Kamloops will be the first location in B.C. to operate a government-run cannabis store, the province announced on Wednesday.
The B.C. Cannabis Store will be located in the Columbia Place Shopping Centre in Sahali and will have about 20 employees, including a store manager, assistant manager and cannabis consultants. Marijuana will be legalized across Canada on Oct. 17.
The Tournament Capital was picked because of the city’s “readiness for zoning of cannabis retail operations,” notes a press release from the province.
"We have to start somewhere, and it appears we’re starting in the Columbia Place shopping mall," Mayor Ken Christian tells KamloopsMatters.
"It’s very similar to how we approached liquor (roll-out), but I think what has happened in Kamloops that's different than some municipalities is that we have actively engaged the public. We’ve had two public hearings about the zoning requirements that people in Kamloops would like to see for marijuana retail and that has been reflected in the changes to bylaws that we’ve done. I think we’re a little bit ahead of many municipalities so that’s why they chose Kamloops."
To prepare for the legalization of marijuana, the city has amended its business licence and regulation bylaw and zoning bylaw. There are four zones in which non-medical cannabis retail stores may be located, all subject to certain proximity criteria.
The city will still have to change some of its bylaws around the cannabis licensing application process and the business licensing requirements. Those changes will be coordinated with the provincial licensing requirements once the provincial legislation is finalized.
News Release: The BC Liquor Distribution Branch has signed MOUs with 31 licensed producers of non-medical cannabis and secured a location for its first BC Cannabis Store within #Kamloops’ Columbia Place Shopping Centre. #bcpoli https://t.co/hVHfcU6XAB— NICHE Canada (@NICHECanada) July 11, 2018
The Liquor Distribution Branch will still need to apply for municipal approval of the store site when the City of Kamloops begins accepting applications for non-medical cannabis retail outlets in September. If council votes against the store, it won't be able to operate within the city.
"Nothing is ever cut and dry, but some of the elements you’d like to see with marijuana retail will be covered up by the fact that this is a government application," says Christian.
"Certainly, organized crime is not going to be involved with this – we would hope – and you’re going to see them comply with zoning requirements. The quality of the store will be pretty high, you’ll see properly trained individuals with criminal record checks. Those kinds of things will be covered. Some councillors will probably vote against it because they’re opposed to the decriminalization of cannabis, but I’m confident that the majority of council would see this to be a good first step."
The city will not accept applications for non-medical cannabis retail stores prior to the full implementation of federal and provincial regulations. Once allowed, private operators will be expected to go through the city’s official permitting process, not through a delegation to city council.
The province also announced it has signed memorandums of understanding with 31 licensed producers of non-medical cannabis. The initial product assortment will feature more than 150 strains, ranging in quality, from value to ultra-premium product, at competitive prices, according to the release.
Licensed private retailers will be able to access the wholesale assortment via the LDB’s online sales portal (details of the process for retailers to register with the LDB will be released at a later date). The LDB has also secured a host of cannabis accessories for retail sale in B.C. Cannabis Stores.
The provincial government says all employees will receive extensive training concentrating on social responsibility practices related to safety and responsible adult use, comprehensive product knowledge and customer service skills. Job postings for these roles will go up within the next week (click HERE).