Article by Derek McCarthy, Montreal Gazette
Montreal’s Parc de Dieppe played host to CannabisFest this week, offering a snapshot of the creative potential surrounding Canada’s burgeoning cannabis industry. Part of a five-day StartupFest, this collection of speakers, investors, media and other interested participants highlighted the infinite opportunities for disruptive businesses to enter emerging markets in Quebec and across Canada.
A new class of risk-takers flooded the city, ready to connect and uncover how cannabis entrepreneurs can participate and thrive in a legal market. As a panellist who spoke on products and perspectives in the cannabis space, I was floored by the enthusiasm and exchange of ideas. As a U.S. citizen working with dosist, a cannabis-based wellness company launched in the U.S., I could feel the contagious excitement for Canada’s impending legalization.
The buzz and depth of opportunities I saw steeply contrasts with the environment in my home country, which continues to be constrained by prohibition. Legalization gives Quebec and all of Canada the potential to grow as a tech hub and CannabisFest was a shining example.
Canadians share a common agreement that supporting an innovative business climate is part of the government’s economic mandate. Governments of all stripes are proud to talk about innovation. The Canadian government’s last budget, seeing no value in subtlety, plastered the word “innovation” throughout its text. And by committing to legalize and regulate recreational cannabis, they are walking this talk, while positioning Canada to attract jobs and investment.
Cannabis, as a black-market product, is already a force in the Canadian economy with Statistics Canada estimating Canadians spent nearly $6 billion on it last year. As a nationally legalized product, supported by advanced technologies and ancillary products, we can expect a powerhouse.