Nav­i­gat­ing the Cannabis Land­scape

New reg­u­la­tory frame­works re­quire con­cise le­gal in­put

BC Business Magazine - - Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang Llp -

Re­cently a col­league sug­gested to Scott Allen, as­so­ciate at Alexan­der Hol­burn Beaudin + Lang LLP, that the Oct. 17 le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis for recre­ational pur­poses is one of the more unique reg­u­la­tory changes to oc­cur since the lift­ing of Pro­hi­bi­tion. “And I tend to agree with that opin­ion,” says Allen.

“It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing time for the Cana­dian le­gal pro­fes­sion and for the past year we’ve been help­ing a wide va­ri­ety of clients nav­i­gate the un­knowns as­so­ci­ated with le­gal­iza­tion,” he says.

Alexan­der Hol­burn has been re­ceiv­ing in­quiries from prospec­tive cannabis re­tail­ers and prop­erty own­ers about li­cens­ing and leas­ing, as well as from em­ploy­ers un­clear on their obli­ga­tions to their em­ploy­ees, while en­sur­ing cannabis use among em­ploy­ees doesn’t ad­versely af­fect their busi­nesses.

While some mat­ters are be­ing set­tled fairly eas­ily, Allen points out that “in many cases our work can get com­plex, partly due to the fact that of the many un­knowns re­gard­ing the pro­vin­cial and mu­nic­i­pal li­cens­ing process; for ex­am­ple, no­body knows how long it will take for the pro­vin­cial re­tail li­cences to be is­sued. This be­comes tricky in a sce­nario whereby a prop­erty owner has been ap­proached by a prospec­tive li­censee to lease brick-and­mor­tar space. How long will the prop­erty sit empty? And what if the space is leased and the li­censee is ul­ti­mately de­nied the li­cence? It takes ex­per­tise to draft a lease agree­ment that is fair to both par­ties.”

As for busi­ness own­ers con­cerned about the im­pact of em­ploy­ees’ cannabis use on the bot­tom line, Allen agrees that “le­gal­iza­tion changes em­ployer-em­ployee re­la­tions be­cause now cannabis will be multi-faceted with med­i­cally per­mit­ted use, which can po­ten­tially mean a duty to ac­com­mo­date, and soon recre­ational use, which may evolve sim­i­lar to al­co­hol poli­cies. But again, ef­fec­tive le­gal coun­sel can help clients nav­i­gate th­ese un­cer­tain wa­ters.”

Allen points out that the sit­u­a­tion is some­what clearer for busi­nesses with safety-sen­si­tive is­sues, such as trans­porta­tion com­pa­nies or use of heavy ma­chin­ery. “Un­der th­ese cir­cum­stances, poli­cies can be drafted to re­strict cannabis use,” he says. A trail­blazer in this re­gard is the Cana­dian Armed Forces, which ear­lier this fall re­leased a legally vet­ted se­ries of pro­hi­bi­tions against cannabis use, such as no use for 28 days prior to duty for safety-sen­si­tive po­si­tions, such as pi­lots.

By all counts, Alexan­der Hol­burn will still be help­ing clients a year from now when it is an­tic­i­pated Ot­tawa will le­gal­ize edi­ble and drink­able prod­ucts in­fused with cannabis. But Allen says that by far the most sub­stan­tial com­po­nent of the cannabis le­gal­iza­tion process will be a third round of cannabis prod­ucts, as yet un­sched­uled, con­cern­ing the cannabi­noid com­po­nents of the plant said to have sub­stan­tial med­i­cal ben­e­fits and are of im­mense in­ter­est to the tra­di­tional phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and al­ter­na­tive medicine in­dus­tries.

“In terms of busi­ness prospects, this third wave is what se­ri­ous in­vestors are re­ally ex­cited about rather than the THC com­po­nent of cannabis, de­spite the lat­ter re­ceiv­ing so much me­dia at­ten­tion,” he says.

“If you’re a busi­ness owner un­clear about the reg­u­la­tory as­pects of cannabis or some­one want­ing to get into the busi­ness, it is im­por­tant that you seek le­gal coun­sel with ex­pe­ri­ence in th­ese mat­ters,” ex­plains Allen.

“As for peo­ple who as­sume the only in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties per­tain to the ini­tial wave of cannabis for recre­ational use, you owe it to your­self to learn as much as pos­si­ble about this emerg­ing in­dus­try be­cause the op­por­tu­ni­ties above and be­yond the re­tail as­pect are enor­mous.” Alexan­der Hol­burn’s ex­pe­ri­ence in the cannabis sec­tor en­com­passes work in se­cu­ri­ties, real es­tate, em­ploy­ment, gov­er­nance, strata, cul­ti­va­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion and gen­eral busi­ness ad­vice.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.