There is a running joke that a project or program can be working just fine in the private sector, but give it to government to run and all the profit-making goodness grinds to a halt.
The way senior levels of government have handled the roll out of the legalization of marijuana – both the feds and their constantly changing rules and deadlines and the Ontario government for their lack of approval of more retail stores – has been nothing short of a disaster.
Left hanging while government tries to regulate the cannabis industry to death before it leaves its infancy are the legitimate cannabis producers such as local AgMedica, who have responsibly grown their crop and company since 2018 in Chatham-Kent.
With only 24 retail stores across Ontario, compared to 350 stores in Alberta, producers have very limited places to sell their licensed product, and even though the government initially said the price would be below what people pay on the black market, that reality hasn’t come about either.
Illegal sales of cannabis and cannabis products seems to be booming as people who may have never tried marijuana before are seeking it out now that it is legal. What they aren’t finding is places to buy it legally.
The Ford government has said it will start in January to accept new applications for retail cannabis stores, with the intent to have approvals start in March, but for some cannabis producers, it may be too little too late while they try to keep investors on board.
AgMedica has indicated that with some restructuring, it will be around, which is good news for its employees and for the community. It is incredibly unfortunate, and most likely frustrating for them, to have to jump through all the government hoops and regulations only to have to sit and wait for the promised retail opportunities to appear.
For the public, waiting for retail opportunities is also a problem, with many turning to growing it themselves or seeking out illegal sellers, who seem to have no problem running their business at a profit.
Then again, government doesn’t overregulate illegal grow ops and distributors, does it? Instead, the feds and the province collectively erected roadblock after roadblock in front of legal producers.