What’s Next for our Favorite Plant?

Those who have followed the cannabis industry for the last year or two know that a lot can happen in short periods of time. Medical cannabis was legalized in 2001 but adult use legalization of October 2018 is what will change the future of cannabis on a large scale and reflect back to changes to medicinal.

This time last year adult use legalization was a campaign promise. Since then, thousands of conversations about cannabis, around dinner tables and boardroom tables, have moved us forward. There is much more to come in terms of regulation, normalization and ease of access and ingestion.

So what types of headlines can we expect in 2019? In broad strokes: The inevitable two steps forward one step back in terms of implications with health insurance companies broadening their coverage for some medicinal cannabis users, this coming fall’s introduction of topicals and edibles (both solid and liquid), tenants agreements to be tested and human rights cases to be tried in front of judges across Canada.  We will see other court cases setting precedents with impaired driving charges, and ACMPR (medicinal users) right to grow more than 4 plants and potential implications in terms of tenants rights, home insurance and mortgages. As the stigma continues to fall away, many employers, relatives and friends will learn for the first-time that people they know, respect and love have been using cannabis regularly.

Elder care homes and hospitals will be making progress implementing cannabis administration into daily medication rounds where applicable. There will be more opportunity for people to help others with jobs like ‘cannabis concierge’  becoming viable and valued in society. The science around cannabinoids and terpenes and flavonoids and other cannabis compounds will start to become clearer as larger scale studies are done.

Taxes will be fine-tuned. You won’t see the tax breakdown in the price of cannabis but it will be there, not  unlike the pie charts we are now used to seeing at the pump, a substantial part of what we will be paying for, especially in the adult use market, will be taxes. Patients on the medicinal side are lobbying for a break with the excise tax at least (you may add your voice to this via donttaxmedicine.ca). Many licensed producers are currently absorbing the excise tax for their medicinal patients but maintaining this isn’t sustainable in the long term.

Other foreseeable changes this year? It’s my hope that, generally speaking, Canadian news reporters of all things cannabis will  become more sophisticated and fact based in their reporting of cannabis stories and events (and stop with the ‘pot’ double-entendres already), as they recognize how many forward thinking, intelligent, discerning Canadians are using cannabis as a path to physical and mental health. Many will need to revise their standard caricatures of pot smoking airheads, and/or click bait scare tactic headlines. There will be a shift from legalizing to legitimizing.

The average Canadian will become increasingly more educated and many will be able to fine tune their medication to achieve more precise  desired effects, as terms like ‘terpenes’ (https://www.leafly.ca/news/science-tech/beyond-thc-asserting-benefits-effects-terpenes) start popping into average conversations when discussing and choosing strains.

Medical innovations will take the guesswork out of dosing and pharmaceutical companies will continue buying up much of the cannabis space, patenting extraction methods so that, theoretically, the resulting products effects will be exact and reproducible, and will therefore be eligible for drug identification numbers (DINs), and, as such, will be covered by health insurance companies. (This will be a standardized approach which will conceivably make cannabis use more available for many, but those who appreciate the whole plant/synergistic effect will continue to use it in as close to its natural state as possible).

Also in 2019 and beyond, the use of CBD will be accelerating at a rapid pace as senior citizens and our workforce recognize its ability to curb inflammation and anxiety without impairment.

It will more than likely take a couple of years for the adult use market to stabilize in terms of access and supply. 2019 sees Ontario off the blocks with 25 stores, and BC  phasing out ‘illegal’ stores and phasing in legal ones. Alberta’s rocky start, (where despite ordering enough plant matter for 250 stores to stay stocked for 6 months, only 20% of the inventory was received and shortages were immediate) will balance out. Other provinces and territories will continue to discover what is right for them as the different provincial models move forward.

Shortages will eventually be a thing of the past, as Health Canada issues more (expansion) licenses and growers master their processes, and get ahead of the learning curve of fickle crops and red tape. Smaller scale craft growers will enter the market to help augment supply issues and round out choice of strains. People will find joy and practicality in  tending to their own gardens, whether they choose the 4 plant per household route legal in most provinces, or opt for larger amounts obtained through their own grow at home licences. Licenced Producers will become more specialized and branded in bids for larger market share.

There will be pardons for past cannabis infractions and moves to expunge records, potentially freeing many from travel bans and derailed employment opportunities.

Canada will realize that legalization is spreading to countries like Thailand and the UK, with many more said to be on the verge such as France, Italy, Peru, New Zealand and Lebanon. We will take note of the recently launched farm bill legalizing hemp in the states, and the potential for this to spread to federally legalizing cannabis in the states as well, which would then open up U.S. federal banking and stock exchanges, allowing institutional investors (who are currently more comfortable on the Canadian stock exchange) to jump into the market in the US. This will no doubt spark our nationalistic drive to continue to carve out our place on the global scale.

Yes, it’s a brave new world. And I for one will be seeing it through the lens of my carefully dosed and chosen cannabis strains.

— Kait Shane, Community Outreach Educator Natural Health Services. Follow Natural Health Services on Twitter @NatHealthserve.

For further insight into all things cannabis, don’t forget to check out The Cannabis Show (new episodes every Wednesday) and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Cannabis Show is also available as an audio podcast, subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Overcast.

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