Cannabis Countdown: Line-ups the day before legalization over supply concerns

Cannabis Countdown: Line-ups the day before legalization over supply concerns

WATCH: Marijuana is legal in Canada Wednesday but will there be supply issues in B.C.? And how much will legal pot cost? Tess van Straaten has our cannabis countdown.

At some Victoria pot shops on Tuesday, the line-ups stretched outside the door a day before marijuana legalization.

“First thing I’m going to do is put on God Save the Queen in the background and blow up a fat reefer,” joked one man outside Farm.

Many customers are stocking up amid a cloud of uncertainty over how many stores will be open October 17th and burning questions over distribution and supply issues.

But the province’s public safety minister says B.C. is ready.

“We’re confident we have the supply needed,” Mike Farnworth says. “The provincial distribution centre is ready. At the stroke of midnight, when cannabis becomes legal, they will be ready to ship product.”

But on legalization day, aside from the lone, government-run store in Kamloops, the province’s online portal is the only way to legally buy cannabis in B.C.

“We will have the largest selection of varieties of product of any province in the country,” says Farnworth.

The province has just released the price point for legalized marijuana in B.C.  It will be between $7 to $14 a gram plus GST and PST. That’s more than the average black market price of $6.79 a gram last year in Canada.

It’s not clear how much of the provincial tax revenue will go to municipalities to help pay for additional enforcement costs.

“We haven’t come to any agreements with the province around taxation,” says Jocelyn Jenkins, city manager for the City of Victoria. “We would suggest that there is an element, whether its policing for impaired driving or that kind of enforcement, that we would like the taxpayer not to have to bear.”

The province says it’s working with the Union of B.C. Municipalities on a revenue sharing plan.

It’s also working through the 173 applications for retail outlets its received so far. Thirty-five are said to be in the latter stages of approval and should be open in the coming months.

But Farnworth says existing stores, like Trees Cannabis, that plan to stay open while their application is processed won’t be penalized by the province.

“They’ll be judged on the merits of their application and a thorough background check,” Farnworth says.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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