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CAN (ON): Government seeks expert advice on emerging cannabis sector

The Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Growth met on Thursday with Ontario investors, suppliers, academics and associations to discuss both the opportunities and challenges ahead in the nascent marijuana industry.

The panel identified some of the economic advantages Ontario has in the industry. The main advantage stated is the fact that approximately 55% of licensed producers are established in Ontario, which gives the province a head start.

Leigh Coulter, President of GGS Structures Inc. and one of the panel members, commented on the licensed cannabis producers in Ontario and how they are leading the way.

“As a structures supplier to the marijuana industry, GGS has built out numerous licensed producer facilities in Ontario, including both greenhouse and indoor grow operations. We were able to assist these producers early on in their builds and expansions to get them ready in time for full legalization. Right now Ontario is in the driver’s seat, and Ontario cultivators are recognized as global leaders in the cannabis industry.”

Other economic advantages identified were the province’s strong sector assets: large agricultural presence, technology, and R&D that can support the cannabis industry.

Michael Dixon, Director of Environmental Control Research at the University of Guelph, commented on some of the R&D being worked on specifically for the cannabis industry in Ontario, involving the usage of LED grow lights.

“We have found that the optimal LED spectral recipe changes with every strain of cannabis,” said Dixon. “This research is critical because it can shave days off the flowering time and improve just about everything about the plant.”

Some of the challenges addressed in the meeting included rising production costs for licensed producers, scaling up their operations, and uncertainty.

Coulter also added that branding should be an important part of Ontario’s economic considerations.

“British Columbia is known for their high quality of cannabis, and it is often referred to as BC Bud,” said Coulter. “Ontario doesn’t have that kind of recognition so there is definitely a branding opportunity there.”

Leigh Coulter has been recently recognized as one of the Top 25 Most Important Women in Cannabis, according to Cannabis Business Executive, in addition to being the only Canadian business leader included on the list. In response to the Canadian government’s promise to legalize recreational marijuana and legalization announcements in other countries, Coulter formed a division at GGS to help government agencies develop standards for cannabis cultivation.

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