Walker Patton, the Chief Commercial Officer at Woody Nelson, recently sat down with David Brown, the founder of StratCann, to speak about current Canadian cannabis news, policy, and predictions. A transcript of this interview has been adapted into a mini-series of articles, discussing topics that range from farmgate, engaging with the public, engaging with government, policy, and effective lobbying. Some of the transcription may have been altered slightly for clarity or length.
Here, David speaks to some of his predictions for the industry moving forward, as well as discussing his thoughts on the edible extract situation that has been unfolding this past year. For those unfamiliar with the discussion, StratCann posted a detailed summary.
New Year Predictions
David: It's ongoing issues that are finally coming to a head. There are a lot of companies we’re starting to see finally giving up and closing, and I think that's something that a lot of us expected to start seeing a few years ago. Frankly, I think COVID helped some of those companies limp on for another couple years. So, this year, as well as next year, we will start to see a reorganization of the industry, with some of those initial companies starting to fall off and some of these newer companies starting to get a good foothold.
On a positive note, I think we can look here in British Columbia and see some good changes. We've seen direct delivery starting to - I hesitate to say blossom - but it's starting to work fairly well given its limitations here in the province. On the other side of that I think Farmgate, here in BC, has not delivered on what it was supposed to be. We only have one Farmgate store and I think two or three more licenses in the queue just about a year into the program.
David: Another big story from this year would obviously be the so-called edible or ingestible extracts, which, as you know, refreshed recently with Organigram being a bit cheeky perhaps; re-releasing those products onto the market. I think we're going to see Health Canada take a stand on that again at some point soon. I’ve seen a few other similar products out that seem out of bounds, too. Health Canada is definitely behind the eight ball on this.
My opinion – I feel very contrary to 99% of this industry in my interpretation - that none of those ingestible extracts are actually edibles, and that any expectation that the court is going to rule in their favour is a bit misguided. But I've been wrong before. So, we'll see.
That said, I love these products. They were really great to see - innovative, and kind of interesting. But my own personal opinion on the matter is as soon as I saw them, I kind of laughed. Just because you call something an extract… You’re putting it in your mouth. It's made to be put in your mouth. It's made to be eaten. It's sweet and it has flavor. That’s food by the Regulations’ definition and food by just any kind of common-sense definition. It's not really an extract. It's an edible.
I do think it potentially shows that there weren't any major public health issues. We didn't see people overdosing on these things or anything like that. So, I do think it potentially makes a good argument for why the packaging limit could be raised to say, 100 milligrams without the sky falling.
But in all of my conversations with Health Canada that I've had on the matter over the years, I really don't see any interest on their end in increasing the 10mg limit. And I think too many people in this industry get caught up in how things should be rather than trying to interpret what's actually being said. The reality is, Health Canada is a public health agency, and they still see this as a pretty serious public health issue. And the industry's concerns about financial viability ring hollow to a public health regulator.
About David Brown
David Brown is the founder of StratCann, a cannabis industry news and events company based in British Columbia. David has been working in the Canadian cannabis space for about ten years now, as a writer, event coordinator, policy advisor, and all around industry facilitator. David was a founding member of Lift Cannabis from 2014-2018, a Senior Policy Advisor with Health Canada’s cannabis branch from 2018-2020, and the founder of StratCann in 2020 where he has been working as a writer and policy advisor ever since.