Cannabis store owners want rules changed around visibility and safety

Cannabis store owners want rules changed around visibility and safety
Health Canada rules prohibit anyone outside a store from seeing products inside a store. Pot shops say its is unsafe for staff inside.

The owner of Mood Cannabis says if he was allowed to have better visibility in his shop it might not have been the target of a recent theft when a known dangerous offender entered the store.

“We had a fellow come in and essentially rob us of an expensive high-end piece of glass, a bong basically, so staff were pretty upset about that incident and then the very next day he came back to try and repeat the process,” said Cory Waldron, owner of Mood Cannabis.

He says if federal law didn’t require him to block the view of the inside of the store from outside (in this case he had window coverings) his staff would have been able to see the offender outside and possibly set an alarm and call the police.

Waldron has now removed the window coverings but faces being fined if they are not re-installed by the end of the month.

“Unfortunately there’s a regulation that says you’re not allowed to be able to see any of the products through the glass,” he added. “And so we’re trying to find a way where we can be compliant but at the same time safety is absolutely paramount with us so we’re super hesitant about putting window coverings back up.”

That Health Canada regulation is in place to prevent minors from seeing non-medical cannabis inside a store, a regulation the owner of Coast Range Cannabis in Comox says is unfair.

“When we have liquor stores that minors are allowed to go into with their parents, all the products are on display. There are many visual enticements for minors in liquor stores but they’re not even allowed to see cannabis products through a window,” said Sheila Rivers. “We’re also worried about safety and if someone is robbing the store, nobody outside can see what’s happening inside.”

The BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch which enforces the federal law provided this information to CHEK News:

  • Effective June 2020, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) removed the requirement that Cannabis Retail Stores (CRSs) be enclosed by non-transparent walls, and instead requires that non-medical cannabis products, packages and labelling cannot be seen from outside the store.
  • This change was made following licensee and local government feedback.
  • It gives CRSs the flexibility to configure their store features in a way that addresses employee safety while protecting minors from exposure to non-medical cannabis as legally required by the federal Cannabis Act.
  • Although non-transparent windows are no longer a provincial requirement, it is up to individual licensees to determine how and whether to make this change, while remaining in compliance with legislation and applicable local government or Indigenous Nation requirements.
  • Provincial legislation and regulations regarding cannabis only have the authority to operate within the bounds of the federal government’s legislation, which requires that non-medical cannabis products, accessories, packages, and labelling not be displayed in a manner that would allow them to be visible to a young person.

Store owners tell CHEK News that the laws still require products inside to be hidden from outside view so some stores are erecting walls inside, in front of the window, adding this does nothing to improve safety for staff.

CHEK News has reached out to Health Canada for comment.

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Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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