The state of a union: the cannabis industry at a crossroads

On October 17, 2018, Canada became the first nation in the G7 and second in the world (after Uruguay) to legalize cannabis for recreational use. This followed the July 30, 2001 mandate from Health Canada that federally authorized the legal use of the plant for medical purposes. These seismic shifts in policy brought along with them entrepreneurial opportunity, issuing forth a kind of “gold rush” in the sector that has resulted in billions of dollars being injected into companies vying to grab a part of this budding market.

—By Jason Gorber

Regulation has resulted in the creation of some sectors and restrictions of others, making for a push/pull between the companies looking to break new ground and politicians tasked with doing things deliberately and rationally. Given cannabis’ long-term black-market connection, the balance between those wanting a libertarian, anarchic attachment to weed are being drowned out by even larger forces in consumer, medical, political, and legal realms.

Canadian companies have an opportunity to be at the forefront of a seismic shift in both perception and product. Some are striving to upend multibillion-dollar paradigms from pharma, alcohol, and tobacco, using this humble green plant as the focus. This, of course, leads to rampant hyperbole not only from those wishing to cash in but also from those that elevate anecdotal evidence to near certitude.

The cream of this cannabis crowd wants it done right. They want regulation but smart strictures that foster rather than prevent growth. Some want to hold onto the sanctity of “dried flower” and smoking culture while others look to edibles or drinks as a new vector.

The future is still very much yet to be written, but the enthusiasm demonstrated by all who we spoke with is infectious. Whatever transpires, our country and its companies are engaged in work that may well be fundamentally transformative to enormous aspects of our life and culture.


Peter Aceto, CEO

Business of Canada

Dooma Wendschuh, CEO Province Brands

Mike Gorenstein, CEO

Hugo Alves, Auxly Cannabis Group

Written on: September 26, 2019