With several decades of experience growing cannabis, the two-person team at Kootenay Aeroponic has roots that go deep into the cannabis community in southeastern BC.
Started by Loree LaBoucane and Charles Morrison and licensed in early 2021, Kootenay Aeroponic is a micro cultivator and processor located in Creston, BC, just a few miles north of the US border.
The two partners first met when Morrison was a designated grower under the ACMPR (MMAR?), and LaBoucane was working in a medical dispensary in nearby Kimberley. They ended up opening a medical dispensary, serving the community of Creston for a short time before transitioning into the fully regulated non-medical market in 2018, following legalization.
A renovated former tractor repair and supply shop provided the backdrop for Kootenay Aeroponic’s custom-built growing system. The micro cultivation team first sold products into the BC market through a third-party processor, but after receiving their processing licence in 2023, they pivoted to processing, packaging and shipping their own products through BC’s direct delivery system.
“We’re excited about Direct Delivery,” says LaBoucane, and we’re doing everything we can to let retailers know about our unique, small batch products.” As they now have their micro processing licence, Kootenay Aeroponic will also offer in-house extracts, pending receipt of their concentrates sales licence, something the two-person team is eager to share with consumers.
Located on a major route into Creston, Kootenay Aeroponic is positioned on prime real estate for a farmgate store, LaBoucane says. Although they have big plans for the location, the realities of the market and the cost to apply for a PRS licence have those plans on the back burner for the time being.
It’s not an easy path, she explains, but it’s about their love of the plant and of their community. The micro licence means their operation is small enough that the two of them can handle the majority of the work, but it also has them burning the midnight oil to make it all work. It’s a path she hopes the government, at all levels, can do more to support.
“We’ve been in the community a long time, and do this because it’s what we love. You have to. Chuck and I do everything ourselves. It’s the craft, legacy growers who made the transition that need help if they’re going to succeed. Definitely our industry could use some government assistance. The BCLDB could stop charging the 15% fee on Direct Delivery, and the federal government could reign in the excise tax which could help producers become profitable.”
“For a long time before legalization, cannabis was a major part of the economy in places all around the Kootenays,” she continues. “If those of us who have made this transition can’t make it work, it hurts the whole region. I hope they really understand that the Kootenays has a lot to lose. The region is famous all over the cannabis world! Simply put, it only makes good economic sense.”
Still, they remain very positive, making calls and driving to local stores to highlight the products they have available through direct delivery. “It’s been very hard, we all need to work together to create an accountable AND viable industry. We need to make sure we’re supporting local, BC-grown products. We need to make sure we can preserve the legacy of BC Bud.”