BC Cannabis Trail could soon be on the map

Published on November 17, 2023 by Special to the oz.

The BC Cannabis Trail could go through Nelson, BC Photo: Adobe stock/the oz.
The iconic Big Orange Bridge in Nelson, BC, is pictured. A new project is seeking to start up a BC Cannabis Trail for tourists.

By Timothy Schafer | Local Journalism Initiative

A provincial pilot to build a BC Cannabis Trail in BC focusses on the Kootenays as well as the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island.

Selkirk Innovates and the Craft Cannabis Association of BC have submitted an application for funding to complete a project to focus cannabis tourism on the two key and historical areas.

The goal of the pilot project is to build the foundation for a cannabis tourism trail in the two regions, modelled after the successful BC Ale Trail, that can then be expanded to other regions of BC.

“Given the relatively new legal cannabis economy in BC and the ongoing intricacies surrounding cannabis marketing and branding policies, the Cowichan Valley and Kootenay regions have not yet formalized cannabis tourism,” writes Tracey Harvey and Sarah Campbell of Selkirk Innovates in a letter outlining the project.

“Nevertheless, the rich culture, historical significance, and ongoing evolution of regional cannabis economies in these regions position them as ideal candidates for an interregional cannabis tourism pilot project: Building the BC Cannabis Trail.

For decades before the decriminalization of recreational cannabis in 2018, the Kootenay region and the Cowichan Valley of BC have been home to cannabis sectors.

The “integral cannabis culture and economy in these regions have created rich historical ties to cannabis,” Harvey says in her letter.

Right now there are around 30 legal cannabis businesses — including producers, processors, nurseries, laboratories, and retail outlets — in the two regions, giving each area enough “enduring cannabis clusters.”

Legalization has also created the climate for economic diversification and tourism development, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as British, German, and American travellers and people from across Canada are increasingly travelling to the BC, Campbell writes.

“Cannabis tourism is viewed as a catalyst for economic recovery in Canada’s tourism sector,” she states.

The pilot project has several objectives, including identifying provincial and federal policies that may restrict cannabis tourism, fostering collaboration among cannabis businesses, traditional tourism operators, and First Nations, and creating relevant content for various cannabis businesses including a historical narrative about cannabis for the two pilot regions along the trail.

Timothy Schafer is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter with The Nelson Daily. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.