Our Vice President of Growth, Marketing & Sales, Peter Wojewnik shares his insights and experiences of developing dicentra Cannabis Consulting. This article was originally published in the September issue of the Cannabis Prospect Magazine.
Tell us a little bit about the history of the company and how the firm got started?
dicentra was established in 2002 by Alicja Wojewnik in response to the industry’s need for guidance on new natural health products regulations. Wojewnik was a part of the transition team appointed by Allan Rock, the Health Minister of Canada, to create a separate set of rules and regulations to establish the safety, efficacy, and quality of natural health products. With any new transition, there were lots of questions and a growing need for expertise on how to comply with Health Canada regulations which planted the seed for starting dicentra.
How did the decision come about to enter the cannabis consulting space?
Over time, dicentra evolved to service food, medical device, cosmetic, and drug industries to be in full compliance within Canada and the U.S. In 2013, the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) was enacted to address the production and use of medical cannabis. As another Health Canada regulated industry, it was a natural progression for dicentra to provide cannabis consulting services.
In 2018, we established dCC with separate branding to attract the cannabis audience with the goal of educating individuals and companies about regulatory and compliance standards to ensure their long-term business success.
What sets dicentra apart from other consulting firms in the cannabis space?
Our team has a diverse background and expertise ranging from medical doctors, lawyers, former Health Canada officials, and engineering consultants. We have two offices in Toronto and Guelph for face to face client meetings. Investments are based on confidence and trust, and there’s no better way to develop business relationships and build momentum in your brand by getting to know the thought leaders of dCC in person. If you can’t make it into the office, we’re more than happy to provide prompt responses by phone or email. Also, it’s no small feat that we’ve had a 100% success rate with cannabis applicants licensing!
Can you discuss the potential for cannabis in markets such as food & beverages, topicals, natural supplements, and pet care?
Cosmetics and edible cannabis products will come to market by the end of 2019. Sales will be limited to licensed online and retail storefronts.
In the near future, we may see the creation of a separate category for cannabis health products which could potentially include products similar to natural health products (that have a medical claim being made). These products are proposed to be sold at licensed retail locations only. Health Canada is currently consulting the public about cannabis health products.
As for cannabis in pet products, it’s reasonable to expect that we’ll also see the permitted use of CBD in products sold outside of cannabis retail stores. There’s an ongoing push from the industry to have CBD removed from the prescription drug list and allowed and included in therapeutic products for pets.
Given your experience with food safety (along with expertise in the areas of natural health, supplements, and animals), what issues do companies need to take into consideration if they’re planning to enter the edibles, natural health products, or other secondary markets once legalization comes into effect for these products?
For edibles, you need a processing license under the cannabis act. Existing producers will have to modify standard operating procedures (SOP’s) to accommodate Cannabis as a food ingredient. Cannabis (like all ingredients) need to come from verifiable sources.
One of the biggest challenges we have heard companies experiencing is selecting the right QAP (quality assurance person) that has the right combination of skills in both the food and drug industry and a strong skill set in the cannabis industry. Selecting a solid QAP will reduce the challenges that many companies have experienced when formulating a consistent dosage of cannabis activities (THC & CBD).
Secondly, as much as the pet products have been touted in the media we are likely a year away from seeing any legal framework for such items.
Ultimately, CBD still falls under the Cannabis Act and therefore the distribution of products containing CBD will still be controlled by the governing bodies.
Are there obstacles specific to edibles, beverages, natural health products, etc. once cannabis (THC, CBD) is introduced into the mix?
A major concern with edibles is having a homogenous mixture of the right ingredients. This is a critical point that requires a lot of management to ensure product safety. As with any new product, consistency and safety regulations are needed to provide a framework for new products entering the market.
For beverages, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a regulatory framework for cannabis and alcohol in the same product. There’s too much of a safety concern with the combined effect largely under-researched at this point.
Can you discuss the company as it stands today, any recent growth your seeing in particular areas?
With our background in food safety, we’re seeing lots of companies (from a range of industries) looking to get involved with edibles and the cannabis industry in general. We’re working with cannabis processors that are evaluating their facilities for edible products in the near future.
We’re also a full-service contract research organization and currently working with several established companies on designing protocols and executing cannabis clinical trials for the development of proprietary data.
A number of companies have reached out to us for assistance for evaluating potential sites and guidance for working with landlords, financial institutions and municipalities to establish themselves in the market which has kept our team very busy!
What do you see the Canadian cannabis retail/medical landscape looking like five years from now? Ten years from now?
On the medical front, we’ll see the emergence of large biopharmaceutical companies coming out with proprietary medications to treat disease. With increased research surrounding cannabis, education and trust will further grow and develop prominently in the medical industry.
On the retail front, we’ll continue to see licensed cannabis stores open up across Canada for recreational use. Across Canada, the provincial governments are continuing to evolve as the industry overcomes growing pains.
It’s also likely that we’ll see a massive emergence of CBD products for humans and pets that will be sold outside of the current retail framework.
I’m sure most people hope that in five years recreational cannabis cafes won’t be shut down at a moment’s notice!
Can you give me an idea of the types of cannabis companies that dicentra services?
dCC services everyone from multi-billion dollar producers to individuals who are interested in multi-cultivation site developments. Companies contact us for assistance with developing clinical trials or for our expert advice on how to establish their own edible division. We actively take on new clients with unique challenges and help them turn business opportunities into wins. We love meeting with our clients and prospects and encourage anyone to drop by either of our offices. We’re excited by the ongoing developments in this fast-paced and lucrative market! Reach out to us today!