FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A number of applications to set up cannabis retail operations have passed their first test and are now in front of several Peace Region municipal governments ahead of the legalization of recreational cannabis across Canada on Wednesday.
As of midnight tonight, all Canadians will officially be allowed to possess and consume cannabis, making this country the second country after Uruguay to legalize sales of cannabis. Citizens of Georgia and South Africa are allowed to cultivate and consume cannabis for personal use after several court rulings, though sales are not allowed.
B.C. residents will be able to purchase cannabis online through the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch at www.bccannabisstores.com, which also operates B.C. Liquor Stores. However, the only legal cannabis retail store that will be operating on Wednesday is the B.C. Cannabis Store location in Kamloops.
In Fort St. John, City Council passed a bylaw this summer approving private cannabis retail operations inside the City’s downtown core area, while other similar bylaws have been or are in the process of being enacted in other Peace Region municipalities.
Other communities in Northeast B.C. have also already received applications from aspiring entrepreneurs looking to set up a private cannabis retail operation.
Anyone looking to set up a cannabis retail location must first submit the application with the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, which checks to ensure the applicant has no ties to organized crime and meets other criteria. After clearing that first hurdle, applications are forwarded to local governments, who then decide whether they approve of the application.
The B.C. Government said that 173 applications for cannabis retail operations have been received, with 62 having been forwarded to local governments.
Of those, the City of Dawson Creek has received two applications from the LCRB, while Tumbler Ridge has one application. Chetwynd and the Northern Rockies have both not yet received any applications, while officials with the municipalities of Fort St. John, Hudson’s Hope, and Pouce Coupe were not able to comment.
The District of Taylor is not currently allowing cannabis retail operations.