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  • POSTED OCTOBER 29, 2018
Few cannabis industry influencers have a resume as impressive as Deepak Anand. An active speaker, Anand sits on the board of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) and the National Association of Cannabis Professionals. As the vice-president of business development and government relations at Cannabis Compliance Inc., Anand works daily to help companies cut through the regulatory red tape of commercial and retail cannabis licensing. We recently caught up with Anand to discuss reform, the future of medical cannabis, and his latest venture, the Global Cannabis Partnership. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation. 

Are you comfortable with the framework for legalization outlined in Bill C-45?

We’re quite comfortable in the way the system has been rolled out. Both the federal and provincial governments are working quite closely with us and we’ve had many consultations and discussions with them. On the federal side, I’m concerned about security clearances and people that have previous criminal records that may be disqualified from being a part of the system. The federal government has said that won’t be the case, but I’d still like to see those details and some more transparency there. 

What’s the mandate of Canadian Compliance? 

A big part of our mandate is licensing. We work to help people get licensed on the commercial side as a licensed producer and on the retail side. Ontario recently announced a private model for retail [cannabis] stores, so we’re going to be busy. We’ve done this in other provinces like Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C., and now we’re going to expand that offering to Ontario as well. 

How do commercial and retail licenses differ?

A couple ways. The federal government controls all production, it doesn’t matter whether you’re producing for medical or non-medical purposes. So, it’s quite a detailed process to become a licensed producer. For retail, it’s a little easier, because we’re working with provincial and municipal regulations. 

You’re on the board of CFAMM. What’s your hope for medical cannabis?

There’s a lot of lobbying going on with that initiative and we’ve made some strong headway. We’ve certainly got the ear of government and we’ll continue to press for patients to access their medicine. There’s no other medicine that’s currently taxed, so we find that it’s unfair that medical cannabis is, and we’ll continue to lobby hard for that. 

How do you see the adult-use market in Canada developing?

I think there will be some immediate challenges next year. The fact that we have legalization without a lot of forms people want access to – whether it be edibles, topical, tinctures – could be a challenge to eliminating the black market. A couple [of] years from now you may see big alcohol, big pharma or big tobacco and other large players get into the space. The way the Canadian industry’s set up, it’s organized well to attract that sort of talent. Over the next five years, I think this [cannabis] is going to be mainstream – it will be in food supplements, water, shampoos, and it’s going to be the next big thing. 

What else are you currently working on?

The Global Cannabis Partnership, which has 17 members, including the New Brunswick government. It’s really about corporate social responsibility (CSR). We believe as we grow in the cannabis industry, CSR is going to be a big piece of it. We want to make sure we’re responsible as an industry and we establish standards that people in other countries follow. We’ve done a good job in Canada from a regulatory perspective, but we want to make sure to put social responsibility front and centre.
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