British Columbia is one of a handful of provinces to be using a hybrid retail system for selling its legal dope. A combination of both public and private retail models, it will have a limited number of government-owned storefronts open up alongside private, licensed cannabis storefronts.
With a recent court decision to shut down the remaining unlicensed storefronts, BC residents thinking about getting into the weed game should understand the costs beforehand.
Applicants, who are not a part of an Indigenous nation, will need to be registered as a business in BC as sole proprietors, partnerships or corporations, according to the province’s website. Once this is done, a business number will be issued by the Canadian Revenue Agency.
Future green entrepreneurs will also require a BCeID account, which they can set up after receiving a business number. Each applicant is required to complete a one-time registration for Business BCeID. When the applicant has completed the registration, it will be possible to link other individuals.
The real work begins
BC’s private cannabis retail store hopefuls must own, lease or have an agreement to lease the proposed retail store location before applying. The stores must be a self-contained business and cannot be run as part of another business, such as a pharmacy, restaurant, or liquor store. Detailed floor plans must be provided that show the store meets all of the provincial requirements.
Municipalities can also impose their own set of restrictions, including proximity to schools, parks and playgrounds.
Applicants can now get into the fun stuff: paperwork.
The province requires information about the applicant and associates, including directors, direct and indirect shareholders, and partners; details about the proposed location; licences held by the applicant or other applications for licences.
Consent for security screening and financial integrity checks are verified using a BC Services Card. It’s required you have one.
There’s also a declaration of financial, business or family connections to any federally licensed cannabis producers and retail licence holders or applicants for retail licences
Time to pay up
There is, of course, a financial requirement to open up your own pot shop. The application fee (includes security screening and financial integrity checks) is $7,500, the first-year licensing fee is $1,500 (with an annual renewal fee of $1,500).
There is also a security screening renewal fee to be paid every two years. The amount of this fee has not yet been announced.
So as it stands, startup licensing alone is $9000 in BC.
For comparison, to open a restaurant in the province BC Coastal Health will issue a Food Service Permit for a 50+ person establishment costs $250 for a full fiscal year. Include that owners require both a Level 1 and 2 food handling certification, which costs an additional $115 and $165 respectively, and that comes to a total of $530 in start-up licensing costs, or just under 6% of the cost to start your own cannabis retail shop.