Small-scale outdoor Kootenay marijuana producers frustrated over licensing process

Kootenay-Columbia producers worried inability to meet government time table means they could miss out on May 1 planting deadline.

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Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski says small scale marijuana producers are being locked out of Canada’s new legalized medicinal and recreational cannabis industry.

Stetski said larger corporations are taking the lead in getting licenses to produce marijuana and are quickly expanding to meet the government’s time table while smaller producers aren’t able to meet the capital requirements of the licensing procedure. The current process requires the facility to be developed as the licensing progresses.

“This means companies need to have their capital in place before they can become fully licensed,” said Stetski.

Kootenay–Columbia NDP MP Wayne Stetski. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

The process is causing hardship for small scale outdoor marijuana farmers in the Kootenay-Columbia. Stetski said small scale producers like the Kootenay Marijuana Company are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to raising capital. Stetski said Leslie , the owner of Kootenay Marijuana Company, went to a local bank to start raising the capital required for the licensing and development process. Leslie was told the bank required an approval from Health Canada prior to setting up an account.

Stetski said other small scale marijuana producers are enduring similar frustrations. A number of small scale growers in the Kootenay-Columbia have banded together to form a co-op. Members of the co-op wrote to Stetski asking him to share his concerns with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Their concern is that new licenses won’t be available until Canada’s legalization becomes law. For the outdoor producers they’ll miss the May 1 planting deadlines and won’t have any product for sale until November, 2019 — a full 16 months after legalization,” said Stetski.

“This government talks about the importance of legal production, but they are doing everything possible to prevent small rural producers from working within the law. These are businesses that want to operate within the law. They want full accountability and appropriate licensing and to be part of Canada’s new legal marijuana regime. But they are being prevented at every turn while big pot corners the market.”

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