Compliance panel sees more regulatory enforcements coming
By Mari-Len De Guzman
NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. – Expect Canadian regulators to ramp up enforcement activity on cannabis companies.
This was according to an expert panel speaking at this year’s Grow Up Conference. In the session titled, Growing by the Rules: Why Compliance Matters, panelists discussed the challenges and best practices for remaining compliant under the Cannabis Act.
“Regulators are now saying, ‘we are not educators, we are enforcers,’” says Anuja Siwatoki, director of global regulatory and scientific affairs at Barrie, Ont.-based extraction company Medipharm Labs. “With the new guideline documents we will see a lot more compliance action moving forward, and at all times we have to be ready for surprise inspections.”
Moderated by 3 Sixty Secure Corp. president David Hyde, the panel tackled some of the pitfalls that companies run into when dealing with compliance issues.
Regulations are sometimes misperceived as an impediment or something that companies can work around, Hyde pointed out. Instead, regulations should be viewed as an enabler that will allow the companies to succeed, he added.
The challenge that many companies are finding, according to panelists, is that the regulations generally are clear on the intended outcome but where the confusion lies is the interpretations about how to get to that outcome.
“(The operators’) obligation is to meet the regulations,” said Jennifer Caldwell, partner and technical lead at Cannabis License Experts in Burlington, Ont. “Sometimes the regulations are set up as to what the end goal has to be but there’s no information on how to get there.”
Caldwell pointed out as well that the cost of compliance needs to be factored into the company’s budget process.
The panel acknowledged that different companies may vary in how they meet regulatory compliance, and Hyde said there are parts of the regulation that the government can be less rigid about or more flexible with in terms of enforcement, and in certain areas there’s just no wiggle room.
Understanding the key points of the regulation, however – such as public safety, safe products and security – will help companies better understand and achieve regulatory compliance.
Panelists agree about the importance for the industry to “self-regulate”.
“We have to insist on the highest quality standard,” said Caldwell, pointing out companies that are deliberately circumventing or violating the law can leave a stain in the industry as a whole. In the same way, she said, that “when one in the industry succeeds, everybody succeeds.”
Seemingly pointing to the recent spate of regulatory enforcements against big name cannabis companies, such as Bonify, Agrima Botanicals and CannTrust, one panelist cautioned there is now more onus on the operators to understand the regulation.
“We have to be responsible as a regulated industry to do what is right by the consumers,” said Malay Penchal, founder and CEO of Pure Global Cannabis.
Grow Up 2019 is happening Sept. 12 – 14 in Niagara Falls, Ont.