Extracted Episode 4: Regulation Across the Nation with Deepak Anand

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It was an honour to have Deepak Anand, Vice President of Business Development & Government Relations at Cannabis Compliance Inc (CCI) on our fourth episode of Extracted. He is a renowned voice in the industry and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to cannabis regulations and global policy. His company CCI has consulted for the vast majority of the licensed producers in Canada. They’re also working with a number of governments internationally to help shape their policy and regulations.We were fortunate to get Deepak’s insights into the current state of the industry, the evolving regulations in Canada and abroad, and the landscape for licensing. We were especially excited to hear more about the impending regulations for edibles and to discover just how much Canada’s influence plays a role in the global market.

Evolving at a rapid rate.

Deepak has seen the regulations change rapidly in a short amount of time. Internationally, he has been surprised by the timeline of how things have unfolded. He says “The dominoes are falling on what seems like a daily basis,” Deepak gives the example of South Korea as a conservative country that was against cannabis has now adjusted its policies to legalize certain concentrations of cannabis for medical purposes.

“Countries that I would have said a year ago would not legalize medical cannabis for maybe ten years, I’m seeing they’ve already got programs in place.”

While there are certainly challenges in the industry here in Canada, Deepak is confident the industry will overcome them. “Everyone has said this is a process, it’s not an event, it’s not a date.”

 

Challenges on the medical side.

In previous episodes, we’ve touched on the setbacks in the medical market. Deepak echoed this sentiment by pointing out the variety of issues medical patients are dealing with in terms of access. He has been surprised by the number of licensed producers that have made the switch from medical to recreational saying, “It seems like people have almost abandoned the medical side.” He stresses the importance of initiatives like CFAMM, and believes medical access deserves the greatest amount of attention.

“We would have failed the movement if we continue down this path.”

 

The long line for licensing.

Working with a substantial number of Canada’s LPs and retailers gives Deepak an up-close perspective on the challenges they face to become licensed. He indicates that the current timelines for licensing are “all over the place” and could be anywhere from 6 months to over a year. Deepak reassures that Health Canada seems to be taking steps to get the process underway. He says that security clearances, compliance, and quality assurance are the largest areas that producers need to focus on.

“When you design out your facility, you want to make sure you keep compliance front and centre of mind.”

 

Edibles on the horizon.

Deepak expects to see the regulations for edibles to come online soon, either before Christmas or shortly after. He anticipates that it will be very similar to what we saw for the Cannabis Act and cautions those who are expecting a California-type model right away. Deepak points to Colorado as an example of the challenges we’ve learned from in terms of coming out with edibles right out of the gate.  

“People are expecting all kinds of products to be legal such as beverages and chocolates. I remind people that we’re a conservative country when it comes to a regulator.”

 

Canada’s international influence.

Deepak jokes that in his travels abroad, he often hears that Canada is only known for hockey and cannabis. In reality, it’s amazing to see how much legalization in Canada has influenced other countries in their policies and regulations. Deepak indicated that a lot of governments are now looking at Canada as a framework for both medical and recreational access.    

“As Canadians we’ve typically not been able to influence the world significantly on a number of things, and it’s very cool that we’re doing it on cannabis.”

 

It’s personal, and professional.

Deepak admits he was a cannabis naysayer before converting to an enthusiast. While he acknowledges that cannabis isn’t for everyone, the benefits of this “miracle plant” for some people can’t be ignored. In terms of the impact it has had on Deepak, he proudly says, “It certainly changed my life from a professional and personal perspective.”

 

Listen to the full episode with Deepak Anand for an in-depth discussion on regulations and a whole lot more.