A who’s who of British Columbia’s medicinal marijuana industry is gathering in Vancouver on May 7.
The event, a forum hosted by Lift Cannabis Inc., features some of the most experienced suppliers from across Canada and promises to attract stakeholders from both the legal and illegal sides of the business.
David Brown, a spokesperson for Lift Cannabis, told the Straight the conversation was originally scheduled to focus on Canada’s official medicinal marijuana production and distribution system that exists under the Conservative government’s Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).
But since the conference was announced, Vancouver city council revealed plans to regulate storefront dispensaries (which operate illegally outside the MMPR). And so it’s likely the discussion will expand beyond the Health Canada system and see speakers weigh in on what’s happening at the civic level.
“The conversation will touch on that,” Brown said, adding that organizers are still pinning down specific topics. But he added the focus will mostly remain on larger industry questions, such as how to implement and adhere to truly uniform product testing and quality-assurance standards.
(On April 28, the Straight reported Vancouver’s marijuana shops collectively move 80 to 240 pounds of product every 24 hours, which dwarfs what’s sold across the entire country through Health Canada’s official mail-order system. Statistics provided by the federal government show that as of February 2015, Ottawa’s 25 authorized producers sell an average of just 44 pounds per day.)
Brown noted Vancouver’s proposed regulations for dispensaries leave open many questions of where operations should source the products they sell. He suggested it is Health Canada’s authorized producers that are best positioned to work with storefronts to see Vancouver’s proposed legal framework extended down the supply chain.
“If dispensaries are to exist,” Brown said, “they are most likely going to exist in a form where they are distributing for the current licensed and regulated producers.”
He acknowledged the forum will be industry-focused, but emphasized there will likely be plenty for the general public to learn.
“Brent Zettl, he represents the oldest legal producer in Canada [Prairie Plant Systems],” Brown said. “And so he’s going to be there to speak as someone who has more experience in dealing with Health Canada, dealing with these types of regulations more than anyone else in Canada.”
“And then Dieter MacPherson comes from the other side of it,” Brown continued. “And then in the middle, we have Mark Haden, who understands the broader issues of regulating things in terms of public health. And we have Jonathan Page, who understands the testing mechanisms within the MMPR.”
The Lift Cannabis Forum is happening Thursday, May 7, at 6 p.m. at UBC Robson Square. Tickets are available online and at the door for $25 or $15 for students.