Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Monday, Dec 4, 2023
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.


Canada hits 5 years since adult-use legalization as producers struggle to turn a profit

The Cannabis Council of Canada found that 83 per cent of licensed producers had negative net income last year

Canada hits 5 years since adult-use legalization as producers struggle to turn a profit
Cannabis cultivated by BC Green Pharmaceuticals. Photo by Rowan Dunne

Oct. 17 marked five years since cannabis was federally legalized in Canada and despite leaving the dark days of prohibition long in the past the industry is facing a series of challenges, such as a thriving illicit market and struggle among licensed producers trying to turn a profit.

A recent study conducted by the Cannabis Council of Canada (C3) found that a staggering 83 per cent of licensed producers in the country reported negative net income last year, largely attributable to the burden of excise tax and regulatory fees that are only applicable in the cannabis industry. The council is recommending that excise tax should be reduced and that the regulatory fees should be relinquished.

“While we’ve made great strides to establish a newly legalized industry over the past five years, we find many parts of cannabis regulations unnecessarily burdensome, adding significant costs and administration to our business,” said Pure Sunfarms’ President Orville Bovenschen in a statement provided to Mugglehead.

“The rate of excise tax we pay represents the largest impact on our operations and needs to be changed. We also believe that the annual regulatory fee is extremely high compared to the service we receive,” he added. The Village Farms subsidiary says that reporting requirements for Canada’s Cannabis Tracking and Licensing System should be simplified as well.

Steep competition and inflation are other significant factors contributing to financial stress among smaller licensed operators in particular.

On the date of Canada’s five-year anniversary, C3 released a position paper titled “Grow the Pie for Canadians,” which discusses how legalization brought vast employment opportunities to the country’s citizens while generating billions of dollars in taxable income. However, half a decade later and despite over $5 billion generated from legal sales annually, more cannabis companies in Canada are filing for creditor protection than in any other industry — according to the council.

“Between 2018 and 2021, the legal cannabis industry generated $11 billion in sales, $29 billion in investments, 98,000 jobs and added $43.5 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). It’s time for the government to support the economic potential of Canada’s nascent cannabis industry,” said Mike Schilling, CEO of Community Savings.

Schilling’s credit union created a type of bank account specifically to aid struggling cannabis producers in British Columbia on April 20 this year.

Read more: Tilray to provide cannabis for Spanish clinical study on severe brain cancer

Read more: A Little Bud opens first cannabis store in Whistler

The THC limit on edibles is a major concern

The ever-persistent issue of the country’s illicit market, which accounts for approximately 50 per cent of cannabis sales in Canada (around $4 billion per year on average), is still a prevalent concern as well. Lower prices are the primary reason for consumers choosing to obtain their cannabis from illicit sources, according to C3.

In Ontario, approximately 57 per cent of citizens reported buying cannabis from a legal source — according to data from Statistics Canada.

The council says one of the Canadian industry’s foremost contemporary problems is the 10 milligram limit on edibles, which only account for 5 per cent of sales in the country. Raising the limit would diminish the amount of cash going into the hands of criminals by over $300 million per year, says the council.

“After five years of legalization, the regulated cannabis industry is struggling due to high taxes, excessive regulation and unbridled competition from the illicit market. To fulfill the potential of legalization, the sector needs reform urgently,” said C3’s President and CEO George Smitherman.

The council is now holding a Cannabis Leaders Summit in Ottawa for two days with representatives from major industry players like High Tide Inc. (NASDAQ: HITI) (TSX-V: HITI), Village Farms International, Inc. (NASDAQ: VFF) and Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CRON) (TSX: CRON).

Other companies like the major Ontario-based cannabis operator Canopy Growth Corporation (TSX: WEED) have seen a tremendous drop in their share prices since legalization. In October of 2018 Canopy’s stock was trading for over $61, and today, those shares are worth a mere $0.87. Similarly, shares of Edmonton’s Aurora Cannabis Inc (TSX: ACB) were valued at over $156 in the fall of 2018 and are now trading for a measly $0.67.

Read more: Kitchener RCMP uncover major drug haul and weapons cache during cannabis plant investigation

Read more: Chatham-Kent Police seize $6.1M worth of illegal cannabis plants in bust

The anniversary has inspired mixed feelings

In Alberta last year, 68 cannabis retailers cancelled their license or decided not to renew it — a 257 per cent increase from the 19 that chose not to continue in 2021. Similar to the high percentage of licensed producers with negative net income last year, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission reported $4.3 million in losses from cannabis operations in 2022.

“A lot of licensed producers are going bankrupt because the regulations we thought were going to loosen have not,” said Ashley Newman, a struggling Alberta dispensary owner — in an interview with the Calgary Herald.

On a more positive note in New Brunswick, the president of the government venture Cannabis NB, responsible for legal cannabis distribution in the province, expressed her enthusiasm for the five-year milestone.

“Cannabis NB’s five-year milestone is a huge accomplishment, and I am so proud of the people who have been a part of this journey. Here’s to the next five years!” said Cannabis NB’s President and CEO Lori Stickles.

Despite challenges in the industry, a June report from the market intelligence company Headset revealed that there had been a 157 per cent rise in cannabis sales throughout the country over the past three years. During the month of June, adult use sales in the country shot up by 12.9 per cent year-over-year.

The number of Canadians using cannabis increased by 5 per cent between 2017-2022, according to a recent assessment from the Canadian Medical Association Journal.


Follow Mugglehead on X

Follow Rowan Dunne on X

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Brian Kelly

    October 18, 2023 at 2:22 pm

    Legalize federally now. What’s legal to possess and consume in nearly half of The United States should not make you a criminal in states still being governed by woefully ignorant prohibitionist politicians.

    Cannabis consumers in all states deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Nationwide Federally Now!

    There is absolutely no doubt now that the majority of Americans want to completely legalize cannabis nationwide. Our numbers grow on a daily basis.

    The prohibitionist view on cannabis is the viewpoint of a minority and rapidly shrinking percentage of Americans. It is based upon decades of lies and propaganda.

    Each and every tired old lie they have propagated has been thoroughly proven false by both science and society.

    Their tired old rhetoric no longer holds any validity. The vast majority of Americans have seen through the sham of cannabis prohibition in this day and age. The number of prohibitionists left shrinks on a daily basis.

    With their credibility shattered, and their not so hidden agendas visible to a much wiser public, what’s left for a cannabis prohibitionist to do?

    Maybe, just come to terms with the fact that Cannabis Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think, and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide!…and Support All Cannabis Legalization Efforts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Alternative Energy

The first round of funding announced includes up to $300 million available under two streams

Rare Earths

The government has now covered over half of the project's total expenses

Alternative Energy

The plant will cost around C$1 billion and will be built by a Taiwanese company in 2024


Ninety per cent of U.S. Veterans who use cannabis say it improves their overall quality of life, according to a recent study