BC won’t compel private cannabis stores to carry Indigenous products

Participation in British Columbia’s upcoming Indigenous Shelf Space Program will be voluntary for the province’s privately owned cannabis stores, according to provincial regulators.

The relatively small number of government-run stores – 20 so far – will participate, at a minimum.

But industry sources expect interest among the 236 (and counting) private-sector stores to be strong.

The program, announced late Sunday, will highlight cannabis products produced by British Columbia’s Indigenous marijuana producers in physical stores and via the only legal online store in the province.

“While private cannabis retailers will also have the opportunity to participate in the program, they will not be required to do so,” a spokesperson for the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) told Marijuana Business Daily.

The Indigenous Shelf Space Program is expected to be operational next year.

Jaclynn Pehota, executive director of the Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers, sees interest among private store owners to be high when the program is eventually rolled out.

Pehota believes it will boil down to two factors:

  • Demand for such products in the market they’re in.
  • The extent to which they can leverage the program as a marketing tool.

“It will depend on whether or not featuring a narrative about locally grown and Indigenous product is an advantage in their area,” she said. “In some ridings, people are not overly concerned about ‘grow local.’

“The other factor will be how readily they think they can harness this as a marketing tool,” Pehota added.

“I think there will be pretty strong interest from a certain segment of the private retail sector.”

The LDB operates a network of public BC Cannabis Stores in a mixed public/private retail model in British Columbia.

Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at mattl@mjbizdaily.com.