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Sherry Boodram: ‘My client is determined to achieve her goals, despite the biases she is facing’

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It was a cold, snowy day in January as I exited the Bay Street subway station to meet Sherry Boodram at her Yorkville offices in downtown Toronto. Boodram is the CEO and Co-Founder of CannDelta Inc., a regulatory and scientific cannabis consulting company. I was excited to meet with a female leader in the cannabis industry and an academic in a traditionally male field – chemistry.

“When I spoke with this client, I was shocked,” explained Boodram. “She is looking to be a cannabis licensed producer applicant and to even engage in the application, she was seeking funding, as launching a cannabis business is an expensive endeavor. Along the journey, more than one prospective investor told her that she was a woman and so she was not going to be successful.”

Armed with a PHD in Chemistry, and prior to launching CannDelta with her business partner Luke McCann, Boodram worked for the federal government conducting environmental assessments for proposed mining projects followed by a stint in drug forensics and regulation. As Senior Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement Officer, Health Canada – Controlled Substances Program, she was a key member of the team that implemented initiatives in response to Canada’s current opioid crisis, and regulated the growing number of medical marijuana licensed producers in Ontario.

After Health Canada, Boodram spent time as a consultant helping pharmaceutical companies develop brand names for their medicines. As far as cannabis is concerned, product-naming still falls outside of this requirement unless the cannabis product has a DIN. According to Boodram, this is in fact a new license type for cannabis producers. “Cannabis producers that are interested in producing pharmaceutical grade cannabis products would need to have clinical trials completed on the product, similar to what’s required from the pharmaceutical industry, which would allow the cannabis company to make a claim about the effectiveness and safety of the cannabis drug product that in turn enables a marketing perspective. ”

“One of the challenging things the industry is facing is that only now is the medical community learning about the endocannabinoïde system,” explained Boodram. “As someone who specialized in medicine and took biology for many years of my life, it’s surprising that I had never heard of the endocannabinoïde system until recently, and only when I got involved in the cannabis industry.”

The lack of details and solid information about cannabis products can be detrimental to the consumer experience, as the onus is on the consumers to educate themselves about cannabis. “This is not ideal because at the end of the day we want to ensure Canadians are safe. That’s the point of the federal legislation, which I’m sure will evolve with the market,” said Boodram.

Boodram started her journey as an entrepreneur in early 2018 after her stint as a consultant. “Launching this company finally made me realize what I had to offer. I understood that there was a need for my experience and knowledge. This said, being a female in the cannabis industry has its benefits and its drawbacks. It is rare to be a woman CEO in the cannabis industry.”

I was intrigued to be meeting Sherry not only for her academic expertise and knowledge of cannabis and the regulatory environment, but also because of the circumstances in which I had connected with her, which was through her business partner, Luke McCann. In December I had commented on a post Luke had made on LinkedIn about a conversation he had overheard Sherry having with one of her clients.

“When I spoke with this client, I was shocked,” explained Boodram. “She is looking to be a cannabis licensed producer applicant and to even engage in the application, she was seeking funding, as launching a cannabis business is an expensive endeavor. Along the journey, more than one prospective investor told her that she was a woman and so she was not going to be successful.”

“Even worse, she was told numerous times that because she’s also a visible minority, Health Canada would not give her a license. Having worked there for a number of years I can attest to the fact that Health Canada is full of women who are visible minorities,” explained Boodram. “They took it a step further by telling her that she was even more unlikely to obtain a license because she was working with a company headed up by a woman of colour – me,” she ended.

There is no doubt that the bravery and resilience needed to carry on in the face of such deeply entrenched biases is significant. According to Sherry Boodram, her client is determined to attain her goals, even in the face of such adversity.

We’re sure that one day we’ll be profiling her on the pages of AlphaWomanco.com.

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Leslie Andrachuk

As a bilingual pioneer in global digital publishing and marketing, Leslie is happiest when creating new things and inspiring her teams. She is passionate about changing biases that hold women back from realizing their true power and is grateful that at this point in her career she has the skills to make real change.

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