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Ten ways Canada can save the cannabis industry

It’s been three years since Canada legalized adult-use cannabis, and while it’s a huge milestone, high taxes, disappointing revenues and tough restrictions have a stranglehold on Canada’s once-promising cannabis industry. 

Alison Gordon, the former CEO and founder of 48North and the co-founder of sales agency Other People’s Pot, shared 10 ideas in the Globe and Mail for how to save the sector.

Tax trouble

While taxing cannabis is popular politically, the rates and how those funds are used need to be tweaked, Gordon writes. High excise tax — a sin tax — continues to dog the industry, with even medical cannabis still subjected to it. And some of those funds, Gordon argues, should be reinvested back into the industry generating them.

“The provincial and federal governments do not allocate tax dollars (for job creation or small-business development) or any grants or financial assistance to the industry, which would assist in the survival of independent businesses and the industry itself,” she writes.

Recently, Dan Sutton, CEO of Tantalus Labs, spearheaded an effort to lobby government to do away with the excise tax. Read more: Excise taxes are sucking craft cultivators dry: Tantalus CEO

Marketing and monopolies

Branding and labelling restrictions are both overly onerous for consumers to understand and make it difficult to distinguish between products, writes Gordon. Provincial wholesale monopolies have also contributed to a homogenous buying landscape for consumers, who now navigate the market simply by price and cannabinoid potency. Instead, licensed cultivators should be allowed to sell to retailers.

Free the weed

THC-free products should be allowed for sale outside of dispensaries, and customers should not be limited to buying 30 grams of cannabis (or the equivalent), she says. And it’s time to allow consumption lounges.

“I’ve spent eight years working in pot and significantly longer as a cannabis advocate and consumer,” concludes Gordon. “I’m worried that we will lose the incredible energy, momentum, jobs and tax dollars that the cannabis industry provides to Canadians if federal and provincial governments don’t take action, and fast.”

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