The legislation has been approved and a timeframe has been established. Now all that’s left is for a whole country’s distribution and retail network to go from zero to 60 in a few months.
However it all plays out, Canopy Growth Corp’s (TSX:WEED. NYSE:CGC) Bruce Linton says he won’t be taking any vacation days this summer.
With Bill C-45 receiving assent in Parliament and the federal government having supplied the October 17 start date, Canada’s provinces and territories now have four months to get their cannabis ducks in a row.
And with outposts set up right across the country, Canopy Growth will be playing a lead role in the upcoming drama.
Bring it on, says Linton, who’s boasting more than a few kilos of confidence about the pot trail his company and, internationally, Canada is now blazing.
“This is the beginning when we’ll have some stores in all the provinces, we’ll have some products going, but then we’re going to increment the products so that we’ll have a better competitive set with the illicit market,” said Linton to BNN Bloomberg.
“I think that if we started in about half an hour, New Brunswick, probably Ontario, Newfoundland, a lot of the East Coast ones are good to go,” he says. “In fact, I think we could be two days from now in a lot of the Western ones. But I think there’s a little pullback in a couple of the other ones, so that’s just going to be a timing thing.”
“It’s really execution —imagine there are these channels which currently have zero inventory, and so, over the course of the summer I don’t plan to be on vacation much because there’ll be quite a lot of logistics we’ll be running through to fill a whole country’s distribution for something that’s been illegal for 100 years,” he says.
Linton says that while the recreational marijuana market will undoubtably have its impact on beer and alcohol sales, he sees a major shakeup on the horizon for the pharmaceutical industry, as well.
“When they talk about [cannabis] displacing sleep aids, are the people running Ambien-type products concerned that we’ll completely decimate that market?” he asks. “I think they’re terrified, and they should be because this is an ingredient that we as humans can actually respond to without the same level of health disruption and risk as many of the pharmaceuticals.”
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“And remember, how many people are we in Canada? 35 million. Most of Europe is normalizing this, which means that there’s about 350 million over there, and if you get a medicine through in Europe, guess who pays for it? The government,” says Linton. “So, Canada is exciting, but we’re missing a zero on the number of people we could address when we also do Europe.”
As for the potential size of Canada’s soon-to-be-legal pot space, Linton is doubtful that the figures as stated are really reflective of how big the upcoming social change will be.
“The [Parliamentary Budget Office] is estimating the illicit market at somewhere around $8 or $9 billion,” he says. “I don’t know about you but you probably haven’t been lining up at dispensaries buying illegal cannabis very often. But when the federal government says it’s okay and the provincial government sets up a store, I bet you and some of your friends might be curious and buy it and you want to try it because it’s coming through a controlled supply chain, so that increments the market.”