2nd B.C. First Nation signs deal with province to grow and sell cannabis

Cowichan Tribes, which currently operates two Costa Canna cannabis retail outlets in the Valley along with its partners, has entered into a one-year agreement with the province to grow cannabis as well as sell it. (File photo)

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 sell and grow cannabis.

The agreement is only the second of its kind in B.C. after the province entered into its first one with the Williams Lake First Nation in September 2020.

Cowichan Tribes and its partners currently operate two Costa Canna cannabis retail outlets in the Cowichan Valley and is looking to eventually open more stores.

The cannabis act 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 this agreement is an exception to that.

Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour said a cannabis production plant they plan to use is already in operation on lands adjacent to its reserve land.

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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, whether 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.”

In a statement, the province acknowledged that during the period of the agreement regulatory framework will be reviewed to ensure it is inclusive of Indigenous Nations.

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