B.C. Cannabis Private Retail Licensing Guide
Yesterday the British Columbia provincial government released its proposed framework for the non-medical (i.e., adult-use) cannabis retail sector. While most of the proposal is in line with previous communications, there are a few points which are disappointing to some.
The framework is subject to federal and provincial legislation that still has to be passed. The wholesale distribution will be handled through the provincial Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB), while the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch will do the licensing and monitoring. The province is allowing government-run as well as privately owned non-medical retail cannabis stores. It should be especially noted that, for private retail establishments, the LDB is not capping or limiting the number of licences. It should be strongly noted, however, that local governments will have the ability to limit the number of retail stores within their jurisdiction, and even outright ban cannabis retail sales.
The local jurisdictions therefore hold the trump card. We will likely see a situation similar to that in the State of California, where despite state-wide open licensing, local jurisdictions have been the ultimate decision-making bodies s to whether or not a retail store will be permitted. Obtaining the local government “blessing” is foreseen to be the major barrier for entry – and which should be obtained prior to submitting a BC retail application.
The application process will be open to any person or company to make an application, and it should be noted that the BC government is expecting a high number of applicants; early application is therefore wise. People operating under the “dispensary” gray market are welcome to apply, as also are people with criminal convictions. However, ultimately it will be up to the government’s discretion on a case-by-case basis as to who will be permitted to operate within the new framework.
Of particular note to licensed producers are the prohibitions of outright ownership in retail stores, as well as the ban of supply/promotional agreements between retailers and producers. While many LP’s will undoubtedly find a gray area to operate/influence retail outlets, the province does not want producers to control the retail supply. Also of particular interest is that the province seems open to allowing craft producers to potentially open their own specialty retail stores (perhaps on-location). Although the “micro-producer” is not yet formally defined by the federal government, this may allow some interesting opportunities for craft growers and provide them with a strong market advantage. At present, it is unclear as to whether or not large conglomerate LP’s (who also own craft grow operations) would fall into this category.
Cannabis Compliance Inc is a global leader in ensuring compliance for production and retail within the marketed cannabis industry. CCI is a neutral third party advocate for retail licensing, and services large and small stakeholders alike. To learn how CCI can help with a retail readiness package for British Columbia, contact us.
By: Ryan Mangotic – February 6, 2018