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The Biggest Untapped Opportunities in Cannabis According to Industry Insiders

June 4, 2019
legal cannabis retail store canada
Jesse Milns/Leafly
It’s Cannabis Week in Canada and in addition to the Lift & Co. Cannabis Expo, The Economist Events is hosting a Cannabis Summit in Toronto.

Taking place at the Omni King Edward Hotel, the event brings together thought leaders, policymakers, licensed producers, investors, scientists, and entrepreneurs from across the globe.

With the who’s who of cannabis in town for the week, we took the opportunity to pose the following question to the panelists:

What is the biggest untapped opportunity in the cannabis space today?

Barbara Brohl

“What the cannabis space needs today are full service firms that can provide:

“(1) Legal assistance in all aspects of the supply chain: contracting; real estate; dispute management; crisis management; and compliance management; (2) Policy development and advocacy; (3) Government lobbying at local, state, and federal levels; and (4) Business management and development consulting.

“While some firms provide these services piecemeal, the need for end-to-end services is critical.”

– Barbara Brohl, drug policy strategist, BJ Brohl Strategies


Greg Engel

“Cannabidiol oil, or CBD, represents an exceptional opportunity for licensed producers and the cannabis industry as a whole. Canadian consumers have enthusiastically embraced the idea of CBD as it relates to overall wellness; as a result, we have experienced an overwhelming demand for CBD since the launch of the adult-use recreational market in Canada last year. While producers and retailers were surprised by this demand, global trends suggest it will be an area of significant continued growth.

“The production of CBD oil also challenges the industry to apply the rigour of cannabis production to that of CBD oil to ensure we meet consumers’ quality expectations. The greatest risk to this market is low or inferior quality products that fail to deliver on claims related to effect which can damage the market potential and have long lasting negative impacts on consumers.”

– Greg Engel, CEO OrganiGram


Martin Jelsma

“A meaningful involvement in the emerging licit cannabis markets of small farmers from traditional producing countries like Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Jamaica, Saint Vincent [and] the Grenadines, Morocco, Lebanon, South Africa, Thailand, Nepal, India or Kazakhstan. That would not only bring more social justice to the corporate-driven market dynamics, but also create access to local strains with yet untapped (medicinal) properties, more diversity and opportunities for ‘craft weed’ and ‘fair trade’ branding.

“For non-medical markets, this would require opening up the possibility of licit international trade between regulating countries, instead of the current strictly closed domestic regulation models.”

– Martin Jelsma, political scientist


Lorraine White

“Seven Leaf is a significant employer in our community of Akwesasne. In our first year of operation, we are concentrating on finding local employees. We see that ‘untapped opportunity’ as one of employment for both skilled and unskilled workers and for well-educated First Nations people. As Canada’s only Indigenous owned and operated licensed producer, we are breaking the trail for many coming behind us. What is missing is a premier training ground in the cannabis space for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit.”

– Lorraine White, founder, Seven Leaf


Finn Age Hänsel

“The opportunity really depends on the geographic area and the sector. In general, I really believe that we are just at the start to understand the health benefits of cannabis and all its natural ingredients. Additional research in this sector will help to use cannabis in the best possible form and will help consumers and patients all over the world. Positive research helping to understand how all cannabinoids work will have a huge impact on medical and recreational use of cannabis worldwide.”

– Finn Age Hänsel, managing director and founder, Sanity Group


Ben Curren

“There is an enormous untapped opportunity in fintech and financial services.

“The introduction of banking, lending, and payment processing, as examples, will drive major efficiencies within the industry, benefiting consumers, license holders, regulators, and ancillary businesses alike.”

– Ben Curren, CEO Green Bits

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Leafly Canada Staff

Leafly Canada is based in Toronto, with correspondents and contributors stretching from Newfoundland to BC. To reach our editorial staff please contact us at info@leafly.com.

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