Canadians have lost $131 billion investing in cannabis – The Chatham Daily News

Ontario law firm made the calculations which, per capita, shakes out to each Canadian losing about $4K
Canadian investors have lost $131 billion as a result of losses sustained by 183 publicly traded cannabis companies, according to a new report from a Toronto-based law firm.

Miller Thomson made the calculations, reports CTV News, which, per capita, shakes out to each Canadian losing close to $3,500.

While cannabis sales have steadily increased since legalization was enacted — weed now contributes almost as much to Canada’s GDP as the dairy industry — the country’s largest profile companies have lost billions. Despite their poor performance, those losses haven’t stopped those same companies from awarding millions of dollars of bonuses to their executives.

Though it won’t help Canadians who have already lost their initial investments, the federal government is currently undergoing a legislative review of the Cannabis Act, which industry advocates hope will breathe new life into the sector.

They are calling for changes around restrictive marketing and advertising regulations, excessive excise taxes and product limitations, such as the 10mg THC limit on edibles, which make it difficult for legal companies to compete with the illicit market. 

An independent panel has been formed to provide guidance to both the minister of health, Jean-Yves Duclos, and Carolyn Bennett, minister of mental health and addictions, as well as the associate minister of health.

The government report must be issued within 18 months of the review start date but industry players are calling on the feds to speed up the process, which started a year behind schedule.

“Many smaller players within the industry simply cannot wait 18 months for relief,” Omar Khan, senior vice president of corporate and public affairs at High Tide, recently told The Canadian Press.

In the years leading up to legalization, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the historic policy change was not about making money, but protecting public safety and health. A stance that has effectively led to the industry being left behind when it comes to government programs intended to boost business, including initially shutting the industry out of COVID-19 emergency funding, before reversing course.

“The federally licensed and regulated cannabis industry lacks fair access to various government programs and services available to almost all industry sectors, especially high-growth sectors such as cannabis,” Khan and George Smitherman, president and CEO of the Canadian Cannabis Council, wrote in an op-ed for The GrowthOp last year.

With a global leadership position up for grabs, Khan and Smitherman argue that “the time has come for the government to normalize its relationship to cannabis.”

It took about three years for legal products to outpace illicit sales in Ontario and for that momentum to continue countrywide, which was one of the intended goals of legalization, industry advocates say regulatory changes are needed.

Whether or not those changes will occur as a result of the legislative review is anyone’s guess.

“The work of the expert panel will address the ongoing and emerging needs of Canadians while protecting their health and safety,” Duclos said in September. “Through this useful, inclusive and evidence-driven review, we will strengthen the act so that it meets the needs of all Canadians while continuing to displace the illicit market.”

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