Legalizing Cannabis Will Fail If Producers Can’t Brand Their Pot
Canada is on the verge of making history by becoming the first G7 nation to legalize, regulate and restrict access to cannabis for responsible adult consumption. But achieving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s stated goals for legalization — keeping cannabis out of the hands of young people while choking off the illegal market — won’t happen overnight. It will require a sensible, progressive regulatory framework that enables professional companies to eliminate black market producers through competition.
The challenge is considerable. Deloitte estimates the illicit cannabis trade in Canada totals $8 billion. That’s a lot of money flowing to gangs and organized crime who’ve never had a problem breaking the law. Simply changing the law won’t automatically take money and power away from these criminals.
Undercutting the black market will be difficult. Unlike their illegal counterparts, legal producers will have to pay taxes and incur expensive regulatory costs.
Reasonable taxation, responsible branding and in-store marketing are the most powerful tools the federal government has to eliminate the black market. Professional companies must be allowed to explain to consumers why their products are superior to those offered by their illegal competitors. Legal producers must also be able to compete with the black market on price.