Pubdate: Fri, 26 Aug 2016
Source: Coast Reporter (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Coast Reporter
Author: Sean Eckford


Some Sunshine Coast cannabis growers are hoping new Health Canada
rules will create an opportunity for so-called "craft" producers to
move from the grey zone into the area's mainstream economy.

Health Canada announced the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes
Regulations (ACMPR) on Aug. 11, and earlier this week it released
details about how patients and growers can register, along with the
rules they'll have to follow under ACMPR.

ACMPR is the government's response to the Supreme Court ruling in the
Allard case, which challenged the Marijuana for Medical Purposes
Regulations (MMPR). Under MMPR, people with a doctor's clearance to
use cannabis had to buy it through one of the country's 34 approved

ACMPR will be a blend of the old rules and the MMPR. People will have
the option of buying from the MMPR growers, legally growing for
themselves, or designating someone to grow for them.

Veronica Mannix has grown marijuana for herself and others under the
old rules (known as MMAR), and she's working to bring Sunshine Coast
growers, residents and local government leaders together through the
Craft Cannabis Community Initiative.

Mannix already has the Gibsons and District Chamber of Commerce on

"A cannabis industry exists right now on the Sunshine Coast today and
personal opinions about this industry do not change the fact that it
has an impact on our local economy," Chamber executive member Dave
Chisholm said. "The Gibsons Chamber believes that it is in everyone's
interest to try to understand exactly how much this industry
contributes to our local economy today and how that might change
tomorrow under new rules."

In a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis
prepared for the Chamber, Mannix estimates there are some 600 growers
on the Sunshine Coast and about half of them operate under the MMAR.
They also employ a mainly younger workforce, at wages in the $20 to
$25 per hour range. Mannix's SWOT analysis suggests craft cannabis
production could follow the model already proven successful in the
wine and beer industries.

Mannix said this is a good time for MMAR producers to work with the
broader community to make sure the eventual legalization of
recreational cannabis contemplated by the Trudeau Liberals unfolds in
a way that gives growers a chance to be part of the rural economy,
like other agriculture sectors.

The only threat identified in the SWOT analysis is "government
regulations that aren't inclusive or are prohibitive to the
development of the craft and value-added producers."

>From Mannix's viewpoint, the latest Health Canada regulations are at
least leaving the door open.

"It doesn't mean the current licensed MMARs are going to be able to do
business," she said. "We need the support of everyone involved in our
communities right now to do cannabis business, and to have cannabis
businesses in our communities to have thriving, healthy communities
where we have jobs that retain young people, and offer options."

Mannix is one of the people organizing a symposium for the fall on the
theme of "crossing the bridge."

"It's [about] how do we move from the grey and black markets as
individuals and businesses into the white market. For people who've
never worked in the legal market, it's daunting for them. They need
support, they need help, they need to be encouraged."

Health Canada's policy announcement did not, however, indicate any
change in the federal government's thinking on marijuana

It spelled out clearly that "storefronts selling marijuana, commonly
known as 'dispensaries' and 'compassion clubs,' are not authorized to
sell cannabis for medical or any other purposes. These operations are
illegally supplied, and provide products that are unregulated and may
be unsafe. Illegal storefront distribution and sale of cannabis in
Canada are subject to law enforcement action."

Sunshine Coast RCMP said the latest Health Canada announcement will
not mean any changes to their approach.

In the past year RCMP have taken legal action against one home-based
dispensary in Sechelt (which is still before the courts), but have not
moved to try to close any others. Detachment commander Staff Sgt.
Vishal Mathura told the Sunshine Coast Regional District policing
committee in May that local RCMP would like to see dispensaries dealt
with through business licensing rules.

Sechelt council is waiting for a staff report on business licensing
and zoning options for marijuana dispensaries, similar to the approach
being taken in places like Vancouver, Victoria and Port Alberni.
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