Canada Is Creating a Multi-Billion Dollar Legal Marijuana Industry
Canada sees marijuana legalization as a social justice reform and a major commercial opportunity.
Canada may be just six months away from creating a nationwide, legal marijuana industry.
The last hurdle is in the Canadian Senate, where a bill has been introduced to finalize creation of a regulated medical and recreational marijuana industry.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau supports the measure and made legalizing marijuana a part of his campaign for office in 2015.
Sen. Tony Dean, who sponsored the bill, told CNN Money "I think it's broadly recognized that criminalizing cannabis has been a failure." If this last legislative hurdle is cleared as expected, legal marijuana sales could begin in July 2018.
Backing of the marijuana legalization by Trudeau and top Canadian officials stands in contrast to the anti-marijuana stance taken by some in the Trump Administration in the United States. And Canada is about to reap the benefits.
A $5 Billion Industry?
Estimates vary on how big the legal marijuana industry could grow in Canada.
A Deloitte study famously predicted a more than $22 billion a year industry. On a more conservative note, Marijuana Business Daily, an industry publication, projected between $2.3 billion to $4.5 billion by 2021.
A 2016 report from the Canadian Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated a $5.5 billion to $5.8 billion annual retail market in Canada.
While Trudeau has framed the legalization issue around health and safety rather than finances, the country stands to take in hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana tax and fee revenue.
Private businesses also are seizing on the potential of this new market, including hotels in one Canadian province.
The Canadian province of Alberta is taking steps to lead the pack on allowing cannabis consumption in hotels.
That's an issue not only in Canada but across the United States. People can travel to Colorado and Washington -- and soon California and Massachusetts -- and legally buy recreational marijuana. However, they can't use it outside of a private home.
That's led to local residents renting out "cannabis friendly" places to stay through sites such as Airbnb, but it still presents a big issue, especially for tourists. Denver is putting a pilot project in place to allow marijuana use in licensed cannabis establishments. But, Alberta is taking it a step further.
Officials in the province are considering a law allowing marijuana consumption in hotel rooms where tobacco use already is permitted. Hotels would have the right to not allow cannabis use. But, some already see a huge opportunity.
Passing such a law would give hotels in Alberta a competitive edge over the rest of the country, David Kaiser, president and CEO of the Alberta Hotel &; Lodging Association, told Marijuana Business Daily. "A lot of hotels might be interested," he said. "If there's a potential market there that we could provide, it could be important for tourism and we would be interested in those opportunities."
Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said it's not such a bad idea for native Albertans, either. She said province officials recognize not all province residents would necessarily have a private home where they could legally consume cannabis. Renters, for example, could face prohibition against marijuana use from landlords. In those cases, a cannabis-friendly hotel could come in handy.
Alberta is home to the cities of Edmonton and Calgary, as well as Banff National Park, a major tourist destination.