and not face unreasonable tax burdens. That will make the experience much better for consumers, and it’s the only way to eradicate the black market and ensure smart cannabis policy.


By Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a writer, consumer advocate, and deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center.

$1.1 billion worth of cannabis sold in Canada’s first year of legalization

One year after the legalization of recreational cannabis, Cannabis Benchmarks, a company that tracks cannabis prices, estimates that Canadian licensed producers have sold approximately 1.1 billion dollars worth of pot in the past 12 months, the equivalent to 105,000 kilograms—enough to fill almost two rail freight cars.

According to Statistics Canada, licensed retail outlets sold more than $100 million worth of pot in July, the fifth straight month that sales hit an all-time high.

However, some industry analysts believe those numbers would be much higher if not for the many stumbling blocks the industry has encountered in the first year of legalization. They cite several problems, ranging from non-compliant packaging to the failure of some producers to increase cultivation capacity in time to meet demand. But according to many analysts, the number one problem has been the regulators.

An article published by the Motley Fool, a financial services company, said federal regulators were not prepared to handle legalization of recreational cannabis. Health Canada had more than 800 cultivation, processing, and sales applications when the year started, but took several months or more to review them, the article stated. That “kept cultivators, processors, and retailers waiting in the wings to meet [consumer] demand.”

“There are many risks involved in overseeing cannabis and Health Canada tries to manage risk,” Alanna Sokic, a senior consultant for Global Public Affairs, told Leafly.  “The industry runs at breakneck speed and government does not.”

“Canadian licensed producers have sold approximately $1.1 billion worth of cannabis in the past 12 months, the equivalent to 105,000 kilograms—enough to fill almost two rail freight cars.”

Cannabis Benchmarks

Sales figures should be higher

Analysts have criticized some provinces for being slow to approve retail licenses. In Ontario and Quebec, for example, there are so few brick-and-mortar stores that many consumers are faced with the prospect of buying cannabis online—an unappealing option for the many consumers who want to see and smell their product before buying it legally—or getting it on the illicit market.

Many of them have chosen the latter route. The amount of legal cannabis Canadians have purchased in the past year (105,000 kilos) represents just 11.4% of the total amount they are thought to consume annually.

Canada’s most populous province has completely botched the rollout of the cannabis retail market according to analysts. After Doug Ford became premier of Ontario in June 2018, he announced that his government would award cannabis retail licenses through a lottery system. Two lotteries have been held so far.

This system has been fraught with problems, including inexperienced winners and concerns that some of them have sold their licenses on the illicit market.

“If you needed a brain surgeon, would you pick one through a lottery? Cannabis retail is best left to those who are knowledgeable and reliable,” BCMI Cannabis Report author Chris Damas told Leafly.

There are also indications the lottery system has been gamed by big players. A physical address was required for each entry. In the second lottery, in August, the average number of entries per each winning address was 24. One address was entered into the lottery 173 times. Each entry cost $75.

The amount of legal cannabis Canadians have purchased in the past year (105,000 kilos) represents just 11.4% of the total amount they are thought to consume annually.

Some of the applicants are so unhappy with the system they have taken their case to court. Eleven of them won the right to apply for a retail license through the second lottery but were later disqualified for not providing required documents by the regulator’s deadline. They responded by asking the court for a judicial review. The province’s plan to hold another lottery was suspended until Sept. 27, when the court dismissed the applicants’ request.

There are now just 24 retail outlets in a province that has a population of more than 14 million. “Ontario could support a thousand stores—and that’s a conservative estimate,” Damas told Leafly. “The provincial government blew it. If Ontario was punching at the weight it should be, Canadian sales numbers would be much higher.”

The Ford government attributes the slow rollout of retail to supply issues at the federal level. They say stores might go out of business if they open while there is limited cannabis supply. But as David Clement of the Consumer Choice Center stated in The Globe and Mail, the province doesn’t have the same approach when it comes to granting alcohol licenses for restaurants, bars, or clubs even though there is a high failure rate (60%) for these businesses.

Also, all the provinces are dealing with the same supply issues, yet some have done a much better job of establishing a cannabis retail market. For example, there are more than 300 retail outlets in Alberta, even though the province’s population is just 4.3 million—less than a third the size of Ontario’s population. Alberta outlets sold $124 million dollars’ worth of cannabis in the first eight months of legalization while Ontario outlets sold $121 million.

They key to Alberta’s success is its comparatively free-market regime, say analysts. The province’s regulatory body is the sole distributor of recreational cannabis just as it is in Ontario. However, in Alberta, anyone can apply for a license to open up a retail location. The opening of retail outlets is driven by market demand.

‘Gong show’ will get sorted out

“Sales numbers are what can be expected when some provinces (in the Prairies) embrace a free-market model and others don’t,” Damas said. “It has been a fiasco in certain provinces,” he said, referring to Ontario as well as Quebec, which has 22 stores and a population of eight million.

But Damas and other analysts are optimistic about the future of cannabis retail in Canada. Economist Trevor Tombe at the University of Calgary said in a tweet that “the gong show” in Ontario will get sorted out. Indeed, the province just announced it was launching consultations aimed at getting the private sector more involved in cannabis storage and delivery.

“Sales numbers are what can be expected when some provinces (in the Prairies) embrace a free-market model and others don’t.”

Chris Damas, BCMI Cannabis Report author

“If you look across Canada you will see a patchwork of regulation. Some provinces are performing much better than others because they have prioritized access,” Sokic told Leafly. “In the past year, some lessons have been learned. Provinces who haven’t prioritized market access are considering it so that they can accomplish their objectives. I think the future looks bright.”

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

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