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Changes needed for Canadian cannabis sector, urges Delta grower

The Delta cannabis producer warns that the economic health of many licensed producers, processors, retailers and other members of the industry are currently at risk
The review includes a panel that is to provide independent, expert advice on the progress made toward achieving the Cannabis Act's objectives, as well as identify priority areas for improving the legislation.

An East Ladner greenhouse cannabis grower has high hopes changes will come from a federal government review of the Cannabis Act.

Partnering with Houweling Nurseries on 64th Street to create the venture called Boundary Bay Cannabis, Agra Ventures Ltd. says that while the purpose of the review is to assess the effects of the legalization of recreational cannabis on the health outcomes of Canadians, it is also assessing financial, tax, legal and regulatory matters that could benefit the Canadian cannabis sector.

Having legalized the product in 2018, the federal government last month announced it is launching a legislative review of the act, looking at several aspects of legalization including the domestic cannabis industry and the black market.

Agra Ventures notes that companies in the business of licensed cannabis production are hoping to benefit as it may lead to improvements in potency and packaging restrictions, as well as reductions or the elimination of various tax regulations on cannabis products.

“Some of the major challenges faced by companies in the cannabis industry currently include the inability to operate profitably and the difficulty of navigating numerous regulations and restrictions. These difficulties, among others, could be significantly eased as a result of a positive set of changes resulting from the review,” the company said in a news release.

The Delta cannabis producer also warns that the economic health of many licensed producers, processors, retailers and other members of the industry are currently at risk.

Agra Ventures says some of the outcomes it hopes to see include a significant reduction or elimination of excise taxes, more appropriate labelling rules for other cannabinoids aside from THC and CBD, as well as for cannabis products in general.

The company is also hoping the sale of CBD products on an over-the-counter basis will be allowed, similar to how they are sold in the United States, as well as the removal of certain packaging limits, such as the one-gram limit on the size of dried flower pre-rolls, and allowing the promotion of cannabis use on an even playing field with alcohol and other controlled substances.

“For the sake of our customers, employees, shareholders and other stakeholders, AGRA’s hope is that Health Canada will take this opportunity to accept many of the reasonable recommendations being made by industry to significantly improve the viability of the regulated cannabis industry for the long term,” said Nick Kuzyk, Interim CEO of Agra Ventures.

The company points out that the government was required by law to conduct a review of the Cannabis Act three years after the legislation was enacted, however, the review is occurring one year later than mandated.

The Cannabis Council of Canada also said the legal cannabis sector has long called for urgent government action to protect the health and safety gains of cannabis legalization.

While the sector applauds the scope and independence of the statutory review, the advocacy groups said it believe it does not recognize or reflect the urgent need for relief from the excessive tax and regulatory burden hampering the ability of the legal industry to support the health and safety objectives of the Cannabis Act.