British Columbia premier eyes role for private cannabis retailers

Premier John Horgan said British Columbia will be ready for cannabis legalization next summer and signaled private entrepreneurs may play a role in the retail sector – unlike in Ontario, which favors a government-run model.

In a radio interview on The Jon McComb Show, Horgan suggested the province could carve out space for private dispensaries to participate in the legalized cannabis market.

The premier said he wants to “make sure a distribution system is in place that benefits those who want to participate as entrepreneurs.”

British Columbia, the third most-populous province in Canada, is home to a thriving gray and black-market dispensary industry in Vancouver, where 11 dispensaries have business licenses from the city.

Another 28 have development permits that effectively allow them to operate until their full business licenses are approved or rejected. Another 65 locations are currently operating without city permission.

Horgan didn’t say when the province might table legislation.

Each province has until next summer to develop its own framework for taxation, retail, public consumption and home cultivation.

So far, Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are considering handing responsibilities for recreational marijuana sales to Crown corporations, which would limit opportunities for cannabis entrepreneurs interested in the retail sector if private retail is not allowed.

To sign up for our weekly Canada marijuana business newsletter, click here.