Article by Jenna Valleriani, Lift News
The Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University held a morning forum on Monday April 23rd to talk about “The Business of Cannabis: Shaping the Ethical and Regulatory Environment.” With a keynote address from the honourable Anne McLellan and a panel of experts from different spaces hosted by one of the top business schools in Canada, this in itself was a depiction of the how the cannabis landscape continues to rapidly transform.
The four panelists all spoke to varying areas of expertise. The best known to cannabis insiders was likely Hugo Alves from Bennett Jones. Alves is a corporate and commercial lawyer who leads a medical cannabis team and is no stranger to public speaking on the topic of the cannabis industry.
There was also Vic Neufeld, who doubles as William Shatner and is CEO of Aphria, and who spoke to the need for diversity in producers, while also maintaining standards around production and quality.
Two newer faces included Joan Weir, the Director of Health and Disability Policy for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, who talked about insurance issues around medical cannabis and reflected on some of the changes we’ve recently heard about from Loblaws and Shopper’s Drug Mart.
Lastly, we heard from Dr. Joanna Henderson, the Director of Margaret at Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth and Family Mental Health and CAMH. Henderson gave a really nuanced presentation on youth outcomes and cannabis use, reiterating how only about 5-10% of youth cannabis users are daily users, and that these are the ones we are most concerned with. There was even room for consideration around how various social determinants of health—things like socioeconomic status and physical environment—complicate these outcomes commonly associated with youth cannabis use: an important consideration when thinking about how provincial debates on age of access could be rooted in this developing research.
During her keynote, McLellan’s delivery was energetic and conversational, opening with: “I had no idea when I started this project—the complexity of the plant, it’s amazing”. It was clear that the process involved a shift in thinking from when the consultations started to when the Task Force completed their consultations. Specifically in the question period, McLellan spoke extensively to the patients she heard from, the importance of their experiences in managing various symptoms, and how passionately dedicated patients were to ensuring the Task Force understood the need for a separate medical stream. Focusing on the final Task Force report, the challenge was reflecting a balance of both public health and public safety. Further, noting that the legislation largely follows the Task Force’s recommendations, she talked about the need for the government to be “flexible and nimble” throughout the process.