Article by Sean Eckford, Coast Reporter
With legalization of cannabis set to take effect Oct. 17, the federal government, the province and local governments have been rolling out regulations, bylaws and agreements establishing a supply chain and retail framework – but some in the so-called “craft” growing sector say they still face too many barriers.The Sunshine Coast is already home to companies that are awaiting approval for licences under Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), such as Medma in Sechelt, Veritas Pharma, which recently purchased Sechelt Organic Marijuana Corp., and RavenQuest Cannabis Biomed and Sunshine Coast Cannabis Farms in Port Mellon.
According to the federal government, the producer licensing regulations released last week “reflect a balanced approach that facilitates the participation of small-scale growers and processors in the legal cannabis industry.”Craft growers are the largest players on the Coast, according to a 2016 analysis prepared for the Gibsons Chamber of Commerce by Veronica Alice, a local grower who’s been working under rules for producing cannabis for medical use that predate the ACMPR.
Alice’s report estimated the number of Sunshine Coast cannabis producers of all sizes and types at 600, employing a younger workforce at wages in the range of $20 to $25 per hour. She said moving those producers out of the black or grey market and into the legal market could be a major boost to the local economy.
The analysis also identified a threat: “government regulations that aren’t inclusive or are prohibitive to the development of the craft and value-added producers.”