WATCH: Businesses are hoping to cash in on Canada’s multi-billion-dollar marijuana industry. Tess van Straaten takes a look in our cannabis countdown.
Greenhouses full of marijuana have lots of people seeing green — hoping to cash in on Canada’s new legal cannabis industry.
“This is a once in a generation, maybe even a multi-generation, opportunity where the economy adds a new sector, a sector that was a black market sector and is now a legitimate sector of enormous proportions,” says Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Catherine Holt. “We have no idea how big this will be.”
Some conservative estimates, using the average black market price of just $7 a gram, say this growing industry could be worth up to $20 billion.
“If you do the math that demand isn’t just going to be in kilograms but metric tons, doing the math gets you to anywhere from $10 to $20 billion,” says MNP B.C. cannabis industry expert Peter Guo.
That’s not counting the economic benefits for support services and spin-off businesses.
“When you have a burgeoning new business, and I think we can say it’s going to be burgeoning, you have all of the support services that go with that — legal services, accounting services, marketing, space, warehousing,” says Holt. “There are also all the potential new uses for the product that haven’t been developed yet.”
Business leaders say there’s overwhelming interest in the possible opportunities in B.C. and on Vancouver Island in particular.
So much so, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce held a special panel discussion on Wednesday, exploring what’s being touted as the biggest new industry expansion since the dot com boom.
The panel included former B.C. health minister Terry Lake, who is now the vice-president of a cannabis company.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for a number of reasons,” says Hexo vice-president Terry Lake. “Number one, we’re taking a product that many Canadians use and we’re going to make it safer and better and we’re going to take money from this industry and put it back in social services through taxation.”
Like many high-profile leaders in the cannabis industry, Lake says it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“I’m making a good living,” Lake says. “When you look at the states in the U.S. (where it’s legal), you see alcohol sales go down, you see opiod prescriptions go down — these are some of the things about legalization that are attractive to people like me.”
And as marijuana moves into the mainstream, experts believe the real potential of this white hot industry will be in edibles, beverages, and infused products.
“Consumer behaviour is going to move quickly from combustion, smoking it, to almost everything else and that’s where the real explosion will be,” says Guo.