British Columbia opens door to potentially hundreds of marijuana retail opportunities

British Columbians in the market for recreational cannabis will have a choice between privately run and government-operated retail stores when legalization lands this summer, opening the door to potentially hundreds of legal retail opportunities.

But the government will monopolize online sales and ban home delivery by private retailers, a move that is drawing scorn from the province’s already-thriving, but unregulated, mail-order industry.

Two types of licenses will be available for retailers: one for self-contained cannabis stores and another for those in rural communities. The latter will be subject to series of exceptions that haven’t been fully ironed out yet.

Ian Dawkins, president of the Cannabis Commerce Association of Canada, doesn’t expect government-run cannabis stores to put up much of a fight against privately owned ones and believes private-sector outlets could number “in the hundreds.”

“Today is a good day for private investors and business opportunities,” he said.

“A lot people are now going to have an opportunity to attack a really sophisticated marketplace.”

The Liquor Distribution Branch of the provincial government will operate the new stand-alone network of public retail stores, which must buy their marijuana supply from the agency.

The plan will be part of legislation to be brought to the legislature in the coming months.

Following are key details of the proposals:

  • Marijuana consumption will generally be allowed anywhere tobacco use is allowed.
  • Licensed retailers in urban settings will be prohibited from selling products such as snacks and clothing alongside cannabis.
  • Marijuana will not be sold in the same stores as liquor or tobacco.
  • Adults will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of recreational cannabis in public.
  • Residents can grow up to four plants per household. Landlords will be allowed to ban home cultivation.
  • The new licenses won’t include lounges, but the province said it will consider those down the road.
  • Minors will not be allowed entry into cannabis stores.

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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