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Cannabis Sector Ecosystem

By 31/05/2019July 19th, 2019No Comments

Canada’s new legal cannabis sector is thriving. Statistics Canada released 2019’s first quarter results of the National Cannabis Survey this month. Trends for the new bio-economy are positive and indicate market growth, especially among the demographic of Canadians 45 years of age or older, accounting for approximately half of first-time users in this post-legalization period [1]. Sales from legal cannabis stores nationwide are the highest ever in this legal era, with $60.5 million worth of cannabis sold in the month of March, according to the Cannabis Stats Hub. See the breakdown by province below [2].

The cannabis sector’s success benefits the greater Canadian economy. Cannabis growers build facilities, hire and pay employees, purchase intermediate inputs such as utilities and distribution services, invest in equipment, and collect and remit duties and taxes [3].

As an ecosystem, the cannabis sector would be fascinating to map. It is unique in its complexity because of the numerous federal and provincial government bodies involved and the rapidly evolving market of consumers and competitors on a local and global scale.

Predictions vary as to how large the world cannabis market will grow in the future. BDS Analytics predicts that by 2027, more than 30 countries will feature medical cannabis markets, 12 of those countries will also have adult-use programs, contributing to the overall $57 billion projected legal spending on cannabis [4].

Canada is one of few countries in the world to make cannabis truly legal nationwide, permitting cultivation, possession, and consumption for all citizens of a provincially determined age, for medical and personal use [5]. While other countries catch on and trend toward legalization, Canada has the time and opportunity to differentiate itself as a world-class cannabis producer and supplier, by investing in research and innovation to refine products and processes.

The world of R&D in the cannabis ecosystem is exciting and with many facets. Of great interest to Global Advantage is the work being done in laboratories across North America with the cannabis genome. Therefore, to conclude, I leave you with 5 recent and interesting examples where the potential exists to further the development of cannabis as a product via science and technology.

  1. Only six months ago, University of Toronto published the world’s first cannabis chromosome map which “reveals the plant’s evolutionary past and points to its future as potential medicine” [6].
  2. The University of Washington recently published research on the genetic sequences of select cannabis strains and suggested that their newly developed tools may have the potential to identify the genetic component responsible for the smell that elicits complaints from neighbors of cannabis farms or users, opening an opportunity to breed and grow strains easier on the nose [7].
  3. An Edmonton-based cannabis producer, Atlas Biotechnologies Inc., just announced a three-year partnership with Harvard University for medical research focused on chronic pain management and other neurological conditions [8].
  4. The first Grow-Off competition is coming to Canada. The science-based competition gives all grower’s genetically identical cannabis plants to grow and cultivate. Their final product is judged in the lab, instead of by the subjective user [9].
  5. Genome Canada and Genome British Columbia hosted the 17th annual Genomics Forum in Vancouver yesterday. This year’s forum was focused specifically on cannabis’ great potential and the room at UBC Life Sciences Centre was packed with people who came to see the expert panelists and presenters [10].