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Edmonton-area grower pushing for cannabis tourism

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WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton-area cannabis producer has her sights set on a bigger picture for the industry, which would allow producers to push their products beyond Alberta's cannabis shops. The idea includes a made-in-Alberta industry focused on cannabis tourism. Kendra Slugoski explains. – Oct 24, 2020

Kieley Beaudry, one of the co-founders of Parkland Flower Inc., a micro-grow cannabis producer outside of Edmonton, has her sights set on the big picture.

That picture includes a made-in-Alberta industry focused on cannabis tourism — similar to a winery — allowing local producers to push their products beyond Alberta’s cannabis shops.

“People will travel to come see facilities like ours,” said Beaudry.

Beaudry and her team had just toured folks from NOVA Cannabis around their Parkland County facility, showing off their plants and allowing the visitors to take pictures.

That’s exactly what Parkland Flower hopes to offer to the public soon — along with a “tasting room” and sales area.

Beaudry called it a “farm-to-table experience.”

Read more: COVID-19 pandemic a ‘boon’ for legal cannabis in Canada as marijuana industry turns two

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The barrier is current provincial consumption laws. Legislation does not allow for direct-to-consumer cannabis sales.

Beaudry, also the president of The Alberta Cannabis Micro License Association, said the province and Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis has been listening.

Jerrica Goodwin, press secretary to Alberta’s Treasury Board and Finance, said no decisions have been made, but added government “will be examining the approach in other jurisdictions to help inform what future opportunities there may be in Alberta.”

“I do see it coming,” said Beaudry, “there is a safe way to do it.”

“The AGLC did a fantastic job of retail rollout with over 500 stores now in Alberta,” added Beaudry, “which is amazing — we want to add to that.”

Read more: COVID-19 pandemic a ‘boon’ for legal cannabis in Canada as marijuana industry turns two

George Smitherman, President & CEO of Cannabis Council of Canada, which advocates for licensed producers, said each province has jurisdiction and would have to change rules to allow for the sale of cannabis on sites, as well as consumption.

Smitherman said Ontario and British Columbia have already started the conversation about farm gate sales — where producers would be able to sell their product at their grow site.

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Click to play video 'Province to allow craft cannabis direct delivery and farm-gate sales' Province to allow craft cannabis direct delivery and farm-gate sales
Province to allow craft cannabis direct delivery and farm-gate sales – Sep 21, 2020

With current strict advertising rules for cannabis, Smitherman said cannabis tourism could open up “more economic development for communities.”

“It’s true that the cannabis producers are operating in a very, very restricted environment in terms of being able to communicate about the products that we’re making,” said Smitherman.

He added sampling products on site would give clients great insight “into who they are, what they’re all about, what their growing practices are and of course about the quality of their products.”

Another obstacle, said Smitherman, are the rules and regulations governed by Health Canada. The facilities of licensed producers are in the hands of the federal government.

“I describe them as like pharmaceutical facilities protected like Fort Knox.”

But already, Smitherman said producers have offered up creative viewing areas that wouldn’t jeopardize the strict protective guidelines of legal grow operations.

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The owners of Parkland Flower said changing the rules will also help educate the public about legal cannabis. Beaudry said she would be excited to offer a plant-trimming class to teach people how to care for home plants.

She said Alberta can lead the way with a tourism industry, especially after the success of the last two years.

“We’re two years in, the sky didn’t fall.”