‘Are we ready?’ It’s a question many people are asking as our country heads closer to legalizing recreational cannabis. Canada is just weeks away from the historic start date and it seems most governments, businesses and organizations are putting the final touches on their plans and hoping that they got it right. It’s important to remember, however, that October 17 is ‘Day One’ and cannabis legalization is a process that will evolve over time. And, it’s only through education, outreach and transparency that we can ensure the transition is a successful one.
On September 25, NICHE held the first in a series of forums that are designed to educate stakeholders on what communities can expect when it comes to the legalization of recreational cannabis. The Toronto forum brought together experts from a variety of sectors, including government, work safety, health care, education, legal and the cannabis industry, to discuss how to best capitalize on the benefits and mitigate any potential risk.
From unlocking cannabis growth opportunities, to workplace policies and best practices in other jurisdictions, the event highlighted how important education and dialogue will be as our country prepares for and implements the historic changes that lie in front of us.
The keynote speaker was Health Canada’s Eric Costen, who is the Director General for the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat. Costen not only provided practical information and updates on the regulatory framework, he was there to answer important questions and provide reassurance through education and transparency.
The transfer of knowledge that took place during the Toronto event is an important piece of the puzzle that is still being shaped. There is no doubt that following legalization there will be issues that need addressing, plans that need tweaking and lessons that need to be learned. It’s unrealistic to expect that such a seismic shift in policy can be rolled out seamlessly, which is why continued dialogue is so important. As a country, we need to be willing and able to highlight issues and successes, so that we can develop solutions and create a successful roadmap for the future.
Our next Cannabis & Our Community forum will take place in Calgary on October 23, just days after our country legalizes cannabis. And, following that we’ll gather in Vancouver on November 27.
It is an exciting time, but change is always a little scary. This is especially true for those Canadians that do not support legalization. Let’s continue reaching out to the naysayers, because communication with people representing all sides of the debate will benefit us all.