The process of making pot-production and sales a legitimate industry can best be described as “hurry up and wait,” said the City of Vernon manager of economic development and tourism.
Kevin Poole says the regulatory framework for a legalized cannabis industry being developed by federal and provincial governments has raised many cost issues for their civic counterparts, and has raised questions ranging from how to train and educate the industry workforce to tourism marketing opportunities.
“This industry will be about creating partnerships and right now the provincial government is a bit slow out of the gate on developing a framework for how this is going to unfold,” Poole said.
Poole was one of the featured speakers at a forum held in Kelowna today, organized by the National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education.
Poole said he receives an email inquiry almost daily about opening a dispensary, something his city council has put on hold until the regulatory framework is finalized.
“I just have to keep telling people we are not there yet,” Poole said.
All this leaves tourism and education boosters developing new ideas on how to address pot-industry labour needs and entrepreneur demands.
For example, said Poole, the idea of starting pot production tours similar to wine tours commonly is raised, but that will depend on the legislative limitations of possession and use in public.
“What I have noticed from legalizing in Colorado is it is legal to sell within their state, but it is still federally illegal in the U.S., so they can do little to promote the industry beyond their own border. They can’t do a thing with it,” Poole said.
In Canada, he said legalizing cannabis across the country will remove the marketing ability.
“Once all the rules are in place, you will see the entrepreneurs figure it out and develop new business off-shoot ideas,” Poole said.
David Purcell, emerging business director for Kwantlen Polytechnic University, said legalizing marijuana is expected to create an industry employing from 50,000 to 150,000 across Canada.
Purcell said that creates challenges in providing an adequate certified labour force to meet that job demand on both the production and retail side, as well as educating people about the fact-based realities of cannabis use.
He said Kwantlen is at the forefront of developing courses related to the industry and is looking to continue expanding on that curriculum, at one point seeing creation of a diploma or degree program on cannabis.
“We are looking to create evidence-based education initiatives that can help correct the false perceptions and inaccurate stereotypes so the public can feel more comfortable in the legalized cannabis world,” he said.
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