Kootenay Cannabis Symposium Debrief

What. A. Day.

Congratulations to the Kootenay United Cannabis Association, and their Board of Directors, led by Damon Chouinard, for hosting such an incredible ground breaking event.

The event, hosted in Nelson on April 11th, 2019, brought over 200 people from all levels of government (federal, provincial and local) as well as community supporting organizations (Community Futures Central Kootenays), NGOs (Kootenay United Cannabis Association – the hosts, BC Micro License Association, Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers), educational institutions (Selkirk College’s Community Education and Workplace training), and, very importantly, people from all over industry.

Speakers shared federal and provincial regulations, concerns for barriers, and suggestions for opportunities, while Nelson Councilor, Brittny Anderson, master of ceremonies, kept the day on track. Workshop round table sessions worked collaboratively to identify barriers, most notably related to federal legislation, and suggestions for solutions.

A copy of my presentation, outlining the theoretical foundations of transitioning economies and stakeholder participation as a framework for this PhD project, can be found here.

A summary of findings will be complied for public release in the upcoming weeks.

 (Left to Right) Brittny Anderson (Nelson City Councilor), Tracey Harvey (PhD Researcher), Ron LeBlanc (RDCK), Meeri Durand (RDCK), Richard Toperczer (BC gov’t), Abra Bryne (Food Policy Council), Damon Chouinard (KUCA), Gerri Brightwell (BC gov’t), and Andrea Wilkey (CFCK). Photo courtesy of BCCS

Read about the event in the local news: Facing high regulatory barriers, Kootenay cannabis producers gather for support

Stuck in the black market

Are people moving from the grey and black markets to the white market? Some are and many want to, but most can’t. The March 7th 2019 article by Jon Boivin in the Trail Times captures not only challenges of transitioning, but also how polarizing cannabis legalization is here in the Kootenay region. I think this type of argument is what partially contributed to the inequitable policy that accompanies Bill C-45.

While all of these gentlemen disclose truths, I certainly empathize with the small entrepreneur who wants to transition, but logistically the odds are stacked against them, and they feel like they can’t.

British Columbia is particularly unique because of a historic cannabis industry and policy should address that.


January 2019 project update

Yesterday marks 3 months since legalization, and I’m curious what has changed for you?

Not much appears differently since before legalization, from my own view.

But looking inside the local cannabis industry that’s not the case at all. Things are moving rapidly, which may or may not be a good thing. Uncertain would best describe the local climate. Along with a sense of vulnerability, fear and I don’t like saying it but desperation.

People aren’t sure what to do. What they know is they are facing a challenging and expensive transition and things can’t continue like they did in the past. Based on the literature, effective transitioning economies involve inclusive stakeholder-based regional collaboration for the purposes of economic diversification. Consequently successful transitional strategies and inclusive stakeholder participation is what forms the basis of my research. I think I presented that too quickly but I can elaborate next time.

And that’s where this project is at. I have submitted a draft qualifying examination paper discussing these theoretical foundations and I continue to informally speak with several industry ‘informants’ on a fairly-regular basis. I’ve also organized a panel discussion with a local mayor, a compliance expert, a local cannabis cultivator expert and myself, around rurally based small business development in the cannabis sector at the upcoming AKBLG convention in Castlegar this April.

While I’m not yet engaging in formal interviews, I’m interested in hearing from you if you have input, so please drop me a line if you have something to say.