BC Organizations Call on Federal Government to Do a Reset of Craft Cannabis Policies and Regulations

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.

Federal Changes Needed for BC Craft Cannabis to Survive Legalization: Consultation Report

Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C—Without a significant change in approach by the federal government, British Columbia’s globally recognized craft cannabis sector will not survive legalization. This is the key conclusion of a discussion paper released today by Grow Tech Labs that captures the results of a just-completed province-wide consultation to establish a co-operative of small BC Cannabis Producers and Processors.

“Everyone agrees the inclusion of small cannabis producers is vital to the success of the legalization policy but barely a handful have survived the application process,” says Barinder Rasode, CEO of Grow Tech Labs. “This needs to change or BC will lose its competitive cannabis advantage. Without federal leadership, we are just blowing smoke when it comes to establishing a diverse marketplace and supporting the economies of BC rural communities.”

The discussion paper “Establishing a Craft Cannabis Co-Op for BC Producers, Processors and Retailers” notes there have been only “a trickle of applications” from the 5,000 – 6,000 small medical producers in BC, discouraged by very low production caps, significant up-front investment requirements, consulting fees, non-specific criteria, lack of municipal engagement and financing options. The report includes recommendations for the federal and provincial governments.

In addition to identifying these advocacy priorities for discussion, the consultation report includes a governance framework and next steps to incorporate a craft cannabis co-op that delivers a sustainable alternative to the black market, maintains BC’s position as an international marketplace leader and ensures medical and recreational consumers across Canada and the globe have access to the highest quality BC cannabis possible.

A series of regional meetings will be announced later this month to review these proposals and the draft articles of incorporation for the co-op for small producers, processors and independent retailers.

In February 2019, Grow Tech Labs and the Cascadia Agricultural Cooperative Association invited British Columbians to participate in a consultation process to review the concept, learn more about co-ops, provide feedback and answer questions. Over six weeks, 10 community meetings were organized with hundreds of sector leaders attending and providing feedback online.