by Jerry Golick
Only in Canada, eh?
You know, despite how it seems de rigueur for all “real” pro-cannabis activists to hate those money-grubbing, corporate, greedy, licensed medical cannabis producers, I’ve got to admit that I am starting to feel sorry for them.
On the one hand, their costs to set up and maintain their operations is monstrous. Health Canada’s stringent quality and security requirements (not to mention legal fees, etc) far outweigh anything their current (mostly underground) competition is paying. You know the ones who are supplying all those dispensaries out there in B.C., and other places coast to coast.
In addition, because of the need of tight security checks for all personal, the LPs have not always had access to the wealth of experience of the underground growers. Plus, growing on this scale is pretty new for everyone, which means there have been problems along the way, which means more costs. In addition, virtually every single medical college and association across Canada has told their members that
a) there is limited proof for cannabis as a medicine,
b) we don’t approve
c) it would be best not to prescribe.
Which kinda makes it hard to get any customers. On the other hand, getting a medical card from a dispensary especially in Vancouver is, I have heard, fairly quick and simple. It is difficult to make a business competitive when your competition can sign-up many more customers in a day than you can in a month. I wonder what would happen if we compared the total number of customers for all LPs, against the total number of customers of all dispensaries. Bet you it’s not even close.
Add to that the current Supreme Court of Canada ruling which effectively legitimizes all extracts and derivatives, again already available in those convenient, soon to be licensed Vancouver dispensaries. The LP’s can’t even offer an alternative product because the HC regulations they operate under prevents them from doing so.
So, the LPs face higher costs, lower market share, lack of growing experience, more restrictive product lines, and lots more government over-watch than their competition. All that means is that they are probably forced to sell their product at a higher price than the competition as well, which certainly can’t help push sales. No wonder people are being laid off.
For myself, I think there is room in Canada for both LPs and dispensaries. LPs are bringing consistency and standards of quality to the marketplace, in a highly regulated manner. Certainly, for anyone interested in ingesting cannabis as a medicine, these are qualities to be desired. In addition, they are actively engaging the medical community on a number of levels in ways the dispensary community never have and never will.
The dispensaries bring a wide variety of strains, personal levels of services, and a full complement of derivatives, into their local markets. This is certainly desirable to those individuals with more experience in cannabis. More importantly, they have also facilitated access to medical cannabis, in a way that the LPs are unable to do, because of the regulations under which they operate.
Right now at least, that means that the dispensaries are serving more patients than the LPs, which are struggling to meet all of Health Canada requirements and make a profit for their investors. All of which means that the “grey” dispensaries are generating wealth, while most of the LPs are still struggling to show any profit. Still, I find there is something uniquely Canadian in all this, because only in Canada could a legitimate marijuana selling business lose money. The rest of the world must be laughing at us.
Only in Canada, eh?