Star of the start-ups

Published on April 29, 2019 by David Wylie

An Okanagan company has won the national start-up of the year award at Canada’s biggest cannabis conference.

The O’Cannabiz Conference and Expo took place over the weekend in Toronto, bringing together some of the biggest names and brands in Canadian cannabis. The awards gala is the grand finale of the event.

Daniel Winer, marketing manager with Starbuds, told the oz. the award is a “further feather in the cap for the Okanagan.”

The valley is home to major cannabis players, including Flowr and Vitalis Extraction. Winer says Kelowna has the potential to be “the Silicon Valley of cannabis.”

Kelowna-based Starbuds competed against Pineapple Express and Medipharms. Among the list of winners in other categories are familiar names 7Acres, Boveda and Broken Coast.

Despite the industry recognition, there are still no Starbuds stores open in its own backyard. In fact, there are zero retail cannabis stores to serve the region of 362,000 people.

Lake Country council approved a Starbuds franchise four months ago, but they are waiting on the provincial government to finish final checks and grant the licence.

Winer says companies are investing in BC, but with little return from the provincial government. He says at the current pace of retail approvals it will take nearly a decade to process current applications.

“For owners of a cannabis store, many of them have put their life on hold, as they wait for feedback from the BC government,” Winer said on Twitter. “That means leaving their primary source of income while awaiting feedback from a government that isn’t great at communicating. We have four local partners currently in this situation.”

The provincial government has so far granted 19 licences.