British Columbia awarded its first license for a privately owned recreational cannabis store, roughly two weeks after adult-use marijuana was legalized in Canada, while neighboring Alberta has licensed 49 locations.
The new store – Tamarack Cannabis Boutique – is in Kimberley, roughly 870 kilometers (541 miles) east of Vancouver.
Owner Tamara Duggan said she expects to open to the public late next week, selling dried cannabis, oil, seeds and capsules, but will leave accessory products to other stores.
After filing her retail application in mid-August, Duggan went through what she described as a “very arduous” process.
For other retail applicants, Duggan suggests being as thorough and upfront as possible throughout the process, “because they’re going to dig into every nook and cranny of your life, especially on things like floor plans, financial background and connections with licensed producers.”
She said they wanted a 20-year employment history and information on her parents. They also require disclosure of a juvenile record – if one exists – even if it’s sealed, as well as any charges, whether there were convictions or not.
“That’s delving pretty deep into your background if you’re a grown adult,” she said.
“They’re very thorough in their investigations.”
British Columbia’s recreational cannabis market got off to a slow start – the slowest in Canada by sales – after the province opened only one physical store in time for legalization.
That government-owned store is in Kamloops, 350 kilometers from the heavily populated Vancouver market.
Another 90 applications await approval of municipal governments.
The province’s only online store – also government-owned – has seen dismal cannabis sales since launching, raising concerns that British Columbia was not prepared when Canada launched its recreational cannabis market Oct. 17.
British Columbia is home to a thriving multibillion-dollar gray market.
How much of the illicit cannabis trade shifts to the regulated market in the coming months and years depends on the effectiveness of the provincial and federal regulations on cultivation, sales, distribution and consumption.
Matt Lamers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
To sign up for our weekly international marijuana business newsletter, click here.