Marijuana is grown for medical use, with production set to expand as recreational use is legalized. (Black Press files)

Marijuana is grown for medical use, with production set to expand as recreational use is legalized. (Black Press files)

B.C. ‘will be ready’ for marijuana legalization

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says some stores open by Oct. 17

At least some retail marijuana stores will be ready to open in B.C. on Oct. 17, when recreational sales become legal under federal law, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says.

Farnworth wasn’t able to say Wednesday how many private and public stores will be opening in B.C. as a result of federal legalization that passed into law this week, because both private and provincially owned stores must apply for provincial and local approval first.

“I don’t know the exact number of applications that we’ve received yet,” Farnworth said in an interview. “I know there was considerable interest. What I do know is that come legalization date, you’re not going to see 250 stores, whether government or legal. It is something that is going to ramp up over time.”

The B.C. committed to a mix of public and private stores when it passed its enabling legislation this spring, to prepare for the federal law. Farnworth said he is pleased that the effective date was delayed until mid-October.

“We had pushed for a later legalization date,” he said. “July was just unrealistic.”

RELATED: B.C. dispensaries form independent group

RELATED: Saliva test likely for marijuana impairment

The province passed several legal changes of its own, including the extension of police powers to impose a 90-day administrative driving prohibition for drivers found to be impaired by drugs. B.C. also matched its “zero tolerance for alcohol” rule for drivers in the graduated licensing system, to apply to drug impairment as well.

Some quasi-medical private stores have received local business licences in urban areas, and some communities have told the province they are only interested in government stores run by the Liquor Distribution Branch. Municipal councils can also opt to have no retail outlets.

The province has given the LDB a monopoly on wholesale distribution and online sales. Farnworth said the province’s wholesale markup on recreational marijuana has not yet been determined, and the only taxes applied are sales taxes and a federal excise tax.

The lesson of other jurisdictions such as Oregon is to keep taxes low enough that legal sales take over the market from illegal providers, he said.

BC legislaturemarijuana

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Parskville Fire Department Fire Engine. (PQB News file photo)
Parksville council supports increase in tax credit allowance for volunteer firefighters

Petition for move raised by Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

(PQB News file photo)
Qualicum Beach council to vote Feb. 24 on chief election officer

Once appointment is approved, byelection will be held for open councillor spot

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after a news conference at the legislature in Victoria on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. reports 559 new cases of COVID-19, one death

4,677 cases of the virus remain active in the province; 238 people are in hospital

Vancouver Canucks left wing Antoine Roussel (26) tries to get a shot past Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks cough up 3-0 lead, fall 4-3 to visiting Edmonton Oilers

Vancouver falls to 8-13-2 on the NHL season

Jessica McCallum-Miller receives her signed oath of office from city chief administrative officer Heather Avison on Nov. 5, 2018 after being elected to Terrace City Council. McCallum-Miller resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, saying she felt unsupported and unheard by council. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace’s 1st Indigenous councillor resigns citing ‘systemic and internalized racism,’ sexism

McCallum-Miller said in a Facebook post she felt unheard and unsupported by council

Temporary changes to allow for wholesale pricing for the hospitality industry were implemented June 2020 and set to expire March 31.	(Pixabay photo)
Pubs, restaurants to pay wholesale prices on liquor permanently in COVID-recovery

Pre-pandemic, restaurateurs and tourism operators paid full retail price on most liquor purchases

Wade Dyck with Luna, a dog who went missing near the Chasm for 17 days following a rollover on Feb. 5. (Photo submitted).
Dog missing for 17 days through cold snap reunited with owner in northern B.C.

Family ecstatic to have the Pyrenees-Shepherd cross back home.

Quesnel RCMP confirmed they are investigating a residential break-in at a home on the Barkerville Highway. (File image)
Thieves make off with $300K in Cariboo miner’s retirement gold

Tim Klemen is offering a reward for the return of his gold

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Tribes COVID-19 death count hits four

Second doses of Pfizer vaccine expected on March 8 as community count hits 230 since Dec. 31

Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire. Image: The Canadian Press
Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell makes third attempt at bail on sex charges

Maxwell claims she will renounce her U.K. and French citizenships if freed

Most Read