Canada is all set to legalize recreational marijuana next year. It will become the first large scale (the only other country being Uruguay) industrialized county to legalize pot, and other countries are set to follow. In many ways Canada are going to be the standard bearers for the rest of the world. But so far, they have run into many problems and it is widely believed that most provinces will not be ready by the time the deadline hits in July 2018. Many are pointing the finger at the politicians who got voted in on their promises to legalize marijuana but have been slow on drafting and pushing forward any meaningful proposals and frameworks that would make the process easier.
It is expected that this will put an end to the black market once and for all, once the program is correctly implemented. Surprisingly, many black-market sellers are stating that they eagerly await legalization. They believe that they have so much more experience than other cultivators are just happy that the market is being enlarged.
Mohawk Entering Medical Marijuana
In terms of the medical market, a grow your own program was developed in Canada in 2001 and commercial growers started to receive licenses in 2014. The program has been a huge success despite inevitable complaints from a few provinces. This is because these local provinces can decide how the implement the law once medical marijuana gets legalized, and laws can be more stringent or more relaxed depending on the politicians and the civilians in a particular area. There are currently 200,000 registered medical marijuana patients in Canada and nearly 70 growers, with the majority of these medical growers in Ontario.
A Mohawk-owned company is nearly ready to start growing and selling medical marijuana in Canada. Seven Leaf is retrofitting an old water bottling plant in Cornwall Island on Akwesasne. The multi-million-dollar project hopes to employ over one hundred people within its operations. The company enters a booming and crowded market. Making money in the medical marijuana market is no easy task, particularly with recreational legalization just around the corner. Nobody can say for certain how recreational legalization will affect the medical market, but historically it does lead to a drop in the price of medical marijuana, in line with simple laws of supply and demand. But there is nothing stopping medical marijuana from being sold recreationally, and it is a market that the group can expand into. Ontario expects to see 150 recreational stores opened next year and it is a growing market. Seeking to compete in the medical cannabis market is an unlikely trio – a pharmacist, a former Mohawk chief, and a 23-year veteran of the Akwesasne Mohawk police force.
Lewis Mitchell was police chief for 13 years, and during that time, he says he saw the criminal effects of illegal marijuana: “It creates a market for criminal organizations to take advantage of.”But at the same time, Mitchell says he also witnessed firsthand the pain and suffering of friends and family due to disease and illness, from diabetes to cancer. Once medical cannabis became legal in Canada, Mitchell says they used the plant as an alternative to more addictive opioid drugs. “I’ve seen the benefits of the use of marijuana to ease a lot of pain.”The health benefits of cannabis are unquestionable to those who are suffering from chronic pain and a variety of other illnesses, and are practically side effect free.
It cannot be denied that there is an opioid crisis in the USA at present, with reports estimating that over 15,000 people die each year due to opioid addiction. Though the figure is not as high in Canada, it is still a very serious problem that can be alleviated with medical marijuana. All of the existing data indicates that opioid prescriptions go down when marijuana becomes legalized, and there is a considerable amount of anecdotal evidence to point to it being a gateway drug away from opioids. The first statement by Lewis Mitchell does show something of a deficit in reasoning. It is obvious that illegal marijuana creates a black market for criminal organizations to take advantage of. The same as everything else, when it is made illegal only criminal organizations will be associated with it. It has little to do with the substance itself. If bananas were outlawed there would be a considerable amount of black market banana related activity and the price would skyrocket.
Health Canada’s licensing process is rigorous. It’s taken Seven Leaf four years thus far. The company expects to get final approvals in time to start plants in the spring. “According to Mitchell: “We have a tracking system that’s approved by Health Canada…so that plant is accounted for from the minute it sprouts to harvest.”We will have to wait and see how Seven Leaf fares next year. The market is growing and so is the competition. But as it stands they have made serious headway through the licensing process and there is no reason why there will not be allowed to sell medical marijuana.