When are hashish excursions and tasting rooms coming to Canada?
The transition to a farm-to-table system in Canada’s legal cannabis sector is becoming increasingly important. In Alberta, growers, along with those in BC and Ontario, are campaigning for the right to enable customers to buy and taste the product exactly where it is grown.
It’s not difficult to imagine a future where people can tour farms and establishments, taste and interact with cannabis, just as they do with wine in wineries or beer in breweries.
Sounds nice doesn’t it? Well, in Canada, it’s a future that might actually be possible.
The future of farmgate
Some provincial and national regulators are signaling that they are ready to embrace the idea, but for many artisans and micro-farmers struggling to compete with the larger LPs, they cannot move fast enough.
“It’s difficult for us, with so much price compression in the market, to really differentiate ourselves from hundreds of other cannabis producers,” said Kieley Beaudry, co-founder of Parkland Flower Inc., a micro-farmer outside of Edmonton. “The players in the craft wine industry were able to differentiate themselves through tourism. It’s about creating an experience and making people pay for that experience rather than just a product. I would love to see how it goes. “
Jesse Milns / Leafly
Beaudry and her colleagues are struggling to compete in a provincial landscape where cannabis cannot be sold directly to consumers. The Alberta Department has yet to make the necessary changes to the existing legal framework to make this possible, but will “review the approach in other jurisdictions to provide guidance on what future opportunities may exist in Alberta,” said Jerrica Goodwin, Alberta’s press secretary Treasury Board and Finance.
One of the other jurisdictions they’re likely to watch is next door in British Columbia, where the province recently pledged to develop the way growers can sell cannabis.
“We’ve clearly heard the importance of these types of sales to smaller cannabis producers trying to break into a market that is currently dominated by bigger players,” said Mike Farnworth, BC’s public safety secretary and attorney general, in one Press release. “Our government is more committed than ever to helping businesses in British Columbia and encouraging people to buy local products, including creating the conditions for the success of cannabis companies of all sizes.”
“Farmgate stores are another way for consumers to choose legal products and are a great opportunity to continue breaking into the illegal market.”
– Joanna Hui, OCS communications manager
Initiatives include a proposed Farmgate sales program, which gives producers the right to sell directly to consumers from their locations. The launch is planned for 2022 and will likely be used by producers of all capacities.
Jesse McConnell, CEO of Rubicon Organics, explains how a Farmgate system and potential farm tours could benefit larger growers like their Simply Bare. “The economy for us would probably not be as high as for some of the smaller establishments – it would be more about providing the consumer with an experience.”
“If we break regulation and imagine my blue sky scenario, you can be there and see our commitment to sustainability … from the ground up. You would have the opportunity to tour the facility in a bio-safe manner and then you would get an insight into some of the manufacturing processes. The consumer would also have the opportunity not only to sample the products we have in the market, but also to sample some of the R&D offerings that might otherwise not make it to the store shelf. ”
Encourage Canadians to buy local (and legal) cannabis
Tweed Visitor Center in Smith Falls, Ontario. Photo by Jesse Milns / Leafly
Ontario is already in the process of finalizing the framework of its Farmgate system, which is strangely forcing licensed manufacturers to buy back products from the Ontario Cannabis Store before they are sold locally. Joanna Hui, communications manager at OCS, says the details should be finalized in the coming months and that around a dozen LPs of various sizes have shown interest in Farmgate stores.
“Farmgate stores are another way for consumers to choose legal products and are a great opportunity to continue breaking into the illegal market,” says Hui. “In the Farmgate stores, cannabis connoisseurs can get in direct contact with licensed producers and new consumers can discover various cannabis products. We have received positive feedback from both manufacturers and consumers and we look forward to helping launch Farmgate stores in Ontario. “
So it seems the Farmgate future is all but inevitable, at least in BC and Ontario, but when might the “tasting room” be open?
With Health Canada not having a word about local consumption anytime soon, this remains a daydream for the time being. But boy what a daydream is this …