September 12, 2018

The Evolution of Canada’s Legal Cannabis Market: From pot prohibition to recreational remedy

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When Canada passed the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, it sent a ripple effect across the global cannabis industry. Investors started scrambling to the stock market in the hopes of getting a slice of Canada’s pot pie, while other cannabis-friendly countries fixated their attention on the Great White North for its tactical approach to cannabis legalization.

After all, it was a long time coming. Advocates have been encouraging legalization of the green plant since 1801, when the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada tried to kick-start the industry by supplying hemp seeds to farmers. Every little helps (so they say) and for Canada, this saying rings true.

While the Cannabis Act may not go into effect until October 17, 2018, the law has propelled the world’s second-largest country to the forefront of the cannabis industry. The 52-29 Senate vote made Canada the first G7 nation to permit the cultivation, sale and consumption of the therapeutic drug.

Initial demand is anticipated to be around 100,000 kg and based on projections made by the Canadian government, as many as 450,000 customers will participate in Canada’s cannabis market on a daily basis.


Despite being made illegal in 1923 (after the Act to Prohibit the Improper Use of Opium and Other Drugs was inaugurated by the Narcotics Drug Act Amendment Bill,) cannabis started to gain popularity in the 1960s; especially among hippies, youths and college students.

Subsequently, by 1968, cannabis-related convictions escalated to 2,300. This led to the establishment of the Royal Commission of Inquiry in the Non-Medical Use of Drugs (A.K.A. the Le Dain Commission) by the Canadian government in 1969. Just two years later, over 1,000 cannabis protesters descended upon Water Street in Vancouver’s Gastown district to participate in the “Battle of Maple Tree Square.”

The following year, in 1972, a cannabis report was released by the Le Dain Commission, suggesting that the Canadian federal government lift criminal penalties for cannabis use and possession. After the implementation of the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) in 2013, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) was revised by The Federal Court of Canada in 2016.

When Bill C-45 was introduced by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould in April of 2017, legalization ensued, but not before the bill was amended by the House of Commons Health Committee – two months prior to it being passed in the November.


Fast-forward to the present-day and Canada is fast-becoming a nation of cannabis consumers. Cannabis will be legalized for adult-use nationwide once the Cannabis Act is effectualized, but this hasn’t stopped Canadians from using the plant for non-medicinal use.

According to Statistics Canada, 4.2 million Canadians aged 15 and above admitted to using medical and non-medical cannabis products in the last three months. That’s the equivalent to 14 percent of the population. Moreover, 56 percent of those consumers said they used cannabis on a daily or weekly basis.

Increased acceptance and awareness of cannabis’ medicinal potential is helping North America’s legal cannabis market to grow. Just last year, the North American cannabis industry swelled to USD $8 billion, making it comparable to the alcohol and beer markets.

New research indicates how the Canadian cannabis industry will grow at a CAGR of 27.1 percent between 2018 and 2023, when it is predicted to be valued at USD $35 billion. A significant chunk of this revenue will be sourced from recreational cannabis sales in Canada.

Medicinal cannabis, on the other hand, was legalized 17 years ago. This is thanks in large part to pro-cannabis activist Terry Parker, who appealed to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms after being arrested for growing cannabis to treat his epileptic seizures. According to data gathered by Statista, the medical cannabis market in Canada will be worth a staggering CAD $2.35 billion in 2025.

As the market evolves and acceptance spreads, Canada’s legal cannabis market in on-track to becoming more lucrative than its beer industry. So, if you’re planning to get involved, now is the time to do it.

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