Q&A with NDP candidate, cannabis advocate Brittny Anderson
Published on October 21, 2020 by oz. staff
We asked The Cannabis Conservancy co-founder Brittny Anderson about her campaign to become the MLA for Nelson-Creston in the BC provincial election. She is vying to replace the BC NDP’s Michelle Mungall, who has held the seat since 2009, and is not running for re-election.
What motivated you to get into politics?
I want to have a meaningful impact on the world and work to make life better for people in my community. I grew up in Nelson, have lived around the world and returned to give back to my community. I studied international relations and have a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy – I am dedicated to my community and if I have the honour of representing Nelson-Creston at the provincial level, I want to work hard on the issues that matter to us here in the Kootenays.
What are the most pressing provincial issues facing the cannabis industry and/or cannabis consumers?
I have been actively advocating for better cannabis regulations locally, provincially and federally. In a provincial context, I think it is important that we transition legacy cultivators into the legal framework, improve sales regulations and remove Section 37 of the Cannabis Regulations.
Cannabis is an important part of BC’s economy in general and the Kootenay economy in particular. It is important that legacy growers are able to transition into the regulated framework.
We are fortunate here in the Kootenays to have the Cannabis Business Transition Initiative provided by Community Futures Central Kootenay, which is the first of its kind in Canada, funded by BC’s Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. After seeing predatory consultants roll through the Kootenays on a rotating basis, I dreamed of having a trusted organization for legacy growers to turn to to support their transition into the regulated framework. At a Young Agrarians event, where Paul Kelly was providing business development training for farmers, I expressed my concerns and vision with him. Paul went to work and created a proposal, I was able to find funding opportunities and Community Futures was successful in launching this program for the emerging cannabis economy.
The BC NDP has committed to three programs that will help to support BC cannabis businesses. The new direct delivery model will enable producers and retailers to have direct relationships, a model which both groups have asked the provincial government for. A BC NDP government will also develop a farm-gate sales program that will enable BC cannabis growers to sell their products from “farm-gate” stores located at their production site. I am pleased to see that we are going down this path. I have been around several local and provincial tables and these three topics continually came up. I am glad to see that the BC NDP has been listening and is committed to responding.
Section 37 of the BC Cannabis Control Regulation prohibits the promotion of any place to consume or to spend time after consuming cannabis, which significantly limits the ability for the cannabis industry to thrive, and in many cases limits potential business owners to operate all together. In British Columbia, and specifically in the Kootenays, there is a historical legacy of cannabis cultivation and a clear acknowledgment that the cannabis industry is a pillar of our regional economy. We know that in a new industry, regulations will evolve rapidly, as they already have done. I have been involved in RDCK and UBCM resolutions to amend the regulation, and as a member of a BC NDP government caucus after Oct. 24, I would work to make sure that the cannabis regulations are practical, reasonable and consistent with society’s expectations around cannabis use.
By enabling legacy growers to transition into the regulated market, improving and streamlining the sales process and removing barriers that prohibit a place, including our province, from advertising themselves as a place to enjoy cannabis, I think we are moving in the right direction to ensure we live up to our BC cannabis legacy.
Why does the NDP best represent your views?
The NDP cares about people and puts people first. After 16 years of cuts and deregulation, the NDP have been investing in people while working hard, through regulation and legislation to protect our environment and ensure we are climate change resilient. I am inspired by the BC NDP’s ambitious climate action plan — CleanBC — and I want to work from within a strong NDP government to ensure our Kootenay values are represented at the provincial level.
How has your work at The Cannabis Conservancy shaped your political views?
Federal and provincial cannabis regulations need to reflect societal expectations. I think it is important to protect our children and eliminate violent crimes, but I believe in common sense regulations that do not unduly restrict healthy use or medical needs.
Growing up in Nelson, how have you seen the area change over time?
It has gotten busier over the years, it’s such an amazing corner of our province, growing up it felt like a bit of a secret. Now I feel like the word is out, but that is good news for our many tourism businesses. One downside though is that it has gotten harder for people to find housing — we have a zero percent vacancy rate in many of our communities, there is not enough rental housing and real estate prices have gone up. Over the last three years the BC NDP has been working to address this issue and there are now over 300 new affordable homes being built across the Kootenay region. When my partner and I were looking to buy our first home a few years ago, we were priced out of my hometown and ended up purchasing a home in a more rural area a few kilometres away.
You have an interest in corporate environmental practices; what kinds of policies would you like to see implemented to make cannabis more sustainable?
The Cannabis Conservancy certification process encourages cultivators to create internal policies and protocols to ensure their organization adheres to Good Agricultural Practices, are free of harmful chemical inputs, utilize waste reduction methods, are energy efficient, and conserve water. Our mission is to empower and assure that the Cannabis industry achieves environmental, economic, and social sustainability.