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Travis Lane has dipped his feet in both worlds. As one of the most respected craft cannabis growers on the West Coast, Lane spent the last decade developing his cultivation techniques and passing his wisdom on to a generation of green thumbs. In recent years, his resume has expanded to include titles like entrepreneur, consultant, and instructor. As Canada readies to welcome reform on October 17, we caught up with Lane to discuss his new projects, a changing of the times in British Columbia, and the future of legal cannabis in Canada.

You’re director of the BCICA, founder of Levity Cannabis and the owner of Groundworks Consulting. Are you working on anything else in the space?

My partners and I are applying for five different licenses right now. We have two micro [cultivation licenses], a nursery, an analytical lab and breeding project, and an extract packing and reprocessing centre. I don’t like playing the LP game as far as the business goes, I’m fiercely independent, but I’m also a businessman. I know that if I can create an attractive property, it’s a root to getting to where I want to be.

Has the landscape in British Columbia changed in the run-up to legalization?

I’d say 75 percent of the people I grew up with as colleagues are either retiring or staying illegal. There are others looking at licensing who don’t have a clue what they’re doing, and then there’s a small number of people who know what they’re doing and are helping people through the licensing process. That part’s been tough for a lot of people.

How does Groundwork help people through that process?

We offer an explanation, from a grower’s perspective, about how and why people should apply for licenses. If you’re running a small business, you need to know what’s going on in your business, you need to know how to fill out those forms yourself, and so we try to take the approach of educating our clients, rather than simply doing the work for them.

Is licensing a means of both building this industry, and also sustaining the culture?

One of our applications is the Toaster Bud Cannabis Company. We’re going in there, we’re having fun, naming our strains movie names – this is what recreational cannabis should be, it should be fun. That’s our perspective on that one, but then on the other side I’m starting a business with a university professor that’s all about science, and it won’t be goofy at all. Under this new paradigm, we have the opportunity to be who we want to be.

Are growers on the West Coast ready for the looming shift of power?

BC has the talent, but we’re not going to be dominate in this marketplace like we have been. Alberta and Ontario are coming for our revenue, and that’s the way it’s going to be. Alberta is right next door, they have low taxes and the ability to poach BC talent, and the regional governments there are all about business development. I have a feeling that, if BC messes up retail the way it seems they are, I think we’ll see a lot of talent leaked out to the rest of the country. 

Will the federal government achieve its goal of chasing out the black market with cannabis reform?

I think there will still be some illegal activity, but I don’t think it will look anything like what we see right now. I think it will likely take five to 10 years, but the economic forces are going to be the driver there. In my opinion, we are going to see a time not very far from now, when I can get decent product for $5.50 a gram in the white market, and when we reach that point, that’s when change will happen. A lot of dispensaries in Vancouver are buying a pound at a time, when they used to by 20. We’re almost there already.

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