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Opinion

Development of cannabis as a major crop unlike any other commodity

By Max Jones      

Due to cannabis' unique history, we are now in the unusual position where large-scale production is required but there is very little evidence-based information or federal guidelines on nutrient management, pest control, or any other aspect that would be commonplace for any major commodity.

Canopy Growth, formerly Tweed Marijuana Inc., in Smith Falls, Ont. As we move into these uncharted waters, we also have an unprecedented opportunity to lead the world in this sector through developing advanced technologies, human capital, and quality standards, writes Max Jones. The Hill Times file photograph

The legalization of cannabis represents a transformational shift that will effect many aspects of our society. While attention usually focuses on social considerations such as health care, crime, and dependency, no sector will be impacted more dramatically than agriculture where legalization has brought a major commodity into legal trade with what amounts to the stroke of a pen. How big an impact will cannabis have? No one knows for sure, but Stats Canada estimated that in 2017, before legalization, Canadians between the ages of 15-64 spent about $400-million on legal medical Cannabis and an additional $5.3-billion on illicit cannabis. To put this in perspective, the value of the Canadian agriculture/agri-food industry, as a whole, is about $108-billion per year, and in 2016 the most valuable crops were canola ($8.6-billion), wheat ($7-billion), lentils ($2.6-billion), soy ($2.6-billion), and corn ($2.4-billion). Based on these numbers, the domestic cannabis market alone would make it the third most economically important crop in Canada.

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