Kevin Lee has always been an advocate for cannabis. Growing up in Vancouver, it was just a normal part of socializing with his friends. His perception changed when he watched his brother suffer during his recovery after emergency open heart surgery. He saw how cannabis derived medicines helped him through the pain and it was then that Kevin knew there was a lot more to cannabis than getting high.
That experience galvanized something in him. He conceived of a business to advocate for the use of cannabis as medicine. The vision for the New Innovations in Cannabis Education (NICE) location in New Westminster was that it would be part dispensary and part information centre. Kevin and his partners went door to door talking with residents and other business owners, explaining their purpose. They held information sessions for both residents and business associations within the city. The reception from the neighbours was generally positive. The centre got a much more measured response from local government. Although clearly meeting a public need, as evidenced by the growth of their business and commercial activity in the immediate neighbourhood, they eventually got shut down.
That took the wind out of his sails for a while. But he got a renewed sense of purpose when he reconnected with an old friend whose company, ND Supplies, manufactured packaging. With Kevin on board first as Account Manager and then VP of Business Development, ND Supplies pivoted and since 2017, has specialized in serving the cannabis industry.
ND Supplies provides a service in the one area that grower/operators in the white market cannot take care of in-house – the container that is finally opened by the consumer. When Health Canada began its rollout of regulations to permit the sale of cannabis products, the way it should be packaged was clearly an afterthought. We’re all familiar with the restrictions: packaging has to be food safe, labelling and dosage is strictly prescribed, and it cannot be seen as appealing to minors. Within those parameters, ND strives to be innovative, environmentally responsible and responsive to the unique qualities of product developed by craft growers.
Kevin believes that if the stakeholders work together to advocate for a better solution, the marketing and packaging of cannabis – individual and regional branding – will eventually be in sync with the variety and depth of the BC craft grower scene, as it is with BC vintners and craft brewers. The BCCFC, in his view, can play an important role in making this happen.