February 17, 2016 6:41 pm
Updated: February 17, 2016 8:20 pm

Legal marijuana market attracting growing field of savvy investors

WATCH ABOVE: As Angie Seth reports, we may be a few years away from marijuana becoming legal in Canada, but that is not swaying investors who are already looking to buy in.


TORONTO – The recently elected Liberal government has made few tangible moves to realize Justin Trudeau’s plans to legalize marijuana, but the mere prospect of legal pot has investors and business owners springing up like, well… weeds.

Leigh Coulter, the president of greenhouse company GGS Structures says the legal marijuana market started heating up the moment Trudeau’s Liberals won last October’s election.

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“The day after the election, we had to field about 100 calls, so there certainly was a lot of excitement about [Trudeau’s] promise. Smart business investors are certainly spending a lot of time looking into this industry, so we continue to get regular calls.”

Aside from producers, there’s a growing race to get in on the ground floor distribution as well.

“We are already seeing some provincial players vying for participation, whether that is through liquor boards, through pharmacies, some kind of Beer Store-model … and of course private individual retail distribution,” said lawyer Hugo Alves, a leading advisor on existing medical marijuana law.

Among those entrepreneurs is former provincial health minister George Smitherman, although he cautions that investor excitement could be premature.

“I think the opportunities for investors are pretty good, but like any growth cycle people are likely to think things will happen faster then they are likely to,” he told Global News.

Any plans to legalize pot will likely prove complex; besides establishing systems and regulations for producers and distributors, the government has to reconcile its own plans with three international treaties that criminalize possession and production of pot.

READ MORE: International treaties a concern before Feds can legalize marijuana

 But if the government can overcome those hurdles, Alves says legal pot could legal pot could become a major industry in Canada similar to U.S. states like Colorado and Washington.

“How the government regulates could have an impact, [but] if we look south of the border to see how that market has developed and matured, it has the potential to become big business,” he said.

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