Canada's Medical Marijuana Home Grow Regulations Come into Effect Today - Is it a Viable Small Business Model?
The Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) comes into effect today. In essence this allows Canadian medical marijuana patients to grow their own or select an independent grower to grow for them, rather than by purchasing through large scale licensed producers. This is the federal government’s response to the Supreme Court ruling that made affordable access to cannabis medicine a human right.
As cannabis legalization spreads globally, local, state, and federal governments are all struggling to come up with business models that address regulatory concerns, medical needs, and freedom of choice issues. In Colorado, and Oregon the more free market approach is often described as the Wild West. In New York, Minnesota, and Florida, a fixed oligopoly with very few winning licenses being given out is at the other end of the spectrum; and in Canada a very structured industry model with an arduous process and high barriers to entry ensured a limited number of large scale producers would satisfy market demand. Until… the Supreme Court said no.
How does the ACMPR affect the cannabis industry in Canada?
- It creates a new opportunity for Licensed Producers to supply cannabis gardening plants.
- There are currently 34 Licensed Producers of medical marijuana across Canada and they are now the only legal source of starter plants and cannabis seeds. Enterprising LPs may consider producing flats of cannabis plants for the home gardener, perhaps packaging it with fertilizer, potting soil, and “How to Grow Cannabis at Home” books.
- The rules under the ACMPR restrict the number of patients that a grower can grow for to only two. And the amount of plants grown is based on the patient’s daily gram prescription.
- In Canada the maximum medical marijuana prescription is 5 grams a day.
- Doing the math: An indoor cannabis grower can grow 5 plants per gram. If a small business cannabis grower has 2 patients with the maximum prescription, that grower can grow a maximum of 25 marijuana plants.
- Assuming a yield of 5g per day x 2 medical marijuana patients x 365 days a year, this small business cannabis farm can sell up to 3650 grams of cannabis a year.
- If the cannabis producer sells for $7 / gram the total annual revenue is only $25,550 subtract from that your operating costs to grow and it is easy to see that small marijuana grow ops are not going to be a viable small business model in Canada under the current regulations.
The Canadian government is still in the process of defining how they will regulate both a medical marijuana industry and a recreational marijuana industry. All indications are that they will continue to support marijuana growing in a controlled and regulated environment designed for corporate marijuana production. In their statement announcing the new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations Health Canada reinforced that the new program for patients growing their own cannabis is designed to be a temporary solution to address the Supreme Court ruling, and should not be interpreted as being part of the longer-term plan.
If you are an avid cannabis gardener and take great pride in producing the best flower, then the ACMPR will allow you to grow your cannabis medicine for now. Follow the regulations, and purchase benching, irrigation equipment, lights, and whatever else you need to support your cannabis garden.
For cannabis growers looking to start a profitable business in Canada, the lineup is long, and Health Canada is slow to get to your application, but stay the course. Invest in scalable growing equipment, greenhouses, or indoor facilities, so that your initial capital outlay is manageable. You may even be able to get a license under the ACMPR to grow for 2 patients so that some of your capital costs are covered during the long application process.
For existing Licensed Producers, building your brand, ensuring top quality controls, and designing your cannabis greenhouse or indoor cannabis growing facility for maximum efficiency will fair you well as this industry continues to expand and develop.
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