VICTORIA – BC’s new government-owned pot shops will begin to pop up across the province before the end of the summer. The announcement was made today, as the government introduced a trio of bills to regulate legal cannabis in the province.
The stores will bear the name BC Cannabis Stores and have similar logos and branding to the BC Liquor Distribution Branch.
Store locations have yet to be confirmed, and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says they will not all open at the same time, but the province has already received a lot of feedback from licensed producers.
“I think we’ve had a response from about 36 different licensed producers from different parts of the country, who want to be able to see their product in BC stores,” Farnworth said. “I am confident that we will have a significant range of product.”
The province will be the sole wholesale distributor, similar to alcohol, meaning private stores will have to buy their cannabis products from the province. Existing dispensaries will also have to apply for licenses.
“But that does not guarantee that they will, in fact, end up being a retail model,” Farnworth said.
The province is also working on an online sales model.
Three bills introduced in the legislature today also reaffirmed many promises made by then province regarding legalization, including matching Ottawa’s rules limiting possession to 30 grams and four plants in private homes. BC has also raised the purchasing age to 19 years old.
There will be a 90-day driving prohibition on drivers found under the influence, and new drivers in the graduated licensing program would be prohibited from operating a motor vehicle with any THC in their systems.
Police are also getting new tools to crack down on drivers under the influence or cannabis, however the legislation does not include new technology to detect THC. Officers will be able to analyse bodily substances and use specially trained dogs and drug recognition experts to detect impaired people.
Landlords BC applauds cannabis legislation in rental suites
Landlords will be able to use existing no-smoking clauses in leases to include smoking and growing marijuana plants. New rules will have to be put into new leases.
“It’s good news, what they’ve done in terms of rental housing,” BC Landlord CEO Have Hutniak said. “It’s good for owners of rental property and good for their tenants as well.”
Landlords expressed concern over how allowing smoking and growing of cannabis in rental suits could affect their property and other renters.
The organization is also pleased with the mix of private and public retailers, but Hutniak said he would like to see more methods to encourage people to smoke outside rental suites.
“We look forward to the day, like the craft beer model, where people can go and having tasting rooms. I think that will just give folks who wish to utilize cannabis on a recreational basis to go and use it there and take additional pressure off the need to consume it in rental housing,” he said, adding his group will now analyze edibles.
A number of proposed cannabis-related offences could also land in fines ranging from $2,000 to $100,000, imprisonment of three to 12 months.
BC’s legislation, if approved, is contingent on federal legislation receiving royal assent, which is something Farnworth expect to happen in June.
BC is one of the last provinces in Canada to table its recreational marijuana legislation.