Greenhouse Canada

Cannabis sector off to a running start

New industry sector off to running start

November 22, 2017  By Dave Harrison

December 2017 – The industry is in the middle of the greatest infusion of capital since it was established. And the focus of this investment is a plant that has for generations been banned from large-scale commercial cultivation in this and almost every other country in the world.

Cannabis is the game-changer. And Canada will soon emerge as the world’s leading grower of the crop, with considerable export potential.

But the benefits to the greenhouse industry will go beyond this crop.


In late September during the 2015 federal election campaign, the Liberals announced they were “committed to legalizing and regulating marijuana.” Party leader Justin Trudeau said legalizing marijuana would fix a “failed system” and help “remove the criminal element” linked to the drug, noted a CTV report.

Of all the campaign rhetoric, this promise was the most surprising. I, for one, didn’t see if coming, didn’t know it was on the political radar, and never for a moment thought I’d see the legalization of cannabis within my lifetime.

But the shock is over and the industry has responded brilliantly. Companies serving the medical cannabis market were quick to get started. Now that recreational usage will be legalized – presumably by July 1 of next year – there is growing interest by companies wanting to obtain the necessary licensing.

Deloitte released a comprehensive report on the emerging industry last fall. “Recreational Marijuana: Insights and Opportunities” noted that “the possibility that the federal government will legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational purposes presents a bold new landscape for Canadian businesses and governments alike.”

Deloitte estimated this could be a $5 billion a year industry to start on sales of recreational cannabis alone – similar to sales of spirits such as whiskey, vodka, rum, etc. However, if you factored in the percentages of people who are “likely to consume” cannabis, early annual sales could rise to as high as $8.7 billion – comparable to wine sales.

But it doesn’t stop there. If you factor in ancillaries such as security, transportation, etc., the potential economic impact now nears $23 billion.

The report estimates that even at the low end of recreational consumption estimates, some 600,000 kilograms of cannabis will need to be grown, “a significant increase from what the medical marijuana industry is currently capable of producing.”

It’s also good news for the rest of the industry – the floriculture and vegetable growers, and the grower-retailers. More young people are considering commercial greenhouse horticulture as a career option. Governments are viewing the sector with more interest, due to the export potential of the cannabis products and, of course, the taxation windfall. More R&D work will be undertaken to boost efficiencies, and that will help all greenhouse crops. And the greenhouse potential of other medicinal plants will be studied.

The industry is being transformed and re-energized. New potential is being unleashed. Things are clearly off to a running start.

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