Former chair of Canada’s marijuana legalization “task force,” Anne McLellan, is happy with the outcome of legalization, but that does not mean she has no concerns, according to CTV News.
Anyone following legalization’s progress can agree that its initial rollout was catastrophic, leading many permanently back to the black market.
However – as we and many others predicted – the situation is improving. With the black market being less prolific and supply shortages on their way to becoming history, McLellan is happy, aside from a few warning signs – especially (but not exclusively) around vaping.
Where Legalization Stands
A lot has changed in the last year, which involved a mix of positive and negative events. Most licensed producers worked diligently to ensure supply needs were met, but there were still problems along the way.
The biggest obstacle is the black market and its advantage over legal cannabis. CTV News says:
“In the second quarter, household expenditures on legal pot was $443 million, up from $172 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. But illicit pot expenditures were $918 million in the second quarter, down from $1.17 billion in the fourth quarter of last year…”
These numbers are rather encouraging, but we are nowhere near the point where the open market overtakes illegal cannabis.
We should point out, however, that these changes show a reduction of about $252 million in sales for the black market, while legal cannabis revenue increased by roughly $271 million – a 60% jump.
Current “Red Flags”
McLellan points out that there are a few “yellow flags veering to red,” specifically when it comes to public trust and health.
One notable event was Redecan’s moldy cannabis, which resulted in a complete recall from the Ontario Cannabis Sfore (OCS) and other retail sources.
However, the most scandalous example is CannTrust, a disgraced medical and recreational licensed producer whose license was recently suspended by Health Canada. What began as a detection of unlicensed grow rooms soon revealed a variety of other violations, including attempts at a cover-up by senior management, along with the growth of illegal seeds.
McLellan admits that CannTrust’s actions make the legal industry look bad during a time when public confidence is critical.
Discouraging as this may be, McLellan points out that this is not unusual. Canada went through the same thing generations ago. McLellan explains:
“The last time we did this was with the end of liquor prohibition, and dare I say, no one in this country was alive to see or understand how that took place. That took years to create a regularized, normalized legal market around liquor.”
Today, the alcohol industry is legitimate and perfectly regulated. If history is any indication, cannabis will soon reach the same point.
The Vape Crisis
According to McLellan, the vaping illnesses reported in the U.S. are at the forefront of everyone’s minds and bad PR for legal cannabis. With the death toll in the U.S. hitting 33 people, Canada finally saw its first confirmed case, discovered in Quebec.
Vitamin E acetate is the biggest suspect, which is used as a cutting agent in illegal THC vape products. Health officials are still waiting for definitive proof, but the legal market will not contain any contaminants or fillers that pose such a risk. According to Global News:
“A Health Canada spokesman said in an emailed statement that it is monitoring the situation in the U.S. and Canada and that additives such as vitamins — vitamin E acetate is one suspected culprit — are prohibited from use in cannabis vaping products. He added that it ‘will take additional action if warranted and as appropriate, to protect the health and safety of Canadians.’”
Unfortunately, many people will recoil in fear at legal THC vapes as well, which McLellan sees as a threat to public trust in the system.
WeedAdvisor’s Prediction of a Brighter Future
As a provider of business solutions to the cannabis industry, we understand the struggles legal marijuana continues to face.
Controversies and health concerns are likely to stay for quite some time, but ongoing research and possible reforms will hopefully solve these issues in the end.
But until that time comes, WeedAdvisor encourages everyone to support the legal market and stay informed on any emerging health issues.