BC’s Cannabis Sector, Craft Farmers, Independent Retailers and Consumers Cannot Wait Two Years for Cannabis Act Improvements; BC Government Action Needed.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Vancouver, BC (September 26, 2022) – Representatives from the Retail Cannabis Council of British Columbia (RCCBC) and the BC Craft Farmers Co-Operative (BCCFC) expressed significant concerns about the timeline established for the federal government’s Cannabis Act review, which was announced today in Ottawa.
RCCBC represents independent licensed cannabis retailers in all regions of British Columbia. BCCFC represents BC craft cannabis farmers, processors, nurseries, testing labs, retailers and sector supporters. Both organizations are calling on the BC government to join sector leaders in demanding immediate changes to the Act.
BCCFC President Tara Kirkpatrick said, “BC’s economy will suffer significantly if our world-class craft farmers and processors are forced to wait another two years for changes to the Cannabis Act. BC’s economy has the most to lose from a made-in-Ottawa micro-licensing regime that has barely transitioned 100 BC’s legendary medical and micro-cannabis producers. There are thousands.”
RCCBC Executive Director Jaclynn Pehota said, “While we welcome the broad scope of the review, the lack of urgency is troubling – particularly for BC’s economy. We hope the BC government will finally join with the sector to seek improvements to the Act today – not in two years.”
Based on the recent announcement today, BCCFC and RCCBC identified a series of initial questions for the Minister, federal representatives and elected officials to consider:
- The review is scheduled to take 18 months. What is the Government of Canada going to do over the next 18 months to address urgent challenges facing the sector?
- How many small, independent cannabis businesses need to close and lay off workers before the Government will take action?
- Is the federal government prepared to listen to BC sector leaders and make a series of proposed improvements to the Cannabis Act regulations in the short term?
- The federal government is appointing an “expert” panel to review the Act? How will BC and cannabis farmers be represented given our province’s rich cannabis history and culture?
- If the Government is preoccupied with addressing the illicit market, why are they making it so hard for experienced medical farmers to transition to the legal market?
RCCBC and BCCFC will liaise with sector partners and BC Indigenous leaders to develop a more complete response to the federal review. Health Canada has invited stakeholders to provide feedback over the coming month.
In April, BCCFC and RCCBC hosted a BC Cannabis Summit in Kelowna attended by 400+ BC sector leaders. Delegates voted for a series of resolutions to address policy challenges preventing BC farmers and retailers from achieving their full potential.
To guide the Cannabis Act review, delegates recommended the Government of Canada ensures:
- the scope of the review includes all elements of the Act and its regulations
- an all-party Committee of the House of Commons leads the review
- BC craft farmers, processors and independent retailers are included in this review, the proposed strategy table and the drafting of a revisions to the Act
- the Minister of Health initiates a series of immediate micro-class license changes, including:
- doubling of the unreasonably low micro-production and micro-processing caps
- pre-clearance of security checks instead of waiting until the end of the process
- increase purchase and possession limits from 30 grams
- allow organic and craft labelling on cannabis products
Canada’s Cannabis Act (The Act) is up for mandatory review this year. The Act has perpetuated a heavy reliance on outdated and punitive approaches to cannabis control that were associated with prohibition. The Act has also failed to transition thousands of BC craft farmers or facilitate a path to viability for many other businesses in the legal regime. Instead, all are smothered by red tape, inflated costs and an uneven tax burden.