Six Concise Questions With Kelly Fair, U.S. General Counsel, Canopy Growth Corporation – Forbes

Warren Bobrow=WB: Please tell me about your company. What brought you to the cannabis business? What did you do originally?

Kelly Fair=KF: Canopy Growth is best known as the world’s largest cannabis company, and here in U.S. we are a federally legal hemp operator. The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill allowed Canopy to not only participate in a frontier industry like CBD, but also join and influence the movement to end federal cannabis prohibition in this country – a topic I’m passionate about for both personal and professional reasons.

In 2013, I was working as an attorney at Denton’s law firm when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I reached a moment in my own treatment process where I opted to cease using prescribed opioids for pain management in favor of exploring cannabis options. Even in a liberal, medically legal market like San Francisco, at that time my access and ability to discuss cannabis without stigma was limited. That experience was the tipping point – it highlighted the impracticality of America’s cannabis laws and gave me great empathy for patients in states with no cannabis access or options beyond opioids or the illicit market.  When I returned from medical leave, I approached my employer with a business case to launch, and ultimately lead, Denton’s U.S. Cannabis Group. This was at a time when most firms were refusing to provide needed legal services to responsible cannabis operators, so it was exciting to be at the forefront. 

Last year I joined Canopy as U.S. General Counsel, where my work is focused on advocating for practical patient-centric cannabis laws at both state and federal levels, as well as working collaboratively with government agencies such as the FDA to support sensible CBD regulation.

WB:Indoor or Outdoor Grown?

KF: Both!

As for consumption format, I really enjoy THC-infused beverages and look forward to the day when they will be more readily available. As an attorney, I view inequitable cannabis regulation in juxtaposition with our government’s tolerance for alcoholic beverages and tobacco, which fuels my fire to push for change. And as a businesswoman, I recognize what a huge miss cannabis prohibition is for the U.S. economy – especially now when the need for job creation, income generation and tax revenue is increasingly urgent.

WB: Do you have a mentor? Did you always want to do what you do today? Who inspired you?

KF: I always wanted to combine life purpose and passion with my work, which cannabis law allows me to do every day. I am lucky to have found a long-time mentor, sponsor and guardian angel in Laura Geist, Litigation Partner at Denton. She has been unwavering in her support and sponsorship of me as a lawyer, cancer survivor, mother and entrepreneur. Laura showed me by example that it is possible to have passion for your business, surround yourself with powerful women and find success by daring to break the mold and be authentic in a field like “big law,” which has a reputation as a male-dominated and traditional industry. I will be forever inspired by and grateful to her.

WB: What are your goals in business? Six and twelve month? What about the obstacles? What about stigmas?

KF: In six months, I expect to see a federal legislative solution amending the Food Drug & Cosmetics Act to permit hemp-derived CBD in dietary supplements, which would open California to the sale of hemp-derived CBD ingestible products. In twelve months, I hope we will have a viable piece of federal legislation that removes cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, addresses statistical inequities and injustice caused by cannabis prohibition, and provides a regulatory framework for federal regulation of cannabis.

As for obstacles, the fact that cannabis businesses can be deemed essential by states yet denied federal stimulus aid highlights the impracticalities and injustices of America’s federal stance on legality of cannabis. When this pandemic subsides, I believe we will see a lasting shift in perceptions about the vital role that the cannabis industry plays in the American healthcare system and economy. I hope this realization creates new allies for the industry and accelerates state and federal legalization.

WB: Do you have a favorite food memory? What does your favorite meal look like? Made by whom? (Living or not) 

KF: My favorite food memory was eating my first oyster when I was about six years old at a beach brunch with my father. I’ll never forget experiencing the unique texture, bright lemon and brine for the first time at that sunny table. My favorite meal would be whole Maine lobster, drawn butter, red potatoes, and crusty sourdough prepared by and enjoyed with dad.

 WB: What is your passion? 

KF: My two passions are advocating for drug policy changes and being a mother to my four-year old daughter, Elle. Both jobs could change the world. I work hard to balance my energy and time to lean fully into both. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than ending a full day of advocacy with tucking a happy, well-fed and clean toddler into bed.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/warrenbobrow/2020/05/08/six-concise-questions-with-kelly-fair-us-general-counsel-canopy-growth-corporation/