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Recreational cannabis and the future of an industry
Few could have imagined the fate of recreational cannabis only a number years ago. The support for, and power behind, the cannabis movement has been an objectively impressive push. From basements and back alleys, and secret compartments and jail cells, cannabis has climbed like a phoenix to claim respect and retail shelves. More than ever, cannabis is being looked on by the corporate world as a sound investment, and an entire industry has formed around one enigmatic plant.
The first country to legalize cannabis for recreational use, Uruguay was applauded for its move in 2013. Unfortunately, the commercial realities of the political policies at play there have been mostly moot for adult cannabis users. A cost-controlled commodity in Uruguay, cannabis is sold through pharmacies which, because of the measures at play, have no incentive to sell cannabis, recreational or otherwise.1
Other than one South American country, cannabis legalization has been reserved federally to medical use. There are dozens of countries and jurisdictions globally where cannabis is socially, and commercially, available. In places like Spain and Amsterdam, coffee shops that serve cannabis are ubiquitous. In both countries, the models exist in a legal grey zone. Generally speaking, if coffee shops follow the set of rules and bylaws that apply to them, they are permitted to keep their doors open.
As with the medical cannabis landscape, the adult-use industry in the U.S. is a patchwork. In total, nine states and DC now allow recreational consumption among adult cannabis consumers. Again here, the rules and regulations are set by the municipality or jurisdiction where cannabis has been legalized.2

One of the most obvious signs of progress in the context of cannabis as an industry is in motion in Canada. There, the federal government recently legalized cannabis for recreational use. When Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, was enacted, Canada became the first G7 nation to allow adult use of cannabis. As a new industry begins to take shape in Canada around the once-beleaguered plant, hope for both cultural and commercial success also appears on the horizon.3

  1. “Legalizing weed: how Uruguay tripped up.” https://www.macleans.ca/politics/legalizing-weed-how-uruguay-tripped-up/
  2. "29 legal medical marijuana states and DC." https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000881
  3. “Bill C-45.” https://openparliament.ca/bills/42-1/C-45/

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