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Can ‘craft cannabis’ replicate B.C.’s craft beer success?

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Legal cannabis is only one day old, but already there's a push for B.C. to duplicate its craft beer success in the pot sector. Kylie Stanton reports.

In the face of the ongoing “Green Rush,” B.C.’s “Craft Cannabis” producers want in on the action and to have the opportunity to sell their product legally.

“It’s not just about growing the raw product anymore, it’s about processing it,” said Trees Island Grown director Alex Robb.

“Turning products into bath bombs, concentrated medicinal oils. These are things that are still not available on the legal marketplace, but have become a linchpin of our economy.”

READ MORE: B.C. government launches online cannabis sales with some strains already sold out

For decades, B.C.’s independent — but illegal — pot growers have been developing some of the world most potent and renowned marijuana strains more famously known as “B.C. bud.”

So far, the government is only using larger, corporate growers to supply the now-legal market, shutting out the smaller producers. But micro-licenses could change that.

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It was the B.C. provincial government that pushed for the inclusion of the smaller producers. Once granted, it would allow those with long-established expertise to continue to grow, and sell to processors for distribution.

“There is a lot of interest from B.C.,” said Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.

READ MORE: B.C.’s first government pot shop opens its doors in Kamloops

“I think it will be a big boost to the industry here in British Columbia, particularly the regional industry.”

Teresa Taylor, with the Craft Cannabis Association of B.C. calls it a big step forward, especially in areas that have been relying on the industry for years.

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“Cannabis has fed a lot of smaller communities, especially across the Kootenay region. We know there are thousands of applicants waiting in the wings.”

WATCH: Anti-pot protest held in downtown Vancouver on first day of legalization

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It could be a long wait. Micro-license applications only opened Wednesday, and the process of being granted one is incredibly in-depth and could take up to a year.

“We really need to move toward inclusion fast so that people that are out there that want to come into this industry and feel comfortable, and legal, and safe have the opportunity to do so,” said Taylor.

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The hope is it could open even more doors, perhaps creating a market much like B.C.’s craft beer industry. Something that provides an alternative to mass producers, while providing and experience for those passionate about the product.

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“I think it could be good for the general cannabis industry for the consumer, but also for the tourism industry,” said Jose Dominguez, a cannabis expert consultant.

“Sell at the point of production so you can create the exact same model that you see in craft beer.”

Until micro-licences are granted, “craft cannabis” will remain on what’s being called the “grey market,” available only though dispensaries, which are also awaiting legal status.