(Examiner file photo)

(Examiner file photo)

B.C. solicitor general forecasts better year ahead for cannabis products, revenue

Premier Horgan said he wants B.C. to take better advantage of the province’s worldwide reputation

Premier John Horgan says it’s the best of times for cannabis users in British Columbia, but they could be even better.

Since recreational cannabis became legal in Canada in October 2018, access to marijuana has become a matter of waiting for the mail to arrive or visiting a licensed dispensary, but something’s still missing, says the premier.

Horgan said he wants B.C. to take better advantage of the province’s worldwide reputation as a producer of top notch, award-winning weed, known as B.C. bud.

“I remember being in Amsterdam and seeing all of the B.C. bud awards that were being given out at the time when the product was illegal, and it’s ironic we seem to be having more Ontario product being distributed in B.C. through the legal market,” Horgan said at a recent news conference.

“We in B.C. have a legendary product and that’s not making its way to the legal market.”

Horgan said he doesn’t want to see the bloom fall off B.C. bud, which is why the province is looking to introduce initiatives that support the talents of pot growers and merchants in the legal market.

Last month, the B.C. government provided $675,000 to help cannabis operators in the Kootenays overcome the barriers to operating in the legal economy.

“For those passionate about the issue, stay tuned,” said Horgan. “We’re going to continue to work as best we can to ensure that the consuming public gets a quality, safe product, and that we reap the benefits that we can of having a long tradition of cultivating cannabis here in B.C.”

But Ted Smith, a long-time Victoria area marijuana activist who participated in challenges of previous cannabis laws in the Supreme Court of Canada and won, said B.C. has allowed large-scale corporate marijuana producers to dominate the market.

“They’re destroying the whole concept of B.C. bud with what they’ve done,” he said. “If they were interested in helping they would not only have done a lot more to make sure that small growers could easily get licences but they would also be having coffee shops and places where people could come and smoke the product.”

The premier said he’s tasked Solicitor General Mike Farnworth with finding ways to allow B.C.’s skilled producers to shine.

“Mr. Farnworth’s seized of that and he’s been talking to small producers across the province who would prefer to have the economic benefit of having jobs here in B.C. cultivating product that’s legal in Canada rather than have us purchasing from Manitoba, Ontario and Alberta,” Horgan said.

B.C. still ranks near the top in Canada as a supplier of legal marijuana, Farnworth said in a recent telephone interview.

“We grow a lot of B.C. bud here in this province,” he said. “We grow lots of B.C. cannabis. As I said, we’re the number two producer in terms of licences.”

Farnworth said he wants to chip away at the black market stronghold on cannabis in B.C. but it will take time.

“In Colorado, it took more than four years for the black market to be reduced to 30 per cent,” he said. “We want to get it down as much as we can. That’s the whole goal behind legalization.”

Farnworth forecasts improved cannabis revenues in the coming months.

“I expect the third quarter sales to be higher than the second quarter sales,” he said. “We sold more in the first week in October than we did in the entire month of October.”

Farnworth said there are now almost 200 approved licences to sell legal cannabis in B.C., which will lead to increased revenues.

“One of the key lessons we learned from Washington and Oregon was, do not look at revenue in the first couple of years,” he said. “This isn’t about revenue. It’s about getting it right.”

Farnworth said he’s been looking to develop policy to encourage more producers to enter the legal market.

“We’re the only province that was pushing for micro-production, small-scale licences,” he said. “That’s what we’re wanting to encourage is small-scale production in regions of the province like the Kootenays or the Interior.”

Farnworth said the government is working on a policy to open farm gate cannabis sales in B.C. similar to wineries, where customers can sample and purchase local product.

“We want to recognize that (cannabis) underpins local economies,” said Farnworth. “We want a strong craft industry in this province.”

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Twelve new curbside pickup parking spots are now in effect along 30th Avenue in downtown Vernon. (Downtown Vernon Association photo)
Downtown Vernon curbside pick up parking now in drive

12 locations along 30th Avenue intended to help retail and dining sectors amid COVID-19

Vernon Search and Rescue members assisted a groomer operator on the trails at SilverStar Mountain Resort Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (VSAR photo)
Vernon Search and Rescue helps stranded groomer at Silver Star

Three members responded to the operator whose groomer experienced a mechanical issue Nov. 29

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

An Enderby restaurant and pub has been shut down since Sunday afternoon, Nov. 29, 2020 as a precaution after a guest reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. (Howard Johnson photo)
Enderby pub shuts down after guest reportedly tests positive for COVID-19

The Howard Johnson hotel, restaurant and pub has been closed since Sunday afternoon, Nov. 29

Vernon taxpayers can expect a 2.55 per cent increase for 2021. (File photo)
Vernon scales back 2021 tax increase

Pause of infrastructure levy program reduces burden on taxpayers

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Brent Ross poses with his dog Jack who died over the weekend after asphyxiating on a ball. Ross hopes his experience serves as a cautionary tale to other dog owners. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm man warns others after dog dies from choking on a ball

Brent Ross grieving the sudden loss of Jack, a healthy, seven-year-old chocolate lab

Mayor Colin Basran at the announcement of the 2021 Tim Horton’s Brier to be hosted in Kelowna on Nov. 21. (Contributed)
Tim Hortons Brier not coming to Kelowna

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted Curling Canada to move to hub model, similar to the NHL playoffs

Robert Gibson, born November 24, 2020 is in BC Children’s Hospital. Photo contributed
Princeton baby fights for his life, with parents at his side

A Go Fund Me campaign has been started to help family with expenses

Grapevine Optical was the victim of an early morning break and enter Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2020. (Crime Stoppers Okanagan / Facebook)
Collection of designer sunglasses stolen from South Okanagan eye-wear shop

Crime Stoppers is seeking the identity of two male suspects

By this time next year, the BC Green Pharmadeuticals cannabis growing facility in Princeton is expected to employ at least 150 people, according to the owner. (File photo)
Princeton cannabis plant thriving despite lawsuit and bad press, says owner

Company expects to hire 30 more employees in the next two months

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Most Read