It’s no secret that pot has taken off like wildfire in terms of popularity over the last several years – unless you’ve been living in a treehouse out in the Alaskan wilderness or something, you’ve likely heard all about the reform legislation progress, various forms of legalization, and so on and so forth. People are finally getting excited about cannabis, and it seems that the hard work of researchers and reform activists around the globe is starting to pay off.
However, while the news of marijuana legalization is excellent for so many people on so many different levels, it’s a bit scary and overwhelming for others.
Mostly, this has to do with the monstrous impending demand for weed that’s about to hit the U.S. and Canada in the coming months and years – millions upon millions of new pot users are soon going to be looking to buy cannabis products in legal dispensaries, and this is causing a little bit of a mild panic among the the folks who are responsible for growing all that weed. Basically, they’re starting to seriously wonder how they’re going to supply such a whirlwind of a demand.
In this article, we talk about how U.S. and Canadian investors (and even the Canadian government) are currently taking drastic measures to industrialize cannabis production to meet heightened demand, and what repercussions this “industrialization” process might have (and is currently having) on individuals, the economy, and most importantly, the environment.
Canada Might Have Bit Off More Than It Can Chew in Terms of Marijuana Legalization
Canada’s pot-loving population went into a bit of a frenzy earlier last year (summer 2017) when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s weed legislation passed Parliament – the bill meant that marijuana would be legal recreationally for all Canadian citizens. No more getting hassled, no more having to travel down to Colorado to buy weed, and no more getting paranoid every time a Mountie came in sight.
However, with the country’s impending “Cannabis Grand Opening” inching nearer and nearer every day (full-scale legalization is set to begin July 2018), authorities and investors alike are getting – to put it mildly – just a little nervous about how they’re going to supply the monstrous influx of new weed users.
To put the numbers in perspective, Canada only had about 180,000 medical marijuana patients to supply in 2017 (medical weed has been legal in Canada since 2001), and a grand total of only 45 legal growers. That works out to about 4,000 patients per grower, but even at such a low volume a lot of the medical dispensaries across the country found it tough to keep their shelves stocked – many would run out of product altogether on a fairly routine basis.
Come July 1, 2018, however (“legalization day”), that number of 180,000 is expected to grow about 30 times larger – experts are estimating anywhere between 4 million and 6 million Canadians will be partaking in some form of cannabis by the end of the year.
So how in the world are suppliers going to fill that massive “green void,” if they’ve had trouble supplying less than 200,000 people with weed for the last 15+ years?
It’s a good question, and it’s one that investors have seen coming from a long ways away – long before Trudeau even introduced the legalization bill to Parliament back in 2017.
The Canadian Government is Stepping in To “Industrialize” the Pot Growing Process
Even with such a massive impending demand for marijuana, the Canadian government knows that it can’t relax itself or become easy-going in terms of granting commercial growing permits. And while the number of legal growers has already increased from the original 45 to well over 100, it’s estimated that many hundreds more will be needed in order to come anywhere close to meeting the forecast demand.
Some people – most people – in fact, are already claiming there’s no way the country will be ready come July.
Aaron Salz, for example, who is a consultant to some of Canada’s biggest growers, said back in summer 2017 that once “the taps are turned on [for legal recreational pot], we are going to have a supply shortage — I’m highly confident of that.”
Paul Rosen, another big-time cannabis investor and consultant, has reiterated the same sentiment: “I think we will be critically short,” he says, plainly enough.
John Prentice is another Canadian in the midst of the cannabis “green rush,” as his company Ample Organics is a software provider for some of the country’s biggest growers, cultivators, and retailers. Like Rosen and Salz, he’s also not too optimistic when it comes to fulfilling the hysteria that’s surely to come by summer 2018: “It’s actually a pretty desperate problem. As far as I’m concerned, we’re going to be in pretty rough shape come July 1.”
And it’s not just the growers that are finding themselves in a desperate situation. Cannabis production and cultivation is a massive process that requires heaps of equipment, energy, and even manpower to do properly – everyone from UV light providers to irrigation suppliers to energy companies will be receiving trickle down effects as a result of the new market, and not a single one of them appear to be ready for the barrage.
Moreover, many Canadian officials are worried that, at least over the course of the short term, the marijuana black market will actually become larger and more in demand than they were prior to legalization. If millions of Canadians will be legally smoking pot in 2018, but the legal dispensaries don’t have enough to sell them, you can bet that they’re going to get their weed from somewhere else.
This is ultimately a pretty major dilemma, as stamping out the black market was one of the principal reasons for the country’s decision to implement legalization in the first place; with full-scale production estimated to not be viable for at least another three years, it seems that the black market growers and sellers won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Full-Scale Industrial Cannabis Production Presents Problems in Its Own Right
When (or if, we should say) full-scale marijuana production actually does get to the point where supply meets demand, there will be a host of brand new concerns to worry about other than black market sellers.
The biggest one? Environmental issues.
If you’re anything like us, the idea that growing marijuana could be bad for the environment was probably the last thing you’d have ever thought of. However, when taking into consideration the monstrous amounts of energy that these new growers will be using, it makes sense that large-scale industrial cannabis production could be a detriment to the environment.
The main issue, as it turns out, is water and power. Since Canada is (obviously) not the optimal natural environment to cultivate weed in, nearly all of the large-scale growers will be growing in indoor facilities where it’s easier and more efficient to keep the plants safe from things like insects and uncooperative weather. However, as you might guess, if you’re going to be growing industrial-sized plots of hemp in an indoor facility, you’re going to be eating up (literally) a small village’s worth of electricity – not to mention water. And this is regardless of the fact that cannabis is one of the most sustainable and maintenance-free crops in the world.
We’ve Got A Lot to Figure Out, But It’s Not All Doom and Gloom
As it turns out, Canada is not alone in facing the overwhelming task of supplying millions of new people with quality weed. Colorado went through the exact same thing when they legalized recreational pot back in 2014, and they’re only now starting to catch up to the supply-to-demand ratio.
And for them, it actually turned out to be a pretty win-win process; the industry created thousands upon thousands of new jobs, and not to mention more than $500 million in tax revenue (although on the flip side they actually lost quite a bit on alcohol revenue).
In any regard, it is a wildly exciting time for all varieties of people as North America – particularly Canada – looks to implement one of the largest pot legalization processes the world has ever known. It might be a daunting, overwhelming task to think about industrializing cannabis production, but we have no doubts that the industry is up to the challenge, and that it’ll prove to be a massive improvement on society in the long run.