Should cannabis be sold at farmers' markets?

Published May 30, 2021 09:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Paolo Paradiso

Canada might not be able to hold onto the title for long, but as one of only two countries in the world to fully embrace legalization, it’s home to the largest cannabis adult-use market in the whole world, a pretty impressive feat. The country has also managed to boast the largest cannabis tourism industry going, something that’s been true since long before it became legal, and soon it might experience yet another growth spurt, that is, if farmers’ market owners get their way.

Right now, it’s not legally allowed

Rules and regulations in Canada surrounding cannabis sales are very strict, prohibiting any pot products from being sold by an unlicensed vendor. Only licensed and approved dispensaries can peddle green goods to the public, and to change it so that small producers like craft cultivators can bring their harvest to the table is going to be hard. Three big problems will need to be tackled first, a challenge that’s a whole lot easier said than it is done.

1. Rules and regulations

The rules and regulations we have in place to disperse products to licensed dispensaries begin at the factory and end at the storefront to ensure that proper measures are taken all along the way to deliver high-quality products. If we were to allow craft cultivators to bring their harvests to market, we’d need to come up with a whole new reliable way to do these quality checks.

2. New packaging standards

When you shop through dispensaries, you’re welcomed by the look and feel of product packaging that is tamper-resistant, air sealed, and properly labelled, but would farmers’ markets offer the same experience? Since these venues typically allow farmers to display their products out in the open for all to see, some concessions would have to be made for cannabis. We would need to come up with a plan for packaging that is just as safe as what consumers would expect from anywhere else they’d be buying weed.

3. Changing the way we conduct compliance checks

Compliance checks are standard in the industry, and really easy to do at a physical storefront because it never changes, making things like random inspections possible. Small craft cultivators who are scatted all across the country would be much harder to reach, in particular those that are operating far away from any major towns or cities, as their farms would require extensive travel to get to, and their locations of operation would be changing as often as once or twice a week. It’s tricky but not impossible.

Does cannabis belong in a farmers’ market?

Some might disagree but both farmers and cultivators believe that weed should be offered through far more venues than regular dispensaries. Though large producers might not need to have access to this niche portion of the market, craft cultivators could use the chance to pay their bills which are slowly piling up, so that they can continue to exist. We’ve seen dozens of incredibly talented small-time growers die because they have few chances to compete with big conglomerates, and this could be the answer that saves them.

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