Eileen McMahon and Cheryl Reicin Comment on Cannabis Bill’s Influence on the Markets for Legal Feeds

April 17, 2017

Legal Feeds features partners Eileen McMahon and Cheryl Reicin in an article discussing the recently released regulatory framework for legalized marijuana and its implications on the marketplace for this new sector. Below is an excerpt from the article. Eileen McMahon, chairwoman of intellectual property and food and drug regulatory practices for Torys LLP in Toronto, said she wasn’t surprised by the details of the announcement.

“It’s common in a regulated environment for a lot of the details to appear in the regulations as opposed to the draft legislation,” McMahon told Legal Feeds, adding that the government had signaled that a lot would appear in the regulations, which are planned to be published in final form before July 1, 2018.

“In effect, we’ve gone from prohibition to strict regulation,” she said. “It will be a regulated supply chain.”

McMahon’s colleague, Cheryl Reicin, said she thought the ministers were smart to discuss the strict regulation of the sale, possession and use of the drug, including a crackdown on impaired drivers. “Politically, it offers assurances,” said Reicin, who is chair of the life sciences group at Torys and based in Toronto and New York.

Although import and export of cannabis are prohibited under the draft law, Reicin notes that “We’re developing a significant market in Canada around cannabis funding — it’s the most robust in the world.” Israel, she says, “has been on the forefront of medical marijuana” and has been coming to Canada for its cannabis funding. “Canada’s showing some real leadership.”

Although the government provided some answers today, there remain many unknowns. For example, says McMahon, what will be the social impact of a province or territory raising the age limit from what is set out in the legislation? “It means the provinces and territories, etc., need to be mindful now of these issues” in preparation for the regulations coming into effect.

Reicin says there are “just a slew of risks and unknowns and high expectations.” On the one hand, the federal government is following through on its plan to enact the legislation quickly; but how will sales be taxed? Will producers be able to advertise their brand? (The government is “signaling plain packaging,” McMahon comments.) Will lower-cost providers, such as in South America, eventually be able to enter the Canadian market? Will the United States eventually change its legislation to allow Canadian providers to sell there?

“If Canadians are first to market, they might get the expertise and the benefits,” Reicin says. And current licence producers of medical marijuana may have an advantage going forward, as they have already been operating in a regulated environment.

To read the full article, click here.

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