World Cannabis Congress discusses the future of the industry

Jun 12, 2018 | News

Steven MacInnis

The former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada warned the success in the legalization of cannabis depends on following the rules.

Anne McLellan, who is now the head of the Canadian Task Force on Cannabis Legalization, spoke at the World Cannabis Congress about the potential consequences against those that don’t follow the rules and regulations in the legalized cannabis industry.

“People very quickly could say, ‘You know this is failed or this is not what I expected, and this is not what I expected on my street and in my community,’ and that puts political pressure on mayors and counselors, on provincial legislatures, and ultimately (the) federal government,” McLellan said.

“This isn’t the Wild West, which is why this regulatory regime looks to many – especially activists – as strict,” she said.

A first look at first look at Cannabis NB, the New Brunswick chain of adult rec. retail stores. (Via World Cannabis Congress Twitter)

The World Cannabis Congress kicked off Sunday night with a meet-and-greet mixer, and officially began Monday morning in Saint John, N.B.

The two-day event, which wraps-up on Tuesday, brought together 450 industry leaders in business, politics and culture to discuss and explore the global cannabis industry.

The conference focuses on the business, policy, and innovation for the future of cannabis and its role within the world economy, and features expert speakers and a number of panels.

The panels cover issues such as cannabis being a substitute for drugs, including opioids and alcohol, as well as road safety and impaired driving, responsible use, the medical landscape, and the potential of expanding European markets.

One of the main topics discussed at the event was how to implement a branding strategy ahead of the legalization of cannabis in Canada.

Health Canada has already set its regulations for how cannabis will be packaged, which could affect how businesses sell and brand their cannabis products.

According to its website, Health Canada is requiring a single, uniform colour that will not have graphics or images other than the health warning and a logo.

“All cannabis products must be labelled with a health warning message, the standardized cannabis symbol and other required information about the product,” Health Canada states. “All information must appear in both English and French.”

The website also states brand names can be displayed in any font and size so long as it equal to or smaller than the health warning.

Examples of the regulated cannabis packaging set by Health Canada. (Health Canada website).

There are a total of 14 health warning messages listed for cannabis products but Health Canada mandates that only one health warning is required on each package.

Canada will become the first G7 country to legalize and regulate cannabis for recreational use nation-wide. Originally intended to be implemented in the summer of 2018, the senate passed Bill C-45 on June 7, officially putting the legalization of cannabis into motion. The Senate added about four dozen amendments which have been issued within the bill as it heads back to the House of Commons.

The finalized date for the legalization of cannabis in Canada is still to be determined.

Anne McLellan speaking on a keynote panel: The Pathway To Canadian Legalization. (Via World Cannabis Congress Twitter)

The list of amendments includes issues such as whether provinces will prohibit growing cannabis at citizens’ homes and increasing the restrictions on advertising from cannabis companies.

As each province will have different rules and regulations, the amendments will be decided by MPs before heading back to the senate for another vote.

Before the June 7 election, former Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne began creating a business model for the sale of cannabis in Ontario, which in large part was based on the already existing LCBO model. This model would give the Ontario government asbolute control over the sale and distribution of all cannabis products.

Ontario premier-designate Doug Ford has yet to lay out his plan for the sale of recreational cannabis use, but he previously hinted at implementing a free-market model, which could potentially remove the government’s role entirely.

In an interview on The Evan Solomon Show in March, Ford said he believes the sale of cannabis should be out of the hands of the government.

“I don’t like monopolies, I don’t like government being involved in something that the private sector can handle,” he said. “I feel that way about everything, let the market dictate.”