Craft Cannabis Licensing May Effectively Grind to Halt as Costs and Risk Prohibitive
Health Canada’s “Build First” policy changes may have an unintended negative impact on craft cannabis licensing, some say. Health Canada changed its cannabis licensing process to cut wait times by requiring applicants to have their facilities ready before the application process can begin.
“It was quite a surprise to industry,” said Barinder Rasode. He is a craft cannabis advocate and the co-founder of Grow Tech Labs. “The cost of building out without the guarantee of having a licence is prohibitive. We do believe for craft growers this is going to cause not only a challenge but it’s almost like a complete stall for lots of them.”
CTV News (please see link below) calls requiring applicants invest in a full site a “risky and expensive hurdle for aspiring cannabis producers.”
Joel Podersky, a spokesperson for Cascadia Agricultural Cooperative Association, said it will have a particularly harsh impact on craft cannabis licensing. Most rely on that licence to attract investment. Finding start-up capital before getting the green light from Health Canada will be difficult.
“Essentially this has made the creation of a corporate oligopoly,” said Podersky. Craft cannabis licensing and the micro-cultivation licences were meant to help keep the industry accessible to smaller, quality-oriented licensed producers. “In Canada, we have very large corporations and a very small number of them controlling the domestic marketplace.”
Revamp of System Needed?
Some are calling for a complete review of the licensed producer system with these new hurdles introduced for craft cannabis licensing. Rasode said that consultation and advocacy will ensure smaller producers can still enter the legal market.
“We are advocating that there be a reset on the regulations so that craft growers have an easier way to get into the regulated market,” he said.
Others such as Podersky do not sound as optimistic. “The consultation process, I’ve personally found, to be very disingenuous and I know a great number of people feel the very same way,” he said. He sees these hurdles to craft cannabis licensing as a prime example. “Words and actions are simply not meeting (government) policies or are being completely contradictory to Health Canada’s claims they want to steward the existing growers into the system.”
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