Article by Jeff Lagerquist, Yahoo News
The chief executive of OrganiGram Holdings Inc. (OGI.V) is calling on Ottawa to live up to its promise to snuff out the booming illegal cannabis market commanding the lion’s share of sales.
Greg Engel said he and his fellow licensed producers are facing “huge challenges” in luring buyers away from black market sellers offering prohibited perks like same-day courier delivery, free samples, and vibrant packaging, as well as a suite of cannabis-infused beverages and snacks ahead of pending legalization of those products.
“Our understanding is that for those elicit sources, business has never been better,” he told Yahoo Finance Canada in an interview. “We continue to hear stories about online or same-day delivery people in major cities in Canada going around and giving out free product with their website address and phone number. They are doing things that we would never do.”
Canadian households spent $5.9 billion on cannabis in the fourth quarter, according to Statistics Canada. The federal agency found $4.7 billion of that figure was spent outside the legal system.
Engel said while recreational legalization has drummed up unprecedented interest in cannabis and eroded long-held stigma, it has also prompted more Canadians to feel comfortable buying from illegal sources.
“They just see cannabis as legal,” he said.
Engel said the industry is concerned about the enduring strength of the black market, and perceived inaction from Ottawa. It’s a frustrating situation, he said, since depriving criminals of cannabis profits was a major part of the government’s case for fully legalizing the drug.