Seed World

Green Revolution: Find Out What’s New in Canadian Cannabis

In Canada, hemp has been legal since 1998. It wasn’t until 2018 that recreational cannabis was legalized nationwide. On next week’s Seed Speaks, we’ll talk with two experts from Canada who will shed some light on exciting developments in both industrial hemp and recreational cannabis and what they’ve learned in the years since the crops were made legal.

Charles Pick began his career in forage seed in 1990. Serving as vice-president turf operations for the Pickseed Companies Group — a company co-founded by his grandfather and run by his father and uncle — his interests quickly grew into the biotech space. He worked for BASF for 11 years leading their genomics lab DNA LandMarks, eventually spurring him to found his own biotech consulting firm and then work in one of the country’s newest spaces — cannabis.

Pick says the story of recreational cannabis is only in its infancy in Canada.

In 2017, when Canada was preparing to legalize recreational cannabis, questions abounded among market analysts in regard to access to germplasm and how the market would shape up as the cannabis economy began to evolve. Product shortages were the norm as cannabis stores began opening their doors in October of 2018.

Fast forward to today. Sales of recreational cannabis by provincial cannabis authorities and other retail outlets were $4 billion in 2021/2022, equivalent to $131 per person of legal age to consume cannabis. Dried cannabis was the most popular type of cannabis sold, accounting for 71.1% of recreational cannabis sales, followed by inhaled extracts such as vape pens, hash, and rosin (18.1%) and edibles (4.1%).

Pick will talk about science and innovation and what researchers are doing to appeal to consumers and grow marketshare.

April 19, 2021, was an important day for Canada’s hemp sector, when Health Canada released its 2021 list of approved hemp cultivars for commercial cultivation for licensed growers. For the first time, the list includes varieties suited to outdoor CBD production.

Jan Slaski is principal researcher at InnoTech Alberta, and he’s excited by the possibilities that exist in today’s hemp market. For nearly 20 years, Slaski has been leading research aimed at introduction and breeding of hemp varieties that suit the needs of the fibre and food industries on the Prairies. Now, his breeding program is able to work in new spaces that holds much promise for breeders, growers, seed companies, patients, recreational cannabis users and more.

Join us April 12 at 12 p.m. CDT to hear all about what’s exciting in Canadian cannabis.