Canada Rolls Out a ‘$1 Billion’ MMJ Industry

Oct 3, 2013

Mar­i­juana was Canada’s newest mail-order prod­uct Tues­day, the inau­gural day of a con­trolled med­ical mar­i­juana indus­try that is expected to grow to more than $1 bil­lion dol­lars within 10 years. But even as the new sys­tem pri­va­tizes dis­tri­b­u­tion, crit­ics fear reg­u­la­tion under the conservative-led gov­ern­ment will make it harder for patients to get access to the drug. In Canada, med­ical mar­i­juana has been legal but highly reg­u­lated for more than a decade. Patients with doc­tor approval could grow or have some­one else grow small quan­ti­ties or request lim­ited amounts from Health Canada, the national health­care depart­ment. But the conservative-led gov­ern­ment voted ear­lier this year to effec­tively scrap that sys­tem in favor of a private—but also strictly regulated—system, tar­get­ing the flow of legal mar­i­juana into the black mar­ket and shed­ding Health Canada’s role in mar­i­juana pro­duc­tion. Health Canada will phase out the cur­rent sys­tem, under which it sells reg­is­tered users mar­i­juana grown by Prairie Plant Sys­tems, by the end of March. Instead, start­ing Tues­day, med­ical mar­i­juana users, or aspir­ing users, can send in an appli­ca­tion directly to sanc­tioned cor­po­rate pro­duc­ers, along with a doctor’s note (or in some cases, a nurse’s note). If approved, they can place an order, pay the mar­ket price (the black mar­ket price is about $10 a gram; offi­cials say the med­ical mar­i­juana price will drop below that within a year), and wait for the secure courier to deliver their weed. There are nearly 40,000 peo­ple reg­is­tered to use the drug under the cur­rent sys­tem in a coun­try with a tenth the pop­u­la­tion of the U.S., and the gov­ern­ment expects that num­ber to balloon—up to 450,000 by 2024—and fuel what could become a $1.3 bil­lion domes­tic pot indus­try. But the gov­ern­ment expects that the pri­va­tized sys­tem, with only heavily-vetted pro­duc­ers (so far there are two licensed dis­trib­u­tors, of at least 156 appli­ca­tions), will help ensure a higher level of over­sight. “We’re fairly con­fi­dent that we’ll have a healthy com­mer­cial indus­try in time,” Sophie Galarneau, a senior offi­cial with Health Canada, told the Cana­dian Press. “It’s a whole other ball game.” The new reg­u­la­tions have failed to win over advo­cates for legal­ized mar­i­juana, who have faced strong resis­tance from the con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ment led by Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper. In Novem­ber, even as two states in the United States voted to legal­ize recre­ational mar­i­juana, the Harper gov­ern­ment passed strict min­i­mum penal­ties for peo­ple who grow as few as six mar­i­juana plants. “They treat pot like it’s plu­to­nium,” says Blair Lon­g­ley, head of the single-issue Mar­i­juana Party that fielded five can­di­dates in the 2011 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. Speak­ing to TIME, Lon­g­ley says he’s con­cerned the market-based sys­tem, which nixes the right to cheaply grow mar­i­juana at home, will make mar­i­juana less afford­able for patients. “We always knew that mar­i­juana would get legal­ized in the worst pos­si­ble way. It’s not a sur­prise that that’s what’s hap­pen­ing,” Lon­g­ley says. Unde­terred, poten­tial grow­ers are lin­ing up to be licensed in the new sys­tem, includ­ing the con­di­tional own­ers of a for­mer Hershey’s choco­late fac­tory. “The oppor­tu­nity in the indus­try is sig­nif­i­cant,” Eric Nash, a licensed grower in the past who’s plan­ning to enter the new mar­ket, told the Cana­dian Press. “We’ll see a lot of mov­ing and shak­ing.” Source: Time Mag­a­zine (US) Author: Noah Ray­man Pub­lished: Octo­ber 2, 2013 Copy­right: 2013 Time Inc. Con­tact: letters@​time.​com Web­site: http://​www​.time​.com/​t​i​me/

49344a3782mouth.jpg 150x105 Canada Rolls Out a ‘$1 Billion’ MMJ Industry

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Canada Rolls Out a ‘$1 Bil­lion’ MMJ Industry

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