It’s no secret: Canadian cannabis culture has changed drastically over the last few years. Legalization is expected by next summer, and Torontonians get to bask in some of the coolest dispensaries in the country. And last week, the Canadian Cannabis Awards and Lift Co. took place at the Carlu to honour the best and most innovative products and people in Canadian cannabis.

We wanted to chat with some of the women at the helm of cannabis culture and find out what’s behind the progress of this exciting and enigmatic industry. For this installment, we spoke with Trina Fraser, Partner at Brazeau Seller Law.

SDTC: What drew you to the cannabis industry within your personal law practice?

TR: My initial exposure to the medical cannabis regulations in Canada (at the time, the MMARs) was a personal one. In 2013, I was helping a family member navigate the regulations in an attempt to obtain access to medical cannabis. Having some familiarity with the regulations, I then was the lawyer in my office who fielded questions from business clients of our firm who were interested in getting involved in the industry (in late 2013 and early 2014, as the MMPRs were about to come into force).

These conversations soon evolved into files, and it quickly became apparent that there were few business lawyers in Canada focusing on the nascent cannabis industry. This particular industry was fascinating to me, as I watched the interplay of legal, political and social forces coming to grips with the end of the century-long prohibition of cannabis. I knew immediately that this was an area I wanted to focus on in my practice.

Why is this an important issue for you to advise upon?

I have immersed myself in this industry for the past four years. I have met hundreds of people, many of whom are now clients and friends. I feel obligated to use whatever influence I have to help shape the regulations and policy in a manner that will result in a diverse and robust legal cannabis industry in Canada.

What would surprise most people about what their rights are in terms of cannabis use?

Many people who would like to try cannabis for medical purposes are completely unfamiliar with their rights and options. They don’t know how to access cannabis (especially if their doctor is not willing to prescribe it), what cannabis products to choose, which producer to buy from, or how to dose or consume it. Licensed producers are very restricted in their ability to advertise their products or provide therapeutic guidance. Thankfully, there are now many clinics operating throughout the country that help to fill the gap by walking patients through the process and providing much-needed education and information.

What is the major issue most of your cannabis biz clients are facing right now?

Many of my clients are still applicants in the process of getting their production licence, and time is now of the essence. Although the application process has been somewhat streamlined, it is still a long and arduous process – and these clients are anxiously looking forward to commencing cultivation and hopefully obtaining a licence to sell their product by the time legalization takes effect next year.