A taste of 2020 from OCS: Cannabis 2.0
Since the Cannabis Act of June 2018, a new sector was opened to the Canadian market with the potential, according to one report, to be worth CA$5bn by 2021.
Investors worldwide are now able to invest in stocks on the legal cannabis market. The Financial Times estimated the global market to be worth US$11bn in 2018, with the prediction of reaching US$50bn by 2029 - almost a 500% increase. The largest Canadian markets by sales volume are: Ontario (22.4%), Quebec (21.8%, and Alberta (19.9%), as detailed in this analysis from 2019. With unlockable profits seemingly available, the country’s biggest selling province, Ontario, where 39% of Canadian citizens reside, has room to expand its share.
On 10 June 2019, Ontario Cannabis Store - the only legal online retailer of cannabis in Ontario - announced its intention to release a greatly expanded range of cannabis product categories, including food and beverages. After months of careful consideration by Health Canada, OCS has now declared that it is ready to reveal 16 new, edible products to be available for purchase from 16 January 2020.
OCS, a corporation mandated by the Government of Ontario, believes that this product diversification has been long awaited by the province’s citizens: “This product call marks an important milestone in securing a broad variety of cannabis products that meet the preferences of Ontario consumers,” said Patrick Ford, former President and CEO.
In a move that appears to demonstrate an ethos of taking the product of cannabis forwards, OCS is calling its new collection of products ‘Cannabis 2.0’. Ontario locals will find that portfolio to include a range of chocolate bars, cookies, mints and soft chews. There will also be tea, flavoured soda, and sparkling water available.
Given OCS’s enthusiasm for diversifying its product, it should be explained why it has taken until this point for edibles to secure a release date in the largest legal Canadian cannabis market. Ironically, it is the top three selling provinces (Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta) that have encountered the most red tape, as changes to law and regulation are made following decades of prohibition; the Canadian Government is dedicated to ensuring that consumers receive the highest quality products.
When a press release from Health Canada announced the official legality of cannabis edibles on 17 October 2019, OCS finally had the ‘green light’ to develop its range. This also opens the possibility for other, Ontario-based companies, such as Canopy Growth Corp. and Cronos Group, to vary their output too and contribute to the expanding market.
So far, the difficulties experienced by OCS have been meeting consumer demand, with sales of edibles already anticipated to exceed available stock and dried herb supplies already struggling.
How innovation is transforming government
According to Washington Technology’s Top 100 list, Leidos is the largest IT provider to the government. But as Lieutenant General William J. Bender explains, “that barely scratches the surface” of the company’s portfolio and drive for innovation.
Bender, who spent three and a half decades in the military, including a stint as the U.S. Air Force’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), has seen action in the field and in technology during that time, and it runs in the family. Bender’s son is an F-16 instructor pilot. So it stands to reason Bender Senior intends to ensure a thriving technological base for the U.S. Air Force. “What we’re really doing here is transforming the federal government from the industrial age into the information age and doing it hand-in-hand with industry,” he says.
The significant changes that have taken place in the wider technology world are precisely the capabilities Leidos is trying to pilot the U.S. Air Force through. It boils down to developing cyberspace as a new domain of battle, globally connected and constantly challenged by the threat of cybersecurity attacks.
“We recognize the importance of the U.S. Air Force’s missions,” says Bender, “and making sure they achieve those missions. We sit side-by-side with the air combat command, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance infrastructure across the Air Force. There are multiple large programs where the Air Force is partnering with Leidos to ensure their mission is successfully accomplished 24/7/365. In this company, we’re all in on making sure there’s no drop in capability.”
That partnership relies on a shared understanding of delivering successful national security outcomes, really understanding the mission at hand, and Leidos’ long-standing relationship of over 50 years with the federal government.
To look at where technology is going, Bender thinks it is important to look back at the last 10 to 15 years. “What we’ve seen is a complete shift in how technology gets developed,” he says. “It used to be that the government invested aggressively in research and development, and some of those technologies, once they were launched in a military context, would find their way into the commercial space. That has shifted almost a hundred percent now, where the bulk of the research and development dollars and the development of tech-explicit technologies takes place in the commercial sector.”
“There’s a long-standing desire to adopt commercial technology into defense applications, but it’s had a hard time crossing the ‘valley of death’ [government slang for commercial technologies and partnerships that fail to effectively transition into government missions]. Increasingly we’re able to do that. We need to look at open architectures and open systems for a true plug-and-play capability. Instead of buying it now and trying to guess what it’s going to be used for 12 years from now, it should be evolving iteratively.”