And that could backfire on Canada, especially with its proximity to Western New York.
“That’s where the big potential is for Buffalo Niagara,” Cousineau said. “If Canada is going to be so stringent, there’s a big economic opportunity for you.”
When Canada unleashed the cannabis industry, it was “like the government gives you a license to print money,” Smitherman said. Companies invested heavily in new facilities and infrastructure, including greenhouses.
Now “a lot of these greenhouses are for sale, because we overshot,” Smitherman said.
Part of the problem, he said, is that the Canadian regulatory agency, Health Canada, didn’t try to evaluate or characterize the potential size of the market, but just allowed free enterprise to run freely.
But that meant they didn’t know how big the industry could reasonably grow without diluting the individual companies. And they didn’t take strong enough action to weaken or strip away the illegal players.
“We built all the capacity that we could need, and then some,” Smitherman said. “Our national government never established any limits on the amount of cannabis that could be grown.”
So New York should make sure the industry is right-sized for its market. “You can improve even on the work that we’ve done in Canada,” Smitherman said.