Grow Tech Labs (GTL) Cannabis Business Accelerator, in partnership with Victory Square Technologies (CSE:VST,) announced they are developing a co-operative for small BC cannabis producers and processors to help maintain the province’s historic position as a global cannabis leader.
As a cannabis activist, I take particular interest in news like that as I have seen far too many small cannabis companies get drowned out by companies with big investment but perhaps less knowledge, craft, and overall ethics than the mom-and-pop types of establishments. In my opinion, this type of accelerator model says a lot about GTL's level of social responsibility which is something we don't see often enough in the globally emerging cannabis industry.
Barinder Rasode is the CEO of Grow Tech Labs and agreed. She said, "It’s easy to see that cannabis was going the way of many other emerging industries where profit and hype trump positive business practices. I looked at this industry and rather than accept it for what it was, or where it was going, challenged us to shape the industry into what we believed it should be— what we felt was missing, important to maintain and how we hoped the industry would look 5-10-20 years down the line. When I speak about ‘we’ I mean cannabis enthusiastic, micro growers, large LPs, government figures and so on. I believe by taking the time to collectively discuss best practices and hold the standard high, we’re able to challenge existing business and inspire new ones to think about building a legacy piece that champions and values sustainability, diversity, honors our history and encourages local markets. These are incredibly important factors in ensuring BC and Canada as a whole maintain their position as global leader in the cannabis space and that we quickly fold cannabis as a renewable resource into our economic portfolio."
GTL is inviting small BC cannabis producers and processors to participate in a provincial consultation process to help shape the provincial co-op, participate in Canada’s legal marketplace and ensure BC cannabis products find their way to consumers across the province, Canada and around the world.
“GTL’s mission is to accelerate the pace that small producers and processors enter the legal marketplace,” said Rasode. “With supply shortages across the country, it is even more important to retain the capacity, experience and knowledge small BC producers and processors have accumulated over decades.”
Rasode added, "When I envisioned Grow Tech Labs a big mandate for us was to remove all barriers of access into the cannabis space. We’ve been quite public about holding positions for women and indigenous people in our accelerator program, but what we didn’t expect was just how many medium and small cannabis producers and processors were actually being displaced with legalization. We wanted to ensure that not only are they given a home in a post-legalization world and that they continue practicing and perfecting their mastery but also to be given every advantage in navigating a post-prohibition era. We’re looking forward to hearing from many proud growers on how we can support them."
GTL is establishing a working group of sector leaders and experienced co-op professionals to develop a provincial engagement plan, transparent governance structure and application to incorporate a BC Small Cannabis Producer and Processor Co-Op within the provincial Co-operative Association Act. The business model will include a retail network in accordance with BC regulations.
“BC has a lot to gain by ensuring thousands of existing Health Canada registered growers are active participants in Canada’s cannabis economy,” adds Rasode. “With their combined capacity, these small BC producers and processors could become one of the largest cannabis enterprises in Canada.”
Dawna L. is a resident in Alberta (which neighbors BC), cannabis activist, and the Founder of The Releaf Leaf, a company that aims to educate people about cannabis and lift the stigma that surrounds the cannabis plant. She explained, "This looks like a great opportunity for BC. BC has always been a prominent force in the production of cannabis and some of the best and knowledgeable growers are in BC. Unfortunately the standards of ACMPR are strict and a lot of BC growers have been in the gray market so they were automatically excluded from being producers. We are all hoping to see this change!"
In addition to being Canada’s traditional cannabis capital, BC is home to one of the country’s most vibrant co-operative movements, with 2 million members, 700 co-op businesses and almost $50 billion in assets. GTL has been exploring the feasibility of developing a cannabis co-op with the BC Cooperative Association and will expand this collaboration to include other provincial, federal and municipal agencies.
“We want 2019 to be the year of small cannabis producers and processors in BC,” concludes Rasode. “GTL is inviting these innovators to be part of a new economy and make a lasting contribution to our society instead of retiring, finding a new line of work or joining the black market.”
British Columbians are invited to participate in this process by contacting the Co-Op Accelerator directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. All communication is confidential. Participants are not required to disclose their address or pay any fees to become involved in the co-op’s development phase.
“We are excited to see micro-growers participate in this cooperative. It’s going to be an exciting year for small producers and we look forward to supporting the craft cannabis market in British Columbia,” says Shafin Diamond, Co-Founder of GTL and CEO of Victory Square Technologies.
I look forward to seeing what GTL and VST are able to accomplish with this program!