Cannabis legalization was supposed to be a licence to print money. Three years on, nobody is turning a profit.
BACK IN 2018, during those months before Canada legalized recreational cannabis, things were good for the pot industry. Companies were being hyped as pioneers in “the green frontier” and “proof that money grows on trees.” Cannabis stocks were going ballistic, and three of the largest companies’ share values had each increased by more than 200 percent over the course of 2017—according to media outlet MJBizDaily, the Canadian Marijuana Index had risen by 117 percent in December of that year alone. Investors were not just making money, they were making money fast.
Nowhere was the hype more obvious than Smiths Falls, Ontario, where a mundane press event one hot summer day in August 2018—the opening of cannabis producer Tweed’s visitors’ centre—offered a bizarre study of an industry primed for ascension. About a dozen TV cameras were present, plus photographers, reporters, dignitaries of the local business community, and politicians, all crowding through a routine facility tour. The event was a master class in buzz generation: it featured sample chocolates and an invitation to imagine them dosed with cannabis; production rooms that were still half empty