Legalization Series: Infrastructure
The subject of legalization and what demands it will put on infrastructure is a topic that has been largely ignored. There are many different sectors that will be affected by legalization, from the additional demands on the postal service to the possible strain on health care. Most of these issues can have both advantages and disadvantages.
For over a decade medial Cannabis has been delivered to patient’s homes through Canada Post or other courier services. The recreational market will also utilize home delivery, putting an increased demand on these services. It will require additional staff and vehicles, which will create more emissions and so on. This is potentially good for the economy with some unintentional environmental consequences.
Energy and water consumption is another consideration effecting Cannabis producers and is one of the highest expenditures in a cultivation operation. Some of these facilities are very large and the demand is equally so. It might be a requirement for the provincial governments to expand their energy and water facilities to accommodate the industry. Again, this will be great for job creation but will use a lot of agriculture space and utilities.
Being able to quantify the economic and environmental impacts will be critical to evolving the industry and separating the strong competitors from the rest. Using baseline data to establish average energy costs per square foot, per gram of product and determining a facilities carbon footprint will be required to identify areas of improvement. This will help to create best practices within the industry.
Another less obvious sector that will be affected by legalization is the real-estate market. On one hand, it will create a demand of otherwise idle commercial properties for production purposes, reinvigorating local communities in some cases. On the other hand, there will be some residential properties that might become undesirable to the average market. This is because some municipalities will allow personal grow operations, most are safe but some could potentially cause damage to the property.
Some advocates in the Cannabis community say the strain on the health care system will decrease as the general public begins to use Cannabis as an alternative. This remains to be seen. However, the National Center for Biotechnology Information shared that the increase in availability led to an increase in health care utilization related to Cannabis exposure. An increase of incidences evolving burns, cyclic vomiting syndrome and health care visits due to ingestion of edible products were reported.
With legalization happening late this year in Canada, it will be interesting to see how these infrastructure concerns are addressed over the next decade. No matter what, all solutions will be in reaction to this new legislation.