WATCH: Two new government cannabis stores are in the pipe as sales burn up. But two days into legalization, there are also some big issues. Tess van Straaten reports.
Legal marijuana sales are ‘burning’ up in B.C., despite a lack of brick-and-mortar stores.
The B.C. Cannabis Store in Kamloops, the only legal store in the province, had almost 800 transactions on its first day and sold 2,656 units..
The government’s online portal had 9,137 orders in its first 24 hours of operation.
What does that translate to in terms of a dollar figure? The province won’t say.
It’s expected Canadians will spend as much as $8.7 billion on marijuana next year — that rivals alcohol.
Spirits sales were just over $5 billion in Canada last year, wine sales were $7 billion and beer brought in $9.2 billion
In B.C., the government liquor store sales were $3.5 billion but the province says it’s too soon to compare cannabis and alcohol sales since there are almost 200 liquor stores in the province and it’s a “mature market.”
But two more government pot shops could be opening soon. The province is looking at two additional locations in Kamloops and negotiations are underway with landlords.
It’s also trying to secure locations on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, where demand is high.
Province-wide, there are now 186 applications for private pot shops, including 43 in the Vancouver Island-Gulf Island region.
Of those, 22 have now been referred to local governments for approval.
Some parts of the country, such as Newfoundland and Manitoba, are already having supply issues but the federal government says the industry was given time to get ready.
“The provinces, territories and licensed producers asked for time, and we said how much do you need to get ready after royal assent and they said 12 weeks,” says Border Security & Organized Crime Reduction minister Bill Blair. “We gave them 17.”
Most major growers say they’re well stocked and that these are just first-week hiccups.
On the enforcement side, police are cracking down on under-age users.
West Shore RCMP issued tickets to two teens in possession of marijuana near Belmont Secondary. They both got a $230 fine.
Police across Vancouver Island are also stepping up enforcement on drug-impaired driving.
In some areas, extra patrols were added last night and police say they’re trying to be as visible and proactive as possible.