Marijuana retail store in Blaine, Wa., just across the B.C. border. (Black Press files)

B.C. government marijuana stores will compete with private sellers

No sales in liquor or food stores, 30-gram maximum for public possession

B.C.’s ‘grey market’ marijuana growers and retailers will be able to apply for licences to compete with a new chain of government pot stores run by the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has confirmed plans for a mixed public and private retail model for recreational cannabis, which the federal government has promised to legalize this year. Marijuana will not be sold in liquor stores or other retailers.

“The operating rules governing public and private retail stores will be similar to those currently in place for liquor,” Farnworth announced Monday. “However, to promote responsible use, licensed retailers will not be able to sell cannabis in the same stores as liquor or tobacco. In urban areas, licensed retailers will only be allowed to sell cannabis and cannabis accessories, and will be prohibited from selling other products, such as food, gas, clothing and lottery.”

As with rural agency stores that are licenced to sell liquor as well as other goods, there will be exceptions for small communities where there is not potential to open a stand-alone marijuana store.

Farnworth also confirmed that the possession limit for legal marijuana in public will be 30 grams, restricted to people aged 19 and up. It can only be transported in a vehicle if in a sealed container.

A new offence of drug-affected driving will be created, subject to roadside administrative penalties similar to the fines and licence suspensions now in place for alcohol-impaired driving.

RELATED: B.C. marijuana dispensaries form association

RELATED: Salive test likely for marijuana impairment

Stephanie Smith, president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, said while she regrets that the government didn’t accept her union’s recommendation to add marijuana sales to public liquor stores, BCGEU members are “well positioned” to staff new stores adjacent to B.C. Liquor Store locations.

Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Association of Beverage Licensees, representing private liquor stores, said he wants to work with municipalities on licensing new stores. Farnworth said a municipality has the right to refuse to licence marijuana sales, and the government stores will have an online sales option for people who can’t buy their marijuana locally.

Sale of marijuana edibles is likely a year away at the earliest, because Ottawa has not yet finalized regulations around sale and packaging, Farnworth said.

Municipalities from Victoria to Nelson have licensed dispensaries ahead of legalization, often with a formality of medical use such as a phone or video interview with an alternative medical practitioner before the sale. Under the new regulations, recreational stores won’t be able to call themselves “dispensaries” any more.

The public safety ministry has posted a series of frequently asked questions for people who wish to apply for a marijuana retail licence.

Courtland Sandover-Sly, chair of the newly formed B.C. Independent Cannabis Association, said he was expecting established marijuana retailers would be allowed to participate, rather than B.C. imposing a government monopoly on retail as is being done in Ontario.

“I think the Ontario model is a travesty and I think it’s doomed to fail,” Sandover-Sly said. “The centralized warehousing of cannabis is an issue that will not play well with the physical nature of cannabis itself.”

Association director Travis Lane, a grower, says he doesn’t expect a crackdown on private retailers in B.C.

“I think what we’re going to see is similar to what’s happened to Victoria and Vancouver, where the province is going to come out with the regulations, they’re going to open up the licensing process, and then they’re going to shut down the business that don’t comply,” Lane said.

Just Posted

Greater Victoria businesses lose thousands of dollars in credit card scams

Affected businesses want to spread the word to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else

Four-sailing wait at BC Ferries Swartz Bay terminal

Full vessels create long waits on Friday afternoon

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Tent city campers prepare to leave Uplands Park

Vehicle access remains restricted at Cattle Point

A year in tent city: Timeline of Camp Namegans

Since September 2017, Victoria’s homeless camp has set up in more than 20 locations

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

B.C. tickets win big in Lotto Max draw

Jackpot carried over; B.C. tickets share Max Millions prizes

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Enbridge aims for mid-November to finish B.C. pipeline repair after blast

A natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George caused an explosion and fireball

How to get government cheques if Canada Post staff go on strike

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said members could go on rotating strikes as early as Monday

Most Read