No question, we live in unprecedented times, and in many ways, it’s changing the social landscape. The focus has shifted from celebrities to health care and for a politician, a positive public opinion can unlock new doors, for good or ill. From the CERB benefit to increased surveillance, COVID-19 has brought about all sorts of changes to the average Canadian’s life. Let’s have a look at the new BC Government Cannabis Programs.
In an interesting move, the Provincial Government of BC announced new programs intended to benefit BC’s craft cannabis community and Indigenous cannabis producers. Today, the BC government followed it up by announcing an early provincial election; On, Oct. 24, 2020, BC will head to the polls. At first glance, the Cannabis License changes sound exciting but the details have not been released yet. For a small cannabis business owner, it’s tough to wonder if this is just another pre-election false promise. Here’s a look at the new BC government programs for small scale cannabis producers compared to the ones they are replacing, and what this could mean for British Columbia.
The current situation regarding Cannabis Licensing in British Columbia
At the moment, the regulations regarding the production and sale of cannabis and cannabis products are as unnecessary as they are heavy-handed. Why? They were modelled after alcohol. Right now, you can apply for a license to grow cannabis, produce cannabis products, or sell recreational cannabis but you have to choose one of those options. When you think about this in terms of alcohol, it makes sense. After all, you don’t see Budweiser liquor stores. However, when it comes to best serving the public, this regulation does not translate.
Take, for example, the cookies at the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club (VCBC). Made with the same recipe for the past 25 years from bud sourced from their local Growers, each cookie costs $2.50 and is only sold to their medical members. As it stands, this is completely illegal.
In order to comply with the current licensing system of BC, the VCBC would need to:
- Obtain a Micro Grow Production License to grow the bud in the cookies
- Sell the bud grown for the cookies to the Province
- Obtain a Micro Production License
- Buy back the bud they grew (hopefully still fresh)
- Make and package the cookies
- Obtain a Retail License to sell the cookies
- Sell the packaged cookies to the Province
- Buy back the packaged cookies from the Province
- Sell the cookies to the medical members of the VCBC
Regardless, On July 5th, 2020, the VCBC was raided by the Provincial task force. By order of the Head of The CSU, The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth, the Community Safety Unit seized all products, including every cookie. Based on last Sunday’s announcement, it appears Mike Farnworth has changed his approach.
BC Government New Cannabis Program – Direct Delivery and Farm-gate sales
Currently, the system favours money and compliance, not talent and experience. Thus, Cannabis Production Licenses are expensive and difficult to obtain. These new regulations are supposed to change that or at least be a step in the right direction. Including Craft Growers with small scale production licenses and nurseries, this new program could facilitate vertical integration. Set to launch in 2022, Direct delivery will mean that a small-scale producer will have a legal avenue to be able to sell their products to a licensed retailer. In addition, the province is introducing a new program to include farm-gate sales. This means that Cannabis growers in BC will be able to set up a space for retail sales right at the cannabis grow site.
New Cannabis Program – Indigenous Shelf Space Program
According to the official announcement from The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, ‘The Indigenous Shelf Space Program will highlight the products produced by BC Indigenous Growers and Producers.’ What that will actually look like has yet to be announced.
“These steps will help grow the legal cannabis industry in B.C. in an inclusive way,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “By making it easier to know more about the product, those who choose to use cannabis can make careful decisions about what types of products they want to buy and what sectors of the industry they want to support.”
This BC government new cannabis program could spark a positive boom, the likes of which this province has never seen. Unlike the Goldrush, developing our cannabis industry would help benefit the environment. With the growing conditions, this province has to offer, tourists would come for weed tours instead of wine. To a conservative individual who doesn’t use cannabis, this may not seem that exciting but the reality is that everyone benefits.
Still not convinced? Ask the high school graduates of Pueblo County, Colorado. This year, 2.3 million in scholarships will be distributed to all high school graduates and it is funded from a county of fewer than 200,000 people. The money comes from the ‘Marijuana Excise Tax Scholarship Program’. An annual program since 2015, this year it’s the largest scholarship that has ever been collected. In fact, organizers had to increase the individual awards, making it the largest individual payout in the program’s history. Each senior student will receive between $1,000 up to $2,000 for graduating high school, based on their grade point average.
Think about this for a minute; can you imagine all the ways our world could improve if we had paid education, healthcare, and environmental development? Can you believe that we could do that with cannabis? If you can, It’s likely that you can also imagine a politician royally messing it up. Big promises have been made and they could lead to big things. But with today’s announcement of an early election, that old feeling that it sounds too good just won’t go away. Time will tell for sure but in the meantime, this sounds like a step forward for BC’s Craft Cannabis industry.
Are you excited about the new BC government cannabis programs? What are your views on these changes? Please leave your comments below and follow us @cannalifenet