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Transitioning Black Market Producers in the Kootenays

The underground cannabis market in the Kootenays was well established prior to Canada legalizing non-medical cannabis with an estimated 2,500 small-scale cannabis producers in the region.

These growers hope to expand into the non-medical market with help from The Cannabis Business Transition Initiative, which provides over $675,000 from the Province to help start-up and existing cannabis businesses overcome the barriers to operating in the legal system.

“Cannabis production has been a significant economic driver in many of BC’s rural communities and it is our goal to help cannabis producers, who are not connected to organized crime, transition to the legal market,” says Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “A failure to transition these producers would not only jeopardize our goal to reduce the illegal market, it would also be a lost opportunity to create stable jobs that support families and communities.”

The Initiative is being operated by the Community Futures Central Kootenay, which has hired a new team of cannabis business transition advisors to run the project. They will work with individuals to help them identify existing issues, strategies, and opportunities in the current legalization process.

“With the legalization of cannabis, our region has an opportunity to transition its underground cannabis economy to a successful legal industry,” says Andrea Wilkey, executive director, Community Futures Central Kootenay. “This provincial funding will help ensure that local entrepreneurs have the support they need to navigate the complex regulatory system and create a sustainable cannabis business.”

This Initiative is the first of its kind in Canada. Over the next two years, it is expected to support over 100 clients in their transition to licensed and sustainable cannabis businesses.

Photo courtesy of Matteo Paganelli