Cannabis sector can boost economy post-pandemic, Canadian chamber says

Canada’s cannabis industry can help create jobs in the post-pandemic economic recovery, the nation’s largest business association says, despite challenges recently faced by some domestic producers.

To that end, the National Cannabis Working Group – an offshoot of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce – has formed two councils to address headwinds and opportunities.

Those bodies are:
  • The National License Holders Council.
  • The International Cannabis Council.

The former will provide policy support for cultivators ahead of a critical review of the Cannabis Act, which is scheduled to begin in 2021.

That will include advocating for improvements to federal regulations and policies, including in marketing, regulatory service standards and international trade, the chamber said in a news release.

The International Cannabis Council will offer support in the development of global marijuana trade, rules and regulations.

Large Canadian cannabis businesses need all the help they can get.

Canadian cannabis exports surged in 2019, but businesses have thus far failed to convert international sales into important sources of revenue.

Nathan Mison, CEO of Alberta-based Diplomat Consulting, will co-chair the international council along with Cameron Bishop, vice president at New Brunswick producer Organigram.

Mison said the council can facilitate cooperation on regulatory development through chamber networks around the world.

“The more that we can work with emerging countries around the world that are going through (medical) cannabis legalization, the more opportunity that we have to embed some or all of our regulatory framework inside those nations to give them a jumping off point,” he said.

“That creates an opportunity for Canadian businesses to understand how to work in new jurisdictions, and I think that is an incredible benefit.”

The National Cannabis Working Group has more than 70 members.

“The (international) council will be able to leverage the Canadian Chamber’s work with the International Chamber of Commerce, Business at OECD and other organizations to help advance Canada’s international cannabis interests,” Ryan Greer, cannabis policy lead at the Canadian Chamber, said in the news release.

The regulated Canadian cannabis sector is enjoying brisk growth.

Retail sales have soared in recent months, rising from 152 million Canadian dollars ($111 million) in February to more than CA$180 million.

Despite that, large producers have been forced to reboot their strategies – and, in some cases, their executive teams – after growing their asset bases too fast at home and abroad.