The game changer

Health Canada caught the cannabis industry by surprise in November when they unveiled sweeping changes to the regulatory approach to cannabis. The proposed regulations outline how the government will control production and distribution come July 2018.

Among other changes, the new rules they have proposed open the door to craft growers and outdoor farming, allow non-violent and low-risk offenders to participate in the legal cannabis industry, and off er some flexibility around how cannabis products are packaged.

The announcement was a game changer and offered some much-needed clarity around what Canada’s cannabis regime will look like post legalization. It also highlighted the fact that the federal government is very aware of the issues around access to products, public safety and eliminating the black market.

The proposed legalization framework addresses all three of these concerns and we applaud the government for taking a progressive and reasonable approach to regulation.

The draft rules also send a pretty strong message that Canada is open for business, and not just big business. By allowing small-scale craft producers to be a player in the legal market, the industry can diversify and be in a much better position to fill a variety of product demands.

A lack of supply will lead to a thriving black market, so striking the right regulatory balance will allow the government to achieve its desired goal of increasing production, attracting cannabis consumers to the legal market and curbing the influence of organized crime.

I encourage all Canadians to review the proposed changes—they touch on all areas of regulation, including licensing, security clearances, labelling and packaging, product standards and medical cannabis, as well as health and cosmetic products that use cannabis.

Health Canada is asking Canadians to provide their input on the draft regulations by January 20, 2018. The proposed approach is bold and forward thinking, and shifts the cannabis landscape in our country. This is your chance to have a say and shape the future of cannabis regulation in Canada.