“Canada is still widely recognized for having the courage to go [the legalization] route,” says one Canadian attendee
The world’s cannabis industry elite is headed to Davos, Switzerland for a big session — of professional nature — for the second year in a row. The Cannabis Conclave will take place on January 23 and is running concurrently with the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting.
Last year, Canada’s industry was a major focus of the event, with attendees ranging from former CEO of Canopy Growth Bruce Linton to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. This year, however, the spotlight will be on the global cannabis market.
“This event has now grown into something with an international presence, not just Canada and the Canadian industry,” said David Clement, the event organizer and the North American affairs manager with the Consumer Choice Centre.
“It’s now much broader and larger and that is part of the point of why we host this… to try and fuel the legalization debate, both on the medical and recreational side.”
The event is sold out with 100 registrants representing more than 25 countries and will take place in a mountainside restaurant, accessible by cable car. Clement will be speaking about what Canada got right — and wrong — in the first year of legalization.
“There are a variety of different policies that the Canadian government enacted with the Cannabis Act that we don’t view as particularly consumer or patient friendly,” Clement said, highlighting onerous production regulations, poor retail access and tax policies, and limited product variability.
“Our concern for other governments is if they are going down the route of legalization and follow the Canadian model from A-Z they are going to run into the same problems that we have. So it’s important for there to be some reflection there.”
Despite the year one stumbles, Clement said Canada’s reputation in the cannabis industry, and its first mover advantage, remains intact.
“Canada is still widely recognized for having the courage to go this route,” he said.
“I don’t think countries like Luxembourg and Malta would be openly talking about recreational legalization if Canada had not pushed forward and carved out that path for them. So I think the reputation of Canada, in terms of legislation, is very positive and deservedly so, but that shouldn’t prevent us from reflecting on the errors and mistakes that have been made.”
Those in attendance will range from cannabis executives and investors to government officials, regulators, policymakers and leaders of other industries.
“In concrete terms for success, it’s simply we want to see more jurisdictions be open to the argument for legalization, open to hearing that case be made, open to adjusting their policies on medical or recreational and to learn from what’s been done here in Canada,” Clement said.
“In order for legalization to be a success, it has to be patient and consumer focused. If it isn’t, all that does is fuel the black market. We have to create a market that is attractive enough to move people from the illegal market into the legal market.”
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Written by Sam Riches