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Jay Rosenthal is the professional archetype the cannabis industry once it found hard to attract: educated, intelligent, and insightful. As the co-founder and president of Business of Cannabis, Rosenthal has brought this new space 20 years of experience in media, business and politics – a career that has carried him from his home in Boston, to Washington, Silicon Valley, and finally, his adoptive home of Toronto. We caught up with him recently to discuss pot stocks, the significance of concentrates to consumers, and the future of the cannabis industry. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.

What’s the mandate of the Business of Cannabis?

We do three things, which are sometimes intertwined: we produce compelling content, events and research, all related to the burgeoning cannabis sector in Canada and worldwide. We treat cannabis like any other industry, we talk about it like any other industry, and we provide context like any other industry would. At this point, we take a uniquely Canadian approach to our business because we think companies here are going to lead this space for a long time. And we want to lead along with them.

Do you believe Canada is well positioned to lead the world on this file?

I think for now, yes. And that’s based on the companies here having worldwide aspirations, more than it is that the market in Canada is going to be so big. Some of the companies will do well in the Canadian marketplace, but the biggest ones – the ones worth billions – are looking at how to lead the world in research, product development, and the pharmaceutical, wellness and recreational sides of the space.

To whom, or to what, would you attribute that international push?

There are only roughly 36 million people here, and some portion of them will be cannabis consumers. But initially, the cannabis products available to consumers are dry flower and oils, which are not the products that have massive mark-ups. In Colorado and California, refined products like edibles, drinks and vapes are the ones that a long-term market can be built on. We’re just not there, so it’s going to be a slow roll-out, but obviously an exciting one.

How important is it to get cannabis concentrates into the Canadian marketplace?

There’s a business imperative that likely won’t make things happen any sooner, but these are the products that consumers want. That’s what people are finding at black-and-grey dispensaries, and that’s what consumers have been leaning towards. To not be able to provide that is being non-responsive to consumers. The black market will continue to thrive on Oct. 18 – one day after legalization - because these products will not be available to Canadians.

Do you have a prediction for how cannabis will play out on the capital markets?

It’s a new industry and an exciting time for the industry, but this is going to shake itself out, like most markets do. Even now, the numbers aren’t based on the revenue of any given company, it’s more based on the projected market share, partnerships and distribution. But in the grand scheme of things, what happens in Canada is a compelling model for other places, and the stock prices, so far, have given a huge lead to the companies that are here.

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