Not-for-profit aims to set up pot accreditation program

A not-for-profit group, partly based in B.C., is looking to establish a national marijuana accreditation program.

'CannabisWise' will be like the Ocean Wise seafood program, says organization

NICHE Canada announced Thursday it intends to roll out a voluntary accreditation program next spring called CannabisWise. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

A not-for-profit group, partly based in B.C., is looking to establish a national marijuana accreditation program. 

It's now just months until the federal government's stated marijuana legalization target of July, and the National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education (NICHE) says, when it happens, one of the challenges for consumers will be trust.

"As we move forward to legalization, people are looking for certainty," said Barinder Rasode, the CEO of NICHE and a former Surrey, B.C., city councillor. 

"They want to know in an easy way, you know, businesses and product that is coming from a legal source that is tested, but they also want to know what sort of ethical standards are behind that business," she said. 

The organization announced Thursday it is beginning consultations with governments, industry and other stakeholders on creating an accreditation program called CannabisWise that Rasode likens to the Ocean Wise seafood program, created by the Vancouver Aquarium in 2005.

The Ocean Wise seafood program was created by the Vancouver Aquarium to show consumers which items have been harvested in sustainable ways. (Vancouver Aquarium)

"It's creating a standard that will give people comfort," she said.

"They know with certainty that what they are getting is a safe, reliable product."

Accreditation would be voluntary

Joining the accreditation program will be voluntary for producers, but Rasode thinks they will see the benefit. 

"They're going to be looking at reaching consumers and one of the things that's going to be really hard is to just establishing that level of trust," she said.

"I think having a certification will certainly give them an edge up."

B.C.'s public safety minister says he is not familiar with the proposed accreditation.

"But [we] support any efforts that bolster our goals of protecting young people, making health and safety a priority, keeping cannabis out of the hands of criminals and keeping our roads safe," said Mike Farnworth in an emailed statement.

Proposed requirements

The accreditation program NICHE envisions is still being developed; the intention is to roll it out in the spring. 

The organization currently sees the program as having 12 metrics including:

  • Compliance with federal, provincial and municipal standards and licenses.
  • Professional financial controls.
  • Established program for ensuring age verification.
  • Referral relationships with health care practitioners.