Excitement and optimism abounded when Canada legalized cannabis in 2018 and while we have come a long way since then, it hasn’t been an easy ride for the local cannabis shops, mail order marijuana outlets nor for any online marijuana dispensary. As things were starting to get sorted in 2019 the COVID-19 pandemic hit further impacting business for walk-in cannabis retailers and hitting those who did not have the ability to allow their customers to buy weed online especially hard.
Despite being mostly excluded from participating in any government loan programs, local cannabis retailers were mainly able to keep their shops running and employees working. Unlike mail order marijuana outlets and online marijuana dispensaries for whom it was business as usual, local shops fought for essential service designation while safely providing curbside pick-up and delivery when their customers required it.
In addition to the creation of thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure investment, new innovative technologies as well as new process and products being developed the impact of the cannabis industry as a whole is still largely unacknowledged. As a result of this “snub”, a significant amount of bureaucracy still exists when it comes to retail restrictions, marketing and licencing making business more difficult for everyone from the producers, to online marijuana dispensaries, to the local cannabis shop. This has also inhibited the cannabis industry from being able to come together as a force to address the ongoing issue of the illegal market. The most disconcerting are the hundreds of illegal websites from which Canadians buy weed online which sell untested products. Though they may appear to be sanctioned to the unwitting consumer, these illicit sites sell up to 40 percent of all cannabis being sold online and oftentimes the cannabis is grown illegally and knowingly with toxic chemicals.
Health Canada is required to start a review of the existing Cannabis Act in October 2021 and this presents an opportunity for all to learn from the past three years. In addition to internal struggles, we have had the pandemic to contend with, giving the last three years plenty of lessons from which to build on. With some luck we can come out stronger and as a global leader as more and more countries are shifting their views on medical cannabis.
The pandemic has hit the Canadian economy hard with businesses being forced to close and people losing their jobs as a result. The cannabis industry in Canada is just getting started and is in an ideal position to help during the recovery. From producers to retailers and all parts in between, the cannabis industry in Canada can help lead the way in getting people back to work. Cultivators are needed by producers, retail staff are needed by cannabis shops, shippers and pickers are needed by mail order marijuana depots and information technology people are needed by online marijuana dispensaries. This does not include the slew of other workers such as finance, marketing, call center as well as supply chain among others individuals who are required in order to keep this industry afloat. We can only hope in 2021 that in addition to the health benefits that cannabis brings to the Canadian people, Canada as a whole will begin to see the benefits that the cannabis industry brings to the county.