Legalisation of Cannabis set to challenge Canadian alcoholic markets
The Cannabis Act has now passed after winning with a 52-29 vote in Canadian parliament this week – legislation that is set to legalise the recreational use of cannabis across the nation.
The government will retain the right to control and regulate how the drug is grown, distributed and sold, with Justin Trudeau of the belief that this will reduce criminal activity and help reduce drug usage amongst children.
As the second country in the world to legalise cannabis after Uruguay made the decision to do so in 2013, many analysts believe that the industry will blossom as a result, coming to challenge the alcohol and cigarette markets.
“Industry participants are of the view that legalisation will accelerate recreational adoption even further, with some predicting the recreational cannabis market will be comparable in size to markets for other recreational products such as wine and spirits by 2021,” said Fraser Hartley, Partner at Edwards, Kenny & Bray LLP, Globalaw.
“It is likely that growth in the cannabis sector will come at some expense to the market for alcohol as millennials in particular have shown that they view marijuana as a substitute for alcohol in many circumstances.”
A report from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) has predicted that the legal recreational cannabis market could be as worth as much as $6.5bn by 2020, with up to 800,000 kilograms consumed annually.
By contrast, the Canadian alcoholic spirits market was valued at $5.1bn last year, whilst total wine sales reached $7bn in 2017.
“Given the potential opportunity, it is no surprise that a flurry of activity has occurred as production, processing and distribution prepare to move from small-scale underground operations to commercial scale businesses,” Hartley said.
“This has attracted a high-level investment and a new industry of consultants, lawyers and other players who have cropped up to assist industry participants in navigating the changing regulatory landscape.”
In March, leading local market operator Aurora Cannabis acquired rival firm CanniMed in a $1.1bn deal, making it the world’s largest cannabis company.
Further, Aurora has also recently agreed to merge with MedRelead Corp in a CAD$2.9bn all-stock deal – transactions that truly represent the growing stature of the Canadian cannabis market.
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”