What’s the biggest risk with the legalization of cannabis?
I think anytime that we enter a new industry that is regulated in a new way, uncertainty is our biggest foe and should be the biggest fear of industry.
There is a lot that is uncertain, particularly around advertising and promotion and for industry, so I think for industry the biggest risk is likely the uncertainty and sort of trying to find out how to play in the grey because there is so much gray so how to play in that amount of gray while keeping yourself innovative, cutting edge, front of mind, front of the pack and not be the one to trigger a Health Canada investigation or enforcement?
Should clients draw parallels to the Tobacco Act?
It’s apparent that the government lifted the language from the Tobacco Act and put it into the Cannabis Act in terms of the restrictions on promotion.
One thing where we see a little bit of a difference is all of those prohibitions have been put into place in respect of tobacco because tobacco became to be seen as something that is harmful to human health. It may difficult for Health Canada to maintain the same line when they also permit medical cannabis to be produced and sold to Canadians for medical use. It’s difficult to say that the prohibitions are equally important because of health and safety reasons, I think there is a general consensus that it’s equally important from a protection of youth and preventing youth from getting started on cannabis and cannabis products. But it will be interesting to see if the parallels are exactly even or there are some give and take under the Cannabis Act that doesn’t exist under the Tobacco Act because of that health and safety issue.
Should clients be updating their employment and labour policies?
In terms of updating employment and labor policies, we are considering cannabis similar to alcohol and you can extend your policy to include cannabis in the same way that your policy already covers alcohol.
What will a new regulatory package governing the industry look like?
That's a great question. When we think whether or not this is a new regulatory package, I think the thing to keep in mind is the current proposal from Health Canada relies very heavily on the way they regulate the medical cannabis industry under the access to cannabis for medical purpose regulation. So while it is an expansion of an existing regulatory regime into a new area which is recreational cannabis, it would not saw it’s an entirely new regime and I think we can take some comfort that there is some knowledge among industry and Health Canada about the way things work in practice, rather that just on paper.
From a supply chain perspective, how will the different distribution models in each province affect clients?
The introduction of the retail distributor being the province sort of adds a new player to the game. We have a new player in the system. We have a new player for industry to try and contract with, to engage with. In some respects, I think it will be difficult for some of the small players to get engaged at that level but I think some of our bigger players and some our clients are having great success negotiating with the provinces with this new avenue.
Introducing Motion - Discussing what matters, a video series covering hot topics across the country where our experienced lawyers provide timely legal analysis on issues relevant to Canadians.
Our first episode focuses on cannabis and features our partner Sara Zborovski. In this video, we look at the impact of legalization and what this imminent shift will mean in terms of new opportunities for businesses operating across the industry.Subscribe to our Motion video series