Black Market Cannabis Growers Hit Roadblocks on Path to Legalization

Saira Peesker, Special to the Globe and Mail, September 24, 2018

As cannabis legalization fast approaches, the federal micro-licensing system set up to allow small growers to lawfully produce marijuana is proving difficult to navigate, several black-market growers say.

In some cases, discouraged growers are deciding not to go through the process of applying for a micro-cultivation licence, which will be opened up to applicants on Oct. 17.

Micro-cultivators are limited to a plant canopy of 200 square metres or less. They will have to follow a scaled-down version of the rules binding larger producers, including added security, meticulous documentation and a full-time quality-assurance employee if they plan to process their own product. The requirements are onerous and costly, say several growers weighing whether a foray into the legal market makes financial sense.

“What I’m hearing is that they want to license everyone, they’re just not going to make it easy,” said an Alberta man who has been growing since about 2000. As a medical grower who also sells recreational product illegally to family and friends, the opportunity to move out of the shadows is appealing.

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