Happy New Year! I hope sincerely 2019 will be a banner year for you all. Whether you’re a grower, processor or a retailer, 2019 will present opportunities for improvement, but it will also have its share of disappointments and setbacks. Such is the nature of such a new and still controversial industry. You only have to look as far as my Northern neighbor, Canada, to see the good, the bad and the ugly of Cannabis in the modern day.
You would have thought Canada legalizing adult use Cannabis from sea to shining sea would have been an unbelievable turn for the better in that Country. But alas, the Canadian government was ill-prepared for this bold move. Side note warning: I had a really bad basketball coach when I was in high school. He always stressed to us players the following pearls of wisdom; “Be quick but don’t hurry”. I wish Canada could have heard and taken to heart those words of wisdom. Canada wanted to hurry and assume a leadership role in this burgeoning industry throughout the World. And in the words of the same really bad high school basketball coach when asked what our problem had been on a night where we got annihilated, “We only had two problems; our offense and our defense”. Canada has only two real problems; its wholesale system and its retail system.
The growers, for a variety of reasons, have been unable to hit production projections and subsequently, the retail shops have not had nearly sufficient levels of product to sell. This creates all sorts of problems. There is a flourishing “gray” market in Canada. By definition a “gray” market is very nearly a “black” market in reality. It is not subject to the same rigid controls, laws and restraints that the “legal” shops have to contend with. But, in an ironic twist, the gray market stores are the only ones who can satisfy demand and take care of the Cannabis consuming public. To add insult to injury, because they are a fixture in Canada, especially in British Columbia Province, and because they are currently serving the needs of the residents of BC, the local law enforcement is not even considering cracking down on these semi-illegal/semi-legal shops, not yet at least And where do suppose these gray market shops are getting their products to sell from, and plenty of product too, I’m told? You guess it, “gray” market grows who are also not subject to the same rules, regulations and restraints as the legal grows are. Its quite a vicious circle.
Its especially discouraging for me to see this unfolding as it is because Canada sits on top of the USA and British Columbia and its largest city, Vancouver, sit immediately on top of Washington State. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my State. I love what we’ve been able to accomplish and I love what we have as an industry today. But we’ve been at this for nearly five years now. When we started, believe me when I tell you from experience, our system was a MESS. It took some time, many months, for us to get the system working so it could survive, let alone thrive. Wasn’t Canada watching and observing our troubles and our challenges? How in blazes did Canada make nearly exactly the same errors nationwide as we did here in the Evergreen State of Washington? How could they do this when they had an open classroom to learn from and and begin strong and operating smoothly right from the get go?? How could they not have learned ANYTHING from their Southern neighbors??
Oh Canada. You will ultimately get it all figured out because your citizens will demand it. But what is needed is strong leadership at the highest levels of your government. Strong and intelligent decision making will be necessary along with a dose of compassion tossed in for good measure. Make the difficult calls, do what must be done but fix this and quickly. And a word of advice: Be quick but don’t hurry.
Rob Hendrix, Owner
Cannabis Consulting Nationwide, LLC