A proliferation of pot store owners are getting ready for legalization in B.C., but they will have to wait a while to see if they can get a provincial licence.
The attorney general’s ministry posted details last week of its requirements for cannabis retail licences, to be issued to qualifying stores in preparation for the federal legalization of recreational marijuana sales in October.
B.C.’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch has been renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch in preparation for the new era, where Canada becomes the first industrialized country to make the product legal for adult use.
Production and medical use of marijuana remain a federal responsibility. B.C. and other provinces are in charge of wholesale and retail sales, potentially including sales of home-grown marijuana if production is federally approved.
Actual licence applications and fee amounts are not yet available, but prospective store owners are urged to study the details to see if they are ready to roll or one toke over the line. A few highlights:
• Operating an illegal cannabis store before October doesn’t disqualify you from getting a provincial licence, but you must pass a background and criminal record check first.
• Local approval is required for the province to consider a licence. Municipalities set rules on the number and location of stores and proximity to schools, and may decide they want only B.C. government cannabis stores or none at all.
• Online sales will be allowed only for B.C. government stores. Medical cannabis will continue to be sold online only, by federally licensed producers.
• Licensed stores may sell federally approved accessories, including rolling papers, pipes and vapourizers.
• Unlike liquor stores, no one under the age of 19 may enter a licensed recreational marijuana store in B.C.
• Consumption lounges will not be permitted in B.C., although they may be considered in the future. Also, no edibles until they are federally approved and no sampling or consumption in stores.
City of Quesnel director of development services Tanya Turner says they receive regular phone calls inquiring about the city’s upcoming policies on retail marijuana stores.
“There are a number of organizations that are probing into communities to find out what the policies will be,” she says.
The City of Quesnel is still in the process of developing its policy, but Turner says they will have everything in place well before October.
“We don’t have our policy fully developed yet. We are in the process of assessing things and it will go through some committees, either the policy committee or the community policing and safety committee. It’ll go through committee review and we will look at what the options are for Council and moving forward.”
Turner says she will be speaking with the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch early next week to work on policies for Quesnel.
“We want policy in place soon so we are ahead of it.”
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