TRURO, N.S. – It isn’t uncommon to see booths or tables of Nova Scotia’s finest craft beer, liquors or small-scale produced wines at local weekend farmers’ markets around Colchester.
With marijuana legalization on the horizon though, is there a possibility craft weed or weed products could have the same future in farmers’ market environments?
“I don’t know there will be the same kind of regulatory allowance for marijuana production as there is for craft breweries and wineries,” said Margaret Congdon, manager of the Truro Farmer’s Market.
“I think it depends a great deal on how that licensing would evolve. If it gets to that point where there’s a licensing and regulatory allowance for that, if someone applied, we would look at that application the same as we do any vendor applications.”
The Truro Farmers’ Market features vendors from Nova Scotia’s craft beer distilleries and wineries every Saturday, with tables and displays of beers, liquors and wines available to be sampled and purchased by anyone over 19.
To sell at the market though, the vendors must be fully licensed, with permission from the province’s liquor commission before being approved.
“Their licensing allows them to sample a certain amount and to sell full unopened bottles,” said Congdon.
“Of course, they can’t sell by the glass as there are specific licensing requirements for that. As long as they are properly licensed and permitted, which they must have on display, there is nothing further they have to do other than adhering to individual market requirements.”
So, could marijuana see the same type of licensing allowing it to be sold in a market environment? Congdon is doubtful at the moment.
“It sounds like initially there will be such a limited number of licensed providers that it might not be relevant for quite some time,” she said.
“I also think the curve on those products still has to happen and it will take a while to get there. It also depends on the products they want to sell and if they would be a good fit at a farmers’ market or not.”
The provincial government is still looking at how legalized marijuana will be handled within Nova Scotia, and have only confirmed it will be sold through crown-owned NSLC stores.
When it comes to private sales licensing though, the topic hasn’t even been discussed.
“As time goes on, the market will likely evolve, but I would expect that would be a little way off,” said Beverley Ware, communications advisor for the NSLC.
“The entire procurement and distribution system is being developed right now, so they haven’t made the final decision on how products will be sold. All they are looking at right now is solely from NSLC outlets, not from any private producers like you would see from a winery, for example. It’s not something being looked at right now.”
Aside from the government’s lack of discussion on licensing, the possibility of a craft weed market could suffer from another big hit – public opinion.
“I think the biggest difference is going to be in the public’s perception of those products. It’s just not established,” said Congdon.
“The liquor stores have been around for so much longer that the public is very used to them and comfortable with their presence. Even if they don’t visit them, it’s generally accepted at this point they exist.
“I think we can only wait and see how it evolves. I think farmers’ markets would be willing to look at whatever comes down the pipe, but I don’t think that will happen for marijuana for quite some time.”