Just over a year ago that the young Millennial-favourite politician, Justin Trudeau, became Canada's 23rd Prime Minister with a campaign full of big promises. Canadians trusted Justin with a majority, taking Canada in a very new direction from its previous tenure under Stephen Harper.
One of the largest and most popular promises was the complete legalization of marijuana. Not to simply decriminalize it, but to completely strike it from the criminal code of Canada. The position garnished great enthusiasm and support from young and old voters. And the Liberals made it a cornerstone of their election platform. For young Justin, a year wiser, he's beginning to learn how mammoth a task legalization will be.
What difference a year makes...?
With a year passed what has changed? Not that much. The PMO has been more than busy juggling the files of gender equality in the work place, immigrating 30,000 Syrain refugees, a cultural / humanitarian crisis amongst the country's northern indigenous population, and numerous international trade deals that will impact the country's economy for decades to come.
In an effort to honour his Liberal election platform, Trudeau has enlisted a task force led by Anne McLennan and a panel of experts to assess the Federal government's next steps. Combing the issues, there are many to balance: Health Canada pharmaceutical regulations, safe distribution, and taxation. The report, due November 30th of this year, has been advertised as the spring board of direction for initiating Federal legislation in the spring of 2017.
Medical marijuana is a moving target for all involved
While the file on legal marijuana in Canada crawls along, the landscape continues to change, legally and commercially. This past spring a BC court ruled that medical marijuana patients had the right to grow their own plants. As Health Canada's report cited, "If an individual wants to produce a limited amount of cannabis for his/her own medical purposes, he/she must submit an application to register with Health Canada." This legal measure should play into the minds of groups looking to make the application for a licensed grow-op. And it's a market variable that should be noted by current grows that are struggling to connect with patients.
A frothy $22 Billion Industry
This October Deloitte produced an industry report title Recreational Marijuana: Insights and Opportunities on legal marijuana in Canada placing an industry value of just over $22-billion. Mark Whitmore, Vice-Chair of Deloitte, was quoted as saying, "There hasn’t been anything like this — and granted it wasn’t legislated — but you think of the dot-com … flurry,...It has that kind of feel to it. There’s a lot of froth, a lot of interest in this space and a lot of people think there’s going to be an opportunity,”.
Deloitte estimates that recreational demand could equate to 600,000 kgs annually - well outside the country's current licensed capacities. Such staggering numbers excite the commercial investment community. Just last week the national drug store chain, Shopper's Drug Mart, applied for a Health Canada producer license. Being a premium Canadian drug store brand, the move signals a legitimacy and potential to investors on the fence about Canada's future with marijuana.
The question stands, where will Trudeau and the rapidly evolving marijuana movement be with respect to patient needs, public opinion, production, distribution, the criminal code, and taxation in just 6 months time? The ambition of a young Trudeau will be tested this spring as the PMO wrangles all of these issues into a passable piece of legislation.