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Kootenay initiative to create jobs, support cannabis businesses

A new initiative to support cannabis businesses in the Kootenays will soon lead to better access to employment opportunities in the industry and create sustainable cannabis operations in the region.

The Cannabis Business Transition Initiative, delivered by Community Futures Central Kootenay with over $675,000 from the Province, will help startup and existing cannabis businesses overcome the barriers to operating in the legal economy.

“This program recognizes the potential for the Kootenay region to support people with local and sustainable employment opportunities,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “It will help cannabis businesses get off to a good start with a solid and sustainable plan to create jobs that support local families.”

Community Futures Central Kootenay has hired a new team of cannabis business transition advisors to run the project. They will work with individuals interested in testing tools and resources that would support licensing applications and help businesses transition to the legal cannabis economy.

“Cannabis production has been a significant economic driver in many of B.C.’s rural communities and it is our goal to help cannabis producers, who are not connected to organized crime, transition to the legal market,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “A failure to transition these producers would not only jeopardize our goal to reduce the illegal market, it would also be a lost opportunity to create stable jobs that support families and communities.”

The underground cannabis market in the Kootenays was well established prior to Canada legalizing non-medical cannabis in October 2018. There are an estimated 2,500 small-scale cannabis producers in the region that hope to expand into the non-medical market, including some authorized to grow medical cannabis. The cannabis business transition advisors will help them identify existing issues, strategies and opportunities in the current legalization process.

“With the legalization of cannabis, our region has an opportunity to transition its underground cannabis economy to a successful legal industry,” said Andrea Wilkey, executive director, Community Futures Central Kootenay. “This provincial funding will help ensure that local entrepreneurs have the support they need to navigate the complex regulatory system and create a sustainable cannabis business.”

Community Futures Central Kootenay’s Cannabis Business Transition Initiative is the first of its kind in Canada. Over the next two years, it is expected to support over 100 clients in their transition to licensed and sustainable cannabis businesses.

“I look forward to the results from this project,” said Michelle Mungall, MLA for Nelson-Creston. “I believe we have the opportunity to grow the craft cannabis industry in our region and support people and their families through increased employment.”

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