Cannabis producers aspiring to & # 39; vessels & # 39; face unexpected obstacles



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Yan Boissonneault's daughter was turning blue.

Without warning, his baby stopped breathing, and he frantically performed CPR while his friend James Gallagher called 911.

Years later, men still remember emotionally that day. Boissonneault learned that her daughter had a rare disorder that caused epilepsy, and when the pharmaceutical remedies failed to cure her convulsions, she turned to CBD oil, a non-psychoactive substance in marijuana.

"It's been two years and she has not had an attack," Boissonneault said, standing beside rows of stinging marijuana plants under bright white lights. "That's what got me involved in that. It's very personal … The only profit it gives me is the joy of seeing my daughter smile."

Boissonneault and Gallagher now run a handful of small legal medical shifts in British Columbia and are among the "handmade" producers hoping to use their skills in the new recreational market by getting a new license for microcultivation.

But aspiring candidates are finding a major hurdle in their path: to get municipal approval and zoning, a key licensing requirement. Many cities have not established zoning and are either not ready or are reluctant to allow micro-cultivation, say growers.

Small farmers say the federal government has failed to educate municipalities about new permits and the need to create zoning to support them. As a result, they say, applications are delayed, the legal supply chain is full of shortages and the illegal market continues to thrive.

"The spirit of micro-cultivation licenses was to involve small producers and make the black market turn to the new market," said James Walsh, president of the BC Micro License Association. "We really do not see it."

Ottawa began accepting applications for microgrowers on October 17, the same day it legalized recreational weeds. The licenses cover 200 square meters of plant cover, allowing a premium cannabis producer to bill up to $ 3 million a year, Walsh said.

But many small farmers could not run for the federal government because they are still waiting for local zoning, he said.

Health Canada reported that it has so far received 23 license applications, including five in B.C., five in Alberta, seven in Ontario and six in Quebec.

Marijuana legalization has been the result of more than two years of consultations with all levels of government, and Health Canada has responded to many questions from municipalities and remains available to do so, said spokeswoman Tammy Jarbeau.

"Canada's Health Ministry has encouraged and supported municipalities to establish local standards and by-laws as needed," she said in a statement.

The Canadian Federation of Municipalities has issued a guide to legalizing marijuana in August 2017, providing advice on statutes, zoning, and business practices. The federation emphasized the need to respect local authority during legalization consultations, it says on its website.

Still, small farmers say they are finding a municipal bureaucracy and it is especially bad in B.C., despite its reputation as a marijuana mecca.

Part of the issue is the B.C. Agricultural Land Reserve, the legislation that protects agricultural land from being taken over by industry and by residential development. In July, the province introduced a law that allows cities to forbid installations of concrete vessels in the land reserve.

There are good reasons to ban concrete dumping on precious farmland, said Malcolm Brodie, Richmond Mayor B.C.

"Quite simply, you put this type of construction on the ground, you will never again have it for soil-based agriculture," he said.

The city just wants a cannabis facility and already has one, a licensed producer in an industrial area, Brodie said. He said that applications in industrial areas will be considered on a case-by-case basis, although he does not guarantee that any of them will be approved.

There are already "hundreds and hundreds" of black market plantations in the land reserve, said a small producer who asked not to be identified because of legal concerns. Less than a 10-minute drive from your property, over a million dollars in cannabis are probably being produced monthly, he said.

"Do they want us to keep growing the weed and selling them out the back door or do they want the tax money?" he asked. "We're going to do this on LRA lands, regardless."

Producers use concrete facilities because the soil is more prone to fungi, yeasts and bacteria, and open-air agriculture is impossible because of the climate, he added.

In Ontario, some municipalities created zoning before October 17, while others waited until microorganism seekers approached, said Mathew Columbro, president and founder of consulting firm Vindica Cannabis Corp.

"I think Ontario is a bit better than BC, but it's not perfect," said Columbro.

The application portal should have been opened before legalization day, instead, large licensed producers were able to get the first release in the market, said Ian Dawkins, president of the Canadian Cannabis Trade Association.

"The great story is justice," he said. "If large companies have the opportunity to bid on something and small businesses are frozen, this is considered a blatant political failure.

"However, in this huge multibillion-dollar national project, where is that same leadership?"

Small medical producers have dedicated a lot of time and passion to growing quality marijuana, Gallagher said, looking at the booming growth he shares with Boissonneault.

"We have a lot of knowledge and we want to see how this transits," he said. "Can we turn this into a business now that's cool? That's something that's always been in our minds."

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