• Niche Canada

Now comes the hard part.

On the cusp of new legislation being tabled in Parliament to legalize and regulate cannabis in Canada, we now find ourselves not at the end of prohibition, but at the beginning of a long process of dismantling said cannabis laws and building a new regulatory system that makes sense for all Canadians.

This goal is laudable and shows real leadership from our government in taking on a large scale, responsible, public-health approach to this still-controversial topic. Pending the passage of legislation, hopefully later this year or in early 2018, Canada will become the first G20 nation to formally legalize and regulate cannabis at the federal level.

This is sure to continue to generate headlines around the world, but beyond these headlines and broad goals, this implementation will be an unprecedented effort for all of Canada. Effectively communicating these goals in a way that ensures this is a smooth transition is key. This is, as we see it, the real work—and it is only just beginning.

When the federal government’s task force on cannabis legalization and regulation released their final report, A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada, they identified several key issues, including minimizing the harms of use, establishing a safe and responsible supply chain, enforcing public safety and protection, maintaining a separate medical access framework to support patients, and building upon existing and new organizations to develop and coordinate national research and surveillance activities. At NICHE we seek to help address many of these issues to help ensure a successful transition from nearly a century of prohibition to an era of smart and responsible management of cannabis in Canada.

Based in Vancouver, with a national vision, NICHE was established in 2017 after discussions with federal and provincial governments, industry leaders, universities, patients, consumers, non-governmental organizations, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders.

One key issue NICHE is currently focusing on is addressing the concerns of those unsure of how legalization will impact their communities. Effectively communicating the government’s intentions and the mechanisms and debates behind them to all stakeholders in all communities will help realize the federal government’s goal of a successful, cooperative approach to this new legislation.

Connecting elected officials at various levels of government with those who have experience with subjects like retail zoning or provincial distribution through NICHE’s growing network of advisors can allow for a cohesive and collaborative implementation of rules and regulations. Connecting concerned community stakeholders with government and industry leaders who can both listen to concerns as well as give feedback on the broader goals and timeline of legalization will help address potential problems or concerns as they arise.

While the government’s historic goal of legalizing cannabis will continue to make headlines here and abroad, communicating the subtle nuances of what this means for your community, your town or city, your province, is where we believe the hard work starts. That’s our NICHE. We’re ready to help.

As the Task Force notes at the end of their report: addressing legalization requires input from all sectors and Canadians. In order to shape the best long-term approach for everyone, engagement with experts, provinces and territories, and Canadians is key.

We seek to help facilitate this process. Let us know if you would like to help.