A former Surrey B.C. city councillor is heading a new co-op venture to bring people licensed to grow their own medical marijuana into a co-op to supply the legal cannabis market.
Barinder Rasode is CEO of the venture, a partnership with Grow Tech Labs and Victory Square Technologies in Vancouver. With supply shortages across the country since Canada legalized recreational cannabis last fall, the company hopes to step up to the national and international markets.
The B.C. Small Cannabis Producer and Processor Co-op is planning to incorporate under provincial co-operative legislation to “help maintain the province’s historic position as a global cannabis leader,” the company announced Tuesday.
“B.C. has a lot to gain by ensuring thousands of existing Health Canada registered growers are active participants in Canada’s cannabis economy,” Rasode said. “With their combined capacity, these small B.C. producers and processors could become one of the largest cannabis enterprises in Canada.”
The company is in discussions with some of those growers about the difficulties of moving from personal cultivation to federally and provincially controlled recreational sales to the public.
“I assume that there are individual growers who have looked at the micro-cultivation licence and applied,” Rasode said in an interview with Black Press. “What we realized is that meeting the standards of a regulated process is quite different than how work was done in the pre-legalization era. So that’s where the concept of accelerating these growers came, and it was especially heightened for us when we read the headlines around supply shortages. Provinces have had to pivot.”
After leaving local politics, Rasode founded NICHECanada, the National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education, as the Justin Trudeau government moved to enact its 2015 election promise to legalize recreational sales across Canada. She remains on the board, working with local governments who are now coping with the transition from unregulated sales to provincially licensed stores.
“U.S. states that legalized did it by referendum, so the pro and con sides spent a lot of money debating the issue,” Rasode said. “In Canada, we missed that step so there’s a lot of people in decision-making roles that are still uncertain about legalization.”
The company is inviting licensed growers to contact the venture by email at email@example.com to get more information on the co-op development phase.
“We are excited to see micro-growers participate in this co-operative,” said Shafin Diamond, co-founder CEO of Victory Square Technologies.