B.C. organizations call for ‘reset’ of craft cannabis regulations in Canada

Organizations supporting small B.C. cannabis producers, processors and retailers are calling on the federal government 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,” a release from BC Small Cannabis Producers & Proccesors states.

“Nothing short of a total policy reset is required.”

The group says new regulations announced last week will “further restrict access for craft growers and processors.”

They’re referring to Health Canada’s announcement that all new applicants for licences to cultivate, process or sell cannabis must have a fully built site that meets all requirements at the time of their application.

READ MORE: Health Canada announces changes to cannabis licensing applications

“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,” the release states. “In addition, the new regulations further enhance an uneven playing field that is already favouring the development of large conglomerates at the expense of small growers.”

They argue that without a significant change in approach, “BC’s globally recognized craft cannabis sector is not likely to survive legalization.”

According to the release, the receipt of only 200 micro-production applications and approval of 1 since October 17, 2018 is “well below the number that was expected.”

They say this is “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,” the group stresses.

“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.”

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