BC’s first cannabis farmgate licence was issued recently to a micro grower in Salmon Arm.
ShuCanna Growers, a micro cultivator and processor located on the Trans Canada Highway on the outskirts of Salmon Arm, recently received their Production Retail Store (PRS) licence from BC’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB).
The store plans to open soon.
The province previously licensed two other farmgate stores through special arrangements with two First Nations-owned cannabis producers, both licensed in 2022. ShuCanna’s licence represents the first formal farm-to-gate licence issued by the province under its PRS licence, launched late last year. As of press time, only one other PRS applicant is working through the process, the Victoria Cannabis Co on Vancouver Island.
The PRS farmgate licence allows federally-licensed cannabis cultivators to operate their own store at the same location as their facility and sell their products directly without going through the province’s central distribution system. These stores can operate as typical retail stores, carrying the same products as any other cannabis store in BC, and they can also choose to only carry their own exclusive products.
Although ShuCanna is still going through the final stages of opening its store, once fully stocked, it will be a complete, formal retail store located in the same building as its cultivation and processing facility. ShuCanna will carry its own cannabis, with various other products available.
Terry Robinson, owner of the facility, says he was eager to apply as soon as BC announced its licensing program in late 2022. While it was a lengthy and pricy process, including nearly $10,000 in provincial fees—not to mention municipal licensing fees and the cost of renovating and then stocking and staffing the store—Robinson says it was fairly easy.
“The biggest problem is we were the first, so nobody knew what was going on. We were being passed to different departments. But hopefully that makes it easier for the next person.”
ShuCanna first received their micro cultivation licence in May 2021 and then their micro processing and federal sales licences in November 2022, just as BC began allowing people to apply for a PRS “farm to gate” licence.
As a micro, ShuCanna operates with a small staff of about a half-dozen people, with Robinson, like the owners of most micros, wearing numerous hats, including master grower and head of security, and dealing with much of the day-to-day operations. He’ll now also be hiring budtenders to run the store.
This represents the end of a very long process Robinson has had his eye on for many years. Now that they are licensed, he says he still has more hoops to jump through to begin placing and receiving orders from the LDB, the cannabis wholesale agency in BC.
But he hopes their own cannabis flower and pre-rolls, grown and packaged on-site, won’t have to go through that process, giving his store an edge.
“It can take nine months to get our product to retailers if we go through another processor who then goes through the LDB. That’s the advantage of a farmgate licence: we can take our product from one room directly into the store.”
Getting products accepted by the BC LDB to go through that process can be a challenge for micros, he says, making farmgate, as well as BC’s direct delivery program, vital to the survival of micros.
“For us, I think farmgate is paramount,” says Robinson. “It’s very hard for the micros to get to market. This is how we can ensure we have a way to sell what we grow. We’re excited. It took a long time to get here. We still have a lot to do, but I think this is going to help a lot.”