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CAN (BC): Cannabis growers prepare for farmgate

Cannabis producers in BC are looking forward to more details about the province’s farmgate program, to be announced sometime this year. Although expectations are high, some in the industry say they hope the province takes into account some of the unique facets of BC’s diverse cannabis culture. The province initially announced their intentions for future farmgate sales (and direct delivery) in 2020, and began stakeholder engagement in 2021, with the intention of implementing both by 2022. 

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) has referred to their program as a “Production Retail Store” (PRS) licence which would allow micro cultivators, standard cultivator, and nurseries to sell their own products at their own production facilities or sites. Although specifics on the plan are still not available, the BC government has provided the industry with some details on the farmgate plan. For example, the province has also said they may not allow stand-alone processors of any size to take part in the program but would allow licence holders who possess both a cultivation and processing licence together to take part. The government has also suggested that growers may only be allowed to sell cannabis that they grew, rather than selling similar products from other growers. 

While farmgate could work well for some producers, others say they don’t think it makes sense for them, especially with the proposals the provincial government has been hinting at. Building and staffing a new retail store will be costly, and for many of BC’s more remote cannabis farms, the likely small amount of traffic won’t necessarily make the model viable. 

In Ontario, where there was initial excitement when the province became the first to unveil their farmgate program in 2020, many producers chose to opt out, arguing that it made more sense to just work with local retailers rather than investing in all the retail infrastructure itself. 

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