Security and frosted windows greet customers at B.C.’s first government cannabis store in Kamloops. (B.C. government photo)

More pot stores expected in B.C. in coming ‘weeks and months’: attorney general

Attorney General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth visited the new BC Cannabis Store in the province’s Interior

British Columbia cabinet ministers defended the provincial government’s pace in approving marijuana stores as they toured the only brick-and-mortar shop in Kamloops Friday.

Attorney General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth visited the new BC Cannabis Store in the province’s Interior. The Liquor Distribution Branch is currently engaged with a number of municipalities about opening additional stores, Eby said.

“The key for them is what we found in Kamloops, which is a municipality with clear guidelines, with an intent to work with the (branch) in establishing a store,” he said.

“There’s no question that over the next period of weeks and months, they’re going to see more and more stores coming online, both public and private.”

The managers of two illicit pot shops that were raided by RCMP in Port Alberni on Wednesday have criticized the province for not processing applications more quickly. Both stores have applied for provincial licences and are waiting for approval.

While B.C. only has one legal store and a website, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick have 20 stores each and Alberta has 17. Ontario, on the heels of a recent provincial election, has no physical stores.

READ MORE: 10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

READ MORE: ‘A little odd’: B.C.’s biggest city celebrates cannabis without a legal store

Farnworth said other provinces established stores with very little community consultation, but B.C. made clear that local governments could decide what kind of stores, if any, they wanted.

The province also has local government elections on Saturday and many communities have said they want to deal with licences and locations afterward, Farnworth added.

“We’ve taken an approach that was very much collaborating with local governments and we believe that was the right approach to take.”

Farnworth also said the province could not legally issue private retail licences until after the federal Cannabis Act came into force on Wednesday. He wouldn’t explain when asked why the act was a roadblock for B.C. but not for other provinces.

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said in an email that the province could legally create the regulatory framework to allow provincial licensing before legalization.

“However, it could not issue a licence to sell cannabis (which is an official instrument of government) while it was still federally illegal,” he said.

Alberta issued interim licences to 17 retailers by early October that allowed them to order product and get stores ready for legalization. Stores with interim licences that fulfilled all conditions were issued a sales licence on Wednesday so they could open to the public.

In B.C., the provincial government forwards applications to municipalities, which review them and make a recommendation to the province. The province then decides whether to issue a licence. Some municipalities have also established their own business licences in addition to that process.

Jag Sandhu, a City of Vancouver spokesman, said the province has notified it of eight applications for stores. Seven applicants have previously been issued development permits, the first step that needs to be completed, and must now post a sign on site for 14 days notifying the public they intend to obtain a provincial retail licence.

Once the provincial licence is granted, the operator can apply for a municipal business licence, he said.

“We do not have a timeline on when the first store will open as it will depend on the applicant completing the process and fulfilling all provincial and municipal requirements,” he said.

The City of Surrey has banned any business growing, producing or storing cannabis, and plans to tackle retail marijuana after the local election.

“Council endorsement of the specific details of a Surrey framework, including retail sales, has not occurred. This will be an issue that the new Council will review once they are in office. Until then the existing bylaw is in place,” said Terry Waterhouse, general manager of public safety.

Most B.C. residents who purchased legal weed this week did so online. There were 9,175 sales online and 805 purchases at the province’s only physical store in Kamloops on Wednesday, according to the Liquor Distribution Branch.

But on Thursday, sales slid nearly 70 per cent, with 2,563 online transactions and 521 at the BC Cannabis Store.

The branch is not releasing the total value of the sales, which it says is its policy for liquor store sales as well.

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

cannabis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP report woman arrested after ramming police cruiser

Suspect wanted for crimes allegedly committed in Kelowna, Salmon Arm and 100 Mile House

Axe throwing, road hockey among Salmon Arm food drive festivities

Fill the Pantry event wraps up on Monday, Feb. 17 with day of activities

Salvation Army’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser in Salmon Arm welcomes you

Make community connections while taking a walk and contributing to $35,000 goal

Letter: South Shuswap incorporation a foregone conclusion?

Writer overwhelmed with information at committee meeting

Snapshot: Valentine’s donations to Shuswap organizations

Shuswap SPCA, SAFE Society receive some love from SASCU Insurance

Kelowna’s Family YMCA opens doors on Family Day

The entire day was free for the community

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

South Okanagan woman reflects on prestigious win at Westminster dog show

“Polly” the Scottish deerhound was crowned best in breed and reserve best hound.

Wild weekend results in pair of losses for Salmon Arm Silverbacks

Away games ahead before Feb. 23 contest versus Cents at Shaw Centre

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Sicamous Eagles’ playoff hopes dashed by Storm

Kamloops team wins 7-4 in Feb. 14 contest

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Most Read