Grow Tech Labs and Victory Square Technologies launched a cannabis co-op this month that will begin with a provincewide consultation of small producers and processors, Rasode said.
Grow Tech will provide start-up funding but it will be up to the members who pick an executive and define their roles under bylaws and a governance model.
“To have a co-op based model where there is a collaboration on not only success but risk mitigation and learning outcomes from each other is a model that has worked in Canada and definitely in B.C. with other commodities like wheat and cranberries,” she said.
Others have already started building co-ops and identified some obstacles.
The Cascadia Agricultural Co-operative Association is working to create a medical marijuana co-operative that extends beyond producers and processors to include consumers and retailers, and is collaborating with Grow Tech on a consultation tour of B.C.
Co-founders Joel Podersky and Semir Yusuf said the model would include small- and medium-sized producers, patients and dispensaries.
“Collectively, they make up a market place, providing both supply and demand,” Podersky said.
The idea would be to prioritize quality over quantity and provide members with shared access to business development resources like accounting and legal support, he said.
Current regulations prevent such a marketplace from operating independently. All distribution has to go through the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch.
In Kaslo, Todd Veri said he was inspired to start the Kootenay Outdoor Producers Co-op after reading a federal task force report on cannabis that said there would be space in the market for small growers. There’s a long history of local marijuana production in the Kootenays, he said, and he thought a co-op model would keep the economic benefits in the community.