Pubdate: Thu, 30 Nov 2017
Source: Valley Voice, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Valley Voice
Author: Art Joyce


The Liberal government has released its draft legislation for Bill
C-45, known in shorthand as the 'Cannabis Act' for legalizing
marijuana. And according to Kootenay Outdoor Producers Cooperative
co-founder Todd Veri, it's better than just good news for small
producers - it's everything they'd hoped for.

"Our big concern was that they wouldn't allow outdoor growing or that
they'd make life impossible for the co-operative model," says Veri.
"Based on the report the government put together last year, we
believed the government was going to go in the right direction but
might need a nudge from us. It seems they took into account our
documentation - we had five or six points we wanted to address and
they addressed them all in the draft legislation."

Among the points addressed in the draft legislation are security
issues, which under the previous Conservative government were so
stringent, the expense would rule out all but the largest corporate
producers. Those regulations would have required government approved
security personnel to be present at all times in cannabis storage
vaults and processing areas. According to Veri, the Conservatives also
wanted security cameras in every room, with the capacity for
government monitoring. The estimated security costs were said to be in
the range of $1 million per facility.

Now, the Cannabis Act states: "Considering the lower risk of theft of
whole plants compared to processed materialÂ… visual monitoring of the
perimeter and points of entry are considered to be sufficient
mitigation against the risk of theft." These exterior cameras would be
required to keep recordings for one year.

Cultivation fields will also have to have fencing as a barrier to
unauthorized entry, plus security alarms.

Licensed Producers (LPs) must submit a security plan as part of their
licence application. But according to Veri, the application will be
considerably simplified from what was originally proposed.

The new Act only requires that one person with security clearance be
on site at all times, not in every room. "Access to areas where
cannabis is present must be restricted to persons whose presence in
those areas is required by their work responsibilities," and the
identity of every person entering or exiting storage facilities must
be recorded.

The intent, according to the Act, is to "mitigate against the risk
that individuals associated with organized crime infiltrate licensed

A related personnel issue - and one that marijuana advocate Marc Emery
as well as MP Richard Cannings spoke out against - is that current
laws are still criminalizing those arrested for simple possession.
This also would have prevented any such person from working in
cultivation or processing facilities. It appears this requirement too
will be eliminated, barring only those with convictions for violent

"We've had really good support from both our federal MPs, Stetski and
Cannings," says Veri. "We think they were quite helpful or influential
in the way it's gone."

But even more of a relief to fledgling operations such as Veri's is
the fact that under the new legislation, outdoor cultivation will be
fully legal for licensees. "It is proposed that the regulations would
permit both outdoor and indoor cultivation of cannabis (under all four
classes of cultivation licence: standard cultivation,
micro-cultivation, nursery and industrial hemp)," states the Cannabis
Act. Veri says that the cost of indoor cultivation - electrical
consumption, ventilation, and equipment - is likely to be
substantially higher than for outdoor operations.

"In the current regulations, in the medical act, you can only buy your
seed or root stock from a licensed producer," Veri says. "The problem
is, that doesn't allow any outdoor stock. It looks like they're not
going to ask any questions about where the seeds are coming from. So
that way we can really mine the local seed stock for material for a
good mountain grown crop. We've had growers here since 1974 so we've
developed strains that really work in the Kootenays."

Veri says he foresees the Kootenays becoming to marijuana cultivation
and marketing what the Okanagan has become to the wine industry. The
co-op and other growers have met with MLA Michelle Mungall, who is
interested in the potential for cannabis cultivation in agricultural
tourism. The provincial government is required to draft its own
regulations for distribution, as cultivators will be required to sell
through provincially licensed outlets, not directly to the public.
Veri points to the provincial government's strong support over the
years for the Okanagan wine industry, including the establishment of
the gold standard VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) designation for BC

"They spent millions on production and promotion, so now it's our
turn. We're hoping to have seed in the ground next year. Our goal is
to have license number 001."
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MAP posted-by: Matt