Cannabis News Week: Cannabis Takes a Bite Out of Pharmaceutical Industry

Labor strife is hitting Canada’s cannabis industry at a time when retailers are still trying to work through its inventory glut.

It’s not just the pro-prohibition types that are angry about the wave of states that have legalized recreational and medical cannabis in recent years. 

The legal marijuana industry is taking a bite out of big pharma, according to a new research article.

After studying how cannabis legalization between 1996 and 2019 affected stock market returns for listed generic and brand pharmaceutical companies, researchers found that returns were 1.5% to 2% lower at 10 days after legalization. 

Returns decreased in response to both medical and recreational legalization for both generic and brand name drug makers.  Investors expect a single legalization event to reduce drugmaker annual sales by $3 billion on average, according to the study

When separately assessing for medical and recreational events, medical legalization implied an annual sales decrease of $2.4 billion, while the implied impact from recreational legalization was about 129% greater than that of medical. 

Researchers paired stock return data with the dates of 45 cannabis legalizations between November 1996, when California became the first state to legalize medical, and November 2018, when five other states legalized cannabis markets. 

Labor Strife Hits Canadian Cannabis

Canada’s cannabis market is hurting as the inventory buildup that occurred at the height of the pandemic, when most potential customers were at home and had more time to use, has come back to bite the industry. 

High inventory has resulted in falling prices as growers look to get rid of their excess inventory ahead of the next harvesting season, which occurs in the fall between October and November. 

And now, an ongoing worker strike in British Columbia has aided in the closure of 50 cannabis shops and 500 job losses in the province, the Retail Cannabis Council of B.C. told the National Post.  

Union members first walked off the job on August 15, picketing provincial liquor and cannabis distribution centers in an effort to garner higher wages properly adjusted for inflation

Meanwhile, the legal cannabis market is already losing out to the illicit market in B.C. George Smitherman, president and CEO of the Canada Cannabis Council, estimates the province’s penetration into the illegal cannabis market sits at only about 30%.

For comparison, Ontario, the country’s largest legal market, has a penetration rate of 59%. 

Cannabis Pardons Coming to PA

Prisoners with cannabis convictions in Pennsylvania could see the return of their freedom after Governor Tom Wolf and Lt. Governor John Fetterman announced a plan to pardon Pennsylvanians with minor, nonviolent cannabis-related convictions. 

The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons will accept applications for the PA Marijuana Pardon Project starting Thursday, September 1, 2022 through Friday, September 30, 2022. 

“This pardon project has the potential to open the door for thousands of Pennsylvanians – the college grad looking to start their career, the grandparent who’s been wanting chaperone a field trip, or any Pennsylvanian who’s been told ‘no’ for much needed assistance. Now’s your chance,” Wolf said. 

Prisoners eligible for pardon are those charged with one or both of either possession of marijuana or marijuana, small amount personal use. 

Wolf’s office notes that while a pardon is just that — complete forgiveness — those who are pardoned will still need to petition the court for an expungement of the conviction from their record.

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