It has now been almost six years since Colorado started its recreational cannabis experiment on the state level. In Canada, it’s been a year. But what is on the table now that cannabis is becoming commoditized – for good and for bad?
1. The sickest, poorest patients are generally not obtaining adequate access anywhere. This is because, while cannabis might be on the way to being commoditized, it is still expensive, even in Canada where prices are dropping. Why is that? Sick people, with little to no income, cannot afford their medication.
2. A growing list of countries are looking at the equation now as a way to boost income and taxes. Unfortunately, like in Poland where patients currently face a 23% tax on their meds, that is a bad model. Taxing the sick is one of the stupidest ways to raise public revenue, especially if those individuals are also on disability benefits. When one looks at the Dutch model, in particular, it is very clear that the country had little intention of keeping patients covered under health insurance when it was more advantageous to force Dutch patients into the recreational market and export the medical crops grown in-country across borders for a higher price. That is not a cannabis industry discussion, it is a policy one (but one, so far, that has not been addressed anywhere) In the U.S. and Canada, it is worse. In part, because many politicians want to distance themselves from the discussion and figure that giving a few more giveaways to corporations and the 1% is a good idea. Unfortunately, it’s business as usual.
3. Licensing and certification fees are the name of the game for governments determined to participate in the cannabis miracle anyway that they can, even if at a distance. But in every country, these fees are exorbitant, essentially creating an industry run by the white, the rich, and, no surprise, predominantly male population.
4. The “industry” cannot widely fix these problems. It is ludicrous to expect a still partly illegal, if not grey, market to regulate itself. However, governments are equally reluctant to get their hands dirty on this one. This leads to all sorts of market disruptions – not to mention outright embarrassing flameouts (see CannTrust).
5. The idea of making huge amounts of money on cannabis is an idea that is slowly dying. Although, of course, those in the room first, via various dubious equity raising techniques like reverse mergers, are the ones who have shoved everyone else out so far and gained market share. That is unlikely to continue. After all, who thinks of getting rich off of tomatoes? No one.