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.

Just Posted

Comox Valley Monarch Lions help ‘SPOT’ possible student vision problems

When Helen Keller challenged Lions Clubs International in 1925 to become “Knights… Continue reading

Vancouver Island brewery re-brands again after cryptic new logo failed

Victoria-based brewers said goodbye to confusing hexagon logo

North Island College Foundation helps more students than ever in the Comox Valley

More than 170 North Island College students in the Comox Valley received… Continue reading

Courtenay mom warns of candy-luring incident near Willemar Road

A Courtenay mother is speaking out after a man was reported to… Continue reading

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

Marvel co-creator was well-known for making cameo appearances in superhero movies

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

VIDEO: Newcomer kids see first Canadian snowfall

Children arrived in Canada with their mother and two siblings last week from Eritrea

Feds dropped ball with WWI anniversary tributes: historians

Wrote one historian: ‘Other than the Vimy Ridge celebration … I think they have done a very bad job’

Sides ‘far apart’ in Canada Post talks despite mediation, says union

The lack of a breakthrough means rotating strikes will resume Tuesday

Feds’ appeal of solitary confinement decision in B.C. to be heard

Judge ruled in January that indefinite such confinement is unconstitutional, causes permanent harm

B.C. health care payroll tax approved, takes effect Jan. 1

Employers calculating cost, including property taxes increases

Nunavut urges new plan to deal with too many polar bears

Territory recommends a proposal that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking

Shelter struggles: Landlord takes over rental unit whenever visiting B.C. town

Renter’s story highlights how hard it is to find accommodation in Revelstoke

Most Read