Cannabis Conversation 2.0

Cannabis Conversation 2.0

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Contributors:

Kathleen MacEachern

The anticipation and worry of what Y2K would bring may have outpaced that of cannabis legalization, but according to the panel of speakers at the Chamber’s Cannabis Conversation 2.0, it wasn’t too far off.

Business owners and employees were full of predictions and expectations at the first event in July, as legalization created cause for concern for productivity, safety and impairment expectations. The panel assured the audience there were ways to mitigate risk and ensure a smooth transition, if needed.

The advice included creating and dispersing thought-out policies, educating staff and keeping calm. It has now been nearly 10 months since cannabis was legalized. Knowing our members still had questions and/or trepidations, we held a second conversation session — this time focusing on what has happened since Oct. 17, 2018.

So what has happened in the past year or so? Our panel — a group of five experts with varying backgrounds — went through some our member’s questions, including the biggest one: What about the stigma?

Surprisingly, the long lines in front the NSLC Cannabis stores didn’t shut down business or cause job losses, a lack of productivity or chaos for law enforcement. While the stigma for cannabis may still be present in many individuals, it did not seem to dampen opening-day sales or even sales to-date of cannabis.

Prior to legalization, millions of Canadians were were consuming cannabis. The major difference is that profits of sales can be used to benefit Canadians through infrastructure, health care and provincial debt repayment. Check out this year’s provincial budget to see how much and where the cannabis profits were utilized.

While it did seem to be a smoother transition than expected, there are many businesses that did not take the steps that may mitigate an issue.

Here are a few suggestions:

• Simply creating or amending a policy is not enough — make sure you educate your staff on the updates or changes and keep up an ongoing dialogue

• Set expectations for management and staff through guidelines and/or procedure books

• Check in with medical insurance providers if you’re interested in knowing your organization’s medicinal cannabis coverage

• Don’t make assumptions

• Reach out if you just don’t know what to do. Organizations like those represented through our panel, can point you in the right direction, answer a question or reduce the anxiety of the unknown

• Ask yourself “Is your organization a safety-sensitive job?” This should dictate a zero-impairment level for employees

• Continue to be proactive with your research

• Keep calm!

One of the big takeaways from Cannabis Conversation 2.0 was that there were no big surprises for the most part. What may come out of the legalization of cannabis are new opportunities for entrepreneurs, relief for those suffering with chronic pain, and a nudge for many businesses to finally update policies and procedures that may not have been touched in years.

What’s next? Edibles, which will invite more questions and more concerns. While we would like to give you all the answers, we don’t have them just yet. Stay tuned, as our staff remain aware of the changing policies and legislation.

You never know, we may just hold a Cannabis Conversation 3.0!

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