Montreal entrepreneurs have high hopes of cashing in on budding cannabis market

It's 420 — the day devoted to the consumption of marijuana, with people around the world gathering to light up at 4:20 p.m. on April 20. In Montreal, some entrepreneurs are already cashing in on the cannabis market.

On 420, business owners, investors say they are banking on boom of marijuana market

Kristian North co-founded the company High Art last year with another Montreal artist, Richard Lawson. They hope demand for their hand-painted, ceramic bongs will grow once cannabis is legalized later this year. (CBC)

They're hand-painted, ornately decorated and original. But while they look like they could fit in at an art gallery, the ceramic pieces are actually made to be used at home — as bongs.

"Our idea of our product is that each one is a unique piece of art," said Montreal artist Richard Lawson.

Lawson founded the company High Art with another local artist, Kristian North, last year, in the city's Mile End neighbourhood.

The pair said they got the idea for their business after a friend asked North to make him a ceramic bong.

It takes about a week to make each one, and Lawson and North said they expect demand for their artisanal bongs to grow.

"We sort of saw with legalization, we were in a good gold-rush moment, and the company's sort of been growing steadily since," said North.

Lawson and North hope demand for their hand-painted, ceramic bongs will grow once cannabis is legalized later this year. (Charles Contant/Radio-Canada)

Entrepreneurs optimistic

It's 420 — the day devoted to the consumption of marijuana, with people around the world gathering to light up at 4:20 p.m. on April 20. Montrealers Lawson and North are not the only ones looking to cash in on Canada's budding cannabis market.

Entrepreneurs across the country are hoping business will boom later this year once pot is legalized.

Camille Chacra is another Montreal-based business owner who has jumped into the market.

She sells cannabis-related accessories online that are geared toward women. She says her company, Allume, fills a need in the market.

"If you go to any smoke shop in town, you'll see that most accessories are super masculine and intimidating. So I wanted to really meet that demand in the market: women looking for nice, discreet items."    

Chacra hopes her company grows with the coming legalization of cannabis in Canada.

$5B industry

Others, like Hamish Sutherland, are tapping into the secondary cannabis market.

He's the CEO of White Sheep Corp, a company that invests in the industry, including in companies tied to the cultivation, extraction or consumption of cannabis products.

Hamish Sutherland, president and CEO of White Sheep Corp, invests in companies tied to the secondary cannabis market (Hamish Sutherland/Twitter)
Sutherland says cannabis consumption is a $5 billion industry in Canada, and he thinks the secondary market can make up as much as half of that.

"[It's] not unlike in the mining space in the 1900s, when you could put your money into a mine, or you could actually put it into the picks and shovels. The picks and shovels of the cannabis industry are equally as critical."

Sutherland believes legalization will help remove the stigma surrounding cannabis consumption and that the secondary market will only grow in the coming years.

With files from Matt D'Amours