The Kootenay United Cannabis Association is hosting its first event this Thursday: the Kootenay Cannabis Symposium. Government officials from all levels will be in Nelson to discuss ways of assisting smaller Kootenay producers in becoming involved in the regulated market.

Vice President with the association, Jim Leslie, says the goal right now is to start a dialog.

“We literally have the movers and shakers of this national and provincial policy, literally coming to the Kootenays to find out the best possible answers to the problems that we’re all facing right now. I think everyone in the Kootenays should be very proud of that. We should be ready to stand on our legacy and move forward with every level of government because we all have a real chance to lead here.”

The confirmed government representatives include Mary Shaw, Executive Director of Cannabis Legislation and Regulation; Jessica McLachlin, Manager, Stakeholder Relations at Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat; Wendy Norris, Senior Policy Manager at Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat; Sarah Wright-Gilbert, Engagement Policy Advisor at Health Canada.

There’s a number of barriers that the small producers in the region have been facing during the legalization process which are not just financial, but regulatory as well. The federal government is issuing licenses for micro cultivators as well as standard cultivators. However, the cap on cultivation space at the micro level can be restrictive, explains Leslie.

“A micro cultivation license has a very restrictive cap at 2,100 square feet of cultivation space. It is extremely difficult with that limited amount of space for an indoor cultivator in the Kootenays to pay for all the licensing and go through all that expense and then produce cannabis in such a small space.”

Doubling the cap in cultivation space is one change they’d like to see. There’s been about 85 micro license applications submitted from growers in BC, according to Leslie, but only one has been approved so far.

He feels these future developments are significant for the area to help create sustainable businesses which contribute to the local economy and services. There’s also been an issue with supply, which Leslie highlights as being another important reason to get more cultivators licensed.

Other discussion topics at the symposium will be developments in the Kootenay’s cannabis industry, the economic impact of legalization, regional job creation and auxiliary business opportunities, understanding regulatory and legal parameters, community based solutions to industry obstacles, and sustainable cultivation practices.

Industry stakeholders who are seriously considering licensing are invited to participate in Thursday’s event, which runs from 9:00am-7:00pm at the Prestige Lakeside Resort & Convention Centre in Nelson. The public is welcome as well; however, there are a limited number of tickets available. Leslie says the public is welcome to join the association as a member as well and attend future events. You can visit their website here.