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Monday, Dec 4, 2023
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.

Industry update

Canada’s cannabis health product advisory committee lacks ethnic and professional diversity

The Health Canada-formed group is almost entirely white doctors and academics

Canada's cannabis health product advisory committee lacks ethnic and professional diversity

Canada’s recently formed advisory committee on health products containing cannabis is concerningly lacking the diverse ethnic and professional perspectives of the population it’s helping the federal government make decisions for.

The 10-member group met for a months-delayed introductory web conference Nov. 2–3 after being formed by Health Canada following a call for nominations that began in February and ended in May.

All of the advisors are white or white-presenting, which is reprehensible from an ethics perspective and runs contrary to government-set diversity and inclusion mandates for members of the public service. However, as they are likely working on a voluntary basis, these mandates might not technically apply. Mugglehead is reaching out to the committee and Health Canada for clarification, and will update when we learn more.

Additionally, the academic-heavy committee appears to be devoid of people actively participating in the cannabis industry, which is full of expertise on the wants of consumers as well as the myriad moving facets of the sector.

Its members are:

  • Jean-François Boivin, MD, ScD;
  • Paula Brown, PhD (co-chair);
  • Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, MB ChB, fellow of the Royal College of Physicians;
  • Richard Huntsman, M.D. fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (co-chair);
  • Lauren Kelly, E PhD, MSc, certified clinical research professional;
  • Bernard Le Foll, PhD, MD;
  • Patti Bryant, chair, webmaster and research director for Dravet Canada;
  • Nigel Caulkett, doctor of veterinary medicine, MVetSc, diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists;
  • Daniel Hurnik, doctor of veterinary medicine, MSc;
  • and ad-hoc member Karol Ann Mathews, doctor of veterinary medicine, DVSc, diplomate of the The American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.

Their affiliations and potential conflicts of interests, including past research related to cannabis, has been made public.

As part of developing the Cannabis Regulations in 2018, Health Canada held a consultation in 2019 on a potential approach for non-prescription health products containing weed.

Especially for non-psychoactive products containing cannabidiol, there’s been a loud call for less restrictive regulations especially considering the massive selection of non-regulated products currently available to consumers.

Read more: Ottawa’s strict CBD rules block $2.5B market potential: report

Read more: Global CBD report underscores need for low-dose clinical trials

“The purpose of this consultation was to seek feedback from Canadians, as well as the cannabis and health products industries, regarding the kinds of products they would be interested in manufacturing, selling or purchasing, should a legal pathway to market for these products be established,” reads the “purpose” section on the advisory committee webpage.

Tied to the consultation, Health Canada committed to seeking external scientific advice on evidence standards for these types of goods.

The committee will provide independent scientific and clinical advice to support Health Canada’s consideration of safety, efficacy, and quality standards, the regulator says, which includes determining when these products can be used without practitioner oversight.

The group will have a one-year term with the option of renewal based on Health Canada’s needs.

Top image via Deposit Photos & Parliament of Canada – credit: Jonathon Harrington


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