Opinion: It is time to hear how Canada’s political events wish to help the hashish trade

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In May 2021, legal cannabis contributed approximately $ 12.6 billion to Canada’s GDP, a number that rivals contributions from the auto and life sciences.

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Omar Khan This year there has been a growing number of layoffs in the cannabis sector affecting thousands of Canadian families.  Still, we haven't heard a note of it from any of Canada's major political parties. This year there has been a growing number of layoffs in the cannabis sector affecting thousands of Canadian families. Still, we haven’t heard a note of it from any of Canada’s major political parties. Photo by / Photo: The Canadian Press

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In the 2015 Canadian general election, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada pledged to end the centuries-old ban on the recreational use of cannabis by Canadian adults.

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The decision to make cannabis legalization such a high priority on their electoral platform was not without political risk, as the anti-cannabis stigma was strong, and in some cases still persists, in certain communities that are key blocks for any winning electoral coalition .

But the Liberals kept their promise, arguing that an end to the ban would stop the continued criminalization of otherwise law-abiding citizens (mostly colored people) and drive out illegal pharmacies. These measures would lead to improved public health through the regulation of cannabis products and the protection of minors through strict age restrictions on access to cannabis, they argued.

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The Liberals won a comfortable majority government with support in all regions of Canada. While their success was due to several factors, voter turnout increased among young Canadians played a key role.

According to data from Elections Canada, 57.1 percent of eligible voters aged 18 to 24 voted in the 2015 election, an 18.3 point increase from the previous election. Elections Canada also saw a significant increase in turnout among voters aged 25 to 34.

Liberals seem to have benefited most from this surge in youth engagement. A poll by Nanos Research towards the end of the campaign found they supported 38 percent of Canadians aged 18 to 29, compared with 24 percent for the New Democrats and 23 percent for the Conservatives.

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The newly elected Liberal government, true to its word, passed a law that made Canada the first G7 country to legalize adult cannabis use.

Since then, Canada’s cannabis industry has quietly grown into a domestic economic force. Last month, Statistics Canada reported that legal cannabis contributed around $ 12.6 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) in May 2021, a number that rivals contributions from the auto and life sciences. This growth has created new forms of employment for thousands of Canadians.

Despite this success, Canada’s cannabis industry continues to face significant headwinds and the illicit market continues to account for roughly half of all sales across the country, according to Statistics Canada. The reason for this is, at least in part, a regulatory framework that, in many cases, prevents legal cannabis companies from effectively competing with incumbent illicit market participants.

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For example, federal marketing restrictions that are stricter than those on alcohol make it very difficult for legal cannabis companies to build the brand loyalty necessary to distract some consumers from the illegal market. At the same time, some provinces have banned legal private sector cannabis retailers from offering home deliveries, a void filled by unlicensed gamblers.

This year there has been a growing number of layoffs in the cannabis sector affecting thousands of Canadian families. Still, we haven’t heard a note of it from any of Canada’s major political parties.

Imagine for a second if these layoffs had occurred in the auto sector. Certainly, even in the midst of a pandemic, the issue would be mentioned in parliament and national reporting.

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The Federal Ministry of Industry, Science and Economic Development has seven economic strategy tables, including those for manufacturing, tourism and the digital industry, but none of them affect the cannabis sector.

That makes absolutely no sense. Creating an intergovernmental group to develop an economic strategy for the cannabis sector seems a breeze and will signal to the sector that the Canadian government has a stake in its success.

With Canadians approaching yet another general election on September 20th, now is the perfect time for all political parties to tell Canadians what they intend to do to help this increasingly important economic sector and the thousands of Canadians who depend on it , to support. History teaches us that such a move can reap both political and economic dividends.

Omar Khan is a Canadian political strategist and Senior Vice President for Corporate and Public Affairs at High Tide Inc. (NASDAQ: HITI) (TSXV: HITI) (FWB: 2LYA), a retail cannabis company that is driven by the manufacture and Sales of consumables.

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