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C-45 Quality Association: The Unified Voice of Regulated Canadian Cannabis

By: Karina Lahnakoski, C-45 Quality Association Board Member

I recently joined the Board of the C-45 Quality Association (“C-45 QA”) - the only association that represents members that are specifically employed in various quality assurance and regulatory roles within the Canadian legal cannabis sector.

Having spent two decades working in Quality Assurance in other regulated industries, I know first-hand the importance of industry associations, as I’ve relied on them for my entire career for guidance, mentorship, and staying current in a constantly changing regulatory landscape. But until the establishment of the C-45 QA, those of us working in cannabis quality assurance felt like they’d jumped into an abyss when they joined this nascent industry. Without any networking opportunities to connect with subject-matter experts who may be tackling similar issues, many of us felt alone attempting to run a new QA unit in a new company trying to abide by new, often confusing rules. Although the regulations have gotten a bit clearer - and a lot more complex - since commercial cannabis production began in Canada in 2013, there are still times where many of us seek support from our peers.

The C-45 QA has been working hard to fill this void; this year we have a few new board members bringing more ideas to the group. The Board took a vote*, and decided that these are the Top 3 reasons to join C-45 QA:

1. We’re fun at parties.

Networking opportunities are by far the largest benefit to any industry association. Associations are by their very nature, made up of people who share similar challenges and opportunities. Having access to such a peer group – and their knowledge and support – is an incredible resource, particularly in an emerging industry. The first C-45 QA event held in Winnipeg in 2019 held a networking event where every person in the room was on the same page - it almost felt like a relief amongst the new membership to feel supported in their roll.

This year we’re ramping up our members’ ability to network – we still have the membership forum discussion platform, but also committees who meet regularly to work on special interest projects, and a launch of a C-45 QA member-exclusive Slack channel. The virtual world brought on by COVID is not stopping the quality party, rather making it easier to reach us in the months and years to come.

2. We love (creatively abiding by) rules.

Not everyone will agree on the nature of the regulations that have been put in place for the Canadian legal cannabis industry, but I think one thing we do hear agreement on from our membership, is that a regulated framework should be a fair playing field, and in many cases the rules need to be more clear.

Having a group of like-minded people who share similar issues with ambiguity and regulation interpretation is a perfect opportunity to leverage our collective shared experiences and expertise to foster an environment for standardization. This is one area of focus for the C-45 QA this year: bringing together the quality assurance and regulatory folks from cultivators, processors, labs, and consulting companies to discuss those areas of ambiguity and provide a forum to bring leading practices to light for the membership community to draw upon.

3. We can advance your career.

Let’s face it, the last few years have been a whirlwind for all of us involved in the legal cannabis industry. Most of us working in quality assurance and related fields have had their head down, keeping the “wheels on the bus” to support their organization in every manner possible to foster success. Despite that, many companies in the cannabis industry are still struggling to be profitable. Now, it’s time to take those learnings to elevate your career and personal experiences while using your hard earned knowledge to enhance the industry as a whole.

The C-45 QA offers personal development and contribution opportunities for those that want to step up and lead in cannabis quality. We offer leadership opportunities on our committees and opportunities for thought leadership and subject matter participation in the annual C-45 Summit. We’ve had some great industry partners step up to lead, and we always welcome your thoughts and ideas.

I have met a lot of amazing people and learned a lot through the C-45 QA over the last years, and look forward to supporting the association to bring the best of our membership forward. Please reach out to the board any time to discuss your ideas. Your new board includes Tom, Brandon, Brigitte, Brian and me, Karina, and we want to hear from you.

*Actually we didn’t vote, and these are my thoughts alone.

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