Canada may have been the first G7 country to legalize recreational cannabis, but that doesn't mean they're dominating the market.
In fact, Canada is quickly losing any advantage it may have had for being one of the first countries to legalize and regulate the sales of cannabis products, according to Infor Financial Group - Canada's leading independent merchant and investment bank, which says that Canada "blew it" when it came to establishing a successful cannabis industry.
"It's a real consumer product in big US states where it's legal, and it isn't that way yet in Canada despite the fact that we were first," Infor founder Neil Selfe told Bloomberg.
The biggest advantages of the US industry are the reduced restrictions on advertising and branding of cannabis products. In contrast, branding really "doesn't exist" in Canada, meaning companies have had difficulty creating an image for themselves and drawing in new customers.
"It's almost like you're buying something dirty in brown paper bags," Selfe said. "It's like liquor in the '60s."
And while mainstream retailers like CVS and Walgreens have already begun selling some cannabis products like non-intoxicating CBD oil and infused topicals, many of these products still aren't available in Canada or can only be sourced from dispensaries.
All of this has turned Canada's cannabis industry into "a mess," said Selfe. While Canada "had a real chance to be global leaders," that opportunity is probably passed. Of course, the Canadian cannabis industry is still projected to make a whole lot of money, but it's not likely to be anywhere near what its American counterpart is pulling in.
So much for that head start.