One year in: Some hard truths about legalization from Pasha Executives
October 17, 2019
It’s been one year since cannabis has been legalized in Canada. At Pasha, we recognize this significant milestone: we were the first G7 country in the world to have taken this important step, and in doing so, we’ve inspired other countries to reassess their legislative approach to cannabis. This in itself is monumental.
But, we also recognize that there are many changes that still need to take place in the Canadian industry for it to operate in a way that benefits the consumer and the grower as much as it does the investor and the CEO. To mark the one-year anniversary of cannabis legalization in Canada, our executives did some reflecting on the state of the industry. While it’s important to celebrate, we’re not about to accept the problematic state of Canada’s burgeoning new industry as the status quo.
Patrick Brauckmann, Pasha’s Executive Director, expressed frustration and disappointment over the lack of support for transitioning growers, and the continued criminalization of marginalized Canadians for possession.
“I’m saddened that so many people have been excluded by legalization from the cannabis industry,” said Patrick. “I’m saddened that the first official casualty of the regulations around possession was an indigenous man from Manitoba; that’s poetic in my mind. Health Canada’s security clearance process continues to be ridiculous, and causing great suffering by excluding vast numbers from the industry that should be able to participate. Illicit producers are flourishing under legalization and elected officials look foolish, so there is a bright side to things!”
Susan Chapelle, Pasha’s Director of Government Relations and Affairs, recognized the difficulty that different levels of government are facing with the new legislation, particularly at the municipal level, and the way these difficulties interfere with the transition of legacy growers.
“It’s been a difficult transition for municipalities, who have been forgotten in the process of the federal and provincial process of legalization,” she said. “Without land use and appropriate zoning, small cultivators and those whom were licensed under previous legislation have had no way to transition to the Cannabis Act. It’s been a steep learning curve for municipal staff and politicians who feel like this is another downloaded policy initiative.”
While continued criminalization and conflicting regulatory frameworks create frustration for Canadians, Dr. Brigitte Simons, Pasha’s Chief Scientific Officer, recognized that legalization is allowing us to perceive cannabis in a different way, and hopefully, to more deeply understand the way it is best used: not in isolated medicines but as a component of the whole-plant.
“The run-way is short, but laboratories and researchers can now uncover the molecular reasoning behind cannabinoid ratios and plant-based medicine,” she said. “Soon to be shown, it will not make scientific sense to have to isolate parts or stringently uncouple CBD from the rest to ease regulatory registrations of natural health products. Safety can be demonstrated and users want to seek their own truths on how they consume.”
From a cultural perspective, legalization may be helping to shift the stigma around cannabis, but many things have also stayed the same, according to Pasha’s Chief Communications and Culture Officer, Jamie Shaw.
“Under the Cannabis Act, we are repeating many of the same mistakes made under prohibition. Creating barriers to access for only the poorest, most marginalized, and most ill people in our society is still a travesty. Until that basic tenet is understood, we won’t get legalization right.”
Today, we’re opening the door to new regulations and soon, new products. We hope that in time, we will see a legislative framework that minimizes red tape, maximises efficiency, and priorities quality, craft cannabis that Canadian consumers have waited for for long enough.