This summer, legal recreational cannabis is expected to be readily available for Canadian consumers. But as the marketplace readies itself for this in-demand product, many people are questioning what standards are in place to assure quality and safety. That’s where CannabisWise comes in.
Filling a Gap in the Legal Cannabis Industry
Barinder Rasode knew there was a gap to fill. A former municipal councilor in Surrey, B.C., and self-professed “policy nerd,” she’s now the CEO of the National Institute for Cannabis Education, a nonprofit that helps the cannabis industry collaborate with the government when they create marijuana regulations and policies.
Barinder spends a lot of time travelling across the country, speaking to various boards of trades, city councils and neighbourhood groups.
“We heard very loudly the one question people had was, ‘How will we know that the product we may purchase is certified and how will we know it’s safely produced,’” she says.
After doing some research, Barinder discovered no such certification program existed. And so, CannabisWise was developed.
CannabisWise will arrange for accreditation officers to visit producers and retailers. It’ll require participants to meet 12 standards including ones for appropriate financial controls, workplace health and safety specifications, and public education programs.
“That way, people like me who are still learning [about cannabis] will have certainty when buying this product for themselves, their senior parents or their children,” says Rasode.
How Will CannabisWise Work With Marijuana Businesses?
CannabisWise is a voluntary program, which will run nationwide and follow a similar model to the wine industry’s Vintners Quality Alliance, or a Kosher certification. Those who want to be certified must request a visit from and pay for the cost of an accreditor. Those wishing to work as an accreditor will be able to apply online.
The program is currently in the consultation phase, as Barinder meets with all levels of government and industry across the country to set a bar when it comes to production practices. The program is expected to be ready by the time legalization is in place this summer.
CannabisWise will be available to anyone with a production practice, from licensed producers to microcultivators like small craft growers or retail shops that want their customers to know they’re abiding by regulations.
“Health Canada has done a great job putting licensed producers through processes to get licensed,” says Barinder. “Now that they’ve broadened who’s able to participate in the space, we felt the need for a third-party program that would give Canadians certainty about the products that are on the shelves.”
Safe Cannabis Is the Ultimate Goal
As a daughter of aging parents, Barinder says she sees the value cannabis has when it comes to wellness. But she believes Canadians have a right to know the product they buy is safe.
“Anything you buy in a store to drink or eat has gone through certain rigor,” she says. “We’re just looking for the same standard in the cannabis space.”
Photo credit: CannabisWise