B.C. Pushes for Legalizing of Black Market Cannabis, but Is Met With Criticism by Craft Growers | The Salesmark

B.C. Pushes for Legalizing of Black Market Cannabis, but Is Met With Criticism by Craft Growers

B.C. Pushes for Legalizing of Black Market Cannabis, but Is Met With Criticism by Craft Growers

The British Columbia government has convinced many illegal cannabis growers to begin selling legally in an effort to squeeze out illicit marijuana from the marketplace, but the efforts have faced criticism from the craft growing industry.

In B.C., the effort to turn black or grey market growers on to the legal retail market has focused on the Central Kootenay region through a pilot project and business supports, which includes helping aspiring producers navigate the federal licensing process as well as assisting growers with marketing development and security licensing, the province says.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth told The Canadian Press that regulations could be less restrictive to encourage growth in the sector.

Farnworth said he’s heard from industry members who have expressed frustration over the regulations surrounding getting cannabis to market as well as from retailers who dislike the security measures, such as frosted glass for their storefronts.

Farnworth said he sees “a lot of potential” in the sector and the loosening of regulations would help marijuana farmers in the future.

Monthly retail sales have risen substantially every year, from $1.2 million in December 2018 to about $18 million in December 2019 and to $48 million in December 2020, he said.

He said the province’s farm-gate program, which would allow cannabis growers to operate a retail outlet on their property or deliver directly to a retail store, would help craft growers as well as encourage those operating illegally to make the switch.

Veri said it has taken five years to get licensed and he sold his first batch of marijuana in early December.

The provincial government has paid too much attention to black market operators instead of working more closely with legal ones, he said.

He said he and his group did not partner with illegal growers, wanting to work closely with the government. Instead, he said his group and others like it have been neglected in favour of producers who operated illegally and now want to switch to the legal side.

“There was no help for people actually looking to employ people in this province … because B.C. decided to get behind the black market producers and I think they backed the wrong horse,” he said.

Veri said the government could improve life for craft growers by allowing them to sell directly to retailers, which would encourage more people to operate legally, and create a classification similar to B.C.’s Vintner’s Quality Assurance used in the wine industry.

Veri said it has taken five years to get licensed and he sold his first batch of marijuana in early December.

The provincial government has paid too much attention to black market operators instead of working more closely with legal ones, he said.

He said he and his group did not partner with illegal growers, wanting to work closely with the government. Instead, he said his group and others like it have been neglected in favour of producers who operated illegally and now want to switch to the legal side.

“There was no help for people actually looking to employ people in this province … because B.C. decided to get behind the black market producers and I think they backed the wrong horse,” he said.

Veri said the government could improve life for craft growers by allowing them to sell directly to retailers, which would encourage more people to operate legally, and create a classification similar to B.C.’s Vintner’s Quality Assurance used in the wine industry.

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