Just like in the U.S., the cannabis industry in Canada is new and always changing, and some recent regulations have both posed some challenges and presented some new opportunities for Canadian marijuana entrepreneurs.
According to a recent article for Marijuana Business Daily, the good thing about recent regulations is that growers are responsible for regulating quality and ensuring their product, but the downside is that some people have had a hard time getting their medicine. As a result, there have been several lawsuits and some other issues as this all gets straightened out. Although cannabis has been officially legal for fifteen years in Canada, this complicated industry still has a few kinks to be worked out.
The new taskforce responsible for enforcing cannabis regulations is called Health Canada, and last year, they put a new set of rules in place entitled Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), which took over for the older, less strict regulations that Canada used to have.
The new regulations detail that all cannabis must be grown at one of the 23 approved facilities in the country. The product also must be tested for THC levels and microbial content, in order to ensure a quality and verifiable product. Seventeen of these facilities are also licensed to sell the cannabis. These changes are being put into place partially because of how many patients are now eligible to receive treatment in the state. As a result, large scale growers like Tilray, who are owned by Privateer Holdings, the company that own Leafly, are opening up new facilities and grow rooms to help meet the new demand.
In addition to this, these companies are happy about moving to Canada because of the lack of banking regulations that the U.S. is still trying to compensate for. “We don’t have a roadblock in regards to banking,” stated Privateer’s Brendan Kennedy in an interview for CNBC. “We don’t have a roadblock in terms of conflict between state and federal law.”
However, some people are not happy about these new policies. For example, it is no longer legal to grow cannabis at home, and all of the dispensaries that were operating outside of government regulations are now illegal. Also, any form of cannabis besides flower is now outlawed, which is a major setback for those who rely on oil or edibles in order to medicate.
“Diversity of choice and access is paramount to patients’ well-being,” stated Dieter MacPherson, who serves as executive director of dispensary Victoria Cannabis Buyer’s Club. In his opinion, under these new laws, “secondary, or maybe even tertiary, concern is what’s right for patients,” in the eyes of the government. These new changes have resulted in several lawsuits from growers, and it is clear that things are still up in the air and rocky.
“On one hand they say they [the government] want to treat marijuana as a controlled substance because it’s harmful to humans, so the government has a mandate to contribute to public safety,” he added. “But it’s a red herring that we need to protect patients looking after their health.”
Since Canada is further along than the U.S. in terms of how long they have had legal cannabis, this could be a preview of what we will see when the U.S. inevitably decides to finally legalize. While everyone sees this as a good and progressive next step, it should be considered that the harsher regulations the government will inevitably propose may have some unintended negative consequences. Luckily, companies like Weed Depot that include stock tips, health facts, and more are helping set the stage for this more unified future. With any luck, we will be more prepared than Canada when federal legalization finally comes our way.