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

Pay cuts, seating charts, COVID screening: How one Sidney venue is bringing back concerts

A growing number of bars and restaurants are welcoming back musicians under COVID-19 precautions

Head of Vancouver Island Regional Library says new branch in North Saanich hands

Area poised to see strong population growth, says director of corporate communication

Greater Victoria Point-in-Time count finds over 1,500 people homeless

Capital Regional District says count should be treated as an underestimate

PHOTOS: Small crowd gathers to watch 231-tonne stacker-reclaimer loaded onto barge

The Dynamic Beast barge crane, known for work with Johnson Street Bridge, makes a return

Saanich Peninsula Hospital Auxiliary hosts pop-up fundraiser in Sidney

Temporary store to feature unique hand made gifts, collectibles, clothing, books and more

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Canadians can travel to Hawaii in September; no quarantine with negative COVID test

Travellers will be required to pay for their own tests prior to arriving

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Most Read