Cannabis Growers of Canada member and online dispensary owner Travis Lane said he doesn’t want to hide his business.
“I’m good at what I do. I’m proud of being good at what I do,” said Lane, who has two Health Canada grow licences. “I’ve been proactive my whole life in trying to move towards a time where I can openly be a cannabis professional.”
Cannabis Growers of Cannabis executive director Ian Dawkins said if smaller members of the industry don’t have a voice in the current Liberal legalization legislation many current members of the industry will continue to stay underground.
“It’s going to be the National Energy Program all over again, but instead of Alberta and oil, it’s going to be B.C. and cannabis,” said Dawkins. “You’re talking about economic activity that has sustained communities that have been devastated by the loss of primary industries.”
Dawkins said if the current government licensed producers of medical cannabis are the only ones able to grow in the recreational market, and dispensaries are pushed out in favour of liquor and pharmacy retailers, growth of the industry will stagnate.
“If you’re selling cannabis in a liquor store, in this tightly-controlled regulatory environment, you’re not creating tourism. There was no winery tourism in B.C. until they began to de-regulate the winery sector and allow for all these wineries to pop up in the Okanagan,” he said. “No one is going to fly to Vancouver to go to a pharmacy and buy the Budweiser of joints.”
Lawyer John Conroy said Canadians have voiced their distaste for large producers controlling the industry and thinks the federal government are open to allowing smaller growers to participate in legalization.
“People have already shown that the licensed-producer process is not working, and voted with their feet, creating the demand for the dispensaries,” said Conroy. “That’ll happen again, if the government doesn’t provide reasonable access.”