WATCH: These farmers want what other industries already have

The product may be legal but it’s not easy to enter the market

  • Farmgate is farmers selling directly to customers
  • Legalization still comes with big hurdles for micro growers
  • Roundtable discussion between cannabis farmers across Canada

Micro growers are trying to compete in a corporate dominated field when it comes to cannabis.

A couple of soon-to-be Okanagan cannabis farmers want a level playing field for small legacy farms in the budding industry.

Kyle Neilsen and Irwin Chahal are from the South Okanagan Cannabis Company in Oliver, where they hope to plant a few acres of cannabis once their application is approved.

“[Cannabis farmgate] is similar to what you would have with vegetable farming or wineries in the area, where you could go to the farm and be able to purchase the product that’s grown at the farm,” Neilsen told Kelowna10.

They were in Kelowna for the BC Cannabis Summit hosted at the Eldorado Resort, where a trade show and panels explored ways to make it easier for independent producers to enter the market.

The summit was hosted by the Association for Canadian Cannabis Retailers, which represents more than 100 storefronts across the province, as well as the BC Craft Farmers Co-op, which was established to provide small producers with a safe, accessible, and sustainable alternative to the illicit market.

On Saturday morning, around 20 small cannabis farmers met at the East Kelowna Community Hall for a roundtable discussion about regulatory policies regarding farmgate. They shared their ideas with each other and talked about struggles they have faced.

“It’s about educating the customers as well,” Chahal said. “Get them out there, show them what a cannabis farm is, let them know that it’s just like any other kind of farming. It helps with the stigma around the whole thing.”

The sector is currently dominated by corporate players, making it a difficult and expensive task for small legacy growers to enter the legal market. The hope is for a stakeholder-wide review of the Cannabis Act to ease some of the micro-class licensing policies.

Any changes to the laws could be legislated by spring, 2023.

Other barriers to smaller cannabis farms include municipal regulations around land use, as well as provincial and federal licensing and tax regimes.

For these two hopeful farmers, they want to let people know that cannabis farming should be treated the same as any other type of farming.

“We just want an even playing field that wineries and vineyards already have,” Chahal said.

Published 2022-04-24 by Jordan Brenda

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