News / Edmonton

'The train has left the station': Cannabis industry on edge over possible legalization delay

Edmontonians in the cannabis game are divided over how a delay would affect businesses

Workers produce medical marijuana at Canopy Growth Corporation's Tweed facility in Smiths Falls, Ont., on Feb. 12, 2018.

Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press

Workers produce medical marijuana at Canopy Growth Corporation's Tweed facility in Smiths Falls, Ont., on Feb. 12, 2018.

Potential delays to legalization have some in Edmonton’s budding cannabis industry on edge.

Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has said he will move to block the legalization bill, adding to fears that the July legalization goal won’t be achieved, and on Tuesday Sen. Peter Harder fired back by saying he is willing to invoke time limits to get it passed.

“The train has left the station,” said Stephanie Ostrander, a recruitment co-ordinator with Cannabis At Work and chair of the Alberta Cannabis Stakeholders Association.

“To stop all of that is a huge waste of money and time. So we need to stay the course in every way. There’s a lot riding on all of this that has already been put into motion.”

Provincial and municipal governments have also expressed concerns with preparing for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s initial legalization target, but Ostrander said it’s too late to turn back.

She said local businesses are already rolling out retail plans and signing leases, while scientists, engineers, CFOs and CEOs in the United States are looking to Canada and want to work in the industry here.

Delays, she fears, would “shatter” investor confidence.

“I think what Canada is doing is very much trailblazing, and with that comes risk,” she said.

“There will be some mistakes, and we will correct those, and we will learn as we go.”

Cam Battley, chief corporate officer with Aurora Cannabis, said he is not worried about potential delays.

He said his business, which will operate the world’s largest cannabis production facility at the Edmonton International Airport land, is prepared no matter what.

“Right now, the excess of demand over supply in Germany, for example, is enormous. So we’re going to be able to sell every gram and gram equivalent that we produce,” Battley said.

“It doesn’t worry us.”

For people like John Simon, an Edmonton licenced producer applicant with Pebble Grass Inc., a delay could actually be positive.

“My opinion is that they are not going to meet the July 1 deadline, and that’s a good thing,” Simon said.

“As long as we’re not getting into long delays that are going to affect shelf life, this extra time is going to give us time to prepare and get more products, a variety of strains, on the market and ready to go.”

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