It’s no secret to many the significance of the underground pot industry in the Nelson economy.
And now, thanks to the miles of red tape thrust onto any potential recreational grower looking to get into the lucrative pot growing industry by Federal and Provincial governments, many of those small businesses could potentially dry up.
To help these small growers to compete in this new cannabis industry, a person who worked for the Canadian government years ago is coming to Nelson Monday to speak to cannabis producers, processors and retailers about the co-operative process.
David Hurford will host a community consultation for local cannabis growers Monday (March 18) at The Front Room (901 Front Street) in Nelson. The event is from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
“There are 6000 medial cannabis producers in BC,” Hurford said in a recent phone interview, “and none are being flipped over to recreational markets.”
With funding from Grow Tech Labs, Hurford is using the co-operative model seen in small grocery chains and Credit Unions in the banking industry, to have small cannabis growers band together to compete against the big-money companies.
Hurford said feedback from the meetings will inform the mission, vision, governance structure and activities of a BC small cannabis producers and processors co-operative.
“A real spirit of cooperation, that’s what co-ops bring,” Hurford said. “The model we're proposing is a provincial co-op with a whole lot of other co-ops right next to them.”
“Our role as a provincial co-op is to really encourage the establishment of these local co-ops,” he added.
The Nelson community consultation is the seventh in a series of meetings. Hurford is in Nakusp Saturday, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Seniors Hall.
Other stops have been on Vancouver Island and Sunshine Coast.
“We feel the BC government has most to lose if we don’t have small producers in the market place,” Hurford said. “That’s what BC is known for and the large producers are from Ontario and Alberta, and in some cases, are very aggressive buying up some of the industry in British Columbia.”
Hurford said this is the first round of discussions. He hopes to visit the Okanagan and Central Interior regions of the province to gauge the response before returning in April for future meetings.
“We’ve tried to keep it very informal . . . this is not a hard sell,” he said. “We’re really just presenting information and answering questions.”
Hurford said he not promoting one idea over another. The goal is to encourage local co-ops to be established to deal with local issues, such as job creation, zoning issues and to give guidance and direction in navigating government regulations in applying for recreational licences.
“We think the federal and provincial governments have said all the right things about producers in the marketplace . . . they need that diversity and they need to make sure the legal marketplace is giving consumers the product that they want and the product that they want is the cannabis that is produced by these small producers,” Hurford said.