News / Calgary

Alberta’s medical cannabis giant will be ‘ready on day one’ of recreational market

A recent study from Deloitte Private found in Canada, the potential economic impact of legalized recreational pot is more than $22 billion

An employee weighs and packages medical marijuana at Aurora Cannabis' production facility in Cremona, Alberta.

CONTRIBUTED

An employee weighs and packages medical marijuana at Aurora Cannabis' production facility in Cremona, Alberta.

Alberta is poised to lead the way when it comes to establishing protocol for a recreational marijuana market, according to the medical marijuana giant Aurora Cannabis – which just happens to be based right here in Cremona.

A recent study from Deloitte Private found in Canada, the potential economic impact of legalized recreational pot is more than $22 billion – if you include things like transportation, licensing fees and security. 

Aurora Cannabis, the second-largest cannabis company in the world, is ready to establish the new frontier, according to vice president Cam Battley.

“We will be ready on day one,” Battley said. “The announcement (the federal government) would proceed with the consumer legalization of cannabis allowed us to evolve our business strategy.”

Aurora’s 55,000 square-foot production facility in Mountain View County, about an hour outside Calgary, currently produces roughly 5,500 kilograms of cannabis a year for medical patients. 

A potential recreational cannabis market breakdown.

DELOITTE PRIVATE "Recreational Marijuana - Insights & Opportunities" 2016.

A potential recreational cannabis market breakdown.

By end of this year, production will begin at their new 800,000 square foot facility called 'Aurora Sky' near Edmonton International Airport. 

Battley said there are more than 160,000 people with a prescription for cannabis in Canada and that number is growing by 10 per cent each month.

“That’s an excellent foundation on which to build the world’s leading consumer cannabis system – which is what we’re doing now,” he said. 

But the federal and provincial governments have been clear: the goal of legalization is not to make money, according to Mark Whitmore, vice-president and global leader for Deloitte.

“The government has been fairly consistent that this is about putting a safe product out there, keeping it out of the hands of minors and trying to take it out of the hands of organized crime,” Whitmore told Metro.

He said marijuana isn’t going to outpace Alberta’s mainstay industries like oil and gas, but the appetite and potential market value for recreational cannabis in Canada is on par with the alcohol industry.

“So if you say that holds true in Alberta, one could assume the marijuana industry in Alberta will be about the same size as alcohol,” Whitmore said.

The country’s booze sales totalled $21.3 billion in 2014-2015 and Alberta accounted for $2.5 billion of that total, according to Statistics Canada.

Battley said he believes the provinces can have their cake and eat it too. 

Aurora has been keeping the NDP informed on their activities and expansion plans, and the government has been “very supportive,” Battley said.

“Protection of youth, consumers, public health and safety is foremost on their minds, yet at the same time, they’re also aware of the economic development opportunities and have been extremely supportive in that vein,” he said.

In a statement provided to Metro, Finance Minister Joe Ceci said it’s still early, but a variety of retail and tax options are being considered.

Echoing federal politicians, he said Alberta’s focus is on keeping cannabis away from children, profits away from criminals and protecting roads and workplaces.

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