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BC Making Space for Indigenous Growers

Continuing its efforts to build a thriving cannabis market in the province, the Government of British Columbia announced new programs making room for Indigenous cannabis businesses.

One of these new programs is aimed at bringing Indigenous communities into the market by giving licenced, small-scale producers the option to deal directly with other licenced retailers. This allows BC customers the ability to shop locally if they want, and support small businesses.

“We’ve heard clearly how important these kinds of sales are for smaller cannabis producers trying to get a foothold in a market currently dominated by larger players,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Now more than ever, our government is committed to supporting BC businesses and encouraging people to buy local, and that includes creating conditions for cannabis businesses of all sizes to succeed.”

This program should be in full swing by 2022, but before that, customers will see another change to public and private cannabis retail stores in BC. By 2021, the Ministry of Attorney General’s Liquor Distribution Branch will implement the Indigenous Shelf Space Program, which will highlight cannabis products made and produced by BC Indigenous peoples. The hopes are that it will make it easier for customers to identify the locally produced merchandise and shop accordingly as well as give smaller producers more of a fighting chance in the industry.

To kick things off, the province just entered into an agreement with Williams Lake First Nations that supports the community’s interest in opening licensed retail stores as well as cannabis production.

The new provision was added under section 119 of the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, and allows the provincial government and an Indigenous nation to enter into a joint agreement. This gives the Indigenous government a little bit more flexibility to adapt the provincial framework for their specific community as long as public health and safety principles and the law are upheld.

“This is another important step in supporting economic development across BC,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “The new agreement will create jobs, boost the local economy, and help diversify BC’s cannabis industry.”