Cannabis Council of Canada appeals to government for ‘immediate intervention’

A cannabis industry group is appealing to Canada’s federal government for immediate intervention to help stave off challenges facing the industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to Mary Ng, federal minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, Cannabis Council of Canada CEO George Smitherman expressed concern that policies of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) have not applied to the regulated cannabis sector.

“This concern has been significantly exacerbated in light of BDC emerging as the central support for Canada’s small- and-medium-sized businesses, as indicated by the $10 billion stimulus package announced last week,” he wrote.

The publication Inside the Jar reported in February that the BDC is not offering its services to cannabis businesses.

Smitherman wrote that the industry faces “the increasingly likely scenario” that regulated marijuana businesses could experience permanent shutdowns, bankruptcies and significant job loss.

“We respectfully ask for your immediate intervention in your capacity as the Minister responsible for the BDC to expand industry criteria to provide appropriate recognition and much-needed supports for our sector,” the letter stated.

In a brief statement to Marijuana Business Daily, the BDC did not address why it has been excluding legal marijuana businesses from its programs.

“We are evaluating the situation as it evolves, including the needs of entrepreneurs and the impact on specific industries,” according to the statement.

“We are working on the details on how the program will work and will share an update in the coming days.”

Smitherman also sent the letter to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly as well as the Office of the Prime Minister.

Last week, Smitherman met with federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu to discuss issues facing the industry, including packaging restrictions, the export approval process, excise stamps and CBD.

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

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.