Kamloops is blazing a trail in British Columbia.
The BC Liquor Distribution Branch announced on Wednesday the River City will be the first municipality in the province to operate a government-owned cannabis store when recreational pot is legalized on Oct. 17.
“The selection of this location was based on a number of factors, including municipal readiness for the zoning of cannabis retail operations and site suitability,” the branch stated in a news release. “The LDB will apply for municipal approval of the store site when the City of Kamloops begins accepting applications for non-medical cannabis retails outlets in September.”
The store will occupy a nearly 3,000-square-foot space in Columbia Place Shopping Centre in Sahali and operate under the BC Cannabis Stores moniker. Columbia Place also houses the Signature BC Liquor Store, while Save-On-Foods sells B.C. wines.
City of Kamloops CAO David Trawin said the city has been working with the provincial government as legislation is being changed.
The new store will be located at 200-1210 Summit Dr., the now-vacant former Dollar Store location next to Save-On Foods. The Dollar Store recently moved to the end of this strip of stores, leaving the premises (and a smaller unit next door) empty.
A business licensing process has yet to be finalized by the city as it awaits provincial regulations. That includes hashing out business licensing fees, which Trawin said will depend on factors such as whether or not the province will provide cannabis inspectors, as it does with liquor. It costs $196.40 for a liquor retail store licence in Kamloops. Trawin said it is unlikely that the cost of retail cannabis store business licences will be similar to liquor retail store licences.
“No,” he said. “I think based upon other cities and past experiences and what happens in terms of law enforcement and other sides of that, it’s going to be a higher fee — much higher fee.”
When Colorado legalized marijuana, he noted, the City of Denver had to hire additional inspectors to deal with issues.
When the province wraps up its regulation process, the city will determine whether any bylaws require consideration. Trawin said that will come before council soon.
Meanwhile, City of Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian earlier told KTW he expects between two to three provincial cannabis stores to eventually open in Kamloops. He welcomed news from the branch on Wednesday.
“Kamloops City Council supports the work of the provincial government as they map out the future retail cannabis landscape in B.C.,” he said in a press release. “Their mixed-model for cannabis sales, allowing both public and private retail, has many benefits to B.C. communities.”
About 20 staff will be hired at the Sahali location, including a store manager, assistant manager and cannabis consultants. Jobs will be posted in the next week online at bcldbcannabisupdates.com/opportunities/careers.
The Liquor Distribution Branch said it is considering a “number of locations” across municipalities for the rollout of BC Cannabis Stores and is focused on “ensuring a careful and efficient rollout that will provide the best possible customer experience and meet all health and safety regulations.”
The province has appointed the Liquor Distribution Branch as the sole wholesale distributor of recreational cannabis. It also announced on Wednesday it had signed memorandums of understanding with 31 licensed producers (12 of which are B.C.-based), including more than 150 strains. Among those licensed producers is Hydropothecary, the Quebec-based company in which former Kamloops mayor and provincial health minister Terry Lake has invested and promoted as its vice-president of corporate responsibility.
Retailers will include a mix of public and private locations, with the Liquor Distribution Branch responsible for licensing and monitoring private stores and communities handling business licensing.
The province has launched an online portal for those interested in applying for a licence to sell recreational cannabis, once that becomes available. Kamloops has designated specific zones in which recreational cannabis can be sold and the city said the Liquor Distribution Branch will only issue licenses to retail operators that have received “a council resolution supporting the operators site-specific provincial license application.”
Licensed producers that have entered into memorandum of understanding with Victoria are:
- Acreage Farms Ltd.
- Agrima Botanicals Corporation
- Aphria Inc.
- Aurora Cannabis Enterprises Inc.
- Bloomera Inc.
- Broken Coast Cannabis Ltd.
- Canna Farms Ltd.
- CannTrust Inc.
- Canopy Growth Corporation
- Cronos Group Inc.
- DOJA Cannabis Ltd.
- Evergreen Medicinal Supply Inc.
- Experion Biotechnologies Inc.
- Maricann Inc.
- MedReleaf Corp.
- Natural Med Company
- Redecan Pharm
- Seven Oaks Inc.
- Solace Health
- Starseed Medicinal Inc.
- THC BioMed Inc.
- The Flowr Corporation
- The Supreme Cannabis Company/7 Acres
- Tilray Canada Ltd.
- United Greeneries Ltd.
- UP Cannabis Inc.
- WeGrow BC Ltd.
- WeedMD RX Inc.
- Whistler Medical Marijuana Corp.
- Zenabis Ltd.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited to reflect the actual size of the cannabis store. The provincial government initially stated it would be a 10,000-square-foot store. In fact, the space will be 3,000 square feet in size.