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First recreational pot store in B.C. will be in Kamloops: provincial regulator

Last Updated Jul 11, 2018 at 6:13 pm PDT

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KAMLOOPS (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s first government-licensed pot store will be in Kamloops and it’s expected to employ at least 20 people.

Viviana Zanocco with the Liquor Distribution Branch says the shop at the Columbia Place Shopping Centre is slated to open in October when the federal legalization of recreational marijuana takes effect.

“Kamloops City Council has been very proactive in terms of setting out areas where they would like to see cannabis retail and so that’s a huge advantage for us,” she says, hinting that Burnaby might be using a similar tactic and could have the first Lower Mainland store.

“And of course Kamloops has a system where they’re not accepting applications for non-medical cannabis stores until September and we would still want to go through that process.”

It’s not clear when the first retail store is slated to open in Metro Vancouver, but Zanocco says agreements have already been signed with 31 licensed wholesalers to produce more than 150 strains of pot ranging in quality and price.

“We are looking far and wide for great variety, great price, great quality because we know the B.C. market is going to be very discerning. We’ve seen other provinces stick with four or eight licensed producers. We want to to offer our customers the widest range at competitive prices because our goal is to eliminate the illicit market and we can’t do that if we’re not offering comparable products.”

One of those approved producers High Park, a company that got it’s start in Nanaimo. The company’s Adine Carter they are “absolutely thrilled” about their new relationship with the provincial regulator.

“We believe in, not only legalization of cannabis, but we’re thrilled to be a part of the B.C. market with our roots in B.C. We couldn’t be happier to count the BCLDB as one of the partners we are going to enjoy that we are going to enjoy launching into the market with,” she says.

Carter says the process of getting approved was very focused and well-organized, and she says there’s no doubt they’ll have the product ready for the October 31st legalization date. She also says she’s not worried about there being 31 producers in B.C., versus most other provinces having only four to eight.

“It’s going to be a competition market, but we’re all in the game to compete against the black market. I think there’s room for all of us.” She also thinks some of their Canada-themed products should be very appealing.

“Part of how we feel we are going to be very well able to compete in the B.C. market is the brand’s we’re bringing to the market, including… a brand we’ve created specifically for Canada that’s called Cannaca. So, we think that having these strong brands that are designed to resonate with interested adult consumers is going to be what really helps us compete in the market.”

As for the price tag on those products, she says they’re “competitive” and designed to offer “value to the customer.”

Some accessories will be sold in government-run stores and an assortment of products will also be available online. They’re aiming to have the store and the online stores operational by the October 17th legalization date.

‘I’m hopeful’: B.C.’s Attorney General

Meanwhile, B.C.’s Attorney General David Eby says he’s “hopeful” that legalization of recreational cannabis will lead to a decrease in profits for organized crime.

He says he also hopes this will lead to an increase in oversight and regulation of the products British Columbian’s chose to consume.

“So there are a number of benefits hopefully that will come from this,” Eby says. “We’re putting all of our work on trying to ensure that we realize those benefits.”

Eby notes the government is taking advice from police, public health officials, and is learning from other jurisdictions.

“I think British Columbians are going to see a fairly dramatic change in terms of what many communities are seeing which are these grey markets dispensaries operating with apparent impunity and with no accountability.”