Salmon Arm, B.C. welcomes farmgate dispensary

ShuCanna staff stand outside the dispensary located at 2321 9th Ave. SW in Salmon Arm. Rebecca Willson photo

Fresh is best.

A motto many live by when it comes to meat, dairy, produce and anything else that goes into your body – including cannabis.

ShuCanna, a Salmon Arm dispensary, is taking the motto to heart, having recently undergone the process to be licensed as a farmgate Producer Retail Store.

It means they can grow cannabis onsite, package it and sell it in their store in a much faster process than other dispensaries.

The process usually involves buying and waiting to receive product through the B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Distribution Branch, after it has been grown elsewhere, cultivated, packaged and approved, which can take up to a year, said ShuCanna owner and president Terry Robinson.

Through the farmgate program, consumers are getting much fresher cannabis, which the ShuCanna team has heard is being very well received.

Owner and president Terry Robinson, sales manager Leah Hermann and processing lead Mat Harris at licensed farmgate dispensary, ShuCanna. Rebecca Willson photo

The Salmon Arm site is the only licenced Producer Retail Store in B.C., although two others are in the licensing process at this time.

Though the province has previously listed two other farmgate stores, licenced through special arrangements with two Indigenous-owned cannabis producers, these are not listed by the province as Producer Retail Stores, reads an article by David Brown for the StratCann publication.

READ MORE: Lower Mainland’s first ‘farm-gate’ cannabis store opens at Shxwhá:y Village near Chilliwack

READ MORE: Williams Lake First Nation showcases BC’s first farm-to-gate cannabis operation

Robinson said the process is expensive, costing $10,000 upfront to apply and get started, with additional costs for municipal licensing, stocking and staffing, which can be deterring a lot of other growers and retailers to go for it, but the freshness and quality aspects were important to him and his team.

“There’s no guarantee with that you’ll get a licence, and it took us over a year,” he said. “If you’re not in a retail store in an urban centre, it maybe wouldn’t be worthwhile.”

ShuCanna is located at 2321 9th Ave. SW. Robinson said he hopes the location, on the way to Walmart and highly visible to tourists and locals alike, will be successful as they only got the licence a few months ago.

The fresh smell and quality of products will certainly travel through word of mouth either way, said Leah Hermann, sales manager.

“It’s that farm-to-table concept,” she explained. “Craft growers usually know what they’re doing. It’s hand-trimmed, hand-rolled, hand-closed, and that attention is important on a consumer standpoint.”

The cost to start a farmgate licence has been a hurdle for most retailers, as the other two in the process, Victoria Cannabis Co. and another in the Vancouver region, explained in Brown’s StratCann cannabis article. Out of more than 100 eligible growers, only these three have taken the first steps.

But Robinson eagerly applied as soon as the program began late last year.

“It’s a family business and we wanted to pursue that, and do it this way, farm fresh,” he said of the ability to grow and monitor the product onsite.

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