Global Opportunities

Legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada: new business opportunities for Swiss technology

In Canada, the medical use of cannabis has been legal since 2001. With the Cannabis Act / Bill C-45 that came into effect on October 17, 2018, recreational use of marijuana became legal in Canada. Providers of farming equipment and innovative agricultural technologies from Switzerland can benefit.


The cannabis industry in Canada

According to estimates by Statistics Canada, Canadians spent about 5.7 billion dollars on cannabis in 2017. The same year about 4.9 million Canadians between 15 and 64 have consumed marijuana – both medical and non-medical; with an average spend of $1,200 per person. Taking into account that these numbers are based on consumption before legalization, the market potential could be much bigger. As of October 17, Canadians are allowed to buy fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oil and seeds.

Cannabis infused edibles and beverages will not be legal until sometime in 2019. However, alcohol companies have already shown a strong interest in the industry. For example, Canopy Growth has recently received a major investment by Constellation brands, the company behind Corona, while Molson Coors Canada and Quebec-based Cannabis producer Hydropothecary have partnered up to provide cannabis-infused beverages following legalization.

As of August, Health Canada had issued licenses to 116 companies to produce marijuana. In terms of geographical concentration of cannabis growers, Ontario ranks first with 62 licensed facilities, followed by British Columbia with 25 and Quebec with 9. However, there are only a few major players in the market. The main ones are listed below:

Canopy Growth Corp

The Ontario-based company has facilities of approximately 2.6 million sq-ft. It is estimated that the company will produce around 500,000 kg of cannabis per year.

Aurora Cannabis Inc.

The company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, is the second largest cannabis producer. Its current production capacity is about 430,000 kg of cannabis per year, and it has facilities of approximately 2.1 million sq-ft. Aurora also holds a stake in the Green Organic Dutchman, a newcomer in the cannabis industry focused on the growth of organic sustainable marijuana.

Aphria Inc.

Based in Leamington, Ontario, Aphria has a total square footage of about 1.4 million and a future annual capacity of 253,000 kg of cannabis.

Provincial regulation

Regulations for Cannabis growth, consumption and distribution vary by province and territory. The following link provides an overview for some of the provinces as of Sept. 6, 2018.

What are the current opportunities for Swiss SMEs?

As production capacity grows, there will be an increased need for farming products, lighting technologies, greenhouses, automated growing systems, hydroponics, fertilizers, filtration systems, climate control, etc. Moreover, Canadian cannabis farmers have access to federal funding that supports innovation and sustainability efforts in agriculture. Therefore, Swiss providers of innovative agricultural technology will find a fertile ground for their products in Canada.

As the examples above show, Canada’s cannabis industry is poised for growth. If you want to find out more about the potential of the Canadian cannabis industry and take advantage of our large network of experts within Canada, contact the Swiss Business Hub Canada.