Alberta's cannabis industry gears up for edibles legalization

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When cannabis industry leaders descended on Edmonton for a one-day conference, a topic that lit up multiple panels was the second wave of legalization and the implementation of edibles into the market.

The WeCann Conference, co-hosted by The Cannalysts and Grant Thornton LLP earlier this month, had a variety of speakers and panels on cannabis-related topics ranging from agriculture to retail.

Trisha LeBlanc, national cannabis industry leader at Grant Thornton LLP, said there was considerable discussion on the issue of shelf space for edibles in Alberta.

Edibles will be sold through various retail channels, with provinces implementing different legislation and retail strategies for when the consumable cannabis products come to market.

“As a retailer, you’re going to have to try to understand what people want to buy in order to decide what you want to put on your shelves, and you’re going to be thinking about the margin and things you can make on each of those products as you make those decisions,” LeBlanc said.

Producers and manufacturers will also have to think about how to use the cannabis they have.

“I’ve got ‘x’ amount available which can give me ‘x’ amount of extract, how am I going to sell that?” LeBlanc said.

“Am I going to sell that as oils or am I going to sell that as edibles? And if edibles are going to be a much higher margin than oils, well, maybe I’m going to decide that isn’t where I’m going to put my ingredients.”

While the legal sale and consumption of edibles is scheduled for October, LeBlanc said it could take up to a year for products to actually hit the shelves.

“That’s because even once the regulation comes out, we still have to wait for licensing, and what the government has indicated is that it’s going to take a minimum of 60 days before anybody can get a licence,” she said.

“Either way, people were very skeptical about how quickly things were going to turn around anyway because the government has a tendency to work a little more slowly than other industries.”

However, LeBlanc said the uncertainty is expected.

“We had a lot of uncertainty around the regulation for the first wave of legalization last year. People who get into this industry, businesses, entrepreneurs, even investors who get into this industry, the one thing that you really need to have an appetite for is uncertainty and agility,” she said.

“You need to be able to pivot because as the regulation is coming out, as you may have been expecting it to go one way and it actually goes another.”

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