BC offers CA$676,000 to help cannabis entrepreneurs join legal market

, BC offers CA$676,000 to help cannabis entrepreneurs join legal market

A small portion of an employment fund worth 15 million Canadian dollars ($11 million) is being set aside by British Columbia’s government to help gray-market cannabis entrepreneurs in one region of the province gain a foothold in the legal economy.

The funding for the program, amounting to CA$676,000, is being directed to the Cannabis Business Transition Initiative, which is run by the economic development body Community Futures Central Kootenay (CFCK).

The province confirmed to Marijuana Business Daily that the Kootenay region funding is the only cannabis-related Community and Employer Partnerships project at this time.

It is hoped the initiative will help more than 100 clients transition to the regulated sector by identifying strategies, opportunities and helping solve problems, the province said in announcing the funding.

Gray-market cannabis continues to be deeply entrenched in the province’s economy, particularly in the Kootenays, where the program is focused.

The province estimates that 2,500 small-scale cannabis producers are operating in the Kootenay region alone.

Community Futures Central Kootenay has hired a team of cannabis business transition advisers as part of the initiative.

The cannabis business counselors can be reached by phone (250-352-1933, ext. 113).

“With the legalization of cannabis, our region has an opportunity to transition its underground cannabis economy to a successful legal industry,” said Andrea Wilkey, executive director of CFCK.

“This provincial funding will help ensure that local entrepreneurs have the support they need to navigate the complex regulatory system and create a sustainable cannabis business.”

In a news release, Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said cannabis production has been a significant economic driver in many of B.C.’s rural communities.

“A failure to transition these producers would not only jeopardize our goal to reduce the illegal market, it would also be a lost opportunity to create stable jobs that support families and communities,” he said.

It was not until August that sales of recreational marijuana picked up in British Columbia after an extremely slow start. Receipts of adult-use cannabis in B.C. doubled to CA$12 million that month.

For more information on the Kootenay initiative, click here.

Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at mattl@mjbizdaily.com.