You can buy sun-ripened organic peaches, home-baked pastries, artisanal soaps, and craft wines at farmers markets. So why can’t you buy weed? In Canada and beyond, there is a growing sentiment by consumers and cultivators alike that micro and craft producers deserve a seat at table. Specifically a farmers market and farm gate cannabis table.
Slowly, regulators are catching on to this legislative discrepancy between liquor sales and cannabis sales. A few provinces are starting to shift gears. As per usual, BC is the main market pondering a farm-gate sales model for licensed producers.
Many micro and craft cultivators are frustrated with the centralized sales model mandated across Canada. Is it time to pivot and allow for a truly seed to sale approach?
Support from Cultivators, Consumers, and Market Organizations
Everyone is calling for cannabis sales at farmers markets, from California to Ontario. After all, if liquor sales are typically legal at farmers markets, why not cannabis?
Several cannabis-only farmers markets exist in mature markets like Seattle and San Francisco, many of which started up prior to adult-use legislation. These markets only cater to cannabis, with small producers selling flower, edibles, and other products.
But, there is a growing demand for cannabis to get the same treatment as wine and spirits. As CBC reported, an organization representing more than three dozen farmers markets in Nova Scotia has voiced their support for allowing weed sales right alongside veggies, soaps, and wines.
In the CBC interview, Justin Cantafio, executive director of Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia, explained, “The farmers’ market could be the perfect place for that type of product to be sold in a safe and controlled environment.”
He went on to say, “We’ve heard from some of the folks who sell at our farmers’ markets that they are interested in using their micro-licences to sell the cannabis that they grow to people who are willing to pay a fair price for their product.”
Call for Farm Gate Cannabis Programs Also Picking Up Steam
Farm-gate programs are a similar, yet separate, avenue for cultivators and producers to sell directly to consumers. Much like farmers and homesteaders sell their eggs and produce at a farm stand on their property in rural communities, cannabis cultivators are looking to do the same.
The farm-gate model is especially appealing to craft producers, organic farms, and brands catering to a crunchy-granola-type clientele. It’s a way for consumers to directly support cannabis cultivators, and to see the process from seed to sale.
Although there are no legal farm-gate programs in Canada yet, BC’s government is currently mulling its options. Alongside approving legal cannabis delivery services following 2020, it announced its intention to pursue farm-gate sales following consultations.
Colin Davison, a cultivator in Oliver, BC, told Stratcann, “It’s such a great opportunity for outdoor growers. If you look at wineries, having a membership and people come out to the winery, that would be a great way to link up with other outdoor growers, have tours and be able to cross-market our farms together.
Still, some rural small-scale cultivators are expecting that any farm-gate programs will require a heavy bureaucratic application process and costs. So much so that many are worried it could exclude all but the most well-funded large licensed producers. Which, in some ways, negates the appeal of micro and craft products. BC clearly has a lot to unpack before any farm-gate program begins in the province (and beyond),
Farmers Markets and Farm Gate Cannabis Sales Support Craft Producers
As support for craft cannabis grows, so too will the support for direct sales to consumers. Customers increasingly want to support local producers, from cheese makers to apple orchards. Cannabis should be the recipient of this hyper-local consumer demand.
The logical evolution of the legal recreational cannabis industry is to allow cannabis at farmers markets, and farm gate cannabis sales from craft producers. It is only a matter of time before laws change to facilitate true seed to sale cultivation.