The soon-to-come legalization of marijuana in Canada will mean new business opportunities for enterprising growers, distributors and investors across the country, and with the recommendations now in from the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, the provincial and federal governments are now left to figure out how best to promote and regulate the new market.
One of the key recommendation from the Task Force specifies that marijuana production should be based on a private enterprise model rather than see it fall under the auspices of a Crown Corporation, and further, that a small-scale business model should be encouraged so as to prevent “the development of monopolies and large conglomerates.”
This will put marijuana sales in a similar position as the craft beer industry in Canada, says one commentator in Nova Scotia, who sees the move as a potential boon for commerce in the province.
“If Nova Scotia follows the task force recommendations on production, the provincial cannabis industry could develop in much the same manner as the craft beer industry, with localized strains and branding,” Adam Rodgers, a lawyer who practices civil litigation, criminal defense and family law, says in the website LocalXpress.ca. “If so, it is foreseeable that this could be a significant economic engine for rural Nova Scotia. Encouraging small-scale production also provides an opportunity for Nova Scotia producers to grow and excel in a market that might become national (or international) in scope in the coming years.”
The number of beer brewers in Canada has skyrocketed over recent years, jumping from 83 breweries in the year 2000 to 520 in 2014, even as overall beer sales have dipped 3.4 per cent between 2010 and 2015. The market may be crowded but provincial governments see the gains in employment and business opportunity as something to be encouraged, as witnessed by recent cash injections, to the tune of $1.6 million by the Ontario government, $10 million by BC and a whopping $20 million earmarked for the craft brew industry in Alberta.
Brewing historian Matthew Bellamy describes the attraction of craft beer as going beyond the tasty suds and appealing to the consumer’s innate interests in community.
“If you look at bits of the rust belt in the U.S. there are entire towns being revitalized by craft brewing,” Bellamy told TVO.org. “It’s not like people are drinking more, but they’re making a choice to drink better and drink local and not only does the beer taste better — most of the time — but it actually has the indirect benefit of bolstering the community. Not just economically, but in social ways.”
Indeed, hand-written signs at the corner Mom-n’-Pop pot shop advertising “locally grown cannabis” may very well strike a stronger chord with Canadian marijuana consumers than pre-packaged varieties sold at Shoppers Drug Mart or the provincial liquor control board, two groups that have already voiced interest in becoming marijuana sellers.
But Rodgers says that in Nova Scotia, at least, the provincial Liberal government is showing no sign of taking steps towards setting up its own regulatory framework for the impending legalization, leading Rodgers to believe that the current government may be less than supportive of the proposed measure. Rodgers says that there may be “at least some passive reluctance to having an established cannabis marketplace in this province.”