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Our team


Tom Ulanowski


Tom Ulanowski is Vice President of Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs at Nextleaf Labs, where he also holds the position of Quality Assurance Person (QAP). At Nextleaf, Tom is intimately involved in day-to-day production/manufacturing activities, as well as research and product development, regulatory liaison, and licensing/permitting. Tom is a Professional Chemist (ACPBC), Chartered Chemist (ACPO), and Articling Agrologist (BCIA), and holds an HBSc Degree in Analytical Chemistry & Environmental Monitoring from the University of Toronto, as well as a MSc Degree in Biogeochemistry and Hydrogeology from the University of Western Ontario.

Previous to joining Nextleaf, Tom was the Quality Assurance Manager, Quality Assurance Person (QAP), and Qualified Person in Charge (QPIC) at Canna Farms Ltd., BC’s first legal licensed producer of award-winning cannabis products, based in Hope, BC. Since joining the legal cannabis industry in 2014, Tom has quality-assured hundreds of batches of cannabis, while leading to efforts to obtain multiple production and sales licences, win national industry awards, and increase output ten-fold via expansions, improvements to current practices, and the development of new processes and products. In 2018, Tom led the effort to manufacture, license, and market “Canna Kief”, the first legal concentrated form of cannabis commercially sold in Canada.

Tom is an advocate of a science-based approach to cannabis cultivation, processing, and regulation, and encourages the use of critical thinking and healthy skepticism. He has been integral in developing Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU’s) Plant Production & Facility Management course, and has taught hundreds of students around the world about cannabis production and the interpretation of national and international regulations. Prior to his work with the cannabis plant, Tom was managing an environmental research laboratory at the Biotron Institute for Experimental Climate Change Research at the University of Western Ontario and conducting multidisciplinary scientific research in northern Canada.

What are some examples of positive contributions you would bring to the C45 Quality Association Community?

As an outspoken advocate of the legal cannabis industry and the importance of quality assurance and control to the success of companies operating in this space, I think that my main contribution would be improved communication to the public as well as the association's members.


What is the area of expertise that your share most with your network of peers?

My deep knowledge of cannabis cultivation, processing/extraction and the related regulations.


Brandon Tate


With well over a decade of experience in the Startup-biotech space under his belt, Brandon Tate switched his focus 4 years ago towards the Canadian Cannabis Industry.  Brandon's specialties include leading strategic regulatory affairs initiatives, quality management implementation/administration, project management, and process improvements. Mr. Tate has a strong history of RA/QA/QC/audit team development and strategic leadership, ISO/FDA/GPP compliance, and international quality management. 

Brandon played a role in Canada’s largest biotech IPO, raising $120M & yielding a market cap of $550M, where his QA/QC process improvements assisted in enabling a global production capacity expansion from 20M lbs per annum to 250M lbs per annum over 18 months. 

Brandon currently holds title as the Head of Regulatory Affairs/IT/Security, Director of Quality Assurance, QAP, and ARPIC for Thrive Cannabis as well as taking on the role of Director of Quality Assurance/AQAP for Canary RX (Venn Cannabis), and sits as QAP on file for a prospective Micro-Cultivation/Processing site. 

Most notably, Brandon has been a key individual in the acquisition and compliant maintenance of Thrive’s Recreational/Medical Sales, Outdoor Grow, and Research and Development Licenses as well as successful Cannabis exports to multiple Countries. Brandon and his team have worked tirelessly to obtain Ontario’s first issued Cannabis Farmgate Retail Operators License, and they are in final stages of a separate micro cultivation license.  He holds a Bachelor of Technology Degree in Biotechnological Engineering, an Advanced Diploma Specializing in Biotechnology, with a partial minor in Business Management, and continues to collect certifications in Internal Auditing, HACCP, and Quality Assurance for Cannabis.

What are some examples of positive contributions you would bring to the C45 Quality Association Community?

