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When Barinder Rasode watched cancer ravage her friend’s mother, it left a distinct impression on the Surrey, B.C. woman. But for a different reason than you may think: the Surrey native also saw how the cancer sufferer used cannabis in her final years to help ease the pain.

“I believe in this product,” Rasode says in an interview. “And I’ve since noticed how CBD can ease anxiety and it’s definitely helped with some sleeplessness I deal with.”

Rasode has translated her advocacy of the therapeutic value of cannabis into her one-year-old company NICHE Canada1, which bills itself as the “national institute for cannabis health and education.” Rasode describes the institute as a way for Canadians to learn about cannabis ahead of, and after, legalization.

“We want to demystify some myths about cannabis use and about the process the government is engaged in [in relation to legalization],” Rasode says.

One of the first NICHE projects was a guide on cannabis legalization for municipal candidates in Canada, sponsored by licensed producer Aurora.

They also partnered with Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey to provide a series of training courses within the cannabis industry. These courses are ideal for employees and owners of medical cannabis licensed producers or applicants, Rasode says.

Another initiative, CannabisWise, comes at a ripe time for Canadian cannabis enthusiasts. It aims to be an accreditation program that will be a recognizable and trusted way for Canadians to identify products that are created with quality control, legality, and responsible cannabis use in mind.

Rasode told2 reporters: “We're really hoping that people who are going to be including cannabis in their wellness regime or in their treatment of a medical ailment, that those people can have a certain level of confidence in what they are buying.”

Botaniq Magazine is another venture for NICHE, acting as a journalistic arm to the educational body. The quarterly publication is a way for NICHE “to produce something more mainstream to educate Canadians about cannabis. It won’t be something that you’d be alarmed by to see on someone’s dining room table.”

As to why Rasode went with a print publication in an era where magazines face a dicey future, she replies, “I’m 49. I’m old school. There are so many hours in the day to listen to a podcast or read emails but with a magazine, it might be something you read while at a doctor’s office, or while you’re waiting for something. I still think magazines have great value.”

Unearthing the value of cannabis, and educating others about it, seems to occupy Rasode’s time, day and night. She’s a fixture at cannabis conferences, both as a speaker and attendee. Rasode also follows every headline on cannabis and recognizes where the Canadian cannabis space is heading. “As the industry grows, the focus won’t be on who’s making the most money but who has a guarantee of quality. There will be some bad players out there that could taint the industry, and so quality really matters with cannabis.”

As one of the few women in a market that seems dominated by older white men, especially at the C-suite level, Rasode sees a bright future for Canadian women in cannabis: “I think the cannabis industry will have gender equity as there are very qualified women who are intelligent and passionate. Also, the consumer of the future is going to be in large part women.  Industry can't produce products and brands without women at the table.”

  1. https://www.nichecanada.com/
  2. https://www.straight.com/cannabis/1008001/cannabiswise-accreditation-program-niche-will-be-first-its-kind-canada

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