The Research and Productivity Council (RPC) is New Brunswick’s provincial research organization. As cannabis legalization approaches in Canada, RPC has become an integral part of New Brunswick’s cannabis framework. Ahead of his appearance at the World Cannabis Congress, we asked CEO Eric Cook to tell us about RPC and their part in a regulated cannabis market.
What made you interested in taking part in World Cannabis Congress?
We are pleased that New Brunswick seized this opportunity immediately, without hesitation. We are particularly proud that RPC has contributed as a leader. The fact that the conference is bringing global attention to New Brunswick, made it a natural fit for RPC to be involved.
What are you looking forward to most about the event?
The networking, the opportunity to learn and the chance to show off New Brunswick.
What key message are you going to bring to the congress in June?
1) That product quality, and the testing to prove it, is a key value proposition to a regulated market.
2) That in addition to analytics research, RPC, and NB, has applied research capacity in genetics, process engineering, automation, edibles development , etc.
What do you want attendees to take away from this event?
That cannabis is a serious business and New Brunswick has a lot to offer.
How did RPC become one of the leading cannabis testing facilities in Canada?
We started testing hemp in the late 1990s. When the medical cannabis regulations were coming on line, we were already up and running. Being an early supplier, combined with RPC’s commitment to quality and chemistry expertise, helped us to become a leader.
How is New Brunswick leading the cannabis industry in Canada? How is RPC helping?
Government, through ONB and others, is open for business. They are working to help cannabis companies be successful and to make New Brunswick an attractive place to do business. RPC meets with many of the cannabis sector companies to demonstrate the support that is available for analytical services and applied research. The expertise of our scientists and diversity of our capabilities normally makes a positive impression.
How does research play a part in shifting perceptions about cannabis?
In two ways. Research will help legitimize the sector by producing scientific evidence to substantiate claims and theories. It will also lead to more product knowledge, improved safety, and improved product options.
How do you think the legalization of adult-use cannabis in Canada will affect the medical cannabis market?
It should contribute to the supply chain in a positive way. It will enhance the business models making more resources available for research and product development.
What is the biggest threat the cannabis industry is facing right now?
Tough question. I would suggest that overregulation would be a threat. The government has been understandably been cautious with regulations. However, they have also signaled that regulations will become less conservative as the sector matures. This will be important to allow the sector to reach its full potential.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about your sector of the cannabis industry?
Understandably, there is a lack of appreciation for the complexity of the analyses. Testing cannabis requires multiple types of expertise, including from microbiologists, organic chemists, and inorganic chemists. More recently we have also included molecular biologists and biochemists. In addition to the highly skilled people, we have sophisticated instruments, purpose-designed labs, specialized method development, standard operating procedures, detailed material handling requirements, and stringent quality control functions. We make this as seamless as possible to our clients, but behind the scenes there is a complex network to complete the testing.
What’s one prediction you have for the marijuana industry five years from now?
There will be widespread appreciation for the medical properties of cannabis.
What is one change you'd like to see happen in the cannabis industry in the next year?
The ability and capacity for the regulator to move at the speed of business.
What's the most exciting part about Canada moving toward legalization?
It is not often that a new sector with immediate, and significant growth opportunity emerges. It is wonderful to see the business community seize the opportunity. Collectively, we are helping Canada become a leader in the sector.
If you could change one thing about Canada's legalization regime (or regime in province/state where you are based), what would it be?
We need to legalize edibles as soon as possible.
Which country do you think will legalize cannabis next — after Canada?
This is a pure guess, but I would suggest Spain.