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Cannabis Industry Presents Opportunity for Niagara - innovate niagara

Cannabis Industry Presents Opportunity for Niagara

Mar27

It’s an exciting time to witness and participate in the development of this new high-value industry, and we look forward to seeing how businesses and entrepreneurs in Niagara and beyond maximize this new opportunity.

WRITTEN BY: BLAKE LANDRY

It’s no secret that medicinal cannabis and the legalization of recreational cannabis by the fall of 2018 presents a major economic opportunity for Niagara. First, it’s important to understand why Niagara stands to benefit. Niagara is an agricultural powerhouse. In 2016, the agricultural sector contributed over $1.41 billion to regional GDP and supported over 19,900 jobs. In 2016, horticulture, a subset of agriculture, contributed $691.7 million towards regional GDP and supported 9,761 jobs. Niagara is home to 14% (22 million square feet) of total Ontario greenhouse space producing 25% of Ontario’s horticultural gross farm receipts. Cannabis is horticulture and Niagara is well positioned to be a major player in this industry.

Currently, there are 4 companies in Niagara that hold licenses for medicinal cannabis cultivation including Redecan (Pelham), Tweed Farms (Niagara-on-the-Lake), CannTrust (Pelham), and Up Cannabis (Lincoln). There is currently 1.87 million square feet of licensed cannabis production area in Niagara (8% of total greenhouse area). I suspect we will see many new Health Canada cannabis licensees in the near future, especially with the pending legalization. In 2015, the recreational cannabis market in Canada was estimated to be 697.5 tonnes in volume at a value of $6.2 billion. Comparatively, Statistics Canada suggests that Canadians spent $9.2 billion on beer and $7 billion on wine in 2016; however, Canada imports a lot of beer and wine, while it appears that cannabis and related products will be domestically produced and sold.

The cannabis industry also presents opportunity for processing and manufacturing businesses. Cannabis can be consumed in various forms including concentrates, edibles (capsules, candy, cookies, topicals, tincture, etc.), so there will be a need for business to make these products to meet market demand. There will also be a need for companies that provide technology and equipment to cannabis cultivators and processors. Currently, Niagara has some innovators in this space such as Hamill Agricultural Processing Solutions (automation), Avid Growing Systems Inc. (turn-key vertical growing systems), and GGS Structures (design and manufacture of greenhouses). I also suspect we will see tourism-oriented opportunities given our position as a global tourism destination including cafes, tours, and other unique entrepreneurial endeavours.

It’s an exciting time to witness and participate in the development of this new high-value industry, and we look forward to seeing how businesses and entrepreneurs in Niagara and beyond maximize this new opportunity.


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Blake Landry is currently Manager, Economic Research & Analysis with Niagara Region’s Economic Development division. Blake holds a BA in Communications from Brock University, a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from Humber College, and a Certificate in Economic Development from the University of Waterloo.

Blake Landry, Ec.D.
blake.landry@niagararegion.ca
905-980-6000 x3796
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/blakeleonlandry
Twitter: @blakeleonlandry
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This article originally appeared in The Business Link Niagara.