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Cannabis industry in Canada remains resilient amid COVID-19

cannabis industry in Canada

A spot check into the cannabis industry in Canada during Coronavirus reveals that the sector remains resilient during ongoing trying times. Even in the face of global economic slowdown brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian jurisdictions allow recreational cannabis stores to conduct business despite social distancing orders.

High-growth sector

Canada values the cannabis industry as one of its high-growth sectors and a major contributor to the country’s economy. Since it legalized weed in late 2018, more than 400 brick-and-mortar cannabis stores have sprung up in the country. Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, cannabis stores in Canadian provinces remain operational, with some conducting business online.

On April 6, the Business Development Bank of Canada issued a statement outlining eligibility criteria for the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP). However, the cannabis industry in Cannada did not initially feature in the statement, which included access to Canada Emergency Business Account, SME Loan, and Guarantee Program. Consequently, 71 cannabis firms wrote to Finance Minister Bill Morneau and his Industry counterpart Navdeep Bains to change the statement. 

Even in the face of such interventions by cannabis firms, “Canada’s federal government has deemed medical cannabis production as an “essential” to the country’s critical health-care infrastructure. The designation has intended to assist provinces, municipalities, and businesses in their decision-making around the types of employees considered essential for the health, safety, security, and economic well-being of the country.”

How provinces respond

Initially, three provinces including Ontario (ON), Newfoundland (NL), and Prince Edward Island (PEI) declared a state of emergency in March. They also closed all non-essential businesses including marijuana retail stores. However, Canadian jurisdictions eventually cleared the cannabis industry as an “essential” service provider. 

In Ontario (ON), for example, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario declared a temporary measure to allow legal cannabis stores to serve customers for 14 days. During the period, the retailers can offer curbside pickup options and delivery services between 9 am and 11 pm. The reprieve comes with a restriction of 30 grams of dried cannabis per person. Customers can also place orders online. 

Other jurisdictions that allow recreational cannabis business amid the COVID-19 pandemic include Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, British Columbia, and others. In these territories, the sale of adult-use marijuana continues to run in-store or online. 

According to an earlier Bloomberg report, “Cannabis purchases rose as much as 600 percent since the beginning of March in Canada’s biggest market thanks to stockpiling by consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic – and demand may be sticking around.”

When Cannada legalized cannabis?

Cannabis in Canada is legal for recreational and medicinal purposes. On 19 June 2018, the Senate passed the bill, and the Prime Minister announced the effective recreational cannabis legalization date as 17 October 2018. Canada is the second nation (after Uruguay) to legalize marijuana.

How big is the cannabis market in Cannada?

According to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) analysts forecast in 2019, the cannabis industry will have a retail value of $6.8 billion by 2020.

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