Highs and lows of two years of authorized hashish in Canada


The best part about building something from scratch is the freedom to work from a clean slate. The worst thing is the mistakes that you cannot avoid.

So Canadians talk a little about the first two years since the government began regulating recreational cannabis. To commemorate the second 10/17 post legalization, cannabis influencers look back on the ups and downs of legal weed in Canada, including what is worth celebrating and what makes them fight for change.

Happiness is a local spliff

Empowering people to grow their own cannabis was inspirational to Vancouver Island cannabis advisor and farmers advocate Kelly Coulter. "Cannabis is a channel for bigger conversations like self-reliance and sustainability," she says. “It was very worthwhile to see the joy of homeowners sharing their experiences in a spirit of collaboration and passion. We fought hard for it. "

Business is booming

alberta roadside spiritleafJesse Milns / Leafly

Cannabis generates billions in sales. "Many analysts anticipate total sales for 2020 to be around $ 3 billion, which will generate significant federal and state revenue if deficit spending increases across the board," said Omar Yar Khan, head of the national cannabis sector at Hill + Knowlton Strategies.

Shopping Spree

As educators at the forefront of cannabis, Budtenders have risen to the challenge.

"It was a highlight to learn from the big budget tenders and retailers who make our industry tick," said Tyler Rumi, CEO and co-founder of Good Buds. "They are amazing to work with and they are our main portal for product development and understanding what Canadians want."

A taste of food

Photo by Jesse Milns / Leafly

The ingestible cannabis market may only be celebrating its first anniversary, but Canada's appetites are strong.

"48 percent of Canadians who have never tried cannabis say they are interested in ingestible cannabis," says Haneen Davies, CCO at Houseplant. "These new formats will add entirely new consumers to the category."

Canadian cold

Canadians have adopted legal cannabis with a characteristically relaxed attitude.

"It really seems that legalization has permeated our society," says Kirsten Gauthier, Marketing Director at 48North. "The stigma surrounding the plant has subsided, the quality has improved and people's ideas about the possibilities of the plant have expanded."

Reefer madness … averted

The boogeyman scenarios that argued against legalization never really came about.

"There has been so much fear and speculation about issues like life-long bans at the US border, increasing driving disorders and lack of care for medical patients, not to mention concerns about the impact of legalization on youth," said Ashleigh Brown, Founder and CEO by SheCann Cannabis Inc. “Neither of these scenarios has become a major social problem in Canada. For most of us, it's "cannabis as usual". "

Center indigenous sovereignty

(Jesse Milns for Leafly)

In indigenous communities with reserves, legalization has got a wider scope. "There's a mixture of reserve practice between an ongoing cannabis ban, some form of compliance with government regulations, and the unqualified sovereign acceptance of the industry," said Jacob Taylor, managing partner of the Pontiac Group development company.

This lack of diversity

The fact that white men have jumped to the top of the pyramid within this brand new industry underlines once more how tenacious the patriarchy is in the social structures of the nation.

"We need to foster an inclusive and diverse industry," said Abi Roach, founder of Toronto's HotBox Lounge & Shop and now senior product manager at the Ontario Cannabis Store. “We want an industry that looks like its diverse customers. People of different sex, different ethnicity, size and lived history. "

Justice for all

As new players take advantage of the new legal market, many feel that those who are tracked under the previous system deserve validation. "Amnesty is still needed to clear convictions or seal records even if they are pardoned," said Trang Trinh, CEO of TREC Brands, which donates 10% of gross profits to Cannabis Amnesty. "This will help the real pioneers in the sector to reintegrate into society."

Packaging that is anything but green

Canna CabanaPhoto by Jesse Milns

The cumbersome packaging that the government requires for cannabis is at odds with the values ​​of many of its producers and consumers. "I would like to see packaging requirements under the cannabis law relaxed to allow for more branding and sustainable packaging options," said Alex Rumi, CSO and co-founder of Good Buds. "Current Health Canada regulations force us to use this massive packaging that creates a lot of single-use plastic waste."

Advantage: illegal cannabis

Photo by Jesse Milns / Leafly

The illegal market still offers better prices and quality than government-regulated alternatives. "Current data from Statistics Canada shows that at least 40% of cannabis users still regularly access products from the illegal market," says Omar Yar Khan of Hill + Knowlton Strategies. "They will not migrate to the legal market unless the consumer experience and prices can be improved."

Ad it up

Marketing restrictions restrain the growth of the industry. "We still have a long way to go to make the marketing and sale of cannabis in Canada easier and less complicated and to remove supply and demand from the illicit market," said Haneen Davies, CCO at Houseplant.

"The industry is still being treated like a novelty or second class in a number of ways, such as very restrictive advertising," said James Jesty, president of Friendly Stranger Holdings Corp. "I hope these restrictions will be lifted in the near future." ”

Let the indies in

Photo by Jesse Milns / Leafly

Not nearly enough micro-licenses have been issued. "Sooner than later, the micro-regulation needs to be completely reset," says David Hurford, secretary of the BC Craft Farmers Co-Op. “In the first two years of legalization, only 25 artisan farmers were admitted before Christ. It will take thousands for the policy to be successful and to meet consumer demand for fresh, local cannabis products. "

And then there is the medical system

Although the recreational market has made great strides in recent years, the medical market still faces its own persistent problems.

“We're fortunate to have a separate stream for patients in this country, but little to no insurance coverage, substantial costs, multiple taxes, and a lack of doctors willing to authorize and supervise patients mean that millions of Canadians self-medicated or self-medicated, "said Ashleigh Brown, Founder and CEO of SheCann Cannabis Inc." There is a planned review of the medical system for access to cannabis in 2023, so these next few years are critical. Progress is a process – we owe it to each other to ensure that medical cannabis is not a victim of legalization. "

Ryan Porter

Ryan Porter spent 15 years as a Toronto-based journalist with Bylines at Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, InStyle and Maclean & # 39; s. Recent work and photos of strange characters on Twitter at @MrRyanPorter

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Beth Edmonds