Original cannabis journalism for Canadians

Could provincial governments license cannabis producers?

Under the Cannabis Act, only the federal government has the right to regulate cannabis production. (Bloomberg Photo/Galit Rodan) (Bloomberg Bloomberg)

Under the Cannabis Act, only the federal government has the right to regulate cannabis production. (Bloomberg Photo/Galit Rodan)

The reasons behind an ongoing shortage of legal cannabis on licensed store shelves across Canada are still being parsed out by Canadian media

(You'll get The Leaf's hot take shortly.)

Whatever the causes, it's clear that Canada's reportedly abundant supply of legal cannabis hasn't been reaching provincial distributors as quickly as it should, straining the relationship between provinces, which regulate the retail sale of recreational cannabis, and the federal government, which regulates production.

In the context of that shortage, British Columbia's Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General told Marijuana Business Daily in January that it might consider establishing its own licensing regime for cannabis production, on top of the the federal regime for licensed production. (B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said, roughly 13 months earlier, that B.C. wasn't considering a production licensing scheme. Obviously, things have changed since then.)

B.C.-based cannabis industry consultant Ian Dawkins says he's personally viewed a proposal, drafted by cannabis industry players in another province, that's designed to alleviate this issue. The proposal would see that province's government create its own cannabis production regulations, issue its own production licences, and thereby attempt to solve its supply woes.

"I know for a fact that multiple provincial governments across Canada are, I would characterize it as, profoundly unhappy, bordering on panicking, about the state of the supply," says Dawkins, a principal with Althing Consulting.

"And that what I am beginning to hear, consistently from multiple different provinces in multiple different regions of the country, at the highest levels… is, 'Screw this, we're doing something provincially,' in one form or another."

Would Ottawa actually allow provinces to license cannabis production on their own?

"They certainly don't have to," said Fraser, a partner with Brazeau Seller Law in Ottawa who practices business law in the cannabis industry.

"Clearly that would be a violation of the Cannabis Act, because the ability of the provinces to create their own scheme is really with respect to distribution and sale, it's not cultivation and processing. So they don't have the authority to do that."

If any provincial governments actually go public with their purported plans to bypass federal cannabis regulations and take charge of cannabis production on their own, it would mark a new low in federal-provincial sparring over cannabis legalization (and in a federal election year, to boot). This rumour's worth keeping an eye on.

Correction, Feb. 5, 2019: 

A previous version of this newsletter erroneously paraphrased Ian Dawkins as saying he had "personally viewed specific proposals from other provinces to create their own cannabis production regulations, issue their own production licences, and thereby attempt to solve their supply woes."

In fact, although Dawkins did say he had seen specific proposals for provincial cannabis production regimes, he did not say those proposals came from provincial governments, as the original paraphrasing implied.

Correction, Feb. 6, 2019:

Corrects grammatical errror.


New on The Leaf

  • (Aaron Vincent Elkaim / The Canadian Press files)

    (Aaron Vincent Elkaim / The Canadian Press files)

    Proper postage required: Yes, you can send cannabis through the mail in Canada — just follow Herb's simple tips to make sure it reaches its destination.
  • POT of gold: Cannabis company Weekend Unlimited won the lottery for the "POT" stock ticker symbol on the Canadian Securities Exchange. (It currently trades under "YOLO.")
  • Click-and-collect denied: Ontario won't allow cannabis shoppers to order cannabis online, then pick it up in a store.

Elsewhere on the Weed Wide Web

  • (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press Files) (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press Files)

    (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press Files)

    A cautionary tale: Writer Jennifer Foden opens up about the mental health consequences she experienced after consuming a cannabis edible.
  • Unwelcome neighbour: Things turned ugly at a public meeting about a proposed cannabis production site in B.C.'s North Okanagan region.
  • Off the rails: Canada's major railroads are adjusting their drug policies in light of legalization.

What Next

Share this article

Sign up to receive The Leaflet newsletter!

Recommended for you

Advertisement