Cannabis Regulatory: Looking Back – Looking Forward

Written By

February 5, 2024

This article was originally published in the 2023 CCX Bulk Wholesale Cannabis Pricing Report by George Smitherman.

When I was preparing to write this piece, I started with a review of the CCX report from last year to guide me. Beyond the informative data about market trends my eye was really drawn to the survey responses from more than 60 LPs. For standard size LPs when asked about barriers to profitability references to government taxation and regulation stood as the most significant barriers. With that in mind, the questions ‘how did we fare in 2023?’ and ‘what are our prospects for positive change in 2024?’ emerged.

One thing I know for certain is that given the extent to which we face regulation from the national Cannabis Act and provincial versions that regulate the way cannabis is to be distributed and sold, means there are a lot of different governments capable of making regulatory and policy changes at any given time. During 2023 we have seen quite a few such changes. Ontario has been active with adjustments to mark ups, a testing regime for high THC products and passed changes that will allow retailers to have two times as many stores as was allowed previously. Meantime Alberta recently made regulatory proposals that addressed cannabis purchases at festivals and impacted the cost of adding SKUs for producers and processors amongst other changes.

It is important to note that with one National law and 13 Provincial and Territorial interpretations we have a lot of potential points of impact. On the other hand, that demands more and more from us in terms of being able to present cohesive proposals for change. That is why it is so important that each of us make ADVOCACY a bigger part of our 2024 game plan.

At the National level 2024 gets underway with at least 3 key items to look out for starting with the 2024 Federal budget. If you haven’t already taken the opportunity to let your Member of Parliament know that you expect changes to address the financial shortcomings of the legalization framework then now is the time to do so. With proposals to adjust the Excise rate, alter the operations of the burdensome Excise stamp and reduce regulatory fees, not to mention numerous suggestions for regulatory changes like that which limits per pack THC on edibles to 10 MG, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has a lot of chances to show that she gets it.

By late March 2024 we expect that the final report of the Cannabis Act Review (CAR) will be tabled in the House of Commons and the Senate. Proposals that we have advanced on behalf of the sector range from addressing the 10 MG limit as noted above as well as key initiatives that would enhance our ability to communicate with clients about the attributes of our products as well as aligned approaches that would rationalize current approaches to packaging and labeling.

While any recommendations in the CAR report are non–binding on the Government we already know that a Regulatory reform package will be released for consultation during 2024 building upon the input sought by Health Canada during 2023. Those regulatory changes are further down the path in terms of process than changes that might be proposed related to the CAR.

Now in case all of these processes are sounding a little overwhelming and you wonder how on earth in the midst of everything else you are already responsible for anyone can expect you to be making regulatory change proposals – well, that is where the concept of Stronger Together comes in. At the Cannabis Council we already have dozens of companies engaged in the work of developing and submitting proposals and we would be that much stronger with your participation!

 

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