To mark the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, we check in with some of the key players in the B.C. cannabis world. From pot growers to government officials to medical professionals, meet the people helping move the industry forward and keep British Columbians safe. Today’s subject is Deepak Anand, vice-president of business development and government relations with Cannabis Compliance
Deepak Anand wants the cannabis industry to look beyond its own hype. “A lot of people have this misconception about legalization being this Wild West,” says the City of Langley resident, whose Mississauga-based firm helps cannabis companies in Canada and abroad with everything from licensing and facility design to training and recruitment. Having worked in the pharmaceuticals business, he notes that Ottawa is taking a similar regulatory approach, focused on public health and safety. “We are legalizing this product, but we are strictly regulating it. I think those people choose to conveniently forget the second half.”
Anand points to booze giants like Constellation Brands and Diageo striking or exploring deals with pot players. “I don’t think we’ll see alcohol-infused [cannabis] beverages any time soon,” he says. Then there’s cannabidiol (CBD), a non-impairing cannabis constituent with therapeutic benefits. Although companies in U.S. states where marijuana is legal market themselves as CBD purveyors, Anand explains, the Canadian regulatory structure is very different.
“A year from now, we will be going down the path of consultation, and we will be allowing for different forms of products to launch, but we’re not there yet,” says the board member of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana. “People seem to be jumping ahead.”
As for the provincial government, in early September, Anand credits it with doing “a decent job” on recreational legalization, but he wants to see more action on the policy side. With just one legal non-medical cannabis store open on October 17, what will happen elsewhere? he asks. “We’ve seen cities like Vancouver and Victoria get ahead of this legislation, but other cities are still waiting,” Anand says. “B.C. is at the centre of the cannabis industry. So the fact that we may not have a solid, robust program in B.C. is a little bit concerning.”
Check out the November issue of BCBusiness for more profiles of B.C.’s pot players