The New Oil in Alberta will be Green

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The C-Tribe Festival takes place the November 13th to 17th and it will welcome influencers, innovators, and thought-leaders from all over the country in an effort to position Alberta as a place for ideas, talent, and opportunities. There will be a three hour cannabis track that will allow you to dive deep into the ins-and-outs of the booming cannabis sector in Canada.  Register here.


First thing’s first: this is not meant to criticize the energy sector and the tremendous growth it has provided for the province. Oil and gas still remain Alberta’s bread-and-butter and an industry that must be prioritized and protected.

As we look towards diversifying our province’s revenue streams and to take some pressure off the oil and gas sector, an unanticipated industry is making its way as an emerging player. Cannabis —and its ancillary industries— is said to produce the next boom in Alberta.

There are a handful of reasons to believe that Alberta is in a place to capitalize on this green rush.

Open market: minimal regulation to play ball 

With the federal legalization of cannabis looming, all eyes are on Alberta for a few reasons, but the main one being that our government has implemented a free market approach. This means that businesses at every stage of the product cycle (from cultivation to consumption) will be minimally-regulated compared to other provinces.

The provincial government has also put forward the notion that taxing the product will be minimal. The reason for this? To drive out activity in the black market. By keeping pricing competitive, the province is hopeful that more consumers will convert to the legal means of purchasing cannabis product.

High (pun-intended) Usage

Another reason for this optimism is Alberta sits 2nd on the list when it comes to medical patients that are registered to consume the product.

Health Canada states that out of the 200,000 registered users in the country, 74,000 of them reside in Alberta. This number just falls short of the 86,000 registered users in Ontario. Not too shabby for a province that has a population three times bigger than Alberta.

Once legalization takes place, the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) anticipates that just under 12% of all cannabis consumption in Canada will occur in Alberta. This means that a good chunk of the 4.6 million anticipated users across the country will be from Alberta. Unlike Ontario, recreational marijuana will be sold in privately owned retail stores for those that want to purchase in person. If you do the math, this is an unprecedented demand that business-savvy entrepreneurs want to have a piece of.

The Land Advantage 

Living in the prairies means that there is a lot of open land to work with. This comes into use when we consider the space cannabis grow operations require.

Aurora Cannabis, which is one of the nation’s biggest players, will have an 800,000 sq. ft. facility in Edmonton. By the first half of 2019, the company will also open another facility in Medicine Hat that’s anticipated to be 50% larger than what they have in Edmonton. Combined they will account for 37 football fields of land and will be considered the world’s largest legal cannabis grow operation.

Can you eat it too? 

The edible market is considered to be a bigger market than regular means of consumption. There aren’t concrete reasons for this, but it’s considered to be a healthier way to consume than smoking, and an easier way for first-time users to become familiar with the product.

According to the State of Colorado, a market that shares many similarities to Alberta, the edibles make up roughly 45 percent of the billion-dollar legal cannabis marketplace in Colorado. Factor in that Alberta is a leader in food manufacturing activity, leads us to believe that edibles will be a hit if the government regulates for this to happen.

As it stands, no one is sure what to expect of the cannabis sector. What we do know is that California, which is a comparable market to Canada, has created 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in annual retail sales. It will take time for the Canadian market to mature, but the cannabis sector will be sure to create jobs and boost the economy.

The legalization of cannabis in Canada will be amongst one of the largest social experiments in history. As we celebrate the emergence of a new economy it is expected to bring exciting opportunities yet pose various challenges.

Image source: ICI Radio Alberta

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Looking to learn more about the cannabis market in Canada? Check out our outstanding speakers below and join us in November by registering here for the C-Tribe Festival.

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