Difficult as it is to believe, it was the last-gasp, get-off-my-lawn Harper government that started the process leading to the legalization of recreational pot this July across Canada.
That might not have been the Conservative government’s intention, but the changes it made to the country’s medical marijuana regulations five years ago paved the way for Justin Trudeau to promise legalization during the last election campaign. Once Health Canada started handing out licenses to grow and sell medical grade pot, it was only a matter of time until the recreational market opened up as well.
Estimates of the market fluctuate wildly, but they’re all in the billions of dollars. And that’s why more than 80 companies have applied to become licensed producers of marijuana in Canada. It’s not just the medical market but the promise of the larger recreational market that draws investors and dreamers. Beyond that is the even more lucrative possibility of exporting high-quality marijuana to Europe and other jurisdictions that embrace, or at least allow, its distribution and use.
My cover story in this month’s London Inc. magazine profiles Indiva, a London-based company with millions of dollars of investment and plans to start selling medical marijuana this summer. Its high-tech, growing facility is more like a medical lab than a greenhouse. It grows two strains of pot and is hopeful federal regulations will allow it to branch out into selling oils, creams and edibles in the coming years.
Meanwhile, it is relying heavily on master grower Pete Young, who has been a pot advocate for decades. He is in charge of making sure Indiva grows a sustainable, high quality crop. Company co-founder Niel Marotta has already expanded the London facility once to increase production to 3-million grams of medical marijuana per year. But plans call for much more expansion, 10 or 20 times as big, to compete in what he believes will be a robust and competitive market in Canada and worldwide.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering where all the pot puns are. Is it possible – legal? – to write about pot and not include puns? I don’t want to take any chances, so let’s end with this: Indiva is on a roll, aiming high, and proving where there’s smoke there’s fire.