B.C. cannabis co-op says ‘significant’ changes in government regulations needed for craft industry to survive

A co-op for small-scale cannabis companies in B.C. has released an advocacy document calling on the government to make “significant” changes to regulations, arguing without them the province’s craft cannabis industry won’t survive.

BC Small Cannabis Producers & Processors (BCSCPP) released its Framework & Advocacy Agenda on 4-20 (April 20), after embarking on consultation with cannabis producers both in-person and online.

The co-op says “after six weeks of community meetings and public engagement, it is clear that without a significant change in approach by the federal government, British Columbia’s globally recognized craft cannabis sector is at risk, and may not survive legalization.”

In addition to a series of recommendations for the federal and provincial governments, the draft discussion paper includes a governance framework and next steps to incorporate a “craft cannabis co-op that delivers a sustainable alternative to the illicit 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.”

BCSCPP notes that “everyone agrees the inclusion of small cannabis farmers is vital to the success of Canada’s legalization policy” but states that “unfortunately, at this first post-legalization 4/20, barely a handful have survived the federal government’s application process.”

Based on the results of its consultation, BCSCPP says most of these producers see establishing a provincial craft cannabis co-op as a significant part of the solution. 

“But, it is also clear that without leadership from the federal and provincial government, we are just blowing smoke when it comes to establishing a diverse marketplace and supporting the economies of rural BC communities,” notes BCSCPP.

The report states that Health Canada’s cumbersome regulatory process is holding BC’s craft cannabis sector back.

“For example, 5,000-6,000 Health Canada-approved small medical cannabis producers could help address the supply shortage but they have not been encouraged in any substantial way to transition,” the report notes. “Thousands more operate in the illicit market. Most are also interested in transitioning to the legal marketplace.”

According to BCSCPP’s report, with their combined capacity, these small B.C. producers and processors could become “one of the largest cannabis enterprises in Canada, with a product cannabis consumers around the world desire.”

“If only 15% of currently licensed small medical cannabis producers in BC (825) transition to the legal marketplace, their collective capacity would be approximately 1.7 million square feet of growing space,” it reveals. “Collectively, this would be one of the country’s largest cannabis producers. If the federal government only increased the small producer cap from 2,100 sq. ft. to 4,200 sq. ft. (the equivalent of a neutral zone in a hockey rink), this collective capacity increases to approximately 3.4 million sq. ft.”

Further, it notes that now, six months after Canada legalized cannabis, “the current regulatory framework can’t seem to provide the legal marketplace what it wants: high quality cannabis and a variety of safe product options at a good price.”

“Marketing restrictions have left the cannabis sector without brand identities and Canada’s first mover advantage is rapidly disappearing,” it adds.

Click here to read more and download the report.