Article by Mike Okada, Cannabis Life Network
Today, BC unveiled its licensing guidelines for anyone interested in opening a non-medical cannabis business, and it’s organized into five main categories:
- Inspections and Compliance
- Rural Areas
Let’s take a look at the rules and find out who’s eligible as we explore how it shapes BC’s cannabis landscape with the latest updates on consumption lounges, online sales, operating hours, compliance and enforcement options, and more.
Applying and Eligibility
BC looks like it will have one of Canada’s most accessible cannabis markets when applications open in the spring. The government will launch an online application portal, and application and licensing fees will be determined later (check here).
In terms of eligibility, operating an illegal dispensary or having a criminal record will not automatically bar you from a licence- that will be determined on a case by case basis. Liquor and tobacco licensees will not get an automatic cannabis licence.
Also, your business name must be approved by the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) because non-medical retailers cannot use the words “pharmacy”, “apothecary”, and “dispensary” because of the medical connotations.
Having interests in both licensed producers and retailers will be allowed, but if there is a close association between a retailer and LP, the retailer is prohibited from selling that LP’s products. to ensure larger producers don’t dominate the market.
It’s worth noting that in BC, the application fee for a Liquor Primary licence is $4400 with an estimated processing time of 7-12 months, while dispensaries in Vancouver pay a $30,000 annual licencing fee! The 7-12 month processing time for a Liquor Primary licence does not bode well for prospective cannabis retailers, as BC will certainly be facing a massive backlog as the application process doesn’t even open until mere months before legalization.
BC will have two non-medical retail licences, one for self-contained cannabis stores and the other for stores in rural communities.
Medical cannabis retail will remain online and for LP’s only, although medical users can buy from non-medical stores, which will help ensure reasonable access for medical users.
Local governments have the authority to regulate stores, which includes whether to allow them in the first place, in addition to settings caps on licenses and location requirements. Some question whether that is giving the local governments too much power.