BC launches a new program to support small-scale and Indigenous cannabis businesses

The British Columbia announces a farmgate sales program that will give small-scale and indigenous cannabis producers headway into the increasingly competitive cannabis industry.
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The British Columbia announces a farmgate sales program that will give small-scale and indigenous cannabis producers headway into the increasingly competitive cannabis industry.

On September 20 2020, the British Columbia government announced that they will be working towards a new, direct delivery and farm-gate sales program by 20221. Farmgate will give small-scale producers, including indigenous producers, the option to deliver their cannabis to farmgate stores and licensed retailers.  

Farmgate is a sales system where producers directly deliver their products, giving them more control and involvement in the sale of the product unlike conventional production agriculture, where products are sold wholesales into the marketplace. Farmgate wineries and breweries are examples, where customers are able to visit a growing facility and purchase directly from the producers. 

Ontario is also currently curating a plan for the farm-gate program, faster than other provincial jurisdictions but the pandemic has slowed down farmgate operations.  

This program will allow Health Canada licensed, small-scale producers and nurseries in BC to deliver their cannabis product to licensed retailers and farmgate stores, where it will be sold directly to consumers. Small-scale producers need a federal processing license, cultivation license and Retail Store Authorization to sell into a provincial retail system like the farmgate program 

The program is a big opportunity for small cultivators and processors to carve a space for themselves in the legal cannabis market by building brand and community engagement. With the ability to sell directly to the consumer through farmgate sales, the middleman is erased from the supply chain.   

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, acknowledges how important it is that “these kinds of sales are for smaller cannabis producers trying to get a foothold in a market currently dominated by larger players,”. He said this program will allow for cannabis businesses of all sizes  to succeed. 

An Indigenous Shelf Space Program will also be launched in 2021 by the Ministry of Attorney General’s Liquor Distribution Branch. This program will give BC Indigenous producers more visibility in the cannabis marketplace by having their products highlighted to give consumers more purchasing power in their decisions.   

Giving Indigenous producers more visibility in the cannabis industry is a big step, not only because it values their participation, but gives them an economic boost as well.  

Although cannabis is a multibillion-dollar industry, it is highly competitive market that Indigenous producers struggle to make traction in or achieve representation due to high start-up costs and lack of diversity. A report found that only 2 per cent of cannabis industry leaders are Indigenous. Thus, by giving Indigenous producers a visible face on the market, the farmgate program is an economic opportunity. 

David Eby, Attorney General speaks on the power of consumers and their importance to the economic growth of small-scale producers, saying that, “by making it easier to know more about the product, those who choose to use cannabis can make careful decisions about what types of product they want to buy and what sectors of the industry they want to support.” To reiterate, Eby highlights how the farmgate program gives more power and representation for small-scale producer, especially for those that have struggled with establishing itself into such a competitive and diversity-lacking industry.  

Wiki Production Code: A0273

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