Cowichan Tribes will now be able to produce cannabis as well as sell it under a one-year agreement with the province.
The government and the First Nation have entered into a time-limited agreement under the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act in which Cowichan Tribes will be able to participate in cannabis retail as well as production.
The agreement is only the second of its kind in B.C. after the province entered into its first one under the CCLA with the Williams Lake First Nation on Sept. 20, 2020.
Cowichan Tribes and its partners currently operate two Costa Canna cannabis retail outlets in the Valley, one in Duncan Village and the other at the Cowichan Commons, and is looking to eventually open more stores.
A Costa Canna in Colwood is being considered, with a possible opening soon after the new year, and another location is being eyed for Wilkinson Road.
The CCLA generally restricts businesses from operating in both the cannabis production and retail sectors in order to ensure the B.C. retail market is not dominated by a small number of larger producers, but the time-limited agreement enables Cowichan Tribes to continue its existing licensed retail cannabis operations as well as participate in licensed cannabis production.
Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour said a cannabis production plant that will be used by the First Nation is already in operation on lands adjacent to its reserve land.
He said the production plant was purchased by Cowichan Tribes from Duncan-based United Greeneries, which is known for producing high-grade craft cannabis, and the First Nation has kept the same workers that were there before the purchase.
Seymour said the cannabis grown there is being bought by the B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Distribution Branch and will be sold back to Cowichan Tribes.
The LCDB is the only entity that retail stores, both private and government-owned, can purchase non-medical cannabis from in B.C.
“We won’t have to pay the provincial rate for the cannabis, so our costs will be lower,” Seymour said.
“We are in discussions to extend the agreement with the province beyond a year, and are considering exploring the micro-production of cannabis as well.”
A press release from the province acknowledged that, during the period of the agreement, the government will undertake further policy work to ensure the provincial regulatory framework supports continued development of a robust and diverse cannabis industry that is inclusive of Indigenous Nations.