As Canada nears the commencement of the legalization of recreational cannabis, the question remains: will this help Canada make a significant mark on a global scale?
The industry seems to be divided on this issue. For some, the legalization will open opportunities for Canada's cannabis industry to explore partnerships at a global scale. According to Global News, several international brands like Molson Coors and Constellation Brands have already made huge investments in Canada's pot industry.
Vapium co-founder Lisa Harun said the country is indeed poised to become a robust player in exporting cannabis to countries which have recently allowed the use of marijuana products for medical purposes. Canada will also be able to expand its market to countries that have yet to establish their cannabis facilities.
"Yeah I absolutely do, and it’s something that we need to protect. Right now, we are producing some of the best cannabis in the world. This is an opportunity, and it’s very scalable," Harun told Global News.
She furthered: "There’s never been a better time to be a Canadian, I believe. Not just in terms of what we’re doing within the industry. There are certain companies that have gone the extra mile to invest in these other countries. We have really great partnerships in Europe, for example."
Ryerson University instructor and cannabis business expert Brad Poulos had the same view, noting that there is no reason for Canada to shun the opportunity to become a global player in the international cannabis scene.
“We’re currently shipping cannabis to several of these countries already. We’re already taking advantage of this opportunity," he said.
However, Poulos noted that unless the laws change into something that would be more open, then Canada might be left behind in terms of leveraging the booming industry.
For instance, he noted of the federal government's restrictions and limitations on what kinds of cannabis products can be sold in the market. Based on the rules, Canadians are only allowed to buy fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oil, and plants and seeds for cultivation. Products such as creams, sprays, and edibles are not allowed to be sold to consumers.
"The Canadian government has for the most part taken a pretty conservative approach. What you want to do is relax a little bit more. A lot of people in the industry consider this to be prohibition 2.0," Poulos noted.
For CannaRoyalty president and general counsel Afzal Hasan, this is one of the reasons why legalization is unlikely to provide a significant boost to the sector's growth.
"Our regulators, they’re trying to do the right thing but unfortunately, there’s a trade-off. If you have a regulation that’s too conservative and protectionist, what you have is economic activity being stifled," he added.
In his view, the only way for Canada to stay relevant after the legalization of cannabis is to relax the rules on branding and marketing products.
"We’re developing world-class expertise, patented products, we’ll have all of the opportunities that flow from that to export around the world," he concluded.