In the spring of 2014, the Canadian government loosened restrictions on the commercial exchange of medical cannabis, ushering in what some would call a ‘free market’ for the product.
In the past, those who had legal permission to use medical cannabis were allowed to access the drug in one of three ways: grow their own supply; have a designated entity grow the supply; or buy it from the government’s sole designated supplier. Now, anyone can apply for a licence to grow medical cannabis and sell it directly to patients.
The new Marihuana (sic) for Medical Purposes Regulations have resulted in a deluge of applications for a special licence, from individuals to start-ups. Since the new rules came into effect, more than 800 companies have applied for special licences over a span of three months. According to Health Canada (the federal department of health), approximately 40,000 patients use medical cannabis, with C$150 million ($137 million) in revenues for the industry. The number of patients is expected reach 400,000 in ten years, while industry revenues are set to exceed C$1.4 billion ($1.3 billion) in 2014.
Reasons for the explosive projected growth include a huge market for opiate substitutes for pain management, and the potential to tailor medical cannabis strains for specific symptoms.
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