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Season 3 of the State of Craft started off with a bang as we welcomed guests Albert Eppinga and Dr. Michelle Corfield of BC Cannabis Inc. to join us for a conversation. Here is a quick recap of what we discussed, plus the full video recording so you can stay up-to-date with the latest from the State of Craft.
The Origins of BC Cannabis Inc. and the Choice to Work Within the Legal Market
10:52 - A dynamic husband and wife power team, Albert is a master cannabis grower who cut his teeth in the black market, earning the title of Grower of the Year in 2021. Michelle is a highly decorated indigenous negotiator who has spearheaded many impressive projects, including co-designing the only indigenous MBA program in Canada (available through SFU). Together, they run BC Cannabis Inc. out of Sooke, BC, and are one of the only indigenous-owned licensed producers in Canada. Albert's choice to work in the legal market was a noble one: the opportunity to shift his craft from the shadows of the black market into a fully legal, government-approved operation could serve as a positive example to other members of his community on how to stay out of legal trouble and go about things "the right way".
The What We Heard Report
21:41 - Having sat on the Committee of Standards and Guidelines for the College of Physicians and Surgeons when medical cannabis was introduced to Canada in 2001, Michelle has past experience with cannabis policy. She shares that the structure and wording of the What We Heard report was doomed from the start. "These questions aren't meant to actually answer anything" says Michelle. She adds that her initial expectations were that the report would offer positive recommendations that would change legislation so things would get easier. She was sorely disappointed to see that was not the case, in her opinion.
Over-Taxation Fuels the Black Market
26:34 - Aside from the What We Heard report, Michelle, Albert, and Sami discuss the damage of the excise tax (check out our dedicated episode to the harm of the excise tax with Dan Sutton here). The three talk about how the black market continues to thrive because of the hoops licensed producers are forced to jump through and how impossible it is for LPs to make any profit.
Grower/Processor Mistrust and BC Cannabis Inc.'s Lawsuit
40:00 - Michelle and Albert share their frustration at the lack of protection available for growers to protect them from being ripped off by shady processors. The 3 reminisce that in the black market, no one would ever be ripped off because agreements were all made on reputation. Now, LPs are vulnerable to being "robbed" of their product, which is exactly what happened to BC Cannabis Inc. They lost over $500,000 to an unethical processor, and even though Albert and Michelle took them to the Supreme Court and won the case, they still never got their money back.
57:16 - To wrap up the conversation, Michelle put it bluntly: "[The report] is not going to change legislation." She explains that for true change to happen, the cannabis industry needs to become more unified, hire lobbyists, and lobby the government until we see the changes this industry desperately needs.