BC dedicates $675K to help community’s unregulated growers enter legal market

Nov 22 2019, 3:38 pm

One BC community is getting serious to help legacy players enter the cannabis legal market, and they’ve got the green to back it up.

A criticism circulating since before cannabis legalization even came into effect has been the federal and provincial governments’ seeming unwillingness to open a door to members of the unregulated market into the legal industry.

Many legacy cannabis growers have no links to gangs or other types of organized crime, and a new wave of funding is meant in part to help them transition into the new legal system.

The Cannabis Business Transition Initiative has been granted $675,000 from the province to help “startup and existing cannabis businesses overcome the barriers to operating in the legal economy.”

Run by Community Futures Central Kootenay, a not-for-profit community economic development organization, the program aims, according to a release, to lead to better access to employment opportunities in the industry and create sustainable cannabis operations in the region.

“This program recognizes the potential for the Kootenay region to support people with local and sustainable employment opportunities,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, in a release. “It will help cannabis businesses get off to a good start with a solid and sustainable plan to create jobs that support local families.”

Community Futures Central Kootenay has hired a team of business transition advisors to run the project. The team is said to specialize in cannabis and will work with individuals interested in testing tools and resources that will eventually aid in the licence application process.

“Cannabis production has been a significant economic driver in many of BC’s rural communities and it is our goal to help cannabis producers, who are not connected to organized crime, transition to the legal market,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “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.”

The release estimates that there are 2,500 small-scale cannabis producers in the region that “hope to expand into the non-medical market.” Some are already authorized to grow medical cannabis.

“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, Community Futures Central Kootenay. “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.”