With exactly one month to go until recreational cannabis is legal in Canada, the BC government has announced that there will be one government-run cannabis store open on that day.
The province’s first BC Cannabis Store will open in Kamloops “and the online sales platform will be launched to ensure British Columbians can purchase non-medical cannabis regardless of where they live,” said BC’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth.
However, he noted that more retail locations are anticipated in the months to follow as the application process continues, with applications coming in from the North, to the Cariboo and Vancouver Island.
“So far, we’ve received over 100 paid applications in various stages of entry,” said Farnworth. “Moving to a legal regime for a product that has been banned for a century will take some time.”
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The minister added that as more legal supply and retail outlets come online, “those who insist on selling illegal products will be shut down.”
In addition, a new, province-wide Community Safety Unit “will be targeting illegal retail operations, and will be able to seize product and records without a warrant and impose monetary penalties based on the value of the product seized.”
Farnworth said that as the legalization date draws closer, keeping cannabis out of reach of children and youth is a top priority.
“We’ve set the minimum age for possession at 19, prohibited cannabis smoking and vaping in areas where children and youth commonly gather (like sports fields, skate parks, schools, provincial, regional and municipal parks and playgrounds) and banned youth under 19 from entering cannabis stores, even with an adult,” he furthered.
Bootlegging, or selling cannabis to minors, will continue to be a criminal offence punishable by up to 14 years in jail.
“That’s in addition to provincial penalties of up to $50,000, jail time of up to six months or both,” he added.
Calling the legalization of non-medical cannabis is a “historic shift in public policy.”
Farnworth said the process is “a considerable learning curve and, without a doubt, all levels of government will need to refine their policies and regulations in the years ahead.”
For now, he said, those seeking more information and answers can find them on the provincial government’s website.