Everyone involved with a licensed and regulated cannabis industry quickly understands that ending prohibition was only a part of the battle. Legalizing is a huge challenge, but implementing proper rules and regulations is an even bigger obstacle. Keeping barriers to entry reasonable and affordable, establishing effective testing standards, protecting the existing medical program, and defeating literal and de facto local commercial bans are just a few of the major issues that face the cannabis community after passing legalization laws. Some issues can be expected and some can be surprising, especially when different segments of the industry want different regulations passed. To address the multitude of issues that will face the Canadian cannabis industry, the Cannabis Canada Council has just been established.

Cannabis Canada Association (CCA), Canadian Medical Cannabis Council (CMCC), as well as Canopy Growth, joined together to create a single association for the regulated industry. The Cannabis Canada Council (C3) certainly contains a list of powerful companies, advocates, and entrepreneurs. To address the different needs of patients and consumers, C3 has two different committees, one for medical and one for adult use, led by a different vice chair to better respond to the needs of the two different systems.

The initial C3 Board of Directors includes: Chair Dr. Avtar Dhillon of Emerald Health Therapeutics; The Supreme Cannabis Company’s John Fowler as the Adult Use Vice Chair; Tilray’s Philippe Lucas as the Medical Vice Chair;  Cam Battley of Aurora Cannabis; Allison Gordon from 48 North Cannabis Co.; Cronos Group’s Jeff Jacobson; Megan McCrae of Aphria; Jeff Ryan of Canopy Growth; John Stewart representing Emblem Cannabis; Sebastian St-Louis from Hydropothecary; and MedReleaf’s Karren Karasiuk and Neil Closner. Allan Rewak has been chosen to be C3’s Executive Director.

Vice Chair Philippe Lucas, who I first had the pleasure of meeting at the debut International Cannabis Business Conference back in 2014, had this to say about the formation of the Cannabis Canada Council, ”The unification of Canada’s cannabis industry into one organisation will streamline and strengthen our ability to advocate on behalf of our members, patients and stakeholders, and to work effectively with all levels of government.”

By legalizing medical federally, Canada has already established itself as a global leader and that will only continue with the legalization for all adults. C3 should put Canada in a good position to continue its worldwide influence. The industry has already witnessed some hiccups (of course) with cannabis commerce being delayed, and more hurdles will certainly follow, but a unified industry (as much as possible) is best positioned to handle important issues that arise. I hope that C3 takes the commitment to patients seriously and does all that it can to fight the usual temptation by governments to maximize tax revenue. Eliminating taxes on patient purchases should be a top issue for C3 in my humble opinion.

I’m looking forward to hearing from C3 members and activists, entrepreneurs and investors from all around Canada when the International Cannabis Business Conference returns to beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, this June 24th and 25th. With cannabis commerce on the brink of going nationwide, it is a great time to head to one of the most cannabis-friendly cities in the world and network with movers and shakers from across the globe. Only time will tell how the cannabis industry shakes out in Canada and elsewhere, but it is clear that the momentum for legalization is only increasing and opportunities and challenges lie ahead.

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