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Social responsibility in cannabis to captivate investors



A group of 45 companies operating in the cannabis sector developed a set of measures that seek to standardize the industry. This is one of the first actions to attract more conservative investors, through social and corporate responsibility and raising standards.

Companies listed on the stock exchange have the majority of their shares held by individual investors. However, the industry is realizing that to attract more cautious institutional investors, such as pension funds, a structuring that takes into account environmental, social and administrative factors is necessary.

This social responsibility effort, which will examine issues ranging from greenhouse gas emissions to product safety and ethical conduct, was announced by the Global Cannabis Partnership last week.

Proactive partnership for industry standardization

“The hope is that these measures are to cannabis what Fair Trade is to coffee,” said Lara Wood, chair of the Global Cannabis Partnership advisory board, at the World Cannabis Congress in New Brunswick.

Members belong to the largest companies in the industry, such as Canopy Growth Corp. and Aphria Inc., but also to various government agencies and law firms representing various countries. The certification process is being developed with the help of the EY consultant. Final certifications will be awarded by an independent evaluation panel.

The goal was to be proactive in creating standards for the industry, and solving problems before they arise, said Rick Petersen, who authored the standards and who previously developed the World Lottery Association's Framework for Responsible Gaming.

Increase attractiveness for more conservative investors

The hope is that the sector's attractiveness to investors will increase through higher standards for the functioning of the industry. These are conditions, mainly, to attract global institutional investors, whose investment decision criteria are also based on social responsibility policies, according to EY.

Another benefit comes from increased trust by regulators, said Terry Lake, vice president of corporate and social responsibility at Hexo Corp., which is a member of the Global Cannabis Partnership.

“We are in a highly regulated environment and we would like the regulator to take a more liberal approach to the sector, and the only way to do that is to demonstrate high standards,” he said.


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