A functional network of both gov't and industry QA/RA professionals. Invaluable insight to the Cannabis Quality and Regulatory Landscape both in Canada, and abroad. Past achievements in exports, outdoor licensing, the industry's first hydrocarbon extracts, Micro Cultivation, and Ontario's First Farmgate.

What is the area of expertise that your share most with your network of peers?

Strategic Cannabis Quality/Regulatory Affairs expertise with analytical acumen.


Brigitte Simons


Dr. Brigitte Simons is a quality and regulatory compliance professional in support of science study-backed cannabis product development, laboratory services, and data management tools for the development of safe cannabis.  Bridging expertise within chemistry, pharma drug development, and environmental testing – Brigitte has demonstrated a professional track record for cannabis industry knowledge towards building quality supply chain sustainability.  Taken from lessons of laboratory quality control instrument mass spec services, analytical service contracting excellence for the Canadian federal agencies, and global sales experience in high value trade of laboratory services – cannabis is characteristic complex   The toxicological implications and medical merits are studied at a molecular level by regulatory policy consulting labs and contract service findings. Dr. Simons participated in early cannabis and hemp contracts within the agency settings Canadian Food Inspection, Health Canada, Agriculture Canada, and Pest Management Regulatory Agency.  Following-on with field mass spec work with Molecular Science Corp, Brigitte established a craft cannabis quality assurance remote teams while companies navigate cultivator and processor partnerships with BC Craft Supply Co.and other early micro-licence holder applicants. Presently, Dr. Brigitte Simons is the VP of Compliance Operations at Safari Flower Co, a craft-at-scale licence cultivator. A life-long drive to the right to choose personalized medicine.  Brigitte received her Ph.D. in Chemical Biology at the University of Ottawa and a Kellogg-Schulich M.B.A. in operational business strategy. 



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Brian Coutts


Business Development Manager

“Food & Pharma”
A & L Canada Laboratories

Brian is the Business Development Manager and is responsible for “Food & Pharma” segments of A & L Canada Labs which includes cannabis, hemp, and food processing. After graduating from the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus in Agricultural Business & Crop Production, Brian worked in the agricultural space for 25+ years and brings with him knowledge from advising growers on proper agronomy.

He managed one of the leading agricultural retail companies with locations spread across Ontario and was responsible for fertilizers, crop protection, seed, agronomy, precision agriculture and professional application services.

Brian was one of 30 people in the inaugural class of Certified Crop Advisors in Canada 25 years ago which is a voluntary professional enhancement certification program advising growers on agronomic practices that meet the program’s ethical and environmentally sustainable standards. He is involved in agriculture today supporting science and sustainability for future professionals advising growers on agronomy. He has been involved with many committees supporting agriculture including past chair of the Ontario Agri Business Association, the Great Lakes Watershed, and 4 R Nutrient Stewardship strategy in Ontario.

Brian works with licenced producers, food processing companies, micro, medical and personal growers across Canada to service their needs for analytical testing and agronomic information using the latest technologies for cannabis, hemp and greenhouse crops.


Karina Lahnakoski


Karina is a Partner in Deloitte’s Risk Advisory Practice with a focus on the regulatory and compliance operations in the cannabis sector. Karina’s focus is in assisting mid-size and large cannabis businesses maintain and grow their businesses while maintaining operational compliance. Deloitte offers end-to-end business solutions for this regulated environment such as third-party risk management, ERM and operational remediation programs.

Karina has over 20 years practical experience in regulated industries (cannabis/ biopharma/ pharmaceutical/ medical device) with focus in Operations, QC and QA under GMP for Health Canada, FDA, and EU and ISO13485. Karina’s career has overseen product development for over 150 new products under various regulations.

Prior to joining Deloitte held the roll of Vice President Quality and Regulatory at Cannabis Compliance Inc. (CCI) and prior to that Karina came from a bio/pharmaceutical and medical device background where she held operational compliance, QA/QC and leadership positions with Dalton Pharmaceutical Services, Contract Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Amorfix Life Sciences. Karina holds a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) from York University and B.Sc in Biochemistry from University of Guelph. She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

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