Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, BC (May 13, 2019) – British Columbia organizations supporting small BC cannabis producers, processors and retailers are calling on the Government of Canada to do a policy reset to ensure and accelerate the inclusion of the craft cannabis sector in the legal marketplace.
The following is a joint statement of representatives from: Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers; BC Micro License Association; Craft Cannabis Association of BC; Grow Tech Labs; Kootenay United Cannabis Association; and Cascadia Agriculture Co-Operative Association.
While we applaud the Government of Canada for their leadership in legalizing cannabis in October 2018, we are very concerned to learn of new federal regulations which increase barriers for small cannabis producers and processors in rural communities across British Columbia and Canada.
Nothing short of a total policy reset is required.
These new regulations announced last week will further restrict access for craft growers and processors. With a stated common goal of facilitating the participation of small scale growers and processors, Health Canada’s lack of timely engagement of industry experts prior to this announcement seems contrary to those goals. In addition, the new regulations further enhance an uneven playing field that is already favoring the development of large conglomerates at the expense of small growers.
Without a significant change in approach by the federal government, BC’s globally recognized craft cannabis sector is not likely to survive legalization. Many provincial and municipal officials share our concern about this lost opportunity.
While everyone agrees the inclusion of small cannabis producers is vital to the success of Canada’s legalization policy, the receipt of only 200 micro-production applications and approval of 1 since October 17, 2018 is well below the number that was expected—an indicator of the difficulty of the process as it was. There are thousands of farmers in BC being shut out. In addition to undermining our shared goal of eliminating the illicit market, holding back the capacity and skills of these craft producers and processors means not realizing significant job creation and economic development opportunities for rural BC communities.
We are calling on the BC government, local elected officials and BC Members of Parliament to work with us on behalf of thousands of craft cannabis producers and processors to fix the chaos these regulations are creating as soon as possible in the hope of transitioning BC’s significant craft cannabis sector to the regulated market.
With less than one week notice, Health Canada confirmed plans to host three information sessions with small producers and processors this week in Victoria (Monday, May 13), Kelowna (Tuesday, May 14) and Vancouver (Thursday, May 16). Despite the short notice and lack of previous engagement, all organizations are encouraging their members and associates to attend.