British Columbia chamber lobbies province over craft cannabis cultivation

Photo by Aditya Chinchure on Unsplash

The Chamber of Commerce in British Columbia wants the province to adopt policies encouraging craft cannabis businesses to join the regulated market, including allowing proprietors to keep their doors open during the transition into the legal fold.

The proposals were among a number of policies the chamber asked Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth to consider during a recent lobbying effort, according to records from the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists.

The business group also wants the province to encourage municipalities to create bylaws for micro and standard licensees. Red tape at the municipal level has been a hurdle thus far for businesses operating in, and those looking to join, British Columbia’s federally legal adult-use cannabis industry.

In addition, the B.C. chamber made the following proposals with regards to craft and micro producers. The group wants the province to:

  • Allow existing gray-market cannabis businesses to remain open while they transition to the regulated market.
  • Prioritize the purchase of B.C.-grown products by the provincial wholesaler.
  • Allow direct sales to consumers by cultivators.
  • Provide “enhanced” market access to micro-class licensees.
  • Create a mechanism for craft producers to sell direct to private cannabis retailers.

The chamber is among a group of organizations that have been lobbying the province over its cannabis policies in recent months. Others include:

  • Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation.
  • The Herb Co.
  • Aurora Cannabis.
  • Cronos Group.
  • Williams Lake Indian Band.
  • Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
  • Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

British Columbia employs a unique dual public-private model for cannabis retail.

However, the chamber is asking the province to ensure “fairness” in distribution and retail between the two systems, in part by allowing private retailers to engage in online sales.

The province operates a monopoly channel for online sales, a channel that, thus far, has failed to catch on with consumers.

The chamber also wants the province to:

  • Maintain equitable distribution of products between provincial and private retailers.
  • Ensure the provincial wholesaler’s price structure not undermine private retailers.
  • Make the vetting process for cannabis retail staff equivalent to that for alcohol.

The chamber asked the province to consider adopting, at a minimum, a policy to provide temporary work permits for pending employees while security screening is underway.

Canada’s year-old regulated cannabis industry is also creating a tremendous amount of packaging waste – specifically hard-to-recycle plastics.

The chamber wants something done about packaging waste, namely:

  • Laws be revisited to allow simpler, sustainable, reusable packaging.
  • Health Canada conduct a review of the environmental impact of regulated packaging rules on waste.

The chamber is calling for an end to government wholesale monopoly by creating a private distribution license.

“This will relieve the Liquor Distribution Branch of the task of accommodating potentially thousands of small producers who will be regulated under the micro license categories, and help these small producers gain access to the market,” according to the chamber, which said the move would allow for increased small business activity in the industry.

Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto, Ontario. He can be reached at [email protected].

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