A little more than six months since recreational pot became legal in Canada, the country’s health authority is changing the way it will issue licenses for those wanting to grow, sell, or process cannabis products.
The changes take place effective immediately and are meant to ease a lack of access in the legal recreational industry. Now, anyone applying to Health Canada for a distributor’s license must already have a building where their business will be housed.
The building, of course, will have to meet all of the requirements of the Cannabis Regulations.
Before this week, the Canadian government admits it was wasting an enormous amount of resources approving applications for facilities that have yet to materialize. Nearly 70% of applicants who initially passed Health Canada’s paper-based review over the last three years still haven’t proven that they’ve built a facility.
Now, only businesses that have already raised capital and have a shop ready to go will be allowed to apply.
Live and Learn
There have been a few hiccups since legalization took place in October of 2018, and that’s understandable. Canada has taken the lead when it comes to opening the recreational market, and the kinks have to be ironed out along the way.
Critics have complained about a slow rollout; not enough shops and dispensaries have in part led to a shortage of legal cannabis.
But Health Canada claims there is no shortage, and that there is more than enough product to go around. It says there is currently enough cultivation space in the country to produce 1,000,000 kilograms of cannabis a year! The problem has been not enough licensed retailers to distribute that product.
For example, in January of this year, the good people of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, had just a few options for buying recreational cannabis: either get it from the B.C. Cannabis Stores website or one of two licensed retail outlets.
The situation is similar across the entire country. By changing the rules surrounding the application process, the government agency hopes the businesses that are approved will be ready to immediately open their doors, giving consumers greater access.
The recent changes may also help ease other issues plaguing the recreational market.
A study released by Statistics Canada earlier this year revealed that few retailers with permits to grow and sell cannabis caused pot prices to jump 17% since legalization!
And many government officials believe that greater access to legal cannabis will help shut down the black market. According to CBC News, a slow rollout and not enough access to a legal product in Manitoba is being blamed for people still buying from the black market.
There was always expected to be a steep learning curve after legalization. What’s important is that we are evolving and moving toward a more fluid market. Slowly, but surely